Life at My House

Growing up on the Christian side of the 90's.
By Bro
September 22, 2014
The first article I wrote for this site was called Denied!!, and in it I wrote about things I wasn't allowed to do because I grew up in a Christian home. My intent was to be more humorous than anything, but I feel like I ended up putting my parents and my faith in a negative light, and that was not my intent. While I can't say I agree with and understand everything they did, my parents were always very loving and kind to me and my sister and for the most part I enjoyed my childhood very much. Most of you who read Denied!! responded kindly and a few even mentioned they enjoyed the unique perspective I was trying to provide. With that in mind, I wanted to write an article that went further into detail about the Christian side of my childhood that focuses more and what I did do, as opposed to what I wasn't allowed to do. I hope you all enjoy it.

For starters, a lot of the staples of a 90's childhood were in place at my house. I watched the Disney Afternoon and TGIF. I had a side in SNES/Genesis console war. My sister listened to Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, and the other boy bands. I've got memories of that stuff just like all of you. On the Christian side of things, I've got a slew of memories as well. I'm going to try and share them with you in an orderly fashion, but my mind wanders where it wills. So in no particular order of occurrence, here they are.

My parents had a friend who worked for Focus on the Family. This meant that my sister and I got a ton of stuff sent to us. The first thing that comes to mind is Mcgee and Me. This was a video series about a kid named Nick and his family. He had a best friend named Louis and the family dog was named Whatever. He liked to draw, and he drew this character named McGee who came to life and acted as his conscience. I think this may have all been in his mind, but that wasn't the point of this series. I searched Retrojunk, and I found only one article about McGee and Me, and it was about the first episode, The Big Lie. That wasn't the only episode though. There were 10 main episodes and then it went on to the new adventures where Nick was older. I only saw 1 or 2 of those, but I believe we owned all the original ones.

Each episode faced Nick with a situation where he would ultimately learn a lesson. Sometimes he fell, and sometimes he triumphed. A Star in the Breaking finds him entering a Double-Dare like gameshow and he learns about pride. (He acts like a jerk and gets all cocky and ends up losing miserably.) The Not-So-Great Escape taught him about disobedience when he sneaks out to go see an r-rated horror movie with his friend. This episode always impressed me because along with being an artist, Nick was an inventor and he set up this device that caused a tape player to play a pre-recorded message that activated when someone knocked on his door. Skate Expectations saw Nick stand up to series bully Derek on behalf of a nerdy, picked on kid named Philip. It resulted in a skateboard race were Derek cheated. My favorite one was Back to the Drawing Board. Nick met another young artist who drew this robot, and Nick became jealous of him. The show would venture between live action and animated sequences where Mcgee would do his own thing. He and the robot had a fight and ultimately Nick learns that jealously does nobody any good. I'm not sure if this series began in the very late 80's or early 90's. But here's the intro for the original episodes and my gosh, does it echo it's time.

I haven't seen this in years!!
Along with McGee and Me, Focus on the Family provided my sister and I with something I'll never forget. We had a lot of collections of Adventures In Odyssey. This was introduced in the 80's, but it continues to this day. It's a radio drama about a fictional town called Odyssey.

The main building in the town is an Ice Cream shop/discovery emporium called Whit's End. It's run by a man named John Avery Whitaker, whom everybody calls Whit for short. Being a radio show, I don't have a lot of pictures I can provide you with. But I can tell you this, I would have given anything to live in Odyssey. The kids there had adventures all the time. Exciting things always happened. Sometimes there were simply evil people who did bad things. Not everybody who lived there was a Christian, but the show never put them down for it. Everybody always had a place in the community. My favorite character was a kid named Jimmy Barclay. Liked myself, he had an older sister and he liked to play video games. Lessons were learned every episode, just like McGee and Me. Eventually, Odyssey came to video.

I was really excited about this, but I never took to the cartoon like I did the radio dramas. The cartoons were fun to watch, but aside from Whit and a few others, there was a whole new cast of characters who I didn't like as much. In time, I think we had three of these tapes. To be honest, I owe a lot to Adventures in Odyssey. It was a doorway into radio drama, and it was that show that really allowed me to appreciate golden age radio collections my parents obtained when I was older. I don't think I would be a fan of The Shadow, Green Hornet, Johnny Dollar, Inner Sanctum, Light's Out, or any of those classics if it were not for Adventures In Odyssey. I'm forever grateful for that.

The last gift I got from Focus on the Family was a video series called The Last Chance Detectives. It was about a group of kids who lived in this desert town called Ambrosia. The main boy's father was a pilot who went missing some time before. His mom was a waitress at the Last Chance Diner. The kids had their hangout in an old WW2 aircraft parked out front. The first mystery was called Mystery Lights of Navajo Mesa.

Basically, the kids see mysterious lights in the desert one night and explorations of it lead them to believe something...weird is happening out there. I don't remember what it turned out to be, but I know it was nothing dangerous. I liked that all the kids had quads they could just cruise around the desert on. Hanging out in a old plane, solving mysteries in the all sounded fun to me. Here's a promo for it.

I watched this tape a lot, thinking how much fun it would be to have a life like that. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful that my father wasn't missing, but I grew up in the High Desert of Southern California. I think the show took place in Arizona, but I had a big field next to my house that made it easy for me to ride my bike around and pretend that their where strange goings-on that required my investigation. It wasn't too long after when we received another Last Chance adventure.
Desert Bigfoot started off great. Places were found trashed, strange hair was discovered, and then it showed up at night in the rain so the kids couldn't see exactly what it was. It turned out to be a gorilla that had escaped from somewhere which disappointed me, but there was a neat twist at the end when the main kid discovers somewhat previously thought to be an ally is an enemy and the final showdown was neat. I watched this one a lot too, sometimes watching them both back to back. There was third one made called Fire Lake or something, and from what I hear, the main kid finds his father. I've never seen it though. I don't know if the series still goes on today, but I do know that it went from movies to books and radio dramas. This was mostly my thing, as opposed to McGee and Me which my sister and I both enjoyed, but I don't think I would put this as high ranked as McGee and Me. This is probably due to the fact there was just so much McGee and Me episodes and we only had two Last Chance tapes. Oh well, it was part of my childhood nonetheless, and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

I was and continue to be a fan of board and card games to this day. Not too long after I became aware of Magic: The Gathering, my parents found out there was a Christian collectible card game called Redemption. To my knowledge, it still exists today.

I got two starter packs for either Easter or Valentines day. Each player had space on their side called the Land of Bondage and the point of the game was to rescue seven lost souls from your opponent.

Players used biblical heroes and angels to rescue lost souls whereas defenders used biblical evil men and creatures to stop them. Other cards provided buffs and upgrades to aid in battle. Of course, there were other guidelines and nuances as well.

It was neat, but I don't think I ever got the chance to play it properly. Almost immediately after opening my starter decks, I mixed them up, sorted them, and just made a huge mess of things. I was never quite sure of what went where initially. I got some booster packs later on, but I just didn't know anybody else who had even heard of the game, let alone played it. This sucks, because I always wanted to really get into it. When I played with my mom and dad a few times, it was fun. I'm not sure what happened to my cards over time. I know I kept them on through high school, but then they just...disappeared.

When it comes to music, most of what I have to say revolves around my sister. I've never been a "music" person. I've got a few bands I like, but I mostly listen to instrumental music, or something that creates some kind of atmosphere. My older sister, on the other hand, was like most adolescent females. Basically, she had soundtrack to her life. Her best friend introduced her to a lot of music that found it's way into our home. The first cd I remember my parents buying her is Audio Adrenaline's "Don't Censor Me."

I liked a few of the songs on here, but the album as a whole didn't do it for me. The first Christian band I remember really liking was DC Talk. I liked Free At Last.

They had an album before that called "Nu Thang" that I'd heard snippets of. I liked this one song called Heaven Bound a lot. But Free At Last was the first one I could listen to over and over again. I haven't heard it in years though so I'm not sure if I still feel my enthusiasm. Their follow-up album, "Jesus Freak," is much better and I still like it to this day.

Even not following music, I could sense that this was a highly anticipated cd for the Christian music. My sister's friend got it, then made us a cassette tape copy. I really like this cd, and I think it holds up fairly well. It had more rock sound for DC talk, who had previously been a little more 90's hip-hop and r & b sounding. I also remember liking Audio Adrenaline's "Bloom."

Another major CD that came out around this time was "Take Me To Your Leader" by the Newsboys.

This, along with Jesus Freak got a ton of play in my house. It really made the Newsboys a big deal, and eventually they even made a direct-to-video movie called Down Under the Big Top. It was actually really funny and clever, and they weren't afraid to poke fun at themselves. My sister continued to get more albums. She liked Eric Champion, Considering Lily, Geoff Moore, and a band called PFR. It stood for Pray For Rain.

I was never big on this band. Their was a song from "Them" called Daddy Never Cried which was ok, and the title track from Goldie's Last Day lamented over the passing of a recently deceased golden retriever in a funny yet touching way. I tried to get into MXPX, but the only albums I ever manage to hear completely were Pokinatcha and Teenage Politics.

There were a host of other Christian bands and artists at this time I could mention, like Steven Curtis Chapman, Crystal Lewis, Rebecca St. James, Big Tent Revival, Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and Jars of Clay, but I wanted to touch down on what I experienced most closely. I do think it's interesting that DC Talk split up and the members went on to lead other major bands. Toby Mac has a solo career, Kevin is singer Audio Adrenaline now, and Mike Tate sings for the Newsboys. Those were the three major Christian bands for me when I was a kid, I never thought they'd end up like that. Crazy how time works, isn't it?

I had some books that were pocket sized books. When you read it, once page was text, the other was an illustration. I had some literature classics like War of the Worlds and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in these kinds of books, but I had some Christian ones as well. Most recognizable is The Pilgrims Progress.

I really enjoyed it, but I also had another original series of these types of books called Zaanan. It was set in a dystopian future and Zaanan worked for the oppressors. He finds a group of Christians hiding out in a trash colony.

They had the whole bible on a small stone that speaks whatever verse you want it too. I know the story continued past the three books I had, but I never read them. Where I left off, Zaanan had just become a Christian. I thought it was cool series, and I believe there was even graphic novel made.

And that's kind of it. I thought maybe I had a little bit more to tell, but I guess not. There was a Saturday morning anime cartoon on TBN that I watched about some kids who went back in time to Bible times and tried to get back home, but I don't remember much about it other than that. My sister and I also used to watch a show on Saturday nights called Fire By Nite, which was followed by another show that aired Christian music videos and had a different Christian artist each week for the host. My sister and I enjoyed both programs. And that's pretty much what I remember. Stay Retro folks. Thanks for reading.
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