Today we began our annual summer test of endurance and fortitude, Bible School. Since I’m the parish music minister, my job is to get 75 children from preschool to grade 5 to sing about how awesome God is while happily dancing and waving their arms as they watch a video of other children singing about how awesome God is while happily dancing and waving their arms. It’s not easy since I can’t even get the adults to sing and dance happily.
The children in the video smile broadly and look like they’re having the time of their lives dancing in fun places like amusement parks and water parks. They dance on skateboards on streets and playgrounds and they dance on flowery hills. They have a representative child from various ethnic groups for diversity and and one child in a wheelchair to be inclusive. They are freshly scrubbed and neat as pins. They are so happy that that they look strikingly similar to kids who dance on television commercials because mom bought their favorite breakfast cereal. These children are not real. They are paid actors who are being directed to look that dorky. Either that or they’re kids from another planet. They bear little resemblance to the children in front of me who are poking each other through the opening prayer. One towhead tot looked me in the eye as I was singing, dancing and waving my arms and said, “You’re not going to get me to do that!” Okay, if I was a child looking at some old silver haired grandmother singing and dancing and waving I wouldn’t want to do it, either. But that’s beside the point. This is Bible School and you’re supposed to be joyful, darnit.
It’s not that I think they should be chanting and carrying rosaries. But truthfully, the music is abysmal and not very Catholic at all. If it wasn’t so gosh darn happy it would be depressing. The kids put up with it patiently for the most part, although this is not music they would choose to listen to, nor would I choose to listen to it. It sounds so… so…80’s. I liked the music of the 80’s but now it’s more appropriate as background music at the grocery store. It’s not very appealing to the Hip Hop generation. Sesame Street has hipper music than this.
So if I were to write a Bible School program I would start with the music. Surely we can come up with some young Indie or Hip Hop musicians who could write something about how much God loves them, carefully leaving out the expletives, that the kids would relate to. I’ve seen young people dancing to that music. As my husband says, they look like gerbils on a hotplate, but they don’t wave their arms and they don’t look like someone who is being forced to be happy. I’d make the kids in my video look at bit more realistic. My video kiddos would look like they were just wrestled out of bed, dragged to a car wearing shorts and an unmatched wrinkled t-shirt then plopped down in front of some silver haired grandmother who is singing, dancing like a dork, and waving.
The DRE sees my frustration and tries to give me some words of advice. “But the kids love the peppy music. They’ll get into it by Friday.” Peppy? Really? Chances are better that I’ll get this drivel stuck in my head and it will become the sound track for the rest of the summer. Granted, the themes are basic and so simple that even a preschooler can pick up a catch phrase. God loves you. Don’t be afraid. Trust God. God will make everything better. Nothing very deep. But then again, it’s summer. Nothing should be any deeper than the thoughts of a kid lying on his back watching the clouds drift overhead.