Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Friday, October 20, 2006

Not Really a Music Recommendation

About a month ago, I expressed my intention to begin posting a weekly music recommendation here. After doing this once, it began to appear as if I had just laid another brick on the road to hell. In spite of my failure, I’m going to take another run at this. This week’s recommendation, though, will only be partly music.

Charlie Brown. Everybody loves the round-headed kid, that icon of the underdog in every one of us. And if you don’t think much of him any other time of year, I would expect that this is the season that you do.

The Peanuts cartoon specials have become as much a part of American pop culture as anything else. Most of America still looks each year in anticipation for the showing of the three most well known Charlie Brown specials: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; and A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’ve had people tell me that there’s just something special about making sure you’re home to catch them when they come on each year. But it seems like I miss them each year, so I bought them on DVD.

If you buy the boxed set, you get three additional shows: You’re Not Elected, Charlie Brown; The Mayflower Voyagers; and It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. If there’s a dud in here, it’s The Mayflower Voyagers. It is a good cartoon introduction for children to the story of the English Separatists, their trip to America, and the first few months leading up to the first Thanksgiving. And there is no shying away from mentioning God or (though somewhat ambiguously) faith. But there is still a decidedly secularist cast to the program. The Peanuts characters are the children on the Mayflower, and while there is some humorous interaction between them, the dialogue is pretty poor. I think it is simply impossible for us sometimes to imagine what conversation would have been like between godly people like these – namely, the type of conversation in which God is assumed, believed, worshipped, and trusted, and in which the name and works of God flow from the tongue as easily as anything else. Schulz failed to really capture this aspect of the Pilgrims. In addition, while Miles Standish, Samoset, and Squanto are presented, there is no mention of William Bradford (whose Of Plymouth Plantation is our main source of information on the Pilgrims’ experience), or of Pastor John Robinson or Elder William Brewster. While the previous three were certainly important, this was a pursuit of religious freedom by people who considered themselves above all to be Christians, and the importance of the latter three godly men would have been just as great or greater to them. So while there’s nothing wrong with your children watching this one, don’t trust it to give them a fully accurate telling of the story.

So this is hardly a revolutionary recommendation. It’s not exactly some imported or hard-to-find cd. But you really need to own this, so I’m recommending it.

And while you’re at it, go ahead and buy the original A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I know there have been other versions of the songs recorded since, but I love the original. Buy it now before the stores sell out for Christmas. You’ll love it. Your friends and acquaintances will love it. You’ll win friends and influence people. Life will be great.

That’s my recommendations for this week. I hope to get back to music exclusively next week, but we’ll see what happens.


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