In fundy churches, the most common type of traveling musical family is the missionary family. The traveling family musical act is a mainstay of the fundamentalist missionary endeavor. If a missionary is to be a success on deputation and furlough he or his family must sing, play an instrument, and be able to quote John 3:16 in a foreign language. As a reward for doing these things (and not necessarily for doing them well) the missionary is then allowed to sell tapes and CDs of his family’s musical feats on the back table after the service.
There is another type of musical family that is modeled more along the lines of the von Trapp family. These are families with large numbers of children who consider traveling and performing to be their mission. It’s not easy get this act going for the simple reason that it requires having a large family. Two musical kids are hardly worth driving to see unless they’re really exceptional but by the time you’re up to seven musical children it’s a phenomenon, and twelve children barely have to have any musical talent at all to attract a crowd.
There are other costs to be considered too. Matching outfits for all those kids don’t come cheap. Not to mention the cost of transporting them from place to place. Thankfully, people are usually generous with their love offerings to musical acts.
In fact, missionaries are often thrilled to find out that a “big name” in the family musician trade is going to be present that week for the simple fact that they help boost the offerings. Man shall not live by flute solos alone.
Be sure to stop by the display table in the back.
(thanks to Don for bringing back many memories for this post.)
Although many fundamentalists still let their teens date (translation: “sit next to someone of the opposite sex in youth group or church”) many like the idea of courtship instead.
The trend towards courtship became very popular a few years ago, when a single charismatic-leaning Calvinist teenager who was living in a basement decided to write a book about why he didn’t want to date anymore. For some reason, this book was widely accepted in fundamentalist circles where some touted it as gospel and declared it the “Biblical way.”
Using the biblical model for finding a wife, the parents of the bride and groom are the key decision makers in who their children marry. The advantage is that this eliminates emotionally painful breakups and purges out the leaven of mates who are not quite up to fundy snuff. The disadvantage is that rounding up the livestock needed to pay the bride’s dowry is a messy business. The week-long wedding feasts are also very expensive. But, if a fundamentalist is going to set out to do things the Biblical way, he can’t pick and choose which traditions he wants to follow.
Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match…
Fundamentalists take the command to “be fruitful and multiply” very seriously. After all, the best way to make sure there are always a supply of young fundamentalists is to grow your own. The Amish have successfully used this technique for centuries and fundies are big fans too.
Having a family of seven, twelve, or sixteen kids is a lot of work and very expensive. That’s why fundamentalist fathers take only the best paying jobs like assistant Christian school gym teacher or church handyman. Getting the group discount at parks and museums is just an added bonus.
Of course, having a large family does present some difficulties too. People will stare and ask silly questions like “are these all yours?” (as if someone would willingly drag nine of someone else’s kids through Walmart). Children do accidentally get left at stores and gas stations. And going out to eat can require more planning and expense than the Normandy Invasion.
It’s not all bad, however. there are advantages too. For example, not every teenager gets the privilege ofÂ learning to drive in a fifteen-passenger van. And if all the kids learn a musical instrument, there’s a lot of opportunity for traveling performance ministries.
Why settle for any less than a quiver full?