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From the bathroom to the pulpit ::

Bryson Smith shares a slightly unusual resource …

Source: Perspective Vol8 No3 ©Perspective 2000

Did you know that Grace Slick named her child “god’ with a small “g” because “we’ve got to be humble?” Were you aware that you can draw a line about 35 miles with an average pencil? Had you appreciated that there are three times as many astrologers as astronomers in America? Are you troubled by the fact that a sneeze zooms out your nose at over 600 mph?

This is just some of the trivia crammed into the pages of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series of books. Covering a total of 12 titles in all, these Readers claim to be written especially for people who love to read in the bathroom. The series was conceived in 1987 when a group of people in California (where else?) realised that the publishing industry had plenty of books for every room of the house (eg cookbooks, coffee-table books, bedside readers etc) except the bathroom – where up to 60% of Americans read. Consequently the Bathroom Reader’s Institute was formed and Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers began to flow off the printing presses.

So why are you reading about these Readers in Perspective? Because they are one of the best sources of sermon illustrations around! Each Bathroom Reader contains a range of quirky articles ranging from one line trivia, to short articles, through to longer more detailed stories of about 3-4 pages. The vast majority of these are fascinating because of their quirkiness. Just the sort of thing to liven up a bible talk and make a theological point more memorable.

Tell the story of the invention of Monopoly to make the point that very big things can start from small, unexpected beginnings (one of the great truths about the Kingdom Of God). Chat about the presidential curse (from 1840 to 1980 every US president elected in a year ending in zero died while in office) so as to introduce the idea of history repeating itself, a pattern you certainly see happening in OT books like Genesis. Throw in an endless supply of catchy quotes to get peoples attention (eg “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank,” Woody Allen).

Of course not everything in the Uncle John Bathroom Readers is useful. There’s your range of slightly smutty material (although not much at all in the ones I’ve seen), as well as other stories that are just too weird to fit into a bible talk. It’s also very frustrating that they don’t have any effective indexing of material or a comprehensive listing of their sources. But all in all the Readers I’ve used have been invaluable aids for illustrations.
But don’t take my word for it. You can check out the range of Readers available, plus sample some of their most popular articles at their Web site:

Bryson Smith

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