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DANGIT! “Pandamania” VBS programs highly problematic July 28, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery, sadness, scandals, silliness.

Almost all ‘large, suburban parishes’ use VBS materials protestant in origin.  That, right there, should be enough to dissuade Catholics from participating.  But even though these fundamentally protestant programs are modifed and ‘Catholicized’ by various publishers, numerous problems remain.  This year’s VBS is called “Pandamania,’ and the problems are legion:

PandaMania, which is a protestant program for children adapted for Catholics. My reader sent a link from a homeschooling blog which points out all sorts of red flags, though.

One of the “People of Faith” cards, for instance, features Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit scientist whose theological ideas are suspect at best (the rest in the set appear to be saints, which makes much more sense). A bizarre choice.

The “Connecting Kids to Justice” portion of the Pandamania program worries me more. According to the PandaMania website,

Connecting Kids to Justice is a feature that focuses on raising awareness of Catholic social teaching and various social issues … [and] will highlight the Catholic Climate Covenant [For crying out loud!  Can we stop with the – totally discredited – leftism!] initiative.

The Catholic Climate Covenant is an initiative of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change which seeks to show respect for God’s creation by focusing on the link between creation and poverty embodied in the life and ministry of Saint Francis and the words of the Psalmist: “The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds” (Psalm 24:1). [I think that’s supposed to say……’link between climate change and poverty.’  Only, there isn’t any link, because there isn’t any climate change, except that we’ve had since the beginning, and known as ‘weather.’]

Okay, but the link my reader forwarded explains why the organizations that make up the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change are the last people you’d want to be involved, even indirectly, in presenting the Faith to your children. [Because they are almost uniformly heterodox] It’s not a matter of politics—these are organizations which flagrantly reject the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion, here and in the third world. Even an indirect association with them is scandalous, and it’s not clear how direct the association actually is. [Knowing how these Church bureaucracies work, and their many tentacles, I bet it ain’t all that indirect]

The link focuses on what is problematic in the program (and man, that panda is annoying); and the Pandamania website itself makes the program look somewhere between useless and dreadful (“What happens when a pack of fun-loving pandas invades your church?” Erm, I’d call 911 and the Knights of Columbus). Two thousand years of top-flight scholarship and divine inspiration, and the best we can offer is … wacky pandas who may or may not be advocating for abortion? I looked hard for some reason Catholics would want to get involved with PandaMania, but I’m left distressed that Our Sunday Visitor is endorsing this program. [I’m not surprised.  OSV is not an orthodox publisher.] 
I, like Joe at Defend Us In Battle, apologize for not getting on this earlier.  I saw the VBS materials, I knew of their protestant origin, but I didn’t take the time to dig in.  Our family actually participated at a local VBS several years ago, and it was, in spite of much hard work on the part of volunteers and some parish staff, not very productive or helpful, and we haven’t been back.   Year in and year out, almost all VBS programs use the same materials that are designed by a large protestant publisher with the intent of making some money by getting as many churches to ‘standardize’ on them, as possible.  The materials are possible with churches because they provide a framework for VBS without too much effort by parish staff.  But to put things into perspective, quickly, this VBS teaches about leading saint-like figures in the Church.  Who is their first, their prime representative of this august group?  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose writings on theology have been condemned by the Church.  That’s not just a bad choice – it’s subversive. I don’t know if it is intentionally so, but……….
For hardcore Cath0lics, folks really trying to live the Faith……..I’d recommend staying away from parish VBS programs, now and for the foreseeable future. I apologize for not having dug into this program sooner.     


1. Mary - July 28, 2011

I have a friend who used VBS as summer babysitting. She didn’t really care what they were taught, she wanted some time off from her children.
But when Catholic churches promote something, most people assume it’s relatively Catholic. That makes this so much more dangerous. Parents assume their children are getting some Catholic education. That, and it isn’t cheap.

I have never liked the thought of promoting some random cartoon character as the mascot (why not a saint). Religion isn’t all ‘fun and games’, and promoting it as such has cost many their faith; either they fall away when they have outgrown such childish characters or they never learned anything substantial and don’t understand the fullness of the Faith, or both.

2. Larry B. - July 29, 2011

We participated in a VBS program years back at our local parish at the time. Not only were the materials problematic in origin, the quality of the volunteers was pathetic. At this particular parish where we were parishioners, my younger daughter came home from a VBS class one evening telling me that the teacher’s assistant (a teenage girl) told the classroom of children (age 6 or 7 at the time) that there really is no hell and people just make it up for some reason. Also, the lead teacher in this classroom, who we sponsored in the marriage prep program a year or so prior, did not correct her assistant. When my wife asked this “teacher” about it, the teacher did not know herself if it was a bad thing to let this statement go uncorrected. Apparently she was not sure herself. I wrote a letter to the Pastor and explained my extreme disappointment in the quality of the volunteers and explained we would not be participating in VBS any longer.

Larry B.

3. JenZ - July 29, 2011

This is really quite interesting and really confirms for me the decision to participate only in the Catholic VBS program that our parish has done for the past 2 years. Last year covered the Mass, this year was about Mary, both talked about a saint and virtue every day and tied all aspects (faith, craft, snack, and games) together. Both years included a day where all of the children attending (and many of the teen volunteers) attended Adoration. We’re hoping that more parishes will see that there are some really faithful Catholic programs out there that immerse our children about the faith.

tantamergo - July 29, 2011

If your parish develops its own program – awesome! Which parish?

Cori Hyland - July 29, 2011

Yes, which parish? I’d like to know. We’ve done VBS with this sort of cartoony thing once (ONCE). It’s pretty shallow and expensive. Our eldest helps out at the pool with their swim classes and I was looking for a good Catholic VBS for him to help with and for the little ones to attend this summer and all I saw was this Panda thing, so no-go.

4. KMG - July 29, 2011

The Catholic Climate Covenant is widely embraced by the Catholic community. Fully twenty-seven national Catholic organizations support the Catholic Climate Covenant, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Both the Bishops and the Holy Father have explicitly called on Catholics to address climate change as a moral issue, and Pandamania is a faithful response to that call.

Cori Hyland - July 29, 2011

It’s still bunk science.

tantamergo - July 29, 2011

‘Widely embraced’ by organs related to the USCCB. It’s funny, just yesterday, there was a major scientific paper announced that further undercut the false notion of ‘climate change’ (heretofore known as weather), and then we have this review of Pandamania showing the ‘Covenant’ scaring little children with this propaganda.

The USCCB should be far more concerned with the vertical than the horizontal, with the eternal, than social engineering.

5. Harold - July 29, 2011

So, climate change isn’t real and there is no link to poverty, huh? Better tell the Pope, who calls global climate change a “reality.” ! Glad you are on top of things, blasting Protestants. (Yes, that’s with a capital P). Otherwise, setting yourself up as an alternate magisterium might make people ask if you are one. You’re contradicting the Pope. Like you deem OSV to be, is the Pope not orthodox?

And where, exactly, is your proof that the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change promotes abortion and birth control?


1 JANUARY 2010

Without entering into the merit of specific technical solutions, the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an “expert in humanity”, to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order. In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an “ecological crisis” and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity”. His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.

tantamergo - July 29, 2011

I would say that the Pope is likely unduly influenced by the dominant media meme in Europe, which is far more prevalent than even here in the United States, which encourages global warming hysteria. But even he only lists “climate change” as one aspect of environmental concerns. Sorry, I don’t believe any of it, first of all, because I’m an engineer who has spent a good deal of his career engaged in 3-D computational fluid dynamic analysis of closed systems, and I know how very limited the very best analysis programs and programmers are in that regard – on small, closed, systems. The world is a huge, complex, open system. The number of variables to account for in performing global warming modeling are nearly endless. Does increased CO2 cause more cloud cover? Do the clouds reflect more light, or trap heat? Does increased cloud cover increase rain and thus plant growth? How CO2 do those plants then absorb? How much does interstellar dust block sunlight? What about albedo changes in the earth? The oceans can absorb and release huge amounts of heat, what about the plankton – how do they play a role? That’s just a few, easily thought of examples, but you get the picture. Even the best analyses can only include a few hundred to a couple thousand variables. And, as we have repeatedly seen, the models have been repeatedly proved wrong by objective data. All the objective data shows that we are not in a period of severe warming, nor do we appear to be heading to one. In fact, the historical data shows that we are in a relatively mild period – it has been far warmer, and colder, in the past. There is no evidence whatsoever that we are headed to a period of severe warming. But, we are told by global warming scare-mongers that we must turn over control of our economy to appointed supra-national bodies and expect a massive downturn in our standard of living. We must further impede future economic growth to a huge degree, which will make wealthy countries relatively poor and keep poor countries mired in misery. It is fine to be in favor of care for the environment, I don’t know anybody who isn’t to one degree or another, and our family certainly does our part, but when unproven theories are used by agenda-driven organizations to try to grab massive power and influence to push for their preferred politico-economic model (top-down supranational socialism, trending towards communism) that I have a major problem with it. The cost of following the agenda would be so enormous it cannot be calculated, and there are some extremists in the environmental community who literally do desire to see mankind reduced in population to 1 billion or less, and for that population to be poor, cold, and in the dark, most of the time. I am terrified that anyone even with an affiliation with those types would gain control over world economies in pursuit of this agenda.

I admire, love, and respect Pope Benedict XVI greatly. But, I don’t see any real action items coming from that statement.

tantamergo - July 29, 2011

And, I agree with Mary – there is no reason to address ‘climate change’ in a summer VBS program, unless one is pushing an agenda. Any more rabbit hole comments will be deleted.

I was just being all imperious today. Rabbit-hole away!

6. Mary - July 29, 2011

I am a licenced Professional Engineer in the environmental field. Even the Texas DEQ folks didn’t buy off on “Climate Change”.

Besides, our primary objective is to save souls, does the holy PAnda address that???

7. Liza - July 29, 2011

I just wonder why we would want to saddle kids with a doom and gloom prediction about climate change over which they as kids are really powerless to do anything about. They can’t even vote. Besides if we are going to be selective about hot button political issues who our what are we placing our trust in on that in terms of our children. Teach children their dignity in the eyes of God and start with their responsibilities in what they have control over in their daily life, and to come to the Lord in prayer. And then leave the politics to the politicoes.

Mary - August 2, 2011

Amen to that!

8. Brynne - August 3, 2011

“For hardcore Catholics, folks really trying to live the Faith……..I’d recommend staying away from parish VBS programs, now and for the foreseeable future.”

Don’t you think those of us really trying to live our faith would be better off getting involved in how our parishes present faith to children? Catholicism isn’t supposed to be elite, with a tiny cadre of those doing it correctly hiding from the rest of the Church. My parish did not use the powerpoint slides about climate change. The program was well received at our parish and my kids and I had a great experience which led to increased prayer by my children.

tantamergo - August 3, 2011

It’s great you had a better experience. Our experience, and that of many others, has not been as positive. I don’t think the comments made were unfair – at many parishes, parents and others are given essentially no say in the formational materials used at any level, be it at parish schools, CCD, or VBS. And, many parishes take a very heavy handed approach when it comes to child-level catechesis – families are told their children “must” participate in the Baptism, First Communion, or Confirmation classes, or their child cannot receive that Sacrament. There is nothing in Church Doctrine that confirms these overweening regulations. We just had a woman approach us today after Mass, stating that her child had gone through First Communion class at a local parish and it was awful – she felt her daughter actually regressed in the Faith. You are very fortunate to be at a parish where formation is apparently relatively strong.

It is not a selfish elitism that causes people to withdraw from these programs, it is generally bad experiences, and a desire to see perhaps a more robust formation in their children than is available at many parishes. I have fought this battle before, and have not found much support from parish DREs to use more robust formational materials – they use whatever the Diocese specifies, which is normally whatever the USCCB specifies.

I find it interesting that my expression of our experiences and our preferences causes you to state that we are somehow elitists hiding our secret knowledge from other Catholics. Especially when I do all I can to share that knowledge and experience via this blog, speaking engagements, and radio.

9. Cori Hyland - August 4, 2011

Pandamania…You know, those animals are high like 90% of the time. Who wants their kids to be hangin’ out with those kinds of influences? I can just send my kids to the skate park for free instead with the same results. hahahah! They’ll learn more about the weather, too, by being exposed to it.

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