Browsing articles from "October, 2011"
Oct 17, 2011

Happy Fall! And Happy Giveaway!

Update: Giveaway closed. Winner announced at the end of the post. 

I know that as a grown-up, I’m not supposed to have fall breaks. However, one of the perks of grown-up-iality is that I get this thing called paid-time off. Paid time off is sort of like Choose Your Own Break. So, all of this to say…

Happy Fall Break!

I plan to spend the day drinking cider or going to a corn maze or looking at dry leaves or watching scary movies or sleeping all day. I haven’t decided yet. However, in celebration of my day off, I’d like to give you a book.

Which book?

This book:


You may remember Matt Mikalatos when I spent a week last February celebrating is first book, Imaginary Jesus. I wrote a review of the book, interviewed Matt, and told you just how much I love the audio version of IJ.

I considered writing a review of this book, but a) I’ve sort of stopped writing book reviews and b) it’s my day off and that sounds a lot like something I shouldn’t do on my day off.

Instead, I’ve decided to cobble together a new review out of bits and pieces of the ones that I’ve found on the Internet. Yes, that’s right. It’s a Frankenreview. Cue lightning and maniacal laughter.

Matt’s books are love letters to the Evangelical community in all our broken mess. New believers or those exploring Christianity won’t get a lot of the subtle jokes and gags, but the story is sufficiently rich that anyone will enjoy and be challenged by what they find. For those who do pick up on the subtleties, Matt takes shots at everyone across the board, including an honest look at himself. It’s a great book to read for fun or as part of a discussion club.

Bottom line: This book is outstanding. We need more totally silly, totally serious theology like Matt gives us. Not everyone will enjoy the monster metaphor, but if that’s your cup of tea, then you need this book. It’ll make you take a hard look at the monstrous aspects of your own soul. And you’ll ache for the same transformation Matt and his band of monsters discover.

JR. Forasteros, Relevant Magazine

Mikalatos’ allegorical tale is funny and insightful. In a world of vampires, zombies and monster hunters, he uses this subject matter to full effect. Vampires are the opposite of Jesus, they have eternal life, but are not living. He suggests that a lot of Christian’s are zombie like – following a preacher’s sermons without thinking for themselves; that they should try to see how they can be true to Christ through their own actions and not wait to be told how to be a Christian. That so many churches are filled with people who have insurmountable faith but don’t have any ‘deeds’ to confirm their faith. Why live a life that isn’t transforming you?

Lini536, Book Reviews

There are so few truly humorous books and even fewer humorous Christian books. But Mikalatos, both the writer and the character in the story, succeed unconditionally and for that reason alone this book is worth a read. The fact that it is also clever, pointed and enlightening only serves to add to its appeal. Night of the Living Dead Christian is one of the best Christian books this year. Not only does it entertain but it informs and challenges. Anyone who reads this book cannot but be transformed.

Scott Asher,

Now hang on while I teach this Frankenreview “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.

Ok, so that’s done.

I have one copy of Night of the Living Dead Chrisitan to give away, so in order to win it, you should do the following:

Matt Mikalatos’ first book, Imaginary Jesus, is available as a free download at Barnes & Noble, CBD, Sony, and Amazon. Go to one of those places, download Imaginary Jesus, then leave me comment saying “I downloaded Imaginary Jesus, and I would love a copy of NLDC.” Then tell me your favorite fall activity. (If you already own a copy of Imaginary Jesus, that counts. Good for you.)

So your comment would look something like this: “I downloaded Imaginary Jesus, and I would love a copy of NLDC. My favorite fall activity is burying my dog in a pile of leaves and telling my sister that it’s a monster.”

You have until Friday, October 21st to do this, at which time I’ll use to choose a winner.

Happy Fall

Oh, and DISCLAIMER: I work for Tyndale House Publishers, who published Night of the Living Dead Christian and Imaginary Jesus. But I’d tell you to read it anyway, so there.

So you know, I did end up at a corn maze. It was great, thanks for asking. Congratulations to James Eldridge. Email me (jadoogan (a t) gmail)  your address and I’ll send you a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian.

Oct 4, 2011

In Which I Reward Myself for My Own Survival

One year ago today yesterday, I moved out of my parents house and into my own little apartment. (Well, technically, it was my roommate’s own little apartment, but she let me stay with her. She’s since moved on with her life.) Since this was my First Year Living On My Own, there were lots of pretty big Firsts.

Now, I tend to be pretty reward-oriented. I always have been. I spent nine years of my childhood memorizing Bible verses and participating in athletic activities just so I could get a giant gold trophy. (And, cough, for the general edification that comes from memorizing Bible verses. And also the candy bars.)

So, as I was looking back at this year and of the First Living Year On My Own hurdles I jumped, I thought it would be nice to have something similar to all those AWANA trophies. I considered getting little patches to sew on a vest, or maybe little jewels to stick in a crown, but then I realized that I actually have a lot of dishes to wash, so I should probably go simpler. Besides, if I’ve learned nothing else in this first year of real adulthood, it’s that I need to  work with what I’ve got. Which is, in this case, a pen, a smart phone, and a blog. I’m nothing if not resourceful.

So instead of renting out a hall to present myself with awards that moths and rust destroy, allow me to welcome you to my…


Find a seat, get comfortable. I’ve been practicing my acceptance speeches all day, so should be able to keep this succinct. If not, I’ve installed one of those retractable microphones in my living room.

Let’s start small with some life essentials…


The “I Can Feed Myself Like a Big Girl” Badge

Fork and knife badge

I love to cook. Always have. When I was six, my specialty was this elaborate peanut butter and jelly that I made by checkering the pb AND j on to each piece of bread, and then folding the bread on to itself.  It took about three times as long as a normal sandwich, and tasted exactly the same, but it was fancy. When I moved out, I assumed my love of fancy food would mean that cooking for myself every night would be a joy. I learned this year that cooking is fun when it’s optional. It’s not that I no longer enjoy cooking, or that I never do. It’s just that I eat macaroni and cheese a lot more often than I’d like to admit. This badge is for excellence in Not Starving to Death.

This year I plan to earn the Eat Your Vegetables badge, the Sack Lunch badge, and the Noodles Don’t Have to be Shaped Like Disney Characters badge.


the “Dish Soap Should Not Be Named Ironically” badge


My main defense for not cooking for myself is that I don’t have a dishwasher. Basically, the better my meal tastes, the more time I get to spend in the kitchen after dinner, partying like it’s 1932 and my large Irish family is out in the fields gathering potatoes and I am the only one who can wash dishes because they all have severe allergies to to dish soap and we can’t loose another field-hand that way and so I must bear my cross with courage. Or I listen to audiobooks. Depends on the day.

This year, I plan to earn the “Hey Look, I Have Kitchen Counters” badge. Or maybe the “Give In and Buy a Portable Dishwasher” badge.


the “Riding Along in My Jaunting Car” badge

Oh Bunter. You're such a gentleman.

This was a particularly fun badge to earn. This summer, I bought my first car. Twenty-five might seem a bit old to be buying my first car, but I went to school/worked within the bounds of public transportation for five years. That’s my excuse. Anyway, my little blue Mini Cooper is named Bunter, after the gentleman’s gentleman in the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, and he is my best friend. We have all sorts of adventures planned.

I have my eye on the “Extended Road Trip” badge, and the “I Hope I Don’t Have to But Perhaps I Could Learn to Do Something Like Change A Tire or Oil or I Could Just Vacuum His Floormats” badge.


the “It Sure is Character Building Outside” badge


I prefer winter. Make no mistake. It’s pretty. The nights are clear and crisp. There’s snow everywhere. I could survive in December/January for a good long time, thank you very much. However, this winter was particularly harsh. We had a blizzard that shut down most of the Midwest. I was given a day and a half off work because it was unsafe to go outside. I went to the grocery store at the last minute to buy rations, and ended up with a steak and half a dozen over-priced scented candles. (Ok. Grocery stores of America. If there’s going to be a blizzard, you stock candles. Not $15 vanilla scented ones. The ones that I can afford to burn to keep me from falling down my steep and terrifying steps. Thank you.) Bright side: I am still burning those lovely accent candles almost a year later.

Since this was no ordinary blizzard, I award myself a bonus badge for surviving a natural disaster that had a nickname. I will wear it with pride.

No seriously. Google "snowpocalypse". It's a thing.

Let’s see. This year I plan to earn the “Build a Snowman” badge, the “Don’t Forget to go to the German Christmas Market” badge, and the “Stifle Angry Faces at People Who Complain about Winter” badge.


the “Aspirational Green Thumb” badge

Aww, look. It's a little plant heart thing. Adorbs.

I decided that instead of putting myself through the emotional turmoil of naming a plant and then being sad when I killed it, I would name my flower pot. Sparky the flower pot has served me well all summer. To my surprise and delight, so has the plant I bought. I currently have two plants that are almost entirely alive, despite my best efforts.

This year, I plan to make up for the ranunculus I killed this spring by earning the “Kill Another Ranunculus Because I Never Learn” badge.


the “Customer Service Purgatory” badge


This is probably the most grown-up trial I’ve had to endure this year. I signed up for cable just as the new year rolled in. I spent at least three nights a week in January on the phone with AT&T trying to understand why they couldn’t help me. I was without Internet and in near despair. The AT&T reps were all very nice, and I could tell that they wanted to help. One spent a good ten minutes describing my problem using ship metaphors, which was all a giant build up to his grand conclusion: “It’ll be smooth sailing from here, ma’am.”

There was also a rep who promised to be my “Micky Mouse–no–my Mighty Mouse”. I wasn’t sure if I should hang up on him or not.

It wasn’t until Valentine’s Day night that a poor AT&T tech wandered around my neighborhood in the sleet, fielding calls from his angry wife, to find that AT&T had never wired my house for DSL. Many hearts were broken that day.

In the next year, I plan to earn the “Go Completely Off the Grid” badge. For at least 20 minutes guys, I promise.


the “Oh, I Finally Found the Candles” badge

Poor little incandescent light. It didn't even make it to see its own extinction.

I earned this badge in conjunction with my First Tornado Warning badge, but since it wasn’t an actual tornado, I didn’t know how to draw that. I guess I could have drawn the little fort I made in my creepy basement.

For three days in the middle of summer, I was without power and forced to entertain myself like they did in the olden days: by plugging my wireless router into the generator my landlord provided. Actually, for about twenty minutes I attempted to embroider by candlelight. Mostly so I could tweet about it. Really, the worst of this week was that I missed a doctorwhotime and my hair was a little flat for lack of hairdryer. I got over it. But cute band-aid on that light bulb, right?

This year I plan to achieve the “Appreciate Light Switches” badge. I did miss those guys that week.


the “DIY to Death” badge

Yep. I DIY'd myself to death. Except I think there's a name for that. And then this would be offensive. So let's go back to talking about paint. Hi mom.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I got all crafty this year. I’m not sure what hit me. All of a sudden I was buying embroider floss and making pillows and just generally doing all the its I could find. However, my apartment has become particularly cozy, so I’m going to say it’s worth it. Since Kate came and helped me do some re-arranging, I’ve had to flip a coin to decide which of my two rooms I’m going to spend my evening in. I love my little home, so I’ll gladly accept this badge.

I’m in the running for a “Cutify This More” badge, and a “Actually Learn How to Sew/Embroider/Cross-stitch” badge this time around.


the “Naturey-type” badge

They're such gentle looking little guys. I mean, when they're not disembodied tails.

This isn’t even a legitimate badge. I was just excited about it. I have skunks in my yard. I have never seen a real live skunk before. I grew up only 30 miles away, and we had all sorts of fauna in our yard (rabbits, deer, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, raccoons, small hoodlums), but never skunks. So when I surprised one in my yard one night, it was a major life event. Very few people were excited about this for me, so I’m giving it an official badge just to express my excitement.

Next year I plan to win the “Um…I Don’t Know…I Guess I’ve Always Wanted to See a Wolverine” badge.


Little key with "one year" on it.

So this is my basically my year in review. It’s been a good year. I’ve had to learn how to live by myself, which isn’t always easy. Because there’s no one around to off-set my strengths and weaknesses, I’ve learned a good bit about consequences. If I don’t make coffee, no one gets coffee. That’s rough. (On the other hand, there’s no one around to make bad coffee.)  I’ve learned that as introverted as I think I am, I still miss having people around. I’ve learned that I can keep myself pretty well entertained. I think I’ve also become a little more comfortable with myself, since I’m forced to be in my own company most of the time. Oh, and I laugh at all my own jokes. But that’s not really a new thing.

Overall, it’s been a good year, and I’m looking forward to the next.

This is the longest post I’ve ever written, so if you do actually get this far, leave a comment and I’ll make you the badge of your choice. You don’t get a ceremony, though. These shindigs are just once a year, like Christmas.  Or, if you don’t want a badge, you can still leave a comment and say hi. I think you’re pretty.