The other day I was alerted to another book written by two teenage boys about not settling for the status quo but doing great things during their teenage years. Well it just so happened that I was near our local Family Christian Bookstore in the afternoon and I thought I would stop and see if this book was available. Now I have to say that whenever I go to Family Christian Bookstores I typically come out discouraged, disappointed and at times angry that this is what Christian scholarship has dwindled down to.
As I first entered in through their doors there is a huge table of "patriotic" t-shirts and America stuff. And every time I see this, I seriously have a huge problem with this. The whole "God Bless America" campaign just comes across to me as so conceited, arrogant and ignorant. I would feel so much more comfortable if all this stuff said "God Bless the World" or was somehow much more inclusive of people of every nation. Afterall, that was the challenge that Jesus gave us in the Great Commission to make disciples of the world. And in all honesty do people really think that God has a vested interest in blessing the United States? Really, think about it, did the first century Christians have togas that read "God Bless Rome"? Now I will go on record first to say that I love the fact that I have grown up as an American and more specifically a die-hard Ohioan. Yet I can not help to think about the way so many in our country abuse our environment, hoard their wealth, abuse people for their own gain, and market their greed, sex, and violence all around the world. Me personally, I am more concerned about God's wrath on America. We very well might be heading in that direction. Yet when I walk through the doors of Family Christian Bookstore I get the very loud message that Christianity is first and foremost unquestioning patriotism to our country that is God's new promised land. Let us not forget that we gave the presidency to a "professing" Christian and look at what he did to our government and our country. He certainly has me rethinking the Clinton years again. Many of us were good at vilifying Bubba, and his personal life deserved the criticism leveled at him, but he ran the government better than what we got now!
Then my next issue with what is considered a"Christian" bookstore these days is the massive lack of any real scholarship. You would think that Joel Olsteen is the best thing since Paul wrote the book of Romans because anywhere you look you see that shiny, happy Texas grin sparkling right back at you everywhere you turn. In fact, previous to this visit, I was looking for a section on Christian history and at a cursory glance I did not find a section like that ANYWHERE. Then when I asked the clerk behind the counter she look at me with a dazed and confused look not sure where to direct me. I gave up and walked out angry again with the drivel called Christian bookstores. Apparently that must not sell as much as smiley Texans who want me to be a Better ME, or sappy, poorly written books that interpret the book of Revelation literally. Believe me, the Left Behind series had absolutely NOTHING to do with serious Christian thinking other than to manipulate fear to make a buck. And to add to the humor, Falwell dedicates a building to the guy as if his name should be associated with higher learning. I would hate to be LaHaye and have to stand before God and to have to explain his thinking behind those shoddy books based on highly suspect theology that preyed on the fears of Christians that should know better.
Anyhow, as I was visiting this store looking for this book on teenagers (I'm a youth pastor so books like this intrigue me), God smiled on me and gave me a delicious treat during my visit to the bookstore. As I waited in line I began to overhear a conversation that some guy was initiating with one of the store clerks. He was not standing there to buy a book but to sell his wares. It turns out that this guys was a real life ghost buster. I am not saying that he is a priest who performs exorcisms. I mean a "who-ya-gonna-call" GHOST BUSTER! He claimed to be a demonologist and a expert in the paranormal. The poor clerk behind the counter was not amused but was trying really hard to be polite. Just so you know I am not pulling your leg here, as I pulled out of the parking lot, sure enough there was a ghost buster van in the parking lot with all their information plastered on every side of their van. The website is www.soarparanormal.com! Enjoy! It is a delicious site! The fact that they take themselves seriously and somehow seem to financially support this line of work amazes me. But what is scary is why he would think a Christian bookstore would be a place for him to "sell" himself. If I recall we are to be a people of love where perfect love drives out fear. Paul specifically tells us that we are not to conform to the substandard patterns of the world but our MINDS are supposed to be transformed! For centuries the Christian faith has produced some of the greatest intellects, artists, musicians, philosophers and theologians, but when you walk into just about any Christian bookstore you would NEVER know that. In fact some sham paranormal ghost buster thinks this would be a great place to get some business.
Thank God for www.Christianbooks.com! At least they cover all the bases from the pathetic to the profound.