OPINION — Although it goes against my nature as a procrastinator, I’ve decided to offer a gift guide BEFORE Christmas this year, since there’s a slim possibility it might do someone some actual good. You never know. It could happen. Especially since this year’s gift guide is different from my usual offerings of silly stuff no one needs, such as a wallet you can plug your iPhone into to charge it, or a coffee cup with a built-in thermometer. Actually, that might be nice.
But everyone already has way too much stuff, and Christmas has been commercialized within an inch of its life, anyway. Dad doesn’t need another tie. Dad hates the ties he already has. No one likes ties, for goodness sake. Mom doesn’t need another housecoat, or more slippers, or one of those goofy blankets with arm holes. She’s just gonna use that to dry the dog off, anyway.
No, what everyone needs more of is books. And I’m not just talking about my book, which tens of people have already bought, so I think I’ve pretty much reached my entire target audience. Besides, there are plenty of other great books out there, and there isn’t a better gift. Books don’t take up much space, they can be taken just about anywhere legally, and you never have to plug them into anything. Plus, in a bind, you can use a book to whack a spider or start a fire. You’ll need a match.
My brother, Steve, has written several books, mostly about spiritual warfare, including one called, ’12 Spiritual Weapons: What To Do When Prayer Isn’t Working.’ His latest is a children’s book called, ‘Dante’s Hairy Scary Dream,’ which you definitely need if you have young children. All kids have nightmares, and all parents have to deal with that problem. My brother’s book can help.
Matter of fact, I highly recommend all my brother’s books, which you can find on Amazon, or on his website, active-faith.org. You should probably buy them all, and get some for gifts. And if you read any of them, let me know what you think. I might decide to read one, myself.
Most of you know I went to Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas when I was in my fifties, which was a little odd, partly because I was the same age as, and sometimes older than, some of my professors. But that turned out to be a good thing. Some of them became friends, and a few even still talk to me. My church history professor, Allen Diles, is kind of a unique guy. And I don’t mean unique like me. I mean in a good way.
Allen’s parents were missionaries in Czechoslovakia back when it was still Czechoslovakia, when we had to learn how to spell it in school. He learned to speak the language, Czech, I guess, when he was a kid. After graduating from Abilene Christian University, Allen and his wife, Laurie, ended up going back over to Prague as missionaries, which was not in Czechoslovakia anymore. I think the country had split in two by then, and it was just the Czech Republic. Which means I learned to spell Czechoslovakia for nothing, unless you count the times I’ve mentioned it in this column, without, I might add, having to look up how to spell it.
Anyway, Allen ended up getting his doctorate at Charles University in Prague, which means he had to do it in that foreign language, which seems to me to be a singularly impressive academic achievement. Yet Allen is as nice a guy as you could ever meet, down-to-earth and normal. Not only that, I actually learned some stuff in his class. For example, a church reformation started kicking up in Prague a hundred years before Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the chapel door in Wittenberg, and during the dustup in Prague, the people defenestrated a bunch of politicians. Defenestration is when you throw someone out a window. I learned that in Allen’s class.
And he’s just written a book with stuff like that in it. It’s called, ‘Let Truth Prevail: An Introduction to European Christian Renewal Movements.’ You can get it on Amazon, too, but Allen will send you a signed copy if you mail him a bag full of cash. Or around twenty bucks.
Another of my professors was Dale Manor, who could play the part of the quintessential college professor in any movie. That’s exactly what he looks like. Plus he’s an archaeologist, and he’s been in charge of a dig at Tel Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, for about twenty years. And he also wrote a book recently, called, ‘Digging Deeper into the Word.’ It’s about stuff we can learn about the Bible from archaeology. Amazon seems to be out of the book at present, but you can get hold of Dr. Manor through Harding, if you’re interested.
My book is still available on Amazon, for some reason, although I’m sure all three of my readers already have a copy. But if you need another one, I can let you have it cheaper than Amazon. Those gougers.
All I want for Christmas is a coffee cup with a built-in thermometer. Or a good defenestration in DC . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who never defenestrates unless absolutely necessary. Write to him at [email protected]