Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Night at the Local Christian Bookstore

Warning: Some sarcasm ahead

One night the six of us ventured over to our local Christian bookstore. (Sigh) I found it fun. Some of the girls found it more embarrassing, I think.

Since there were virtually no other customers, I decided to use my outside voice, and I told the Scantlin ladies so. They did not think it a good idea, which of course solidified my resolve to continue to do so.

It’s amazing the number of non-Christian books you can find at a Christian bookstore. Maybe I should say “pseudo-Christian”; I think they mean the same thing, except that the latter makes a pretense at being Christian.

“What non/pseudo-Christian books?” you ask. Like Joel Osteen’s books for instance. (Now what’s that title? God Wants You Happy, Healthy, and Wealthy, or something like that.)

Then there’s Joseph Prince’s new book, Unmerited Favor. I admit, I was a little suspicious before I even opened the book, given Prince’s cover picture in a black leatherish jacket and … is that a Manga T-shirt? (Yes, I was judging the book by the cover … and the author by his covering … and his great hair.) But the title sounded good; “he must be talking about God’s grace.” But scanning the chapter titles, it seemed it was a success book. God’s grace will make you successful. That’s true. But I’m not sure Prince is talking about the same kind of success the Bible talks about.

There seems to be a large number of how-to books. I wonder what percentage of those books talk about the Holy Spirit and prayer. I’m learning from the Bible that I cannot do anything apart from abiding in Christ.

At one point, I announced to the girls with shock registering in my voice, “Hey, they have Bibles here!” I grabbed a leather-bound copy of the large ESV Study Bible. “Here’s a real pulpit thumper! I bet it’s $80!”

“What?!” Andrew said.

I found the price eventually. “Oh, it’s only $75.” Welcome to the world of commercial Christianity, son. The hardback was cheaper: $50.

It seems everything is becoming Christianized for profit. I was incredulous some years ago when I first came across a pack of Testamints. Their website verse is Rom 10:9, and I guess it would be helpful if you didn’t have halitosis when you’re witnessing in an elevator, but do we really need Christian mints? Is the fresh-smelling air that comes from these that much more rarified than Certs, for instance? (And truth be told, I don’t want anyone breathing on me—bad breath or good.)

I used to work in a Christian bookstore as a teen, and I saw then the trend toward Christianizing merchandise. At the time I made the prediction that one day I would see Christian socks. I must be a prophet, because they’re here!

(My current prediction is that very soon we will hear of churches accepting advertising dollars to change their names. We’ll hear about corporate-sponsored churches like Xerox Christian Praise and Worship, the Verizon Church of Faith, Hanes Presbyterian Church, and the Certs Temple of the Holy Ghost [no Testamints allowed on church grounds]. I suppose a smaller church might knock down a local sponsorship, like Bud’s Bait Shop Community Church.)

Another problem with the local bookstore: How come I can buy Joyce Meyer books by the case, but I can’t find one A. W. Tozer book, not even The Knowledge of the Holy or The Pursuit of God?

The kids section had some cool action figures, like a buff looking Samson and a modern-looking Barbie-like figure named Abigail. I covered her name and showed the kids: “Look, Samson and Delilah action figures.” They were non-plussed.

With the absence of competing customers, we just let Callie do her own shopping. Periodically she would bring us a video and announce that she was getting it. When she saw that Anna was getting a shirt, she picked one out, too. It read “Princess.” We finally settled on an item for 99 cents.

But as with most good things, this trip came to an end. We paid and left, but not before being offered a choice of several wonderful uplifting items ($5 each, please).


Anonymous said...

i was in a christian bookstore yesterday. interesting to see which books are translated from english and which are written by francophone authors.

-andrea r.

Kent said...

Concerning books and what you can buy by the case and the classics that you can't find, I had a prof. who once said, "If they're not dead, they're not read." It's the classics that have stood the test of time that are worth reading and sometimes re-reading.