Sunday, July 18, 2010

What's in the Bible? ~ new DVD series by Phil Vischer~ Review

"Wanderin' in the Desert"  is the 3rd volume of Phil Vischer's (Creator of Veggie Tales) new series What's in the Bible (With Buck Denver). Being great fans of Veggie Tales, we were happy to have the chance to preview this series. 

Just a little background on the series to date. 
The first two DVD's in the series cover some foundations (What IS the Bible?" , "Who WROTE the Bible?" and some Basic Biblical vocabulary, as well as giving kids the "Big picture"  of, well... What's in the Bible! (Genesis and Exodus, to be precise) The Volume that I was sent to actually review was volume 3, which continues on through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy~ to finish out the Pentateuch. The plan is to have 13 DVDs in the series that will walk the younger generation through every book of the Bible, to give them a general overview of the entire Bible. (Each DVD retails for $14.99)

As is true with many things, I saw things I considered both pros and cons ~ You will discover that I am both impressed but also vaguely dissatisfied:

  • I really like the concept of giving kids that big picture~ What each book is really about, not just a snippet about each character. Because I am currently involved in reading precisely this portion of scripture myself, I enjoyed the quick snapshot/overview of these particular books. It seems that Leviticus and Numbers are often difficult to get through, unless you understand the background for "all those rules". 
  • Some of the "characters" are more fun to watch than others. Quite frankly, I find the introductions with "Michael" to be annoying, and not something I want my kids to mimic. The Sunday School Lady has a dry wit, and Ian and Clive are a pretty good team. I really enjoy the way that Phil Vischer, himself, interacts with the other characters through the video. 
  • The music is catchy (after 3 times through the theme song, my 13 year old has been singing it ALL week), as would be expected from Phil Vischer. One Caveat, that goes along with my next  comment below~ I am not thrilled with the theme song introducing the question of "Is it true? Is it reliable?" to young children... At the early ages I don't feel they need to wrestle with questions like that...
  • There is one section specifically, in each episode, that *I*, personally didn't think belonged in this series~ "Tricky Questions with Phil". Now, in and of themselves, I think the "Tricky Questions" are good, and I thought the answers were typically well thought out and presented. However, if I am correct in assuming that these videos are intended for the 4-8(maybe 10?)crowd,  then I felt that the material covered in these questions was a little more "mature" (From a classical education standpoint, not "worldly") than they may be ready for. To clarify~ I do subscribe lightly to the Classical Education idea that the early years should be spent learning and memorizing facts. The middle years (7-9th grade or so) are where this sort of thinking and analyzing are more appropriate, and the later years are more involved in actual debate(or in this case "apologetics")~ So, a worthy concept, just not for the little ones.....
  • A couple of "Technical Details" worth mentioning: the DVDs are close captioned for the hearing impaired... or for extra reading practice.... ;) I like that feature. Each episode is also split into 5 "chapters", enabling you to use just a portion of the episode at a time. 
  • There is an EXCELLENT  bonus feature that explores our miraculous universe against a scientific background~ Very nicely done! :)
To sum up~
  • The Good: The message~  I feel that "What's in the Bible" could be an excellent vehicle for beginning apologetics, viewed chapter by chapter for Jr High aged students(in Sunday school or during home-school) who are "walking through the Bible" to gel certain concepts and facts about each book.
  • The Bad: The "presentation" ~ The dichotomy between some of the message and the presentation for the ages it is appropriate for~ I may yet change my opinion on this, but this is my gut reaction.
Because I really like the content and the concept, I will most likely use these videos, in "Chapter format" with my 13 yo, to serve as introductions and summaries to these books of the Bible. Because most of the content is applicable to all ages, I wish I didn't feel the need to "filter" out the bits that I feel raise questions that I am not ready to broach with my children under the age of 12.

If your family and/or church has a different set of "filters", you may be able to tell from what I've said that this is just what you are looking for. Please visit the What's in the Bible website for more information about this video, as well as others in the series. You can watch a few video clips that will give you a feel for "What's in the Bible". The "Store" also offers individual episodes and video shorts for purchase and download.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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