Sunday, October 23, 2005

Christian Bookstores

Does anyone else kind of get the willies when going into a Christian bookstore? Not the "I'm so excited that the pagan American nation still allows us to have our own bookstores" but the "this just doesn't seem overly 'Christian' and kind of weirds me out"? That's kind of the feeling I've been getting lately. If you've read The Christian Culture Survival Guide you know what I'm talking about.

I had that experience the other day when I went to Lifeway to see what was new (it creeps me out, but I still enjoy going). A few weeks ago I added a link to the movie Narnia coming out soon in theaters. I have always loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe since I read them in fourth grade, and have come to appreciate them even more in recent years as the theological imagery has become more real to me. So . . . in general I'm excited about the movie coming out . . . then I went to Lifeway.

In any "Christian" business there will always be a fine line between being true to kingdom purpose in business and bottom line. This is a point that chains like Lifeway seem to fall over. Here are some of the areas where, Christian bookstores and Christian businesses have fallen into the marketing traps that the American laissez faire economy offers (and hopefully helps illustrate the ideological beef I take with them): The Prayer of Jabez (perhaps where it all began); the Purpose Driven Church, Life, Youth Ministry (you get the idea), and now . . . Narnia. Christian marketers go absolutely freaking crazy with this stuff: slanting the Bible to fit this particular marketing scheme (which the marketing of Bibles is getting way out of hand and deserves some specific time devoted to specifically it), journals, jewelery, apparel, and on and on the possibilities go.

I know that alot of good hearted Christians "dig" this stuff, but if they ever stopped to take a good look and question at what they were actually doing, I wonder if they might have some questions. Perhaps this is most poigntantly illustrated by the Christian Music Industry. Many have raised the question of integrity in the music as many bands have seen CCM as a way to get into the larger professional music scene.

This post is a little herky jerky . . . sorry but I tend to be a little weary on Sundays and my mind is shot by late Sunday night.

Anyway . . . there is a new movement going on among young Christian artists (in all fields of arts) to rebel against the way Christian marketing has raped the authencity and genuineness of art. Christian music, art, literature, whatever should not be allowed to be sold simply because it . . . well, sells. That is the way of the world. The creativity and authenticity that accompanies and is inspired by God should be made simply because God deserves it and so much more rather than the fact that it is this year's cash cow.

Christians should stop settling for C-movies, sub-par music, and shallow art simply because it's "safe" or "family-friendly" (as many Christian radio stations like to advertise). I don't know that there is anything "wrong" with these things, but I do believe that they tease us into settlling for much less than we should.

Get excited about Narnia, not because of the marketing that comes through the Christian bookstore circuit, but becuase God inspired C.S. Lewis in a creative and powerful way to portray the Gospel to children (and adults). Get a copy of the chronicles and read them . . . but I'm not sure that you need them on tape, or the special movie edition . . . or the folders . . . or the diary . . . or any number of the "Unraveling Narnia" books that are out explaining the symbolism . . . or the special editon Narnia Bible that is sure to follow . . . read the books for what they are . . . an experience of another world . . . helping symbolize another world.

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