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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, September 05, 2002
    Ikea catalogue v. Bible - the first lesson
    It is said that the Ikea catalogue now has a circulation four times greater than the Bible's. This may provoke me, but doesn't really surprise me, for two reasons. On the one hand the proportion of active Christians in the population is quite low, and not all of us are great bible readers; on the other hand, the Ikea catalogue is delivered free of charge through the nation's letterboxes, courtesy of an evidently generous marketing budget. The Gideons can't compete with that.

    My day featured both - an afternoon spent selecting bible extracts to run alongside themes for this year's Blue Coat School assemblies, punctuated by facing new decisions on Billy bookcases prompted by the 2003 Ikea catalogue dropping unexpectedly onto my doormat, only hours after Bulky Bob's had cleared a load of old furniture from my overfull living room.

    Both tasks remain unfinished - thinking ahead through thirty-nine secondary school talks is an arduous task, to be continued tomorrow, and the catalogue is underneath the coffee table where no doubt it will serve as a point of reference every time I have a cd storage crisis (and begin to wonder again whether that old coffee table ought to be junked in favour of a Stenkulla?)

    I shan't get into commenting on what these reading habits may be doing to the spirituality of the nation; bit predictable, that, probably. For now I shall revisit some of the themes which the school has given me and reveal what the Ikea catalogue offers us by way of enlightenment:

    Theme: Starting Out; Ikea says: it's time to throw out those old, pre-conceived ideas of how much space you have, and instead to embrace 'cubic thinking';
    Theme: Our World; Ikea says: with multifunctional furniture design, your world just got bigger;
    Theme: Citizenship; Ikea says: assembling furniture yourself means not paying someone in a factory to do it for you;
    Theme: Happiness is; Ikea says: more choice in store!
    Theme: Achievement; Ikea says: by planning and imagination in equal measures, you can get the mix just right.

    'One-in-four' statistic notwithstanding, I think the bible's still got quite a lot going for it.