Sunday, August 1, 2004

Since When Do Cartoons Have Eternal Souls?

Today, whenever I was in the music section I kept hearing the Chris Rice song, "Cartoons." For those of you unfamiliar with the song, let me fill you in. The premise is simple: what if cartoons got saved and became Christians? Chris Rice then sings "hallelujah" in a variety of rather decent cartoon voices. Check out the lyrics. Apparently, it's supposed to illustrate that Christians can have fun too.

Is it just me, or does it seem sacrilegious to have Astro from The Jetsons sing hallelujah (ra-ra-ru-jah, to be exact)? I thought worship was about reverence toward God. I just dislike the entire thing. I'm even more disgusted with the cult following surrounding this song. I don't usually advocate censorship, but if someone wanted to organize a CD burning party for this song, I'd bring the beer.

That all sounds very harsh. I know some people love the song and think it's just a clean, fun song that Christians can listen too. I just wonder when turning faith in God into a nursery rhyme was ever healthy for anyone involved.

That's one of my major concerns with the Christian subculture. All we do is pander to the lowest common denominator. We never push forward. We never ask real questions. Maybe I should be thanking Chris Rice. Maybe he's showed us that constantly pandering does not edify the church but in fact forces us to devolve until we're speaking in cartoon voices. It's like Mr. Rodgers on an acid trip - it might seem fun, but do we really want to go there?

I don't want to speak ill of Chris Rice, a man I have never met. I just wish to point out one of the many reasons I believe Christian music is irrelevant and in many cases detrimental.

P.S. If you're really brave, listen to a sample of the song (Track 17 on the playlist). Press play at your own risk.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that song started out as a hidden track. It should have stayed hidden, in my opinion. It's a shame ... some of his lyrics are genuinely insightful. Now all I can think of when I hear his name is the Smerfs. Pity.

Thom said...

Really? I have often been concerned about the destination of Johnny Quest's eternal soul.

Anonymous said...

How can you judge a song like this when you say "I'll bring the beer" to a CD burning party. Since when does beer promote worship? For those children who have no exposure to christianity at all, it may take a song like this to spark the question "what does it mean to be saved?" If that is what it takes, I say go for it.

Ben said...

Dear Anonymous-

When does beer promote worship? You've obviously never had great beer. When you find that perfect blend of hops and barley it is a sacramental moment. You are connected to God by the amazing textures that have been able to be produced from his good creation. That gets me closer to God than "Shout to the Lord" ever could.

Anonymous said...

The song ends pointing out that Cartoons DON'T praise, that it is our responsibility and purpose on earth.

I think it is a shallow, but fun and thought provoking message presented in a way that it conveys its message. Obviously, I'm wrong, when Beer-drinking-to-commune-with-God Christians (the type I would have thought would best be reached by such a shallow presentation) have completely missed the point.

Does God have a sense of humor? He made me in his image, so he must have.

ann said...

Hi, reticent reader here. I recently saw your blog linked through another and find it very entertaining, so I was reading through your archives. This post struck a nerve since I am a die hard Chris Rice fan. He's my favorite Christian songwriter, but I, too, cringe whenever I hear that stupid cartoon song. For all the deep, probing music that Rice has written, this goofy song gets all the airtime. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I think maybe Rice feels the same way you do about the song, as he wrote on his website here . Just thought you might be interested in it. I look forward to reading more of your insight into Christian commercialism.

Anonymous said...

Okay I know I'm about a year late but I came across this a google but I have met Chris he's a good friend of my Youth Pastors He comes and does the music for our Youth group retreats and the Cartoon song he whipped up in 10 min. at a youth camp some years back he dosen't even like playing the song

Janna4Jesus said...

Chris Rice said: "The strong reactions to that part of the song are even more humorous to me, because I couldn't understand such a silly song getting such scrutiny. Also, in correcting my "theology" in the cartoon song, people were totally missing the fact that the whole song is about soul-less cartoons, none of whom can "get saved". A frog, a few dogs, a moose, turtles...getting 'saved'...horrible theology if you ask me. But theology was never the intention of the song, just a funny look at how cartoons might say "Hallelujah". "What if?" I'm sorry some people are missing the fun! "I was thinking the other day, why'd I ever write that song?..."

In my personal opinion there are an awful lot of teenagers who know that song and listen to Chris Rice BECAUSE of that song. Besides it inadvertantly points out a lot of different kinds of people (in this case Smurfs who are humans characterized by cartoons) can sing praise to God if they believe in him and his son Jesus Christ.
There are a lot of other songs I would take off the radio before this one. Even I am critical by nature...but isn't time to think with a positive attitude?

Anonymous said...

God tells us that each one of us has to find our own way of worshipping Him. Nobody praises God "exactly" the same. Some find it easier to talk to Him, to write about Him, to sing about Him, whatever. Everyone is different. Everyone has certain levels of communication skills. Sometimes we got to look at the younger ones, and come up with things, to catch their attention, by keeping the message pure and honest. I haven't seen any unpure or dishonesty in this song. If this song will bring even one person to want to talk about God, or to understand Him, to praise Him, whatever, then it has served it's purpose. As long as our worship is not in vain, then it will ultimately will bring glory to the Father.

Anonymous said...

Music is music, let it stand at that! Whatever spiritual significance a song has is contained in how God uses it to speak to you. If you don't like the song, that's fine, but don't bash it's significance to someone else. Just because I can't stand 95% of all christian rap music doesn't mean that it doesn't serve a purpous in someone elses life. The world doesn't revolve around me and it doesn't revolve around you. Let the music stand for it's purpose!

Joivah said...

Well, I would like to say this. How are we as Christians so judgemental of a song that might reach out to one person and cause them to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of their life. Why would we want to stop something so critical as that. If this song reaches out and touches one person and they make the commitment to follow Jesus, then it has served the purpose that it was written for. God uses us all in different manners and just because it may be different does not make it wrong. I think it was and still is a great song for the youth. As someone prior stated, this might raise the question of salvation and we may have a new brother or sister in Christ because of this song that God blessed Chris Rice with the creativity to write and sing.

sparty759 said...

Firstly, I am a camp counselor and this song is great with kids, especially when you can have a conversation about the meaning of the song.

While the original intent of this song, as Chris says, is to have various cartoon characters singing Hallelujah, the message goes far beyond that. In Luke 19 Jesus tells the pharissees that if the desciples don't cry out to God, then the rocks will cry out. As desciples of Christ, it is our purpose to worship God. If we fail to the rocks (or in this case cartoons) will.

Listen to the end of the song and think about Luke 19.

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Britt Britt said...

I don't why you're putting this song down so much. I think of it as not only a fun song to listen to, but also as a way to spark a child's interest in Christianity. If a child hears a song like "Cry Out to Jesus" (which is an amazing song by the way) they're probably not gonna understand the deep meaning behind it, as opposed to hearing "Cartoons" where they hear familiar names and they'll be more interested in the song. They may ask "What's it mean to be 'saved'" posing a great oppurtunity to bring a child to Jesus.

beachcomber86 said...

Ben, Ben, really don't get it do you? Step back and look at the forest instead of the trees. My kids, 6 and 9, got it right off. My daughter, 6, said 'cartoons can't do that'. I said you're right but the music is really good so let's listen. When the last verse came on, it all made sense and at a level even primary school kids can understand.

Erudite Redneck said...

Nothing has made my inner Chrismatic want to lift my hands and guilelessly and shamelessly praise God like that silly, wonderful song, in years.

Read Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?" Zero in on his concept of "ungrace." I think you have ungraced the writer of this song and the people who love it.

Richie said...

So many of us adults really need to grow a bit. You like it or you hate it - Oh well.

Try to be a light to your community instead of .. well, what I probably am. LOL. A lost man if I do not seek True Love to guide me.

It's easier to be dim and grim, to find ways to talk poorly of others. The song was all in fun. Poor Chris.

Poor us really. Let's all find a way to love someone, and then not allow our jadedness to snuff it out. K?

Taylor said...

Have you people actually listened to the lyrics???? His whole point (listen to the end) is that *we* are the ones who are supposed to do the praising...not the cartoons...

Anonymous said...

Well, please tell me how Astro *would* pronounce "Hallelujah"? (or Scooby Doo, for that matter)....if not "Ruh-ro-ru-rah"?

daryl said...

I wonder, I used to work at a convenience store and had to work on Sunday, as opposed to going to church. Since my favorite form of worship is through music I would listen to K-LOVE my favorite Christian music station during my shift and sing along and in some cases dance to the music. When Cartoons came on I would blast the radio (when the store was empty) and dance like a mad person, often not turning it down until a customer came to the counter and only then because I had to be able to hear them. Would you say that I was being sac-religious? As to your question about worship being reverent, I believe that is in the eye of the beholder. I was taught all of my life that you can not have reverence in music with drums and guitars and whatnot, but in order to be reverent you had to listen to either the piano or the organ and fold your arms. Not to mention the insanity of raising your arms to praise. Now that I'm grown I know there is no reason not to raise your arms in worship, that it is a wonderful sign to God, and have felt the want to do it many a time. I have also found that drums in church can bring in the Spirit of God just as much as the organ. What I'm trying to say is, there have been songs on the radio that I thought were the stupidest songs and don't understand why anyone would like them (So I understand how you feel to a point, and they weren't Christian songs to begin with.) Just because you do not like a song does not mean that is not good for humanity to hear it, it doesn't dumb one down and it certainly isn't sac-religious just because you want it to be. One more thing, and I hope you don't think that I am just jabbing at you because I really am not, but They Will Know Us By Our T-Shirts? I really hope you are not talking about Christianity there, I think that is sac-religious when people should know Christians by their actions and the air surrounding them. If you would like to know more of my feelings on this subject I have a blog myself on the subject at just click on the The Cartoon Song blog. Be warned it is less than Christian, unfortunately, as that is were I take out my frustration in the subject in a more angry fashion.

Jason said...

I can't stand the song, but for different reasons than you. But what I'd really like to point out is that I agree with you about the beer. Few things inspire deeper thoughts about eternity than a well crafted beer. And if anonymous finds that shallow, well, I'd venture to say that she / he just doesn't know enough about beer and the skill, love, and art that goes into making it.

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Anonymous said...

you need to do a little more research on what the song is really about. Read this article Chris Rice wrote about the song and why he no longer performs it.

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