Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Talking Plastic Jesus

Every once in awhile, when I'm straightening out the children's section, I find a lovely little surprise that keeps me in a state of perpetual amusement for the rest of my shift. The Veggietales finger puppets and the armor of God certainly worked well for this, but last Friday I found something new to try not to giggle about. Jesus is now his own talking action figure, with glow in the dark hands and a Focus on the Family Storybook. And did I mention he talks?

There's a sticker on the box that says "I Talk: Try Me." Now, it's never good when I see a sticker that says try me, since I have to try it. The American Idol Barbies in Walmart were just awful... But anyway, I was expecting an array of two or three short sentences. "I am Jesus." "I have performed many miracles." "I died and rose again." "What Would I Do?" But no, He starts talking for 5 full minutes about the time He turned water into wine. He provides the background for the story, introduces the characters, the whole bit. I didn't let him finish, because I had to get back and watch the cash, so I don't know if he tells any other stories. As an added bonues, Jesus is fully poseable and you can add to your collection by buying such figures as Mary, Noah, David, and Esther. Although personally I'd just as soon wait to hear the real ones tell their stories in heaven.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Board Game Party...Christian Version

Some sections at work lend themselves to good-natured mockery far more readily than others. One of my personal favorites has the be the Christian board games section. You would not believe the games- whether they be Christian versions of *gasp* secular games or Christian originals- that have come through our store. Here are some of my personal favorites:


I naturally had to mention this one first. When I envision the epitome of cheesy Christian board games, Bibleopoly immediately comes to mind. In fact, it is so wonderfully cheesy that I fully intend to own it someday. It can go between Bible Mad Gab and Refraze: Christian/Gospel Edition. Honestly, there is not much I can say. I feel like the best thing I can do to help people fully appreciate this game is to quote bibleco.com:

"Bibleopoly quickly became one of the most popular Christian games of all time. It is a very unique game that challenges all ages and is sure to make your next party or gathering a huge hit for both young and young at heart! It's not only about winning in this game, it's about helping out your fellow competitors!
The object of the game is to be the first player to build a church in one of the Bible cities. In Bibleopoly, you cannot win by destroying your opponents; you can only be the winner by assisting your fellow players. This act of cooperation is what allows you to gain the things necessary to build your church and be a winner. Bibleopoly is great fun for the whole family!"

I should point out that Bibleopoly also lends itself to another fun game: trying to guess apects of the game without ever having seen it and see how many times you guess right. I did pretty well at this game if I do say so myself. Jerusalem and Bethlehem are indeed Boardwalk and Park Place, and you tithe instead of paying income tax. I was, however, wrong about jail. It's not hell or purgatory, you just spend time in forced prayer and meditation. I suppose in hindsight that really shouldn't have surprised me.

Apples to Apples: Bible Edition

I'll be honest, this one is slightly lame. I'm still slightly bitter against real Apples to Apples to tell the truth. Last time I played, the adjective was Visionary and I submitted Martin Luther King Jr. thinking I had it in the bag. Instead, my cousin Jeremy got it for his submission of the word Fuzz because the eight-year-old judge had no idea what visionary meant...but I digress. This game could have had potential, but its makers went a little sappy on it. The adjectives are all along the lines of Wonderful and Amazing, and the nouns are things like Heaven, Bible, Jesus. So the judge is usually faced with a rather difficult decision. Honestly, the winner isn't necessarily the person who comes up with the best words, just the one who is lucky enough to draw Jesus most often.

Settlers of Canaan

My coworker "Jake" tells me this board game is based on Settlers of Catan. I had never heard of this game and was hoping that Christendom was at least making baby steps toward creating its own board games instead of just coopting secular board games. But I suppose this is great news for all the many fans of Settlers of Catan who were concerned about the game's secular content. They now have a fully Christian alternative. This game spans the time period from Joshua's conquest of Canaan all the way to the time of King Saul and King David. Each player represents one of the 12 tribes of Israel (if I ever play I so call Manasseh) and contributes to building the wall around Jerusalem. Whoever adds the most bricks to wall earns victory points, which grant a special rule-breaking power (might this be slightly unbiblical?). I'm not sure how you eventually win.

So that's it. A sampling of the lovely Christian boardgames that grace Christian bookstores near you. Personally, I'm holding out for Bible Cranium.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's So Amazing About Grace?

So far I've posted about things I didn't really like or things that were too hilariously ridiculous for words. However, one of the perks of working in a Christian bookstore is that you also get exposed to the very best of Christian literature, whether fiction or nonfiction. One of the authors whose books I have really begun to appreciate is Philip Yancey.

I don't know why it took me so long to start reading Yancey. Goodness knows my dad is obsessed enough with him. He used to have the Philip Yancey study Bible back in university and kept it until it was completely mangled and just not fit for use anymore. He also owns every Philip Yancey book ever written and refers to him extensively. Despite all this I never really did read much of his work until I left home.

Then, a few weeks ago I picked up What's So Amazing About Grace? and absolutely loved it. For the past few years I've increasingly felt that God is calling me to minister to sex trade workers, and so this book could not have been more appropriate. Often, as Christians, we forgot just how much grace has been extended to us. Although God let us come to Him just as we were, we expect other people to clean up their act before we make them feel welcome among us. This book alternately inspired me, brought me to tears, and made me think. Most of all, it reminded me of just how mind-blowing God's grace really is. I have a lot less time to read now than I used to, but this book was completely worth it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jesus Wants to Save Rob Bell's Paragraph Structure

Unlike most North American Christians, I only read my first Rob Bell book a few weeks ago. This is despite the fact that I work at a Christian bookstore. I also, shamefully, have not yet read The Shack. I did, however, finally take the time to buy a Rob Bell book for myself and see what all the fuss was about. I picked up Jesus Wants to Save Christians, since the back looked really interesting. And he did make some good points.

Really, he did.

But he has no grasp of proper paragraph structure.

None at all.

I understand that he's trying to get the whole conversational tone going, but I just could not look past the choppy paragraphs.


It was that bad.

[/my imitation of Rob Bell]

In all fairness, the book had definite potential. He made some good points and,while I don't agree with absolutely everything he said, he made me think. That was a good thing, but it wasn't enough to overpower the choppy paragraphs. Call it OCD if you'd like, but it bothers me. I also can't handle poor spelling or grammar in books. Don't they have editors for that sort of thing? (I, on the other hand, am just a blogger and therefore have an excuse :P) I will make myself finish it, and I will prayerfully ponder what I can do to live in a more socially just way. But if I ever write a book about it I'll make sure my editor knows what he (or she) is doing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ephesians 6:10-17...for children ages 3 and up

Until I started grade 6, I went to a publicly funded Christian school in Quebec City. This meant I had to take English as a second language, a class that consisted primarily of watching strange English Christian movies. One stands out in my memory to this day. The details are a little fuzzy, but I remember a knight in a medieval kingdom. He is on trial for his faith, and is about to go to the chopping block. All of a sudden, he brandishes his Bible in the air and yells "The sword of a spirit which is the word of God!" Suddenly, the Bible morphs into a sword, and the knight starts waving it at the bad guy (who, somewhere along the way, has morphed into a snake.) I'm not sure about the specifics of the rest of the movie, though if I'm not mistaken it involved some sort of "happily ever after with Jesus" ending.

As a result of this movie, I have never been able to listen to Ephesians 6 and keep a straight face. I always picture the knight (did I mention he also had long greasy hair?) waving his sword and yelling "The Word of God!" So I was predisposed to find any Christian products related to Ephesians 6 amusing. I wasn't, however, prepared for the children's toy my little brother unearthed in the kiddy section.
Parents, if you want your children to learn all about the armour of God, you now have some pretty nifty plastic visual aids. Your son or daughter can literally put on the full armour of God, from the shoes of the preparation of peace to the shield of faith. If you have two sons I suggest hanging onto the swords, lest the boys become involved in a duel and completely miss your Bible lesson. And if your daughter finds the armour too manly for her taste, it also comes in a nice white, pink, and purple version. Just make sure your kids are 3 years of age or older. Apparently there are small parts that could endanger toddlers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dayspring Musical Cards

I remember being eight years old and wanting desperately to get a musical birthday card. You know, one of those cards that starts playing Happy Birthday every time you open it? I'm not sure why I wanted one so badly, but I begged for one until my aunt Claire finally bought one for me. I still have it to this day, I might add. However, this card has nothing on the shipment of cards that came into work this week.

Imagine a head-on collision between Dayspring and CCM, with a tinny sound quality thrown in for good measure. Enough said?

For those of you who have been looking for a birthday card that sings Indescribable by Chris Tomlin, look no further. Want an encouragement card that plays some nice, soothing Casting Crowns music? You've got it. Now your friend can praise Him in this storm. As for the friendship card, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that it plays Friends by Michael W. Smith. Because friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them. They may never have any contact with each other after graduation or the last day of camp, at least this side of heaven, but they're friends forever. Want to give your significant other a Dayspring card that tells them just how much they mean to you? How about one that plays Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer? Is it just me, or should musical cards be limited to jokes. They kind of seem to fall flat on romantic occasions.

But my absolute favourite- the piece de resistance, if you will- is the "no particular occasion" occasion card that plays Jesus Freak by DC Talk. That's right, Jesus Freak. Clearly they just wanted an excuse to work that song (and a wonderful song it is, too) into a musical card. I seriously considered buying the card for myself before giving myself the "Christina-you-need-to-watch-your-finances" lecture. But if anyone out there wants to send me a card for no particular reason, from one Jesus Freak to another, I'm open. In the meantime, I had to youtube the music video to Jesus Freak to bring back memories. "People say I'm strange, does it make me a stranger? My best friend was born in a manger." Good times....


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hey (First Post)

My name is Christina, I'm 17 and in my first year arts student in Canada looking to major in History and...drumroll...Latin (not because it will ever be of any use, just because I love the course). I also work part-time at the local Christian bookstore. I honestly love my job. My coworkers are phenomenal, as are most of the customers (I did have one woman corner me and demand my opinion on replacement theology on my very first day of training...but that's a whole other story). I've also had access to some phenomenal books, music, and the like that have really helped me grow in my faith. But in the three months I have worked at this store I have stickered a wide range of product- some great, some not-so-great, and some so weird I had to restrain myself from bursting out laughing right on the sales floor. So this blog is dedicated to telling you what's selling right now in the Christian subculture- the good, the bad, and the just plain odd. Enjoy, and God bless you (and if you stop by my work you could buy a mug or magnet that says God bless you, and I could smile nicely for you, put it in a lovely Dayspring bag, and wish you a nice day. Tempting, eh?)