Beauty-and-the-beet-cover-art“There are some who are hard to love.”

The family musical group The VeggieTones are starting to make it big when they get the invitation to play at Vegtable Square Garden. On the way, the family is forced to pull over due to a fierce snowstorm. They seek shelter at the inn owned by Mr. Beet. However, they have no money. They have to do chores around the hotel, including being the entertainment each evening.

This VeggieTales story is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast story.  Here, the Beet, much like the Beast, has walled himself off from other people – uh, veggies. His staff is timid around him, careful not to anger him. His inn has received poor reviews (only one star) because of his lack of hospitality.

It is Mirabelle (voiced by Kellie Pickler, who sings eight of the original ten songs in the film) who ignites change in the Beet’s attitude and behavior. The DVD cover proclaims that this episode is “a lesson in unconditional love.” The whole animated feature is based on 1 John 4:11:

Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. (Common English Bible)

Mirabelle is the only one in the film willing to show the Beet love. She shows every one of the nine Fruit of the Spirit. When others prefer to grumble about the Beet, walk lightly around never challenging him, or simply ignoring him, Mirabelle chooses to speak kindly, teach him how to sing, and do kind things for him. Mirabelle is Christ-like.

Beauty-and-the-Beet-pic

The theme of loving others unconditionally, even when they are not so nice is appropriately timed. Especially those “who are hard to love.” In the midst of bullying, religious differences, theological debates, and potential church divisions, the message of loving others as Christ has loved us can never be told too often. After all, as Mirabelle says,  “God loves us all, whether we deserve it or not.”

And if God loves us, we should love others. Especially those who are mean and unkind to us. Especially those who disagree with us. Especially those who crucify with their words. Especially those who gossip and complain. Especially those  . . . . . . . .  you get the idea.

John Wesley has been referred to as the theologian of love. If we were to zone in on Wesley’s Methodist theology we would see that it was two-fold (much like Jesus’ commandment in the Gospels): love God and love each other. For Wesley love is the heart of authentic faith:

“Religion is the love of God and our neighbor, that is, every man under heaven.”

For Wesley, love rules all, motivates all, and directs all that we think and do. And yet, love is more than words we say. Love is something we do. Just at Mirabelle showed love to the Beet, the Beet returns that Godly love by taking a huge risk to help Mirabelle.

The extras on the DVD include two sing-a-long videos, a behind the scenes video featuring Kellie Pickler, but a featurette “In the Kitchen with Cook.” The VeggieTales Jukebox features songs found on the DVD. You can listen to them just as you would on Pandora.

One of the neat features on the DVD is a Family Discussion Guide. You use your remote to click through six questions, each with an activity to do. This is not only great for families, but children’s ministry groups and youth groups. The questions are simple, yet great for engaging a group in a discussion. They all focus on the themes of loving others, and being transformed by God’s love.