I felt sleazy, walking through the Goodwill with an armful of baby dolls: blue-eyed babies with purple underwear; bald babies with tattered onesies; and one special doll my daughter later named baby Jesus. I was the lone adult in the toy aisle. I had to reach over kids were playing with three-wheeled cars and battery-drained keyboards. I needed as many babies as I could find.
The collection of stitched and stuffed infants was for a sermon illustration. Unfortunately, other shoppers wouldn't know that the man pacing the store with a flock of Little Mommy Real Loving Cuddle & Coo dolls (or other varieties) was a pastor. And I'm not convinced this image helps any suspicion American consumers have toward the church.
Real men don't play with dolls. And holy men cannot play dress up.
When I came to the cash register, the young clerk didn't make eye contact. Voicing his concern, he asked, "Are those for you?"
"They're for a sermon," I confessed.
"What are you talking about?" His alarm was turning to curiosity.
"I want to give a picture of the time Egypt's pharaoh tried killing all of Israel's babies. I thought about tossing a bunch of babies around while I preach. I hope I don't hit anyone in the face."
"Really? Will you have sound effects?" he asked, appearing interested.
"Do you think I should?"
I thanked him for the suggestion and for hiding my assortment of dolls in a plastic bag. The sleazy pastor had become an evangelist.