Saturday, June 20, 2009

#31 Flannelgraphs

White Christians love all things soft. From comfy choir robes to carpeted aisles, with padded pews, and even felt-lined offering plates, white Christians have a long-term relationship with the soft-knock life. Perhaps nowhere is this more prominently displayed (on an easel no less) than flannelgraphs.

Used primarily for Sunday School Bible stories, flannelgraphs combine the 3 S's of children's ministry: Sunday School, Salvation, and softness.

In fact, white Christians were so inspired by the 2 dimensional felt representation of Bible stories that they felt (pun intended) it necessary to move into the next dimension by shaping felt into puppets for
puppet ministry (flannelgraph's younger, hipper, nephew).

The flannelgraph truly is a model of flexibility. These terrific teaching tools typically come in four distinct flannel-lined backgrounds:

Aquatic Marine Adventure: For Bible stories like Noah and the ark, Jesus calming the storm, etc.

Khaki Desert Wasteland: The Battle of Jericho, Manna from Heaven... basically the majority of the Old Testament. Characters used in conjuction with this background typically wear a robe, beard, and a colorful head-towel of some kind.

Luscious, Luscious, Sunny Green-Garden: From the garden of Eden to the garden of Gethsemane. This really is your bread and butter, go-to flannelgraph.

Classic 80's Blue: If you didn't recognize any of the three previous options from your Sunday School experience, chances are you grew up before turn of the century and before all of these new-fangled backgrounds were invented. This design has the unique feature of allowing the viewer to imagine the setting as Bible characters hovered in a sea of blue felt.

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book of blues finn said...

Eddie Murphy would be so proud

Abraham Calvin said...

Book of blues finn... thanks for the comment- didn't realize that Eddie Murphy was a fan of flannelgraphs. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

anna said...

I was always confused why they depicted the desert-wandering Israelites chilling in an ocean.

gabi said...

i'm going to be a freshman at a christian liberal arts college this fall, and i'm rooming with one of my best friends. we got assigned to one of the original buildings, and the doors have flannel boards instead of white erase boards, so we're going to ask our childrens' ministry director for some bible characters to stick on it.

Luther Zwingli said...

Gabi- this is phenominal. I love the idea.

funfelt said...

Wow I just stumbled across this post when looking up who is talking about felt boards and it is fun! I hope I don't get kicked out for posting this but you can actually find some great flannel board figures at They're multi-cultural too! :)

Anonymous said...

Here's the irony...of your satire. Most white kids these days don't even know what flannelgraph is -- but a friend of mine was using it to teach very non-white Nepalis in Nepal. They loved it so much, they took out their cell phones to take pictures of it.

Anonymous said...

The VeggieTales episode "King George and the Ducky" featured a flannel graph.