Sunday, December 18, 2011

Old St. Nik, Part 3

When he woke in the afternoon, the name was in his mind: Mugendi Magoro, Nairobi, Kenya.  He never knew what he would face, he thought, but he always knew where and for whom.  He rolled out of bed and made his way to the armoire, flexing, stretching, and feeling the stiffness as he went.  He put on his underthings and cassock, and went down to breakfast.  He dined alone again, and then put on his boots and furs and went out to see the reindeer and the stables.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Old St. Nik, Part 2

Now this was his favorite part of the job, the life.  Buzzed from the fight, high from the victory, the cold wind whipping in his beard; yes, the flying was always the best part of every mission.  Every night.  It felt like a reward for a job well done.  Driving the sleigh satisfied him in a way no other danger could, it was the last shred of independence in Nik’s long, treacherous life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Old St. Nik, Part 1

I'm trying a little fiction this week.  If you like it and want to read more, of this story or something different, let me know.  In the Spirit of Christmas, I thought I'd present a different perspective on one of the great holiday icons.  In the Spirit of Bad Christian, this one is not for children:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Customer Service, Part 5

He was huge, an immaculately dressed African-American man walking with confidence and purpose.  He came into my Newsstand on a mission.  I was intimidated initially; he greeted me with such self-assurance.  But when I heard what he had to say, I admit, I felt the spark of evil mischief alight in my heart.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I don't want children

I have been saying ‘I don’t want kids’ since my late teens, and I think people may be starting to believe me.  I am over thirty, and I’ve been married for several years, so I’m running out of time, you might say.  But I don’t care.  I find this interesting, considering how family- and child-oriented church life can be (How did I not get bit by the baby bug?) and I suspect that many of my friends might think it’s slightly offensive as well. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

I don't like the Bible.

Sex, Mom, and God by Frank Schaeffer, p.3-4:

“People who say that they believe every word of the Bible (i.e., ‘Bible-believing’ Christians and the more fundamentalist Jews) are not necessarily 100 percent Bible literalists.  They believe that everything the Bible affirms is true because it is the ‘inerrant Word of God.’  But that’s the grown-ups.  From a child’s perspective peering out at the larger world from deep in the cocoon of a ‘Bible-believing home,’ every word of the Bible is understood to be true in ways that nothing else is or ever will be even if, years later, that child grows up and changes his or her mind. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I love books.

And I always will.  I have never been able to resist getting lost in a good story.  I remember the first time it happened: I was lying on my mother’s bed; I was warm though it was cold outside.  The book was By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I got so caught up in the part where Laura and Lena ride the black ponies that I did not hear my mother call me for dinner.  She got mad, and I got in trouble, but it was totally worth it.  I loved that book, and when I found out there were more books in the series I was over the moon.  I read them all, many times.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I am a ghoul.

I love cemeteries.  I love mummies.  When Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS comes to town, the decks get cleared and we make a day of it.  I love dead bodies!  How weird is that?  A good friend of mine once told me: “BC, you’re a ghoul!”  I shrugged: “Yes, I am.  Know thyself!”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Customer Service, Part 4

The Mother couldn’t have looked more impressive if she tried.  She marched up to the customer service desk: black stilettos, black tailored suit, perfect hair, perfect nails, black briefcase, shouting commands into a tiny black cell phone.

Her Daughter couldn’t have looked less impressive.  She almost sneaked up to the desk: tiny, pudgy, staring at the floor, shuffling slowly behind her mother.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I might be an Atheist.

I realize at the beginning of this blog I said I don’t read many Christian books because they make me mad, and I’ve given some good reasons for this, but now that I’m writing more and more about my faith, I find myself reading more and more Christian books and finding them surprisingly enlightening.  But in the interest of equal time, I decided to read something by an Atheist.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I am inconsistent.

When I was in college, I got really into InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, until I got really out of it, but that’s another post.  One of the things IV is very much focused on is getting students to incorporate daily time spent praying and studying the Bible into their routine.  And I thought, still think, that this is a really good idea.  Sometimes, for weeks at a time when I was a student, I actually achieved it.  But I have not been able to do so for years now.  And I very rarely admit it.  It can be a shameful thing to admit among Christians.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I don't like our tone.

I read another Christian book that didn’t piss me off!  Aren’t you all so excited for me!  Not when you find out what it was about!  I really loved it.  Not just loved it, respected it, because it is one of those books that articulated for me something I’ve been feeling for a long time without being able to put my finger on.  And don’t think I don’t resent her a little for being younger than me, too.

Raised Right by Alisa Harris is about one young woman’s transformation from unthinking political drone to warrior for compassion, a transformation I have yet to complete.  And she lives in New York City!  I am seriously jealous of this chick.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Customer Service, Part 3: The Mosquito Man

I still cringe when I think about this poor man and how unable I was to help him.  And I still have no idea why I could not say the right words.

At the time, we were selling a book called Misquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman, so fast we could barely keep it on the shelves.  And as with most unexpectedly popular books, our customers were asking for any number of variations on the title.  It is our job as Booksellers to intuit what a customer may mean when they say, for instance: Mistaking Jesus, Miscalculating Jesus, or Miscreant Jesus.  And most customers are happy when we can tactfully correct them, especially if it means putting the right book in their hand.

But every once in a while helping a customer find the right book becomes a power struggle instead of personal service.  And then there was: The Mosquito Man.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm taking it personally.

My store seems to attract employees with outsize personalities and strong convictions.  And, contrary to popular opinion, just because we work in a bookstore does not mean we are all hippy-dippy liberals. (Except me, I am a hippy-dippy liberal, but that’s another post.)  Usually we get along well enough to do our jobs and respect each others’ work ethic, or we’re just too flipping busy to fight.

But lately, I’ve been coming home at night wondering if it’s just me, or are we getting really personal with each other? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

I learn spiritual lessons from video games.

The first video game I ever played by myself was Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (for PS2) and it changed my life forever.  It’s not a complicated or intense game, as video games go, but it was good for a beginner like me, since I was trying to check out this whole video game thing that my new husband was so into (still is).

Little did I know the impact this game would have on my spirituality.  There are three main lessons I learned from it:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jesus Saves

I have heard this idea attributed to both Rob Bell and Max Lucado, so if someone knows the genius who said it first please enlighten me, because it has burned a trail of destruction through my faith: ‘God is looking for every excuse to get people into Heaven, not keep them out.’

Monday, August 29, 2011

Customer Service, Part 2

This guy was a real peach.  It was the beginning of December; the end of the week, the middle of the evening rush and it felt like the whole city was shopping inside our store all at once.  He was six-foot-six, 350lbs. and full to bursting with panicked insecurity.  His wife and son cowered close behind him as he walked in the front door and marched against the line through the cash registers, stopped at each cashier, interrupted their customers and shouted at them: “CAN YOU HELP ME?”  They all had to refuse him.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Your book won't change my life

“The book you hold is quite possibly the most important confrontation with truth you’ll hear in your lifetime.”  Bait of Satan by John Bevere, p. vii.

“The book you have in your hand, Crazy Love, may just be the most challenging book outside of God’s Word you will read this year. (And for a few more years to come for that matter.)”  Crazy Love by Francis Chan, introduction by Chris Tomlin, p. 15.    

“With in these pages, you will find seven simple, yet profound, steps to improve your life, regardless of your current level of success or lack of it.”  Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, p. x.

This has got to stop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I have no self-discipline.

I love chocolate.  I love my couch.  I love cable television.  I love playing mindless video games for hours to shut my brain off and not have to think about my problems.  I am indulgent and sensual, and I get the impression that this is considered sinful in Christianity.  The Bible warns over and over of the dangers of gluttony, sloth, self-indulgence and dissipation, and I agree. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Customer Service, Part 1

I work at a book store.  I stock the magazines, but I also do all kinds of other things around the store, like talk to customers.  To be perfectly honest, the customers are not my favorite part of the job.  I am introverted, and talking to people all day is very tiring.  And some customers are more tiring than others.  But every once in a while, a customer can surprise you.

I hate evangelism.

Even on my best days I can be charitably described as ‘socially awkward’.  When I take spiritual gifts tests (like career aptitude tests for Christians, except we don’t get paid for this stuff) Evangelism is always my second-lowest score.  Only Mercy is lower, God help me.  Every formula or system I’ve been taught to use in spiritual conversations has rung hollow, and the concept of friendship or intentional evangelism makes me feel like a con artist.  So overall, I’m not winning many souls to the Kingdom.

I have big boobs.

I have big boobs.  I know, this is the internet, ‘pics or it didn’t happen.’  But I’m a writer, not a photographer, so good luck with that.  If you are a woman with big boobs, you know that for all the rewards of being well-endowed, there are technical, logistical issues that require almost constant attention to maintain modesty and dignity in everyday life.  Diamonds be damned, a good bra is a girl’s best friend.