Colin Hansen, Christianity Today: Speaking of News Corp, how does ownership by Rupert Murdoch affect a Christian publisher?
Maureen “Moe” Girkins, Zondervan President and CEO (2 Jan 2008 – 11 Mar 2011): I think it’s a wonderful situation for Zondervan. I don’t think we’ve taken as much advantage of the opportunity as we should, but I see signs that we’re making progress in that arena. News Corp is a wonderful media giant.
Ministry-to-Children.com is usually in the business of providing lessons and materials for Sunday School lessons. But in a recent development, they have moved into terrorist training camps, training young children to kill atheists.
“Goliath wasn’t a very nice man. He didn’t believe in God. He made fun of people who did believe in God. David stood up for the people of God. With God’s help, David stopped Goliath! Do you know what David used to stop Goliath? (allow for responses) David used a rock to stop Goliath. David hit Goliath on his forehead and Goliath fell down.
We are going to pretend to be David today. (show them the picture of Goliath) Here is Goliath. You are each going to be David and use a “stone” to stop him. (hold up a styrofoam ball) Here is your stone. We are going to cover your eyes with the blindfold and you need to try to get this stone on Goliath’s forehead. Let’s play!”
Put a rolled up piece of tape on the cotton balls before each child takes a turn.
After each child takes a turn, take the ball off of the picture and use the marker to write the child’s name where they put the ball.
Whoever gets to the closest to the middle of Goliath’s forehead, wins.
And here is the “target” which Ministry-to-Children.com provides for the training activity: the face of a Giant atheist:Note the stereotypical features of the face, devoid of personal features. The Sunday School children who are trained by Ministry-to-Children.com are being made into tomorrow’s merciless killers!
May 09, 2011 – (Rock Rapids, IA) – Fifty years after its television debut, the beloved Christian cartoon Davey and Goliath is back in a commemorative set of Volumes 1-6 now available from Bridgestone Multimedia Group™.
In 1960, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America began producing a stop-motion animated television series for children. Produced by Gumby creators Art Clokey and Ruth Clokey Goodell, the shows followed Davey Hansen and his talking dog, Goliath, as they learned biblical lessons about being responsible, caring for the environment, and accepting others. Now, you can rejoin these wholesome characters in this refurbished 50th anniversary edition that features 36 episodes on six DVDs, including nine hours of quality entertainment for the whole family.
That’s quality family entertainment – a boy and his dog guiding us through decent moral principles. (“I don’t know, Davey….”) We haven’t seen anything like this since the Cosby Show.
It’s interesting that the “biblical lessons” which are remembered from the 1960s series now include “caring for the environment” and “accepting others”. There’s a wee lesson in reception:
In my lifetime I have seen, among evangelical Christians, a new emphasis on environmental awareness, on physical fitness, on community formation, and changes in gender ideology. All of these changes reflected trends in the larger cultural environment, but all were incorporated into evangelical Christians’ authoritative discourse by being expounded from the Bible, as what the Bible had always said.
– Brian Malley, “Understanding the Bible’s Influence,” pages 194-204 in James S. Bielo, ed., The Social Life of Scriptures: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Biblicism (Rutgers, 2009), 202-203.
I learned something I never knew about Giants from the best basic guide to Giants of the Bible. According to Big Bad Bible Giants, authored by Ed Strauss and illustrated by Anthony Carpenter (Zondersexist, 2005), the Bible tells the story of an ancient city populated by Giant librarians!
The Giant Librarians of Debir
This is not something I’ve discovered in any biblical commentary, because Big Bad Bible Giants has the scoop. It’s all a matter of almost logical inference from three things that the Bible tells us: (1) the city of Debir was also known as Kiriath-Sepher (“The City of Scribes”); (2) Othniel defeated the inhabitants of Debir; and (3) some of the inhabitants of Palestine were Giants. Ed Strauss’s conclusion is that Othniel must have defeated a group of Giant librarians in the city of Debir:
In Joshua’s day, about 600 years after Abraham, the giant Anakites had a city in south Canaan called Debir (Joshua 11:21). The giants called it Kiriath Sepher, which means “City of Scribes” or “City of Books.” The city’s other name was Kiriath Sannah, which means “City of Instruction” (Joshua 15:49). Bible scholars believe Kiriath Sepher was a major center of learning and culture for all of Canaan. It probably had a huge library full of scrolls, and was the city where giants went to learn.
Can’t you just picture a dozen heavy, hairy giants sitting around mumbling loudly as they read? You can be sure they weren’t sitting in ordinary-sized desks!
What were their books about? No idea. All the monster scrolls seem to have been torched when the Israelites conquered the city (Judges 1:11-13).
Ah yes – there would be traces of these giant books and giant libraries around today, if only the Israelites hadn’t destroyed them all. Ed Strauss also offers us a picture of Othniel’s defeat of the city of Debir, the city of Giant librarians:
We don’t know the details of this battle and how well the giants fought, whether they made their last stand at the library…
People are always asking me, “Can you recommend a basic introduction to the Giants of the Bible?” Well, yes I can! One of the most basic introductions to biblical Giants isBig Bad Bible Giants, authored by Ed Strauss and illustrated by Anthony Carpenter (published by the Zondervan children’s subdivision, Zonderkidz).
I’m serious. If you want a basic introduction to the Giants of the Bible, let this be your guide. It covers all the Giants of the Bible, including the Nephilim, the Rephaites, the Zamzummites, the Emites, the Anakites, the Avvites, King Og of Bashan, Goliath, Lahmi, and Ishbi-Benob of Gath, Anak, Ahiman, Sheshai, Talmai, and the multidigit monster – with cartoons.
What’s more, this is a book for boys. Not for girls. Apparently, only young Christian boys should take an interest in the gory occupation of slaying Giants. But wait, you say, hasn’t the author ever heard of Buffy? Alas, even Buffy could not grow to the physical proportions of Our Lord:
Perfect for boys aged 8 to 12, the 2:52 series is based on Luke 2:52: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Focussing on four primary areas of growth, this guiding verse can help boys become more like Jesus mentally (smarter), physically (stronger), spiritually (deeper), and socially (cooler). From Bibles and devotionals to fiction and nonfiction, with plenty of gross and gory mixed in, there is something for every boy.
The 2:52 series also offers these other boyish (not girly) titles: Bible Heroes and Bad Guys, Bible Angels and Demons, Bible Wars and Weapons, Creepy Creatures and Bizarre Beasts from the Bible, Weird and Gross Bible Stuff, Bible Freaks and Geeks, and Seriously Sick Bible Stuff. That’s the sorts of things that boys just love, but girls do not, according to Zondervan’s 2:52 series.
And in addition to all this, for your rough-and-tumble, O-God-I-pray-every-night-that-he’s-heterosexual, scalliwag of a Christian boy, Zonderkidz publishes the 2:52 Boys Bible: The Ultimate Manual – complete with grey metallic plating on the front cover:
Finally a Bible just for boys! Discover gross and gory Bible stuff. Find out interesting and humorous Bible facts… Learn how to become more like Jesus mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.
And just before you can say “gender stereotype”, let’s place the metal-plated 2:52 Boys Bible alongside what Zondervan offers for little girls… The Precious Princess Bible:
Just to top off this survey of systematic sexism at Zondervan, here’s a quote from the Zondervan Blog which proudly affirms that God does not discriminate!
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). God does not discriminate on the basis of gender, or race, or socio-economic status. All are invited, all are included.
– Keri Wyatt Kent, 2 October 2009, Zondervan Blog.
If God does not discriminate, Zondervan seems determined to do it for Him. Whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, Zondervan has a niche market just for you!
In Numbers 13-14, God commands the Israelites to kill all the local inhabitants of Palestine, and take the land for themselves. The inhabitants are not even presented as properly human, but as Giants.
Yet even in biblical passages such as this, where we might sensibly conclude that Yahweh’s command for genocide is morally reprehensible, children’s book writers always somehow manage to derive a nice moral from the story. For example, here’s Gwen Ellis’ Read and Share Bible: More Than 200 Best-Loved Bible Stories, on Numbers 13-14, or rather, on the non-expurgated parts thereof:
But in all fairness to Gwen Ellis and other children’s books writers, this saccharine moralism doesn’t seem all that different from what’s done in many or most “academic” biblical commentaries on Numbers 13-14 – accentuating the faith and glossing over the means by which they demonstrate that faith (killing all the native inhabitants):
“Caleb’s exhortation expresses faith in Israel’s ability to enter successfully into the land.”
– Dennis T. Olson, Numbers, 78.
“God promises a reward to the two faithful scouts who gave a good report concerning the quality of the Promised Land and challenged the people to enter it with vision and faith.”
– R. Dennis Cole, Numbers, 236.
“Only those among the spies who had been sent out and had, in contrast to the majority of their comrades, issued a summons to confident trust, are to share in the gift of the land.”
– Martin Noth, Numbers, 101.
Yeah, well, this so-called exemplary faith which you’re describing involves genocide, doesn’t it? So what’s with the saccharine moral-making about faith? You’d think, by looking at the level of critical analysis engaged in here, that the authors of academic biblical commentaries get all their ideas from reading children’s story books.
In its press release of 11 February 2011, TabTale announces an interactive ‘David and Goliath’ app for iPad (and iPhone, iPod touch, etc, etc):
Built on TabTale creative driven platform for rapid creation of high-quality interactive content for smart devices – The Story of David and Goliath brings to life the breathtaking battle between young David, the future king of Israel and Goliath, the giant philistine warier [sic]. Full with innovative and engaging activities built within the app, TabTale helps stimulate children`s creativity and imagination in an enjoyable and interactive way, like never seen before.
The app describes Goliath as a “giant – the size of a mountain”. However, in the illustrations he is about twice the size of the Philistines – not really mountain-sized at all. (Although, there is a mountain behind him with which, in forced perspective, he is the same size. And there is a long association of Giants with mountains, with Giants sometimes getting trapped under them.) Goliath is not explicitly described as a “Giant” in 1 Samuel 17, although his height in the proto-Masoretic text implies he is a Giant, because he is just under 10 feet tall – about twice the average size of humans in the Levant in antiquity. The story is retold in badly rhyming couplets:
A shield on the right arm?? Not likely for a warrior. (Compare the biblical account, which mentions shield-bearers.)
It’s available at the iTunes store, as are earlier stories in the series, ‘Goldilocks’ and ‘Christmas Tale’. The story of Noah’s Ark is coming out later this year.