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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
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Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

27 August 2007

These Are Jokes

You may know comedian Demetri Martin from his Trendspotting spots on The Daily Show. He also happens to be one of the funniest people alive.

02 August 2007

Toy Story

Later this month, my arch-enemy Wal-mart will begin selling what the BBC refers to as faith-based toys. These scripture quoting action figures dolls hardly mark the first time Christians have dabbled in the action figure business, but this is the first I’ve been aware of such toys breaking into the mainstream. Or did Mel Gibson put out a line of Passion of the Christ action figures?

David Socha, founder of One2believe, the company which makes the dolls, is confident the demand is there for "God-honouring" toys which reflect Christian teachings and morality.

"We get a lot of people, even people who are not of faith, don't go to church, saying 'I've got a four and a six-year-old and I don't know what to get them any more'," he said.

"If you go in a toy aisle in any major retailer, you will see toys and dolls that promote and glorify evil, destruction, lying, cheating.

"In the girls' aisle where the dolls would be, you see dolls that are promoting promiscuity to very young girls. Dolls will have very revealing clothes on, G-string underwear."

What his company offers instead is "something faith-based that is not only fun to play with but also is solidifying a person's spiritual wherewithal and their spiritual journey", he said.
This is excellent news, of course. Now children corrupted by Spider-man and Bratz will have access to wholesome action figures like Noah (alcoholic), Moses (murderer), Sampson (terrorist and, as Slacktivist recently called him, inventor of the suicide bomb) and David (whose poems about throwing babies against rocks and washing his feet in the blood of slaughtered enemies may make him the world’s first gangster rapper). The action figures are a steal at $19.99 and $24.99, perfect for any Christian family on a budget. For my money, though, the collection seems sadly incomplete without nudist prophet Isaiah.

If you’re a girl, you might prefer one of the Proverbs 31 dolls. They’re $39.99 and will help “encourage young girls to pursue biblical womanhood.” As an added bonus, one of these Jewish dolls from the Middle East even has brown skin.

Sadly, there’s not a tent spike-wielding Yael or a sword-carrying Judith. I’m not sure how girls are going to properly learn biblical womanhood if they can’t dramatize killing men.

On another note, if you prefer a different sort of toys altogether (the segue possibilities here are so deliciously wonderful that you should feel free to invent your own), there’s a Christian couple in the UK that has set up their own online sex shoppe. The store, Wholly Love, is designed for married Christian couples who believe that sexy time is a gift from God. This is surely the only place on earth where you can purchase both Philip Yancey’s Disappointed with God and an amertrine glass dildo.

01 August 2007

Left Behind

I say this from time to time, but every now and again it bears repeating. If you haven't read through Slacktivist's ongoing literary and theological deconstruction of the Left Behind series, you owe it to yourself to do so. Great stuff.

One delightfully strange thing about (premillenial dispensationalists) is the way they earnestly insist that all they're doing is providing a straightforward, linear reading of a straightforward, linear account. All the while they insist this they're jumping to and fro -- from Revelation to Daniel, to Thessalonians, back to an (earlier) chapter of Revelation, then to Ezekiel. Even as they tie themselves into knots flipping around, back and forth, to and fro, unable to work their way through John's apocalypse from beginning to end without recursive loops back to earlier chapters, even as they themselves get lost in the convoluted mess of it all and they are forced back to the drawing board to try again to force this narrative into a tidy timeline -- through all of that they seem utterly sincere in insisting that this impossible-to-follow-the-same-way-twice approach is really nothing more than a straightforward, linear and "literal" reading. It would be laughable if it weren't so heartfelt.

No, scratch that. It's still laughable.


Left Behind is a fictional world, and as such its creators are free to invent a fictional president, a fictional Manhattan that's 50 miles long and a fictional U.N. with fictional powers. They are even free to invent a fictional Bible full of fictional prophecies. This is exactly what (LaHaye & Jenkins) have done. Their problem -- and it's a big problem -- is that neither they nor most of their millions of devoted readers realize that this is what they have done. They recognize that "Fitz" is a piece of fantasy and imagination, but they think the equally unreal Bible in their story is the same one we have here in reality. They present an inhuman planet inhabited by alien creatures who hardly seem to care that all of their children have vanished and yet they imagine that this imaginary world is a realistic portrayal of realistic people. The main differences between the world of Left Behind and the real world are not the products of the authors' invention, but the products of the authors' mistakes.