Monday, May 16, 2016

Maccabees: The Story of Hanukkah (Animated Hero Classics)

Animated/ Children
28 minutes / 2005
RATING: 6/10

This is a quick, simple depiction of an Intertestamental tale that most Christians don't know

The way the story is most often told, in the second century BC a Greek king by the name of Antiochus ruled over the Seleucid Empire, and that included Judea and Samaria. Jews were being pressured to adopt Greek culture. Antiochus went so far as to outlaw Judaism, and ban circumcision. Then in 167 BC he ordered that a statue of Zeus be erected in the Jewish Temple and pigs be sacrificed on the Temple's altar.

His desecration of the temple so outraged the Jews that they rebelled. In this animated account the rebellion is depicted as being led by "Judah the Hammer" but that is an abridgment of the traditional tale. The rebellions was led by Judah's father, Mattathias, along with all five of Mattathias' sons, including Judah. Judah would become the leader only later, after his father died.

Two years after the rebellion began victory was won! The statue of Zeus was quickly destroyed and then the Temple was rededicated. The Temple menorah was relit, but, according to the Talmud, only enough oil for one day's worth of burning could be found, and yet the menorah remained lit for eight days until new oil could be brought in.


There is some minimal violence, as you might expect in a story of armed insurrection. But it is basically bloodless. And children of school age would likely be able to handle this.

How much of the story is true and how much is legend we can't quite be sure. The miracle of the eight day oil supply is found only in the Talmud, where it was written down about 600 years after the event. However the Maccabee rebellion itself is described in 1 and 2 Maccabees and in the works of historian Josephus, giving us good reason to think the core of the story is true. A eight day festival of lights, also called Hanukkah, commemorating the rededication of the temple, is still celebrated by Jews today.


This is a good but not great video  – 28 minutes simply doesn't leave enough time to do this story justice. But for children, and parents too, who have never heard about Hanukkah's origins, this will grab their interest.

The depiction of the Greeks' persecution of the Jews is clearly meant to parallel the action of the Nazis – particularly when Greeks soldiers are going house to house, busting down doors, looking for orthodox Jews. So another reason to watch would be as a gentler way to introduce students to the sad reality of Anti-Semitism than could be done with anything Holocaust-related.

You can buy your own copy of Maccabees: The Story of Hanukkah at by clicking here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Buddy Davis' Amazing Adventures: EXTREME CAVING

Family/ Kids
58 minutes / 2013
RATING: 7/10

While Buddy Davis and the Tennessee Caveman Robbie Black are the hosts of this episode, the real stars of the show are the Cumberland Caverns themselves. This is one of the longest cave systems in the world, running at least 30 miles. If you've ever wondered what it's like to hike and climb and descend through caves that are hundreds of feet below the ground, you're going to love this!

Davis, and his professional camera crew, takes us through passages and caverns that vary in height from dozens of meters to tight squeezes that are just a matter of inches. We get to see flowers made of gypsum, popcorn made of calcite, and translucent "cave bacon." We go stoop-walking and belly-crawling, pit-crossing, butt-sliding and even scuba diving into parts of the caverns that people don't normally go. We go so deep down that for a while even our guide loses his bearings!

While Davis is normally an energetic, even hyper, host – all in an effort at keeping kids' attention – the physical demands of this episode mellowed him out some. That might be why I liked this one a little bit more. It's still a show for children, but the more restrained Davis is a little easier for adults to enjoy in an adult way. There is still lots of fun for the kids though, with animated scene transitions, a fun song about a skunk, lots of peppy bouncy music, and a close look at a cute furry fruit bat.

This is one of four videos in the "Buddy Davis' Amazing Adventures series" and is produced by the creationist group Answers in Genesis and their creationist worldview is evident throughout. For example, in one short interlude we learn about how many caves may have been formed by the Flood.


The only caution I can come up with is that at least a couple of the Scriptural references Davis shares are on the random side, not particularly relevant to what he is trying to relate them to. But this is only a minor quibble in this remarkable video.


As far as children's productions go, this is a longer video at just about an hour long – if you have young children you might want to watch this in two parts. What I most appreciated about it is it is something the whole family can enjoy, with lots of fun for the kids, and lots of amazing sights to see for the adults. Shucks, this has me think of checking out the Cumberland Caverns for myself!

You can buy this at (just search for "buddy davis amazing").