One of the great words of the New Testament, to which Jesus himself gave the greatest importance when he used it in instituting the Eucharist, is anamnesis, remembrance. Christ’s institution placed at the center of our lives a gift and a discipline. The discipline is recalling a Person from the back of our minds into the focus our mind’s eye. The gift is that the Person we recall is Christ himself.
As a new father, I am just starting to see how parenthood likewise requires of us discipline in recalling and graces us with gifts in the remembering. As we watch our children wonder at things for the first time, we call to mind those times and places where we first found those very things wonderful. When our children confront challenges for the first time, we help them by recalling when we first faced those challenges. And when we remember the myriad guises in which grace met us in those challenges—whether to grant us success in meeting them, or to pick us up when we stumbled—we find fresh grace not only for our children but for ourselves. We often find that we are made better—wiser, kinder, more thankful and joyful—by the remembering that is a staple discipline of parenthood. In remembering we find ourselves just a bit better fitted to receive the Kingdom of God like little children.
It may seem odd to begin a review of The Slugs & Bugs Show with meditations on anamnesis, but as I watched episode after episode the word kept coming to mind. The show recalls so many places I’ve been and, as it calls those things to mind, it spotlights things my daughter will soon encounter for the first time. The show finds those places where remembrance and discovery meet, and keeps coming back to them.
Notably, its approach to these holy places is via the Gospel rather than moralism: the characters (sometimes despite themselves) find delight in music, thankfulness in feasts, understanding after confusion, satisfaction in collaboration through conflict, reconciliation after wrongdoing. Not all shows are so careful as the Slugs & Bugs Show in drawing out the practical, gritty ways that the Gospel of grace alone makes life in family and community possible. This is one of many reasons I am thankful that my wife, daughter and I will have the benefit of watching and learning from The Slugs & Bugs Show together.
The show finds those places where remembrance and discovery meet, and keeps coming back to them. David Mitchel
And I should add that, as we learn from The Slugs & Bugs Show together, we’ll be enjoying it together, because The Slugs & Bugs Show imparts its graces and the serious lessons of remembrance with a wonderfully light touch. Here great credit goes to the whole The Slugs & Bugs Show creative team. Producer J. Chris Wall (VeggieTales, The Wingfeather Saga film) saw in the Slugs & Bugs albums a little world (the show’s delightful Slugs & Bugs Workshop) from which such songs might have emerged, and the potential for a full cast of characters whose existence the Slugs & Bugs albums had suggested. Randall Goodgame, host of the show and communal hub of the Slugs & Bugs Workshop, holds the matter of the show together much the way he does on the Slugs & Bugs albums—fitting silly pieces to profound ones with joy, warmth, and understanding. The show’s writers—Wall, Douglas McKelvey, and others—deliver to Randall finely-shaped pieces to fit together. The principal characters (Doug the Slug, Sparky the Lightning Bug, Maggie and Morty Racoon) all appear with recognizably distinct personalities; the recurring characters (e.g. Amy Goodgame as herself and as Carla the Delivery Person) are memorable and fun; and both the writers and Randall as host draw forth fine performances from the various guests who appear on the show. The many songs featured in the shows are set appropriately and, as one would expect, the musical performances are both skillful and drenched in joy.
It takes vision, artistic and literary craftsmanship, and a great deal of love to create a space where parents can remember things as their children discover them, where adults and children can satisfy together their “eternal appetite of infancy,” as they grow younger together in the graces of the Father who “is younger than we.” I am thankful to the creators and performers who have made The Slugs & Bugs Show such a space.