Unbelieveable: This is NOT Butter!

So, I got an email last week from Jon Acuff. Actually, it was a reply to an email that I sent him earlier which, among other things, shamlessly hyperlinked a post I wrote about Sky Mall Catalog. Anyway…his reply was to let me know that he would be linking that post to his post, The hate mail mongoose (Or the pastor’s gift guide). Needless to say, I was pretty excited about the possibility of all those hits on my blog. (Why I would be excited about such self-aggrandizement* is something I should probably pray about.) But regardless, I began to think of ways to write a post that would be more “Jon Acuffish”. But then it occurred to me that the reason I like “Stuff Christians Like” so much is that it’s Jon being Jon. Funny, transparent, often profound, often gooberish Jon. So, for me, trying to write something like an SCL post would be as pathetic as the knock-off grocery store margarines trying to imitate “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” with products like “You’d Think It’s Butter!”, or “Butter, It’s Not!”, or “Tastes Like Butter!”, or, my new personal favorite from my peeps on my mother’s side of the family: “Unbelieveable…This is not butter!” (Note the extra “e” in “unbelieveable” –That just CRACKS ME UP!) Sorry, I’m easliy amused.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the blog post. In the end, I just decided to do what I always do, which is write about whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time, which was, not surprisingly, Sky Mall. It wasn’t my favorite of the series, but I worked all day (painting for a new client) and I was tired and it really takes me a long time to cut and paste all those pictures (waa, waa, waa). I probably should have just left well enough alone — I actually really liked “Diary of a Mad Black Wiener Dog”, the post from the day before. (Which, incidentally I wrote in Google Docs, posted to my blog then immediately saved it as a draft because I wanted to schedule it for the following morning.) I only tell you that as an amusing (or not) aside because my crazy friend Helen managed to post a comment within the nano-second it was up on my blog that was funnier than the original post. But I digress…

I know a whole lot of people all over the world read “Stuff Christians Like”, but I had NO IDEA how many hits that hyperlink would generate! Now, I have enough of a grasp on reality to realize that the vast majority of people either read the post and said, “Eh…”, or saw my half-face profile view and said, “Oh no, not THAT smart *ss!” But for those of you who liked the post enough to be back for more today, I just want to say:


P. S. – For the record, if you’re wondering which of the Sky Mall posts was my favorite, I’ll tell you. Honestly, I like the first four very much. Like a mother with more than one child I would have to say, “they’re all my favorites for different reasons.” But if I were pressed, I would have to say that the Creepy Elvis post was my favorite for two reasons. The first being that for Sky Mall to promote that product is akin to leaving an ice cream truck unattended at a Weight Watchers convention — way too tempting. They were practically begging me to make fun of it. But the main reason I love that post is because it also featured another product called “The Slanket” and frankly, I LOVE saying that word! Slanket, slanket, SLANKET! (Like I said, I’m easily amused.)

P. P. S. – Angela, if you’re reading this, I’m afraid this post might edge out yours for the most hyperlink codes in a single blog post. And because you were the lone SCL commenter who came to my rescue in my hour of need, you deserve all the credit or the blame — depending on your perspective.

*A big shout out to Tim Keller for introducing me to the word “self-aggrandizement”. Cause I’m pretty sure he reads my blog…(yeeee-ah, right.)

Okay…that’s all I got. Thanks for your time. I know you’ve got other blogs to read! If you’re looking for some really good ones, just check out the ones on my sidebar — I dig ’em the most!

Tuesdays with Sky Mall

Due to overwhelming reader response (and by “overwhelming reader response” I mean Mare said she was sad I wasn’t going to blog about it anymore), I have reconsidered my decision about my Sky Mall gift guide, Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide Parts One, Two, Three and Four. Since there are so few shopping days until to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and of course the beloved Festivus, this won’t be so much a holiday gift guide as it will be my expert recommendations about all things Sky Mall. So, without further adieu, here are my next recommendations:

For the Delusions of Grandeur Sports Fanatic:

While your favorite ex-high school football, basketball, baseball or hockey star may seem perfectly content to relive his glory days eating pork rinds, drinking a cold beverage and watching ESPN while curled up in a slanket on his favorite recliner, wouldn’t he be the envy of all his buddies if you were to give him one of these fine items?:

The “Actual Un-retouched Photo of Me before the unfortunate groin injury” Photo Collage:
sky mall locker room jerseys

Surround yourself in action with four top players from your favorite NFL team. Your last name appears on the back of your favorite NFL team jersey and your full name appears as the #1 draft pick. This 11″H x 14″W print is handsomely framed and ready to hang. All NFL teams available (players and numbers may vary). Up to 12 characters for jersey name and 18 characters for first and last name. ($89.99)

The Official Collectibles Company of the New York Yankees Base:
These official bases were used during actual games played at the most famous venue in all of sports. Get your hands on some of the rarest of all collectibles! Comes with a Steiner Sports Certificate of Authenticity.
($999.99) A bargain at half the price!
sky mall ny yankees base

Lebron James Framed Dynasty Collage
Catch the moment with four great 8×10 photographs of NBA phenom Lebron James. Each 8×10 photograph is double-matted and includes a full color nameplate commemorating the 2004 NBA Rookie of the Year. Approximate size: 18.25″x42″.
($150.00) Note: Lebron James and his legal team not included.

sky mall lebron james
NHL Customized 13″H x 16″W x 1″D Framed Print – Premium. Comes displayed with premium wood frame which is step molded wood with a mahogany finish. ($89.99) Coupon for free dental work for the first 100 orders!
sky mall nhl framed print
For the Hypochondriac Germophobe:

Most of us wash our hands when we’re supposed to and attempt to live a reasonably healthy lifestyle. But why not pay homage to those among us who have raised personal cleanliness to a true art form?

The “Keep Your Distance” Bug Zapper:

Do you have ANY IDEA how many diseases the common house fly can carry? With this handy little device, you’ll never even have to come in contact with them: This cordless insect vacuum quickly captures bugs from up to 2′ away. Flies, bees, spiders, and other insects are suctioned by a 22,400-rpm motor, sending the insect through a one-way valve in the extension tube to an electric grid in the handle that instantly kills the pest. ($49.95)

sky mall bug zapper

The Germ Eliminating Knife Block:
This knife block uses safe UV-C light–the same technology used in hospitals to kill surface bacteria on instruments–to eliminate 99.99% of food bacteria and viruses from cutlery in 20 seconds. The ultraviolet bulb sanitizes knives up to 8 3/4″ long from tip to bolster, killing pathogens like salmonella, listeria, and staphylococcus to help prevent cross contamination and food borne illness. ($89.95) Wow! The “same technology used in hospitals to kill surface bacteria.” That’s reassuring — I’ve never heard of anyone getting an infection at a hospital.
sky mall germ eliminating knife block

The Hand held steam cleaner:

This Antimicrobial Hand-held Steam Cleaner sanitizes surfaces and floors for up to seven days by integrating antibacterial solution into the powerful steam to keep surfaces clean for up to a week. This European-designed, all-in-one steam cleaner uses an ingenious new patented process with push-button ease. ($99.99) Not recommended for use on children and pets.

sky mall hand held steamer

Oh, there’s so much more in this delightful little catalog of ridiculous excess! I could go on, but I’m tired and I’ve missed the last two tivo’ed episodes of “The Office”. So, until next time, remember that just because there’s a downturn in economy and many worthy charities will no doubt see a big decrease in donations this year, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want you live a life of victory with lots, and lots of stuff!

Diary of a Mad Black Weiner Dog

A Dramatic Reading (think David Caruso in “Jade”)

Saturday, December 6 (at least I think it’s Saturday…I have no concept of time)

The people have left me again. I thought I had adequately expressed my desire that they not leave again the last time they came back from a prolonged departure. When they returned, I showered them with appreciation and pee. I licked their faces incessantly like they were giant, leftover bones from a spiral sliced ham left carelessly in the trash can. I must have gotten the less intelligent people. Oh yes — they have left me again.

I do not like this bathroom. The floor is hard and cold and the woman has removed the delightful snack bucket usually sitting next to the giant, porcelain water bowl. No — I do not like this bathroom.

I should have known this day would not be a good one. The man was not here last night and the evil little one who squeezes me and attempts to make me walk on two legs crawled into bed with the woman. I allowed her a small space on the man’s side of the bed, but only because I was attempting to sleep a bit longer before I was expelled from my warm, cozy cocoon and forced to poop and pee in the cold, wet grass behind the house.

To add insult to injury, the small evil one and the medium sized one with the white strings hanging out of his ears constantly did not wake up and complain about their breakfast and argue with each other as they do on most mornings. Alas, it must be the weekend. And since the woman got in the shower instead of sitting down to make clicking sounds on the grey box with the white face, I knew that I would be in this bathroom for a long time.

I will protest their leaving as I normally do. I will refuse to eat from the orange bowl. For now, I will chew on the side of my bed for several minutes before taking a nap.

(Dog awakes from nap: time elapsed, unknown; they have no concept of time.)

What is this? It is long past the time when I need to pee and poop again! Where are those people? Now I am angry! How can I show them my disdain? (Sees heavy terrycloth bathrobe hanging from a hook on the bathroom door.) I will show them not to keep me locked up in this little dungeon! (Begins tearing apart bathrobe.) That will make them open this door! Where are those stupid people?

(Sound of the garage door opening.) Well, finally! Let me begin barking incessantly. Here they come; here they come. Hello…huh? Why is the dark haired man who talks a lot and plays the guitar here instead of my people? Oh, never mind. I like him anyway. I will lightly sprinkle his leg with pee as is my customary greeting. Oh, thank you, thank you! Let me wiggle as much as possible while you attempt to put a leash on me! Hurry up now before I embarrass myself. (Dog and man race out of house, take a walk and take care of business. Returns to house.)

So, will you be staying until my people come back? Where is the rest of your pack? Your little one is not nearly as evil as my people’s little one. Your welcome. Whoa, why are we going back towards the bathroom? Don’t you need to use the Internet connection or something? How about a quick game of Wii? Oh, come ON! (Man puts dog back in bathroom.)

Now I am very angry, but talky guy took away my giant red chew toy. Curses! Where is that cat? Perhaps I can entice him to stick his arm under the door so I can bite him. (Dog begins to whimper.) No? Bummer… I hate that cat.

(Dog chews on bed until its outer rim is completely soaked in dog slobber.)

Okay. I give up. I’m just going to sleep. Perhaps I’ll dream of ways to avenge this false imprisonment. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz…

(Sound of garage door. Dog awakens to find it is completely dark outside.)

Well IT’S ABOUT TIME!!! I suppose I will forgive them again just this once. I AM actually very happy they are home (even the evil little one). Here I am! Here I am! Come let me out!

Note to self: For the next several days, take an inordinate amount of time to “do you business” outside, especially when the people seem to be in a hurry. Also, pee on one of the throw pillows in the family room. Of course, this goes without saying, but don’t forget to poop in the dining room. Mwha, ha, ha, ha!

Sincerely yours,

Buddy Love

Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Beth, whose post Ceiling Fan: A Love Letter was the inspiration for this post. Also, thanks to my rude but loveable dog, Buddy.

C. S. Lewis and Atheism

I have read a grand total of eight books by C. S. Lewis from cover to cover. Seven of them were “The Chronicles of Narnia” series and the other was a very short book called “The Screwtape Letters”. I love reading quotes by Lewis, but reading one of his books is, for me, akin to reading “Rocket Science: A Brief Overview” or “For the Love of Math”. Not really something I can just skim through. I’ve had a copy of “The Joyful Christian” for probably a year, but I also have a pile of other books on my nightstand with bookmarks in all of them. I’ve been a bit intimidated at the thought of cracking open this book, but I ventured a peek yesterday. I was relieved to find that it is a compilation of writings, most of which are 2 to 3 pages long: C. S. Lewis for the short attention span or “Lewis: The Cliff Notes Edition”. Oh yeah, I am all OVER that! Here an excerpt that Keller also quoted in “The Reason for God”:


My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too — for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

I don’t care who you are, that’s some good stuff, there. And I’m pretty sure Lewis has his hand on his head in the above picture because his brain is hurting. Have an awesome Sunday; you’re in my prayers.

"You have a Nice Voice"

The title of this blog post is one of those “inside joke” kind of things. It’s not that I don’t want you in on the joke, but the story behind it is not mine, and if I retold it I could never do it justice. Maybe I’ll have Jeff guest blog on here someday and tell the story.

If I were to say to you, “Name the top 10 most distinctive voices you have ever heard.” Who would come to mind? I know the first on my list would be my mom. I know, I know, almost everyone can recognize their mom’s voice, but seriously — my mom has been in this country for over 50 years and her Japanese accent is still so thick you could cut it with a finely crafted Ginsu knife. (Don’t tell her I said that, by the way.)

There are celebrities that have voices that we immediately recognize: Ronald Reagan, Aretha Franklin, Mr. T, Jimmy Stewart, Homer Simpson, Ben Stein, Rod Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Jesse Jackson. Among some of the more annoying celebrity voices I would include: Fran Drescher, Jeff Foxworthy, Rosanne Barr, Joan Rivers, Woody Allen, top 40 radio station announcers, that obnoxious redhead on “The View” (Joyce something or other), pretty much anyone on “The View” past or present.

What’s my point? Awhile back some of my chatty blogger gal pals were discussing what they thought each other’s voices might sound like. Pretty much all of us said “loud” (shocking, I know). I’ve been told that I have a distinctive voice, not a pleasant voice mind you, a distinctive one. As a matter of fact, a couple of months ago I ran into someone I haven’t seen since high school (more than 20 years ago). I didn’t recognize them at first but they knew me right away; not by my face, but by my voice.

While I was writing a post for my sadly neglected other blog Stuff I Painted, I came across a short video clip with my voice on it. Click on the link to hear my voice. It’s like butta, I tell you. Like butta!

UDATE: By a show of hands, how many of you went to my other site and immediately clicked on the video without reading the blog post? Sherri, did I see your hand up? Come on, higher now. I can barely see you there standing behind your couch.

Waste Not, Want Not

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty convicted about how wasteful I am. I’m constantly getting rid of things that I probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place — for me, for the kids, for the house — whatever. I think the thing that gets wasted most in this house is food. I’m the only one that really likes leftovers. It’s hard to gauge how much to cook because sometimes my kids eat like birds, and sometimes they eat like starving wildebeests. But as long as I get the spoiled food out of the fridge and into the garbage on trash pick up day, I don’t give it another thought. I know it doesn’t disappear. I know that there are landfills overflowing with all of our nasty crap. Truth be told, I don’t want to think about it.

I guess I’m thinking about it now because a) reading Mare’s Blog reminds me of just how much more we have in comparison to other parts of the world, and b) reading Matt’s Blog (The Church of No People) reminded me of an episode of Dirty Jobs that is, in a word, unforgettable. (Please note that Matt’s blog post had absolutely nothing to do with being wasteful, he just mentioned Mike Rowe and my ADD mind lead me here.) I’m not a squeamish person. But there was something about the following video that literally made me shudder. Like the farmer says in the video, “You get a whole new appreciation for the term: Waste not, want not.” Enjoy the video. It is equal parts disgusting and hilarious. Also, Mike Rowe is pretty dreamy, even if he is covered in pig slop.

P. S. – Just as an indication of how truly immature I am, I tivoed this episode and watched it over and over again like some 13 year old boy watching reruns of “Jack*ss”. Furthermore, if someone came over, I would make them watch it. My introduction would go something like this: “This is totally disgusting. You have to see it!…Wait, do you want to watch it again?”

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide (Part 4)

I am so visibly shaken by this next product that I fear I may have nightmares for the rest of my life. Not since the basement scenes from “Silence of the Lambs” or Tim Curry’s convincing portrayal of Pennywise the Clown in the movie adaptation of Steven King’s “It” have I seen anything quite so disturbing. Trust me — I’ve seen it in person at the local Tuesday Morning store: Be afraid…be very afraid!
The Animatronic Singing And Talking Elvis ($199.95)
sky mall creepy elvis
This is the animatronic Elvis, a singing and talking robotic bust adorned with The King’s trademark leather jacket, sideburns, and pompadour, recalling the musical icon’s performance during the highest-rated television event of 1968 — Elvis Presley’s Comeback Special. The device sings eight of Elvis’ most acclaimed songs including Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, and Jailhouse Rock, and the mouth, eyes, and head movements are synchronized with the music, replicating his unique facial expressions (including the curled upper lip) and baritone voice. Integrated infared sensors in his jacket detect ambient motion, prompting Elvis to say “Bring it on back now” or another famous Elvis remark as you walk by, and the device has 37 monologues recorded from interviews that play at a touch of a button, each reflecting on the life and career of the The King. A karaoke feature allows you to sing along with Elvsi and the device has an audio port for connecting an MP3 player or another audio source, allowing you to play your own music through Elvis’s 10-watt speaker. Includes a remote control, 1/4″ microphone jack, and an AC/DC adapter. Remote requires three AAA batteries. 20-1/4″ H x 13-3/4″ D x 21-3/4″ L. (10 lbs.)

Product Review: “This is the perfect gift for a big Elvis Fan. To sing along, you need to buy a separate mic…but it’s great. So life like it’s scary.Gender: Male
Age: 31-35
“So life like it’s scary.” I’ll tell you what’s scary, Mr. Male age 31-35. What’s scary is that you actually paid $200 plus shipping and handling for this future entry into the Creepshow Hall of Fame. I don’t even want to think about anyone actually plugging in a separate mic and singing along with dead Elvis. To truly appreciate how very frightning this thing is, you must see it in action. (Warning: Not recommended for young children or those of you with weak constitutions!)

Since I am, after all, one of those “glass half full” kind of gals, I feel obligated to say something positive about Creepy Elvis. So here goes: You could probably prop him up on some phone books in your car’s passenger seat and be able to drive in the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane during peak traffic hours. I guess every cloud truly does have a silver lining!

I know I said in my previous post that I was going to feature this product by itself, but I feel obligated to share with those of you actually considering purchasing Creepy Elvis another product that would most likely appeal to you as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present:

“The Slanket” $44.99
Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.21.01 AM

Here’s the best blanket – hands down – for snuggling up with a book or laptop computer. Put your arms in the 13″ -wide sleeves and then turn pages, type, knit or do anything else with your hands without uncovering your body. The generously sized Slanket in midweight polyester fleece feels great and keeps you warm indoors or out. Machine wash and dry. 60″ W x 95″ L. Available in five colors. Please note: deep fried peanut butter, mayonnaise and bacon sandwich not included.

This concludes Katdish’s Holdiay Gift Guide brought to you in cooperation (albeit unknown) with our friends at Sky Mall Catalog. If you haven’t had your fill of ridiculousness, just visit their website and make up your own commentary. It will be delightful, I’m sure. As for me, I think I need to seek the advice of a good therapist.

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide (Part 3)

I know you have all been anxiously awaiting the next installment of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide, so I apologize for the delay.

Last night, I was consulting with my editorial staff for this series of posts (Jeff and Tamara); sharing with them some of the possible categories. One of the potential categories was “Awkward Star Wars Geek”. This, I explained, would cover gifts for Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings enthusiasts. During this meeting, someone requested that I not “lump us all together” into one group. (Discretion prohibits me from revealing who made this request, but his name rhymes with “Jeff”.) Anyhoo, at the request of “rhymes with Jeff” I present to you the 3rd installment of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide:

The “I Can’t Believe It’s Actually Over” Harry Potter Fan:

Truth be told, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I know, I know. Anything having to do with witchcraft and wizardry is evil and bad…yada, yada, yada. But my son is an avid reader, and he kept BEGGING me to let him read the books. Instead of just telling him no (for the 100th time), I decided that I would read them first and decide for myself whether they were as damaging to his faith as some Christian publications would have you believe. What I found was that the constant and unmistakable theme throughout the entire series was that you must sometimes do things not for your own good, but for the good of others and that in the end Love overcomes evil. (Why does that sound so familiar? I can’t put my finger on it!) Alas, clever marketing and manufacturing can make a buck off of any beloved work of literature:

So what if you already have the entire series? Your books are probably all dog-earred and bendy. Why not have a nice, clean set in a wicked awesome box to show off to all your friends? Try not to read them, you’ll just mess them up. Packed inside a trunk like Harry might carry to Hogwarts are all seven phenomenal bestsellers…Follow Harry from his first days at school through his adventures with Ron Hermione, his confrontations with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and the riveting series conclusion. Hardcover books are housed in a limited edition trunk with sturdy handles, privacy lock, and bonus decorative stickers. ($195.00)

Of all the great characters in the Harry Potter series, Dobby is among my favorites. What better way to immortalize the memory of this humble, brave little house elf than throwing down 200 large for a 10 inch pewter statue of him? ($195.00)

Your favorite “Tolkienian”:

What? You don’t know what a “Tolkienian” is? It is a person who loves all things “Tolkienesque”. Namely, anything having to do with “Lord of the Rings”. Again, I must confess that I am also a big LOTR fan. I’m not rabid or anything…I wouldn’t say, buy my husband a framed map of middle earth, or if I was a guy, buy my wife an Evenstar Pendant of Arwen, but still, I’m a fan. If you have such a fan on your list, here are some great ideas!

Of course, I must recommend the aforementioned Evenstar Pendant of Arwen. While the product description is rather boring, I’m pretty fond of one of the customer reviews: “The pendant was enclosed in a finely finished wooden box that gave an imminent feeling of the movie itself; which is exactly what a collector and fan looks for in their purchase. “…the light of the Evenstar does not wax or wane…” Lady Arwen, LOTR TOTT; this pendant seems to have captured that bit of elvish magic.” ($99.00) Umm…yeah. By the way, Sky Mall has the matching earrings for $95.00; they “does not wax or wane” neither!

This next item I hesitate to recommend, because I fear either you do not comprehend the power of the one ring, or you understand full well and would use it for evil. I can only say, purchase at your own risk!!! The One Ring – Gold Edition: cast in 18K gold, laser engraved, certificate of authenticity and treasure box. ($650.00)
Gollum(TM) – Smeagol(TM) Bookends
Depicting the dual personalities of one of the most complex characters from The Lord of the Rings(TM), each piece made of heavy cast metal and mounted on a wood base. Measures 8 inches in height. (Only available as a pair).
Sure, they’re creepy, but what better way to draw attention to your J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis collection? ($195.00)

Who doesn’t just LOVE Indiana Jones? (Besides me — I mean the first three were pretty good. But seriously, I get it already!) But like Rick Warren is fond of saying, “It’s not about me!” Ladies, do you have a very special archeology professor by day, swaggering hero by night, overall super guy in your life? Show him just how lucky you are with one or all of these fantastic and reasonably priced items from the Indiana Jones collection:

Indiana Jones Leather Bullwhip: An authentic replica of the whip used in the Indiana Jones movies. Measures 10′ in length. Made of fine leathers. Display included. ($199.00) Wow! an “authentic replica”. Don’t you just hate those fake replicas?

Indiana Jones Machete: Authentic replica. Stainless steel blade. Complete with collector display. Machete measures 30 inches in length. ($219.00)

And, of course what Indy fan could hold their heads up without the coveted Indiana Jones Fedora Hat?: Our licensed reproduction from Steven Spielberg’s adventure films is 100% wool felt, completely water repellent, and ready for every adventure life hurls your way. Imported. ($49.00)

Okay people. This conclude another exciting installment of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide. I could write one every day — there’s certainly no shortage of material. But this is a little too easy — like shooting fish in a barrel. My next and last post will contain an item that is so awesomely ridiculous, it deserves a post of its very own. Until then, remember that you can pay your Visa with your Master Card.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Those of you who have been reading this blog since the early days (all 3 of you), may remember that I have done a couple of posts on a book by Timothy Keller, “The Reason for God”. Well, I finally finished reading it. Ordinarily, it doesn’t take me 7 months to finish a book. I have a plethora of excuses for not finishing until yesterday, but the only one worth of sharing here is that Keller’s writing is not something I can simply scan lightly. If I am not completely focused while reading, I am very likely to miss something very profound. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I am easily distracted…
Where was I? Oh yeah, the book. In “The Reason for God”, Keller offers the skeptic and the believer an intellectual defense of the Gospel of Christ. I am a huge fan of the object lesson, and while I am of the opinion that Jesus was the master of the object lesson, Keller provides some excellent ones in this book. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 11 – Religion and the Gospel:

Two Forms of Self-Centeredness:
In Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll comes to realize that he is “an incongruous compound of good and evil.” His bad nature is holding his good nature back, he believes. He can aspire to do things, but he cannot follow through on them. Therefore he comes up with a potion that can separate out his two natures. His hope is that his good self, which will come out during the day, will be free from the influence of evil and will be able to realize its goals. However, when he takes the potion one night and his bad side comes out, he is far more evil than he expected. He describes his evil self using classic Christian categories:

“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine…(Edward Hyde’s) every act centered on self.”

Edward Hyde is so named not just because he is hideous but because he is hidden. He thinks solely of his own desires; he doesn’t care in the slightest who he hurts in order to gratify himself. He kills if someone gets in his way. Stevenson is saying that even the best of people hide from themselves what is within–an enormous capacity for egotism, self-absorption, and regard for your own interests over those of all others. Self-aggrandizement is at the foundation of so much of the misery of the world. It is the reason that the powerful and the rich are indifferent to the plight of the poor. It is the reason for most of the violence, crime, and warfare in the world. It is at the heart of most cases of family disintegration. We hide from ourselves our self-centered capacity for acts of evil, but situations arise that act as a “potion” and out they come.

Once Jekyll realizes that he has this capacity for evil acts, he decides to clamp down heavily on this terrible self-centeredness and pride at the core of his being. In a sense, he “gets religion.” He solemnly resolves not to take the potion anymore. He devotes himself to charity and good works, partially as atonement for what Edward Hyde has done, and partially as an effort to simply smother his selfish nature with acts of unselfishness.
However, one day Dr. Jekyll is sitting on a bench in Regents Park, thinking about all the good he has been doing, and how much better a man he was, despite Edward Hyde, than the great majority of people.

“I resolved in my future conduct to redeem the past; and I can say with honesty that my resolve was fruitful and of some good. You know how earnestly, in the last months of the last year, I labored to relieve suffering; you know that much was done for others…(But as) I smiled, comparing myself with other men, comparing my active goodwill with the lazy cruelty of their neglect…at the very moment of that vain-glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down…I was once more Edward Hyde.”

This is a deadly turn of events. For the first time Jekyll becomes Hyde involuntarily, without the potion, and this is the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations any longer, Jekyll kills himself. Stevenson’s insight here is, I think, profound. Why would Jekyll become Hyde without the potion? Like so many people, Jekyll knows he is a sinner, so he tries desperately to cover his sin with great piles of good works. Yet his efforts do not actually shrivel his pride and self-centeredness, they only aggravate it. They lead him to superiority, self-righteousness, pride and suddenly — look! Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.
Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride that lead to oppression against others, but there are two forms of this. One form is being very bad and breaking all the rules, and the other form is being very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self-righteous. There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord. The first is by saying, “I am going to live my life the way I want.” The second is described by Flannery O’Connor, who wrote about one of her characters, Hazel Motes, that “he knew that the best way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.” If you are avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless and you and save you, then ironically, you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model, and helper but you are avoiding him as Savior. You are trusting in your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God. You are trying to save yourself by following Jesus.
That, ironically, is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus. It is a Christianized form of religion.

There’s more, but I’ll stop here and let you soak that in. Maybe you read that and were unaffected; not at all convicted. I have read books others have considered life changing that, while I considered them good reads, did not affect me profoundly – to each his/her own. Over the past two years, my concept of what it means to be a Christian has radically changed. The Holy Spirit convicts me left and right. All other major faiths have founders who are teachers that show the way to salvation. Jesus was the only one to make the audacious claim that He is the way to salvation Himself. As I wrestle with the understanding that orthodox Christianity is not about being good as a means to salvation, but abiding in His will out of a sense of overwhelming gratitude for the salvation that has already been granted, I am becoming more aware of how often I fail to express this gratitude. Jeff read a passage from Revelation 3:14-16 this morning that hit me pretty hard: “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide (Part 2)

As we learned in the first installment of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide, nothing exceeds like excess. And since Thanksgiving is now a distant memory, there’s no doubt that there are only a few among you who have yet to decorate your humble abodes in holiday splendor. Let us proceed with some clever gift ideas for everyone on your buying list this year.

For the Over-Indulgent Parent:

While phrases like, “It’s more important what’s on the inside than what’s on the outside” are all well and good for less attractive children, your little princess deserves only the very best! “Add an attractive and useful addition to your little girl’s room with this daisy pastel vanity. It is a perfect furniture for their make-up, brushes, barrettes and jewelries. It maximizes the space in their room while keeping their fashion accessories organized.” ($189.99)

Stuffed animals are a dime a dozen. If those tiny Webkins and Shining Star animals are all the rage, just imagine how grateful your kids will be when they see this bad boy under the tree! Our gorgeous Giraffe makes a big statement. Featuring soft and cuddly plush and life-like features this beauty is sure to be family favorite for years to come. Featuring premium plush and an internal frame to keep upright. Giraffe filled with synthetic fibers. Size 22″l x 14″w x 59.5″h, Weight 12 lbs. Imported. (Age 3+)” (99.99)

Has your little train engineer grown tired of playing with his Thomas the Train railroad set? I mean, sure — buying the complete set may have put you back a few grand, but how can you put a price on childhood memories? Let him experience the thrill of riding the rails with his very own Lionel Pedal Train! Train includes all-steel construction, adjustable pedals, chrome bell, realistic locomotive sounds, padded seat, and beautiful finish. Ride-on maximum capacity of 100 lbs. Seat to pedal 16-19″. Size 46″l x 18″w x 25″h, Weight 39 lbs. Imported. (Age 2-6) Please note the weight limit of 100 lbs. — not recommended for fat kids. ($319.99)

Isn’t it cute when other parents brag about how their little Johnny got an “A” in science class? You could point out to them that their kid is in regular classes while yours is in the “gifted and talented” program, but that would be condescending. Just invite them over the next time your kid pulls out his Fuel Cell Car and Experiment. “Winner of the Silver Award from the Parents Choice Foundation, this experiment kit gives children a fun, hands-on way to discover fuel cells, one of the most significant technologies of the 21st century. This kit makes 30 distinct experiments, including a car that uses solar power and a fuel cell to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis, and then runs on the resulting energy. Experiments cover electrolysis and its effect on water, how to construct and load a reversible fuel cell, decomposition of water in a fuel cell, and many others. Contains all necessary parts, tools, and a
lab manual (distilled water not included). Ages 12 and up. Made in Germany. 5-1/2″ H x 5″ W x 8″ L. (1 lb.)”

It’s tons of fun for kids to spend a day at the amusement park or water slide. But let’s face it, places like that are often frequented by some pretty undesirable folks. Why not let your kids enjoy the essence of the park without exposing them to the seedier elements of society?

Thrill Zone includes a bouncing area with netted sidewalls, a climbing wall with handles and footholds, a water slide with side rails, a pool at the slide landing, and a tunnel. Top arch with sprinkler system. Entrance ramp with Velcro closure. Durable PVC unit includes water bags and stakes for added stability, and a 110volt blower pump. 228″ L x 92″ W x 81″ H. Weight limit 100
lbs. per section (500 lbs. total).

I can already hear some of you now, “Kat, I don’t have any human kids, aren’t you forgetting about our little four-legged variety?” Well, of course not! This next section is just for you.

For The Over-Indulgent Pet Owner

Since many reading this are now experiencing cold weather, it seems cruel to expect little Bella or Baxter to brave the elements just because they have to tinkle! Even those of us who are still enjoying milder weather would agree that taking a dog out in the humid, damp air would be disastrous to their newly coiffed and groomed coats! That’s why I love this next product, the Indoor Dog Restroom. This mat and tray system gives dogs a place to relieve themselves when they can’t go outside for a respite. This ingenious system uses a mat made of antimicrobial, porous artificial turf that gives off an organic scent to attract dogs, so they can be taught quickly that it is an acceptable spot for relieving themselves. The tray is easy to empty and can hold up to 2 gallons of liquid. Sure, to the casual observer it looks like a door mat on a cookie sheet, but you and I know better! ($149.95, replacement mat $64.95)

Don’t worry cat lovers, I haven’t forgotten you! How many times have you said to yourself, “That big, stinky litter box seems so crude! Doesn’t my cat deserve the dignity of using her very own toilet?” Well, of course she does! For hands-free cat box care, you can’t beat the Cat Genie. Just press a button and the world’s most advanced litter box flushes away cat waste, then washes, sanitizes and dries the entire area. You can even preset the controls to do it automatically every

We’ve covered a couple of products to make your favorite canine or feline feel like part of the family, but what about your fish? Don’t you imagine that they get kind of lonely way over on the back wall away from direct sunlight? Treat Bubbles to his new home right in the middle of the action with his very own Aqua Coffee Table. After all, fish have feelings too! ($529.95)

That conclude this edition of Katdish’s Holiday Gift Guide. I know many of you are hankerin’ to go online and start your shopping, but wait…there’s more to come. For those of you who want to beat the Christmas rush on these items and choose to order today, make sure to tell them at Sky Mall that Katdish sent you…

On second thought, maybe you should leave my name out of it.