Relevant: Childhood Christian Heroes

Psalty, Mr. Whittaker, McGee — what hath they in common?
on Jun 7, 2013 · 9 comments
“Pah-raise the Lo-ord!”

“Pah-raise the Lo-ord!”

Relevant introduces its piece:

For those of you raised in the church, there was no shortage of well-intentioned and, often, surprisingly well-produced content involving kindly, wise, biblically literate, not-necessarily-human mentors who served as your very first heroes.

They name, in order:

  1. Psalty the Singing Songbook, from the “Kids Praise!” mostly-audio franchise.
  2. John Avery Whittaker, from the Adventures in Odyssey radio drama (and later, at least 15 animated episodes).
  3. Colby the Computer, from a Psalty-like children’s worship cassette series. (Wasn’t there also a TV show?)
  4. Dr. Jake Cooper, from the Cooper Kids Adventure Series, penned by a pre-This Present Darkness Frank Peretti.
  5. Appears the re-released albums follow the "VeggieTales" formula of sticking the Moral right there on the front cover, boo.

    It appears the re-released Odyssey albums follow the VeggieTales-like formula of sticking the Moral right there on the front cover. Boo.

    McGee, the animated conscience/imaginary friend from the McGee and Me video series.1

My favorite? Mr. Whittaker, naturally, with Psalty as a close runner-up. Relevant describes the former:

[Mr. Whittaker] was primarily known as the kindly old owner of a local ice cream parlor, but his resume makes Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World seem about as fascinating as a styrofoam cup.

What hath these five figures of childhood faith fiction in common?

They’re all from speculative genres.

  1. I still recall hearing boycott-themed expressions of dislike for this series, because McGee was undefined and therefore “magical,” you see. Yes, apparently I used to get about in such hardcore-evangelical circles that I actually heard about reflexive boycotts of McGee and Me.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. Galadriel says:

    Since watching Doctor Who, I actually think that Whit is a Time Lord and the Imagination Station is his TARDIS–and his nemesis is Regis Blackgaard, who regenerated into The Chairman of NovaCom.

    • Alassiel says:

      I laughed when I read that. I have the same theory about Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus.  Her Time Lord name is probably The Teacher.

  2. LaShawn says:

    Alas! They didn’t mention SuperBook or the Flying House, which was both time traveling and anime to boot.

  3. They didn’t mention SuperBook or the Flying House, which was both time traveling and anime to boot.

    These series were done under the organization of Pat Robertson. Even with some animated full-frontal nudity. (Source: The Flying House revisionist Palm Sunday episode.) Humph. And they say Christian artists aren’t inventive and pioneering.

    My other heroes are:

    1. Prof. Peeper and Gizmo, not to mention the titular Superbook (or “Timebook”).
    2. Professor Bumble and his faithful robot SIR.
    3. Eugene Meltsner, from Adventures in Odyssey. Suddenly I realize I always wanted to be him. Eugene episodes were the best. So were any and all of the Imagination Station episodes, especially which played with the technology.
  4. D.M. Dutcher says:

    Psalty is pushing it. That’s like saying Barney’s spec-fic because he’s a talking dinosaur. He’s the only one I remember though; I think I was too old for Odyssey and never cared to see McGee. 

  5. Yes, but Psalty had a time machine. And sentient Disneyesque animal critters.

    There was little “realism” in the cassette episodes. Ergo: close enough to fantasy.

  6. Ah. I grew up with Psalty and the Cooper Kids Adventure series. What memories.

  7. Kessie says:

    We never got into Psalty. GT and the Halo Express was our poison–two kids and their angelic guardians. And the angel rock band.
    I adored Odyssey, but after Hal Smith died, the show kind of lost me. That’s around the same time the original creators started leaving, like Chuck Bolte and Paul McCusker. It never seemed to have the same sparkle after that. I know that’s unfair to the last ten years or so of episodes that I’ve missed, though.

    • G.T.! Illustrated as a little boy(?!), but with that odd memorable “scratchy” voice and quirky laugh. I still hear catchy ’80s music alongside so many Bible verses in the NIV.

What say you?