When I became a man, I put away my GigaPet.

King of the Hill is one of my favorite shows. It depicts some less than wholesome things in a comical way such as drunkenness and promiscuity, but many times it can help us take a closer look at who we are. One episode in particular stands out for me. In it Bobby, the middle school son of the Hills, begins taking part in activities that Hank does not find acceptable (i.e. donning a dread lock wig, goatee, and black fingernail polish). Hank, sure that his son has a one way ticket to Hell, visits his minister to discuss Bobby’s behavior. She tells Hank about an after school Christian youth group at the local YMCA. Hank, feeling confident that this will turn Bobby around, takes him the next day dressed in a coat and tie along with his Bible. He reluctantly complies and walks to the rear of the Y only to find a bunch of skate boarding teenagers. Bobby soon finds out that these guys riding the half-pipe are the youth group and the “pastor” is a skate boarding, guitar playing, tattooed Generation Xer. Bobby sees this and becomes immediately engrossed in this Christian youth sub-culture. Suddenly, he’s wearing WWJD beanies, Satan Sucks t-shirts, and playing video games that help Moses & the Israelites escape the Egyptian army. What Christian dad wouldn’t want his son doing these things? Hank Hill, that’s who, but don’t booh and hiss him just yet.

Unless one watches the entire episode, the main point will be missed, so if you catch it on, don’t change the channel. All during the show I kept wondering why Hank disapproved of Bobby’s new behavior, and I also wondered why I didn’t approve of it. For a time I was in Bobby’s shoes. I listened to Christian rock, was familiar with the music videos, and wore the clothing that bore strong resemblances to popular brands of the day (i.e. JC for Jesus Christ instead of CK for Calvin Klein and the John Deere logo that reads John 3:16). Why did I leave those influences behind and why wasn’t I on Bobby’s side?

The conflict rises to its climax when Bobby, looking like a Kid Rock side-kick, screams and leads the moshing crowd in chants that praise God. Hank sees this, jerks Bobby off stage, and takes him home. Still, I’m bewildered at why I’m with Hank and not Bobby. Then, Hank tells us both. He brings out a box of Bobby’s old toys and they both laugh as they reminisce. “I can’t believe I was so into that,” Bobby says referring to his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. Hank then finishes the lesson by explaining that he doesn’t want God to end up in that box with Bobby’s troll doll, virtual pet, and Beanie Buddy (aka Beanie Baby). It made sense to me then. Becoming a Christian is about putting away childish things. Bobby was in that group because he liked their style, not because of their stance on Christianity. I’m reminded of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) and how some of his plants didn’t have sufficient root because they fell on the rocky soil. As Bobby would begin to leave this group, he would most likely leave God behind as well. I believe the skater, sport, and (like what I saw today) Jeep™ Christian groups have their place. Maybe they reach a segment of the population that wouldn’t be reached otherwise, but can the group become more important than God? What are your thoughts?

2 Responses

  1. Bren Hughes June 22, 2006 / 10:34 pm

    Amen, brother! Though I can only assume that many of my fellow young believers have the purest intentions in wearing Christian fashion, but I would never feel comfortable with the pop-cultural-referencing variety. It feels to me like it trivializes something which is supposed to be a way of life, not a fashion statement.

    I suppose I also shied away from Christian fashion because I knew kids who wore that stuff but still were notoriously immoral or acted like jerks. As Paul wrote to Timothy, the true Christian fashion is “good works.”

  2. TM520 December 6, 2006 / 8:11 pm

    Nice to have found your blog, Dale!

    As someone who watches cartoons “religiously,” I’m always fascinated when I find a show that not only presents an interesting viewpoint, but does so in a manner that’s both realistic and respectful. I, too, have seen this episode and I, too, found myself siding with Hank. I was never in Bobby’s position, but I had more than my share of friends who were. Many of them are no longer faithful Christians, acting as though it were all just another phase they went though as kids.

    Like Bren, I knew my share of people who wore the shirts but had no room in their lives for God. But I’d have to say that the biggest reason I didn’t get into “passion fashion” — which, nowadays, includes not only t-shirts but also nail necklaces and foam crowns of thorns — because most of it was really, really stupid.



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