IVP - Strangely Dim - Building a Better Giraffe

July 29, 2005

Building a Better Giraffe

Depending on your perspective, I'm either really good or really bad with kids. I can get them riled up like nobody's business--get em jumping and screaming and dancing and singing--but I can't get them to stop. I'm the crazy uncle, not the disciplinarian dad.

Usually I'm cool with that. I like to goof off, and goofiness loves company. But every once in a while I like to get serious. This week, for example, I was the master of ceremonies for our church's vacation Bible school: Serengeti Trek (where kids are wild about God!). I've had five straight days of kids screaming at me, climbing on me, dancing with me and running past me. Good times.

The first night I got a bit carried away and tried to pick up a delicately assembled cardboard giraffe. It promptly fell apart, causing no end of trauma to my screaming minions. I made a joke of it and moved on. Good times.

Every subsequent night I destroyed the same giraffe, again and again, like some torturous ritual. You'd think that Presbyterians hate giraffes for all the carnage I practiced. But the kids got appropriately desensitized, and their concern for the giraffe turned into sick, twisted laughter. Good times.

The theme of our last night was "Work for God," and I decided that I could illustrate what it meant to participate in God's redemptive work by repairing the giraffe. Because God loves me, and because God has made right what I made wrong, I can now work with God to continue to fix what's been broken. I can restore the giraffe to life and health. We can fix broken relationships and help our friends and loved ones to give their troubles to God and be healed. Brilliant, right?

So I shared my little metaphor in front of a crowd of fidgety kids, casting a vision of working for God while fixing the giraffe right in front of them. By the time I finished, they were looking directly at a better giraffe, and I led them in prayer. Good times.

As soon as I finished my benediction and sent everybody off for donuts, a kid ran up to me and shouted, "Time to kill the giraffe again!"

I've built a better giraffe and created a congregation of giraffe killers. God help us all.


It's official! I'll be serving as chaplain of the Wizard World: Chicago comic book convention from August 4 through August 8. Should be fun; I'll be giving a homily and everything. God help us all.

Keep an eye or an ear out for my reports on the convention at Pop Matters.com, Infuze Magazine and Bill Hogg's radio program in Seattle, Washington.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at July 29, 2005 9:20 AM Bookmark and Share


I killed a giraffe just for looking at me funny.

Comment by: Peter at July 29, 2005 10:11 AM

I bet the Wizard Comics Con folks would dig getting to see their chaplain destroy a giraffe!

Comment by: Macon at July 29, 2005 12:26 PM

I once shot a giraffe just for snoring too loud.

I could do a David/Goliath thing at Wizard, I suppose, although I find it hard to destroy anything while I'm wearing my scapular.

Comment by: dave at July 29, 2005 2:43 PM

Scapular, huh?

Having watched men try to move around in those things for months now, I am firmly of the opinion that it is one of the most impractical pieces of clothing for our times.

Yet, if it is the one piece of their garments that has been blessed by Mary, I certainly don't want to be too critical.

Please let us know how well you do adventuring, or just maneuvering, in a scapular.

Will you have a rosary/sword? Fun. Or something.
Oh the possibilities - I'm oddly jealous.

Back to hangin' with Mary.....

Comment by: Karen at August 3, 2005 12:45 PM

Hey, everybody, meet Karen! She introduced me to the word scapular. I would have thought it an adjective rather than a noun, myself. I suspect that a scapular would be among the least unusual outfits to make an appearance at the comic book convention. Spandex kind of rules the day there.

Comment by: dave at August 3, 2005 1:19 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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