Saturday, June 07, 2014

On Thomas’ Theology of Usefulness


When my former church body issued a new hymnal (or “worship resource” as such things are now called), it contained an iconic image of people in the act of worship. This was not meant to be a literal depiction, but something intended to depict people in worship. Basically, it was stick figures of people with their arms held up, because people holding their arms up has become the ubiquitous image for worshiping God. Anyway, all of that was fine. But then I noticed that one of these iconic images was a person in a wheelchair. 

Now, I’m not against people in wheelchairs. Indeed, some of my best friends are in wheelchairs, as the saying goes. But it struck me as an especially politically correct attempt to prove that this hymnal would espouse diversity. No potential worshipper would be left out of the imagery. There would be no possibility of exclusion or insult. It made me wonder if the disabled community asked for such an inclusion or if they even cared? It certainly didn’t bother me; it just made me chuckle because it seemed such a naked attempt to be politically correct. 

I say that to let you know a little about me. I like to think that I value people enough that I don’t believe iconic artwork should go out of its way to represent every possible human group, disabled or not. My lack of sensitivity on this issue - if you want to see it that way - should give me some credence for what I’m about to say regarding a blue train and his friends, Thomas the Tank Engine. You see, because I’m not all that worried about hurting the feelings of one group after another (because I know that I do indeed love them through Christ), I can speak honestly about more serious offenses, or deeper rooted problems in our understanding of relating to the disabled. 

As the father of a three and a five-year-old, I have watched my fair share of Thomas and Friends. It seemed harmless enough - and I guess it still is, in spite of this blog - and seeing that an Anglican priest wrote the books this is based on made me feel good about it. But a clear theology/philosophy creeped into the program through the years, and this became an outright assault on the senses as time went on. The show became obsessed with usefulness. A good engine was useful. A bad engine was wasteful, lazy, or didn’t share. Virtue, it seems, is totally wrapped up in one’s ability to be useful, for when Thomas was scolded for not being useful, he felt very bad about himself. Likewise, he was proud when he accomplished all that Sir Topham Hatt wanted for him to do. (A quick Google search revealed that several others have pointed this out. Here’s a nice piece.)

Is this what we want to teach our children? That usefulness is the highest ideal? I suppose at best this encourages children to be hard-working and/or helpful to adults, responsible even. In the worst light, it smacks of utilitarianism, eventually communism. The usefulness of a person to others is what gives them value in the eyes of society and when a person is not useful they should basically be ashamed. This, if actually believed and implemented, would naturally lead to the acceptance that “useless” or “inconvenient” newborns or fetuses could be destroyed. Certainly, this would put the physically or mentally disabled in the crosshairs as well. And don’t forget about the elderly who can’t pull their weight. They aren’t useful at all! Shame on them! 

I may be making a mountain of a molehill, and I know that every children’s program has one kind of emphasis at the expense of others. And even though a priest may have begun this program, it is now marketed to people of all stripes, certainly non-Christians who do not share a Christian worldview. And I don’t know if children actually pick up and internalize this sentiment. I still am hoping my children volunteer to be more useful around the house as they grow. 

Still, it’s not as though one episode was about the value of usefulness. The entire program is obsessed with it. And given the liberal lean of most in the media, I have to wonder after a while why this virtue is singled out above all others. Surely a “Christian” program, or at least one inspired by the writings of an Anglican priest, could point out the realities of suffering and the intrinsic worth of all trains, even those who cannot always be useful. As for me and my household, we’ll be mixing in some other programming to stave off my children’s inevitable march towards Marxism. 

5 comments:

randy said...

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Randy
randydavis387 at gmail.com

Abobo llove said...

very useful thoughts for our decisions. Thank you for posting.

IBU WINDA DI GARUT said...

Saya IBU WINDA ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda semua bahwa saya yg dulunya cuma seorang TKW di SINGAPURA jadi pembantu rumah tangga yg gajinya tidak mencukupi keluarga di kampun,jadi TKW itu sangat menderita dan di suatu hari saya duduk2 buka internet dan tidak di sengaja saya melihat komentar orang tentan AKI SOLEH dan katanya bisa membantu orang untuk memberikan nomor yg betul betul tembus dan kebetulan juga saya sering pasan nomor di SINGAPURA,akhirnya saya coba untuk menhubungi AKI SOLEH dan ALHAMDULILLAH beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor,dan nomor yg di berikan AKI SOLEH meman betul2 terbukti tembus dan saya sangat bersyukur berkat bantuan AKI SOLEH kini saya bisa pulang ke INDONESIA untuk buka usaha sendiri,,munkin saya tidak bisa membalas budi baik AKI SOLEH sekali lagi makasih yaa AKI dan bagi teman2 yg menjadi TKW atau TKI seperti saya,bila butuh bantuan hubungi saja AKI SOLEH DI 082-313-336-747- insya ALLAH beliau akan membantu anda.Ini benar benar kisah nyata dari saya seorang TKW trimah kasih banyak atas bantuang nomor togel nya AKI wassalam.


KLIK DISINI BOCORAN TOGEL HARI INI




















Saya IBU WINDA ingin berbagi cerita kepada anda semua bahwa saya yg dulunya cuma seorang TKW di SINGAPURA jadi pembantu rumah tangga yg gajinya tidak mencukupi keluarga di kampun,jadi TKW itu sangat menderita dan di suatu hari saya duduk2 buka internet dan tidak di sengaja saya melihat komentar orang tentan AKI SOLEH dan katanya bisa membantu orang untuk memberikan nomor yg betul betul tembus dan kebetulan juga saya sering pasan nomor di SINGAPURA,akhirnya saya coba untuk menhubungi AKI SOLEH dan ALHAMDULILLAH beliau mau membantu saya untuk memberikan nomor,dan nomor yg diberikan AKI SOLEH meman betul2 terbukti tembus dan saya sangat bersyukur berkat bantuan AKI SOLEH kini saya bisa pulang ke INDONESIA untuk buka usaha sendiri,,munkin saya tidak bisa membalas budi baik AKI SOLEH sekali lagi makasih yaa AKI dan bagi teman2 yg menjadi TKW atau TKI seperti saya,bila butuh bantuan hubungi saja AKI SOLEH DI 082-313-336-747- insya ALLAH beliau akan membantu anda.Ini benar benar kisah nyata dari saya seorang TKW
trimah kasih banyak atas bantuang nomor togel nya AKI wassalam.


KLIK DISINI BOCORAN TOGEL HARI INI





















INOVE Reformas & Construções said...

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Inove Reformas e Construções

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