just for fun

Real Product: Manicured Ministry

We don’t think the good folks at Christian Tools of Affirmation Inc. had the story of Jael and Sisera (Judges 4:21) in mind when they developed their “Woman of God” manicure set, but it’s all we could think of when it came to “nail sharpening.” The set includes nail clippers, a plastic nail brush, two cuticle sticks, and a brightly colored, flower-shaped emery board—all tucked neatly in a travel-sized vinyl pouch printed with inspiration for “grace and peace” from 2 Peter 1:2. (Customized ministry messages for women sold separately.)

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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Laugh Lines

I's late at night. I walk in the door after a meeting and my wife is laughing her head off. She asks me if I've seen the latest issue of Sojourners, holding up the “H’rumphs” page by Ed Spivey Jr. I said, “Twice.”She said, “We need to laugh more” and told me that she’d called her friend and read the entire article out loud to her. I mean, she’s that kind of friend. Thank you for this. Ed’s page is worth the price of the subscription. Keep up the good work. We appreciate what Sojourners is doing toward making the world a better place.

Tom Graham and
Jeanne Lambert
Oxford Station, Ontario, Canada

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Sojourners Magazine April 2008
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Best Product

The search for toys that teach children about the diversity in America’s history and inspire them to dream big led Sterling Ashby to found History in Action Toys in 2005. His line of lesser-known African-American heroes indicates the search may be over. The set includes aviator Bessie Coleman, mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker, and explorer Matthew Henson. Ashby told Sojourners he wants to remind children that “you can do anything you set your mind to doing and you might start by finding a hero who can not only inspire you, but illuminate tangible steps to take to achieve your goal.”

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Sojourners Magazine April 2008
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Mustard Seed Sized?

Twenty-first century technological advances make it possible to carry the ancient scriptures everywhere you go with the $10 Itty Bitty Bible! Each page of the com­plete King James and Catholic Latin versions has been reduced 285 times and printed on a pocket-sized piece of microfilm that can be read under any standard microscope. The promotional material assures us to “have faith, it’s all in there.” The promotional video also shows that this credit card-sized Bible fits in your wallet, right next to your Ameri­can Express card. (With­out a pocket-sized microscope to confirm it, we’ll have to trust that Matthew 19:21 hasn’t been redacted.)

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Sojourners Magazine February 2008
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What Would Dilbert Do?

One day when my oldest son was about 12 years old, I put on my best Pa Walton impression and said, “Boy, there are two things you need to know in the big, ugly world out there. One—it’s all about those standardized tests that come down from New Jersey. And two—for any adult with a job, real life is exactly like “Dilbert.”

For daily readers of The New York Times (which has no comics) , I’ll note that “Dilbert,” named for its pear-shaped protagonist, is set in the engineering department of some sort of computer company. It features the conventional comic strip gimmick of talking animals. For instance, a cat with glasses is the human resources director. But it also depicts the absurdity of life in any bureaucracy—the meetings for their own sake, the pointless training sessions, the petty corruption and pettier tyranny, and the barely-suppressed state of impotent rage that is the lot of the cubicle drone. In short, “Dilbert” may be the great American novel of white-collar life in the information age.

I’ve been a daily reader of the strip, created by Scott Adams, for as long as it’s been around. But it took a while for me to realize how fully it expresses the spirit of our age. From my earliest reading, I had a fondness for Wally, the character who sometimes goes around with a tank of coffee strapped to his back, and who uttered the timeless proverb, “Sadness is just another word for not enough coffee.” But when I started reading “Dilbert,” I was a freelancer, juggling as many part-time and contract jobs as I could scrounge, along with the care of small children. If I had really identified with a comic strip character back then, it probably would have been Lois in “Hi and Lois,” or the father in “Family Circus,” trying to tend his art with a small army of short people running around his knees.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2008
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Playing in Public

I just read Ed Spivey Jr.’s piece about his first public recital (“Seriously, Is This What Hell is Like? December 2007), and I have to say it was inspired. I haven’t laughed so much in a very long time, as there isn’t much to laugh about in this world, but he described his hellish ordeal so well I think he had to be moved spiritually to write it.

For one thing, I never saw “Tchyeah” spelled out, and it should become part of any new publication of American slang dictionaries. For another, when he approached the podium and described it this way—“I’m pretty sure I heard someone whisper ‘dead man walking’ as I passed by”—I actually laughed out loud, and I haven’t done that much lately.

So, what I plan to do is try to find Concerto No. 5 by Friedrich Seitz, the demented German composer, and if there are any CDs out there, to buy and play it so I know what trying to play it on the violin is like. And I’d like Ed to know that I suffered a similar fate in my first piano recital, when I had to play some piece from Madam Butterfly, I think, because it’s all a blur. I have rarely touched the keyboard since, but I would like to, probably for the same reason Ed would like to play the violin. I love music.

Edward R. Schreiber

Saugerties, New York

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Sojourners Magazine February 2008
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