Don’t Blame the Publishers

[Christianity Today, February 9, 1998] Get a bunch of Christian intellectuals together and pretty soon they'll start in deploring the CBA. The initials stand for the Christian Booksellers Association, the organization that links Christian bookstores across the nation. (Secular bookstores form the American Booksellers Association, or ABA.)

The Thrill of Naughtiness

[Christianity Today, September 6, 1999] I didn't go to see “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me;” I went to see the historic theater where it happened to be playing. But when those psychedelic colors started spilling off the screen I couldn't resist. Austin Powers, the ersatz James Bond, is a weenie with a Herman's Hermits haircut

Could We Survive Persecution?

[Christianity Today, March 1, 1999] A few decades ago a small paperback appeared titled ”Tortured for Christ," by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. In it Wurmbrand described his experiences of persecution behind the Iron Curtain. He pled with Americans to remember Russian believers suffering for their faith, invisible behind the fog of disinformation.

Subversive Civility

 [Park Ridge Center Bulletin, May-June, 1999] Issues of medical controversy hit close to home; in fact, they drop a cherry bomb right through the mail slot. Our bodies are our homes: they are where we live. For this reason, discussions relating to medicine can take on a desperate tone. When one person feels another is asserting the right to meddle with his home,

Why the Bathroom Walls are Lumpy

Unpublished, May 1998] Come on in! Just have a seat on the sofa, and my husband will be in in a minute with some coffee. Where’s the bathroom? Ah, better have a seat first. I need to explain something. I should tell you why the walls are lumpy. Last summer I was looking at that paneling—well, actually, I guess it really began back when we bought the house, a few years ago—no, to tell the truth— It all started when I was about six, and built a fort of sofa cushions on the living room floor.

The Wiedros in Winter

[Unpublished, February 1995] Long winter evenings have always challenged families; the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware recently hosted an afternoon of “19th century winter pastimes…once-popular parlor games challenging the mind or the memory.” For some readers, early March will bring more snowstorms, and a list of old parlor games sounds appealing. But who needs outmoded forms of entertainment, when you can keep jolly the Wiedro way? “The Wiedros” became our family alias when daughter Megan, attempting to enter the surname “Weirdo” on a computer questionaire at Disneyworld, logged something like “Wiedr O” instead. On our last Wiedro outing we visited museums in Delaware’s Brandywine Valley, then spent abed-and-breakfast evening, free from all electronic diversions. Here are the pastimes taht helped pass our time—some old familiars, some invented on the spot. The first is a guiding principle: 1. Drive it into the ground. Don’t let a promising topic go until it’s exhausted.

Mosh Pit Manners

[Recorded for NPR “All Things Considered,” June 21, 1996; never aired] Thirty years ago, I was sitting in a stadium screaming at the Beatles and throwing jelly beans. We’d heard that was George’s favorite, so we were doing our best to pelt him. I screamed at Herman's Hermits, too, freaked out with Frank Zappa, and then it was the Stones. But it had been a long time since I'd been to a rock concert. Recently I piled my teenage kids and a couple of their friends into the station wagon and went to hear one of their favorite bands‑‑a band I've overheard enough to enjoy myself.

Radio Daze

[World, January 7, 1995] Three, two, one, and I was on the air. With a crackle my phone line was patched in, and I heard a jovial voice saying, “Welcome, Frederica! So glad you could join us today!” My host and all his audience heard: “Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark.” The mailman’s arrival at that moment had thrown Sparky into End of the World Alert mode. “I hear you have a dog,” the host gamely went on. “Yes, now everybody knows,” I agreed miserably.

Why Humans Mate

[Adapted from Real Choices, Conciliar Press, 1997] Glance around any room where people are gathered and a curious pattern emerges: they tend to be in pairs. At a church, a concert, a movie theater, a male head is usually near a female head of roughly the same age. Other creatures gather in herds or flocks, or peel off as solitary loners, but humans prefer the couple bond. They gravitate toward it naturally; it’s how they seem to want to go through life. Why?

Safe-T-Man

[Religion News Service, January 23, 1996] It’s not every day you get to see a photo of a woman folding a man up and pushing him into a suitcase. But there she is: standing outside a compact car, shoving an amiable-looking fellow in a rugby shirt into a carrying case. Make that a “#4858944 Zippered Nylon Carrying Tote.” Yes, this is Safe-T-Man, the inflatable bodyguard, “a life-size, simulated male that appears to be 180 lbs. and 6 ft. tall.”