Convictions & Comforts · Uncategorized

Parent Tested, Sunday Approved

When I was little–okay, when I was young–there was a short list of movies we were allowed to watch on Sundays. These were the films that according to my parents had wholesome language, good morals, and wouldn’t risk the wrath of the Lord for defiling his holy day.

The approved movies fell into three main categories: Biblical, Classic Disney, and when Mum and Dad were feeling particularly generous, Animated Hero Classics.

It was at this time I fell in love with John Rolfe and simultaneously discovered that "English needs to be fixed."

Now, when I say “Classic Disney” I don’t mean Fox and the Hound, Little Mermaid, or Dumbo. We weren’t allowed to watch any of those movies until we were over 12 for various reasons. (Language, teenage rebellion/partial nudity, and sheer nightmarish qualities.) For us, Classic Disney included The Incredible Journey, (1963 version, of course) The Swiss Family Robinson, and… nope, I think that was it.

Animated movies, especially with talking animals, were also taboo on Sundays.

Throughout the years my parents have grown far more lax, and I admit it makes me unreasonably upset (and somewhat jealous) that my little siblings are watching things on Sundays I wasn’t allowed to see at all until I was in junior high. (RUINERS OF CHILDHOOD!! I EARNED THE RIGHT TO SEE ALADDIN!! WITH MANY MONTHS OF SCRIPTURE MEMORIZATION!!) It also makes me sad that they’ve seen The Swiss Family Robinson only once in the past two years and do not have the majority of Ben Hur memorized.

“I said no water for him!”

Out of the meager selections of Sunday approved movies, these are my favourites. I remember watching them over and over and over, learning each scene by heart, and still getting excited when the next Sunday came around and we could watch one of them again. These are the rare films I can watch as many times as there are Sundays in a year and never tire of them. They are timeless and wonderful and no person is a complete person until they’ve seen them.

Ben Hur

“Oh Judah, I am not evil.”

I knew this film front to back almost before I could spell “treachery.” (Almost. And I could spell betrayal.) Back in my day–so long ago that a Walkman was considered high tech–Judah Ben Hur was a household name. Our parents were told to drive at “ramming speed,” the proper use of a Roman plume was daily discussed, and no one minded if you stole from a sibling, so long as you held your prize up over your head like a stolen spear. Bahaha. Stolen spear scene. :D

Insubordination is punished by being hung upside-down and made to sweep the decks with those brushy helmet plumes!

Mesalla’s name and the pronunciation of it hailed jokes about “my sala-d” and the glaringly obvious puns involving “Caesar” dressing. Chariot spokes were just about the most frightening thing imaginable, and for once in my life I didn’t care about a romance. Yes, people. That’s right. Ben Hur is a movie I watch for everything but the Esther scenes. I remember we always sped those conversations–or talked really loudly over them.


This movie has everything. (Except an interesting romance. But I think that’s the point; it’s about a relationship with Christ, not a romantic one.) It has Charleton Heston, though. Enough said.

“Your eyes are full of hate, Forty-One. That’s good. Hate keeps a man alive.”

The Sound of Music

This didn’t fall into any of the approved categories, (I guess if your terms of “history” are pretty broad, it could) but it’s a movie about a family that learns how to sing and dance because of a spunky governess. What’s not to love?

Commercials! That’s what! Our VHS was taped from the telly, so we poor souls had to watch The Sound of Music with Christmas ad interruptions and a really weird basketball commercial involving a countdown clock in green neon lights. When we first owned the DVD it was like watching an extended version because the taped one was edited for commercials.

The Ten Commandments

In which Charleton Hesto--I mean MOSES parts the Red Sea!!

The quotes we chose to put to memory always astound me. The classic lines like: “Blood makes poor mortar.” “So let it be written, so let it be done.” and “Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel: Let my people go!” of course we know by heart.

However, these were more likely to be heard by us, and are as quotable as the day we first heard them…

“I love you, my mother. But am I your son?”

“You will be mine, like my dog, or my horse, or my falcon, except that I shall love you more… and trust you less.”

“The old windbag.”
“I agree with him.”

“Great King… I will ask but one favor of your friendship. This green stone, from our mountains. That I may give it to your Prince of Egypt. For he is kind… as well as wise.”


“What do you see, Sephora?”
“A man.”
“A MAN!?” ” “What kind of man!?” “Just one man?” “Is he handsome?” “Look at his sandals.” “Egyptian.” “His robe is not Egyptian…”
“Who cares, he’s a man!”

The Swiss Family Robinson

I won’t even put a single quote in this section, because I could carry on to quote almost the entire movie. I’ll just… okay, fine. One quote. “We gotta have those lions and tigers! Or else… well that’s the whole idea!”

My younger siblings were finally watching this the other day and it amazed me how fantastic this movie still is. I’ve seen it more than thirty times, I’m sure, but I find myself laughing over Fritz and Ernst’s fist fights like it’s new each time. It’s the sort of movie that makes you think, “How did they manage to do that?” without the special effects Avatar boasts and the 3D crap that’s so rampant today.

Why don’t they make movies like these anymore? *sigh*

When I hear the word “classic” these are the films that automatically spring to my mind. Whenever one of these movies is lovingly placed in the DVD player, to this day one of the older siblings will pipe up with, “Oh! A Sunday approved movie!”

I’m curious. Did anyone else have parents with a special list of movies clean enough for Sundays? What about traditional holiday films? Any movies you watch only for a special occasion?

“We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well. And live.”


14 thoughts on “Parent Tested, Sunday Approved

  1. We didn’t really watch movies on Sundays (That was my dad’s time to watch 60 Minutes) but I remember that my mom always bought tons of movies from Feature Films For Families. They were movies that were censored for young eyes -which led to some interesting plot holes due to the chopped scenes. Mainly though my childhood was made up of Winnie The Pooh. To this day I still quote from Winnie The Pooh. Sad but true. :)

    1. Feature Films!! I’m very familiar with those. :) Seasons of the Heart, especially. That’s another video lost somewhere in the pile of VHS tapes we own.

      Hah! That’s like when we watch a movie edited for TV so the rating goes down to PG. I have to say, it gets pretty hilarious when you know what they’re saying but the lip movements don’t match with the audio. :P I know what you mean about the plot gaps, too.

      I love Winnie the Pooh!! I still call my siblings, “Silly ‘ole bear!” I was actually choking up watching the old intro a couple months back. *sniffles*

  2. At first, we weren’t allowed ANY TV on Sundays. I eventually was the rebel who convinced my mom to let us watch The Wonderful World Of Disney that came on only on Sundays…but I did that by drawing up a poster that said “Don’t forget to Think of Jesus” and telling my mom we would still think of Jesus as we watched the Disney show because the poster would remind us. It still makes me laugh today. (I was the oldest of 9 kids…and it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that my youngest siblings watched whatever they wanted on Sunday when I was off at college–even without a poster to remind them to think of Jesus)

    1. Haha! That’s fantastic! I remember one evening (I was four or five) I asked for ice cream and my dad said no. I burst into tears and told him, “But earlier you said yes, and in the Bible, Jesus said, ‘Let your yes be yes and your no no!'” He laughed and I got ice cream. :P I’m 21 now and I still do things like that. “But daaad, this movie is practically an allegory about the Christian life!” “But the Lord says to ‘give good gifts’ to your children!!”

      I’m the oldest of 10 and it’s the same for me. The three first born are always complaining that the younger siblings get to do things we never did at that age.

  3. Wow…and somehow I thought there was no family like mine. Guess I was wrong ;)

    CHARELTON HESTON! <–Seriously my childhood love. I love love love Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments.

    Maybe it's a cool family thing or just a homeschool family thing, but my siblings and I watched the same movies as you. Although we did also watch a lot of Star Wars, The Princess Bride (my older siblings would act out the movie when they played dress up lol), Three Stooges, and Looney Tunes.

    Ah. Good times :)

    1. Yay!! Ooo, I love finding out other people had similar growing-up experiences as I did!

      YES!!!!! A lot of actors come and go, but when Charleton Heston died, I was really, really upset. I’m still not over it.

      Yep! We watched Star Wars and Princess Bride as well! Not as much, but still a lot. When I read “The Princess Bride” at first I saw “Swan Princess” and I was going to squeal from laughter because although it wasn’t a “Sunday movie,” THAT particular film I watched more than anything else. Back then it was the most romantic movie in the world to me. Classic cheese fest. I love it still! But for totally different reasons. :P We didn’t watch any TV except Barney and Little House on the Prairie, but I was faithful to never miss an episode.

      Hehehe. Good times, indeed. :)

  4. The Sound of Music was definitely one of my family’s classics that we watched over and over, as well as Mary Poppins. But in The Sound of Music we always fast-forwarded the part with Maria and the Captain being all lovey-dovey.

    Cartoons were always big no-nos in my family too! My mother always used to say how cartoons are more violent than other movies because they feel it’s okay to be as violent as you want since it’s just a drawing.

    My mother would never let us watch a biblical movie because she believes it gives you the false impression that that’s how the people in the Bible looked and acted even though you KNOW it’s just a movie.

    Though we didn’t watch many movies, we did watch PBS Kids. But when I was in sixth or seventh grade my mother got sick of the television, drove several miles to a dump in the middle of nowhere, and got rid of it. :D Actually, when she married my father they’d originally agreed not to have a television, but my father kept going over to his mother’s house to watch football, so my mother just bought one to keep him home. ;)

    1. Isn’t that funny how you speed certain things when you’re little? Did you skip it because it was bordering inappropriate for your standards or because you thought it was boring? :P Because when we were all kids we sped the romance for being boring.

      It’s true! And some of the Disney films like Aladdin and Little Mermaid are super immodest with the princess/mermaid attire.

      My parents have always been very careful with Biblical movies, but for some reason The Ten Commandments was the exception. And we had to watch with Dad’s commentary the first five times we ever saw it. “That’s not what happened. Remember this passage in Exodus? That’s why this didn’t happen like this. Okay, in reality, he died.” They’re still wary of anything portraying Jesus, but since Ben Hur keeps the actor’s face hidden and he never speaks, they figured it was okay.

      Hehehe! That’s actually a really cute story. :) And it sounds a lot like our house for the first years of my parents’ marriage.

      1. My parents always fast-forwarded that part because kissing wasn’t appropriate for our youthful eyes, but I was never really interested in watching it because I knew it was just mushy romance. ;) Even now, because of that sensitivity taught to me at a young age, I don’t like seeing kissing onscreen. In books it’s different, but onscreen it feels . . . somewhat voyeuristic. You don’t need a kiss to be romantic. Look at pretty much every scene in the BBC Pride & Prejudice!

  5. Swiss Family Robinson!!!! :D :D *cough cough cough* Well, actually I haven’t seen the film. But I read the book until it is in its current state: just about falling apart. It always saddens me when I see how much hate that book gets these days, seeing that I grew up with it. First with the children’s version and then with the full.
    And I can sing my way all through The Sound of Music. My mother and I still quote it at each other these days! Also, hahaha, commercials in the VHS! It always feels so strange to watch the DVD years later, because I keep on waiting for that commercial I memorized! :lol:

    We’ve never had a rule about stuff that are not allowed to happen on Sundays, but is okay on other days (expect maybe on making noise outside, because people were sleeping), because my parents are of the conviction that you should not only remember about being a Christian on Sundays, but you should live it everyday. Therefore, what is suitable for weekdays are suitable for Sundays because everyday is holy and belongs to the Lord. They were also not strict about something like Harry Potter, which was of course still widely considered demonic in our community in those days. They bought me the first book and said that it was better that I find out for myself what was good and what the evil in our world than be spoon-fed it by other people. Mostly it was, “Read it and decide for yourself.” They also signed my note when the teacher sent it home from school, asking for permission whether we were to be allowed to watch HP1 in class. Quite a lot of kids had to be sent to the other class because their parents refused though. Shame.
    However, my parents were actually strict about age restrictions. If I wasn’t 13 or 10 or whatever, I certainly would not watch that restricted movie on TV.

    PS. I noted your use of Mum and Dad! ;)

    1. Surprisingly, I’ve never read the book! Probably because the film was such a centerpiece of my childhood that I felt betrayed when I heard it’s really different from the book. So I decided the movie was better. :o Which, for me, is very odd.

      Yes!! I still expect an obnoxious Christmas jingle to start up right after Maria leaves for the convent during the party. :P

      Over the years I think my parents have come a little closer to taking that approach, but we’re still more “literal fourth commandment” keepers than a lot of Christians tend to be. For example, I do not work on Sundays, we keep recreation and “secular” music to a minimum, and we don’t go shopping between services. (We do buy dinner out.) I absolutely believe in the ideal that you’re a Christian every day, but there’s something to be said for that special “Lord’s day” set apart for quiet meditation. It’s kind of like Christmas every Sunday in that regard. Not that we’re allowed to slack the rest of the week, but I definitely feel more equipped when I keep Sunday special.

      My parents and I (well, mostly my Dad and I) do disagree about Harry Potter sort of issues. I say once you’re a certain age you have the ability to read/watch things with a grain of salt and understand what to take from it. I still don’t understand why Lord of the Rings is so accepted in Christian circles but Harry Potter isn’t. They both involve wizards and magical things! But that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. ;)

      Hehehe! Huzzah! :D I appreciate your notice.

      1. Hehe, I did the same with Mary Poppins. I read the first book and decided that the film was better and I’d just stick with that! :P
        We may not be so literal, but Sunday is still a different day from other days. I’m still forced to do homework most of the time, because my lecturers are not that lenient and I could not possibly finish everything on Saturday. And it is not as though I don’t have other things that need doing as well! ;) We don’t go to church every Sunday and we only go to one service, but we usually go every second Sunday. Also, we would not go shopping either, unless it is a real crisis, which luckily happens seldom!
        Yes… I also wish I knew why people approve of LotR, but not of Harry Potter. Maybe because HP focuses more on the learning of magic and spells – whereas in LoTR it’s just there – which makes people fear witchcraft…? Who knows? ;)

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