My earliest lessons in what it means to be a Christian leftist were from Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber – two of Evangelical Christianity’s most important prophets for Christian children of the ’90s.

If you are a millennial who grew up in, or tangentially around, church, then you knew about Bob, Larry, Mr. Lunt, Madame Blueberry and Junior Asparagus from “VeggieTales.”

You knew about lazy pirates who have never been to Boston in the fall and about cheeseburger lovers.

And I bet that you also remember the retelling of stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Queen Esther and King David in ways that made more sense to you than when you sat in “big church” and tried to pay attention to a preacher.

The story of the chocolate bunny was when I first began to think about the wages paid to people who work in factories and farms to create the clothes and food we eat. Why did those who hardly labor get more, while those who create receive less?

It was Bob and Larry who taught me about unions and standing up for workers. Larry sang about how everyone deserved a water buffalo just like him. Thus began my thinking through the idea that universal care for us all should be a basic human right.

For as faithful as we hope children to be to a loving God, sometimes I wonder if we ever stop to think about the violence and nuances of the Bible that they cannot fully comprehend as little ones.

VeggieTales invited us to know the danger of rumors and how they can grow like a relentless weed, the bigness of a God that is bigger than fear or any boogeyman, and the importance of workers rights and fair wages, all while singing silly songs with a talking cucumber.

Early in my seminary career, a professor offered our faith formation class some advice as we navigated the deep waters of deconstructing faith. Dr. Massey reminded us that while there was a fair plenty to set down and let die, like Hell Houses and Purity Rings, there were also many good and wonderful things from the faith of our childhood that helped us do deeper in our faith in ways that we might not expect.

Girls in Action, for example, taught little girls to be faithful to a calling despite societal norms and expectations, teaching us to love people as neighbors. We learned about different cultures and languages and how so many of us eat rice.

It was around that table learning about Lottie Moon that I felt the first nudge toward a calling. It was Girls Scouts without having to sell cookies.

Bible Sword Drills were no longer fun after my cheating incident in 1998, but I do appreciate knowing how to find a minor prophet in a pinch. This comes in handy when accidentally losing your place during a Sunday morning reading.

But one particular Christian childhood staple sticks out most in recent days: the talking vegetables who invited us to sing a silly song or two while reimagining the ancient stories of our holy texts.

Well removed from my VeggieTales days, I now follow the show’s creator on Twitter. Much to my delight, Phil Vischer is on his own journey of discovering the never ending, inspired and unfolding of God’s story in the world.

As Christian Nationalism creeps its scary head into mainstream political talking points and sermons, I wonder if it’s time for our favorite Bible storyteller to dustoff the QWERTY keyboard and get to work reminding us, again, about God’s love.

Perhaps Vischer can help us recall that the God of love is also the God of wild imagination that creates room for us to see a story unfold through vegetables and fruits singing a silly song or two.

Perhaps we would take ourselves less seriously and pay attention to an unfolding story we are invited to take part in.

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