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mcyoung27

Christian Bookstores

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As a second year seminary student I have found myself in a variety of conversations discussing perceived short-comings of the American "evangelical" community.

Recently, the topic of Christian Bookstores has emerged and brought about a great deal of angst among several of my acquaintences. So much so, we could possibly be angsty enough to try to do something about this.

Of course the idea of staging a formal protest has entered our minds but we always remind ourselves of the success various groups like the Southern Baptists have with boy-cotting Disney.

So, that brought me to the conclusion of seeing what people on this board think:

What ideas and opinions do you have regarding Christian bookstores, publishing houses and authors?

What do you think the most effective action would be to bring about the awareness of these ideas and opinions?

Do you know of any articles, books or other groups that are seeking to bring about change to the current trend of American evangelical publishing?

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DanBuck   

Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote (back when I was less displeased with Relevant)

What
Edited by DanBuck

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Greg P   

MC- I quote Thom Yorke at the risk of sounding as bleak and morose as he usually does:

It's the devil's way now

There is no way out

You can scream & you

can shout

It is too late now

Because...

You have not been

paying attention

I lived in the Mecca of religious publishing for several years. I don't think protests would help in the slightest. The Machine has helped create millions of junkies who actually crave the stuff now (Lucado, Hinn, Apologetix, Kinkade, Worship CD's trinkets, tshirts, etc...) I cant see any organized effort breaking the addiction... perhaps some kind of national awakening to historic christianity could bring change over a long period of time.

Edited by coltrane

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run   

So how much serious prayer did it take among the Family Christian leaders to make the decision to be open of Sundays? When I worked there, the leaders literally followed Walmarts business plan, and it was all about the bottom-line. The bottom line was more important than paying minimum wage employees overtime during the Christmas rush. So I don't believe for one second that opening on Sundays was to further their ministry.

http://www.familychristian.com/

We have an opportunity to extend our ministry to the primary day of worship, and reach people when ministry is at the forefront of their hearts and minds. Being open between services on Sunday also furthers our ministry of providing guests with the Bibles, books and other Christian resources that meet their needs-whenever their needs arise.

This was a decision that we took very seriously-and after prayer, study and counsel from other Christian leaders-we felt it as important for Family Christian Stores to be serving our guests on Sunday for limited hours.

The abbreviated Sunday hours reflect our desire to support morning worship time for our employees and guests, while still meeting the resource needs of the Christian community.

We at Family Christian Stores are committed to a very important calling-Helping to Strengthen Hearts, Minds & Souls by helping you to grow closer to Christ.    In Christ,

President and CEO

Family Christian Stores 

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run   

Weee, now you can sign up for a Family Christian Credit Card that has a christian message written on it so that you can be an effective witness everytime you buy something on credit.

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Clint M   
Weee, now you can sign up for a Family Christian Credit Card that has a christian message written on it so that you can be an effective witness everytime you buy something on credit.

Like when you pay for a porn movie at a hotel?

That's when you request the one that has verses from the Song of Solomon on it.

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HOOWAH! And they said Alan has little sense of humor!

I think Alan has a point about the clientele, though not just on the point of protest. I've found that these stores are consensus builders or attracters. You will not find a lot of texts claiming Reformed theology to be heresy (there are those who believe this passionately, I wonder where they find their books), or advocate extreme pentacostalism and Apostolic Holiness. Their inventories can be rather shallow and I believe that is because of trying to keep the business afloat. They stock a lot of what sells and try to get rid of what sits around (staying away from slow selling publishers and possibly eggheaded topics). Simple Fabonaci numbers: 20% of your variety will probably account for 80% of your sales. The kinds of books that might impress us are not going to be the mainstays of any bookstores.

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Ben   

I'm going to come down more on the side of the old Christian bookstore on this one. It may be different in the states, but in the U.K. (at least in my short experience of actually wanting the stuff), you're extremely hard pressed to find any but the most mainstream, big-time Christian CDs (Stacie Orrico, Delirious are example) being sold anywhere outside of a Christian bookstore. If you wanted anything else, it's either head to the local SPCK or go online. And they'll usually have a good selection. Both of the Christian bookstores in Norwich close Sundays.

In terms of the range of books; whenever I do go in, there's always a title that catches my eye, and I'll always end up immersed in a book or other, reading and completely losing track of time and usually coming away with something I didn't know before, or, at the very least, the happiness that I have been able to read something which builds me up. Of course there's also the fair share of Lucado et al and a few items which I wonder at the use of (Cockney Gospel anyone?) It might be that I'm easy to please, but I don't find their selections that meagre, and I'm happy that they exist. Without them, it would be a lot harder to come by any kind of Christian resources beyond Gregorian chanting and placemats from the Cathedral gift-shop (actually the gift-shop is a lot better than this - it also sells miniature medieval knights in armour).

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Alvy   

The biggest Christian bookstore near me is a Wesley-Owen. I baulk every time I go in the place. I just feel alien in those places these days. Everything just smacks of the crassness of the evangelical-charismatic subculture. Bleurgh. I tolerate it for short lengths of time because occasionally there might be something good on sale.

We have an SPCK at the Cathedral, and they offer an eclectic mix of conservative, liberal and everywhere inbetween, but little of the trite stuff you'd get at Wesley-Owen, and there's also a Pauline Press downtown, which I think is Roman Catholic, though there's a wide range of books.

I buy almost everything from Amazon, anyway, these days. Usually the customer reviews are sufficient to give me a good idea what I'm getting.

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The biggest Christian bookstore near me is a Wesley-Owen. I baulk every time I go in the place. I just feel alien in those places these days. Everything just smacks of the crassness of the evangelical-charismatic subculture. Bleurgh. I tolerate it for short lengths of time because occasionally there might be something good on sale.

Matt, that's my impression over here, oftentimes. I feel the same way about most bookstores though. They are merely adapting to their clientele. I assume that the cathedral bookstore, like the one at the Cathedral St. Paul here in Detroit, is more a service of the diocese than a business and therefore can afford to keep on the shelf anything it cares to. I find I have to dig through whatever it is I disdain to find what I want at almost any store, including the grocery at which I work.

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Ann D.   

I still like Mardel's, my local bookstore. I never buy music there anymore but I will look at the books, and occasionally find an author that I like.

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Alvy   
The biggest Christian bookstore near me is a Wesley-Owen. I baulk every time I go in the place. I just feel alien in those places these days. Everything just smacks of the crassness of the evangelical-charismatic subculture. Bleurgh. I tolerate it for short lengths of time because occasionally there might be something good on sale.

Matt, that's my impression over here, oftentimes.

Listen, Darrell, I know I set the ball rolling by calling Christian Dan earlier, but we've gotta start getting each others' names right round here! blink.gif

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Alvy, I'm so sorry. This is more than embarrassing. At least you had the good grace to confuse me with the other old guy. And here I was eagerly looking forward to more conversation when I saw the new post on the menu. So sorry.

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I was gone for the weekend and am glad to see some discussion. It does seem a bit hopeless of the situation.

The idea of the cathedral bookstore being a service is intriguing since many American evangelical churches claim to have a library ministry. I currently attend Park Street church in Boston and was impressed with the library there. What are the church libraries of which you are aware like and how effective are they?

If there was possibly a means for church lay people to begin asking for a better library ministry do you think the church leadership would support such a venture?

In addition, if church libraries became a viable option to obtain books could this possibly be a means to challenge the "christian Wal-Mart?"

(btw, Christian bookstore irony for the day. . .while in Missouri this weekend I saw a bill board for Missouri's most beautiful Christian bookstore. Why does a bookstore need to be beautiful? Couldn't it be diverse? informative? etc. . .? Ughhh!)

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DanBuck   

(btw, Christian bookstore irony for the day. . .while in Missouri this weekend I saw a bill board for Missouri's most beautiful Christian bookstore. Why does a bookstore need to be beautiful? Couldn't it be diverse? informative? etc. . .? Ughhh!)

Careful here mcyoung

The truth is most modern evengelicals downplay aesthetics and look only to pragmatic considerations - which is largely why the arts are where they are today within the Church. It's too bad most Christian bookstores aren't MORE interested in aesthetics, but if they were they'd have to burn 3/4 of their products.

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Clint M   

(btw, Christian bookstore irony for the day. . .while in Missouri this weekend I saw a bill board for Missouri's most beautiful Christian bookstore.

Edited by Clint M

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kebbie   

hurray for hearts & minds! byron and beth borger, who run it, have been an important and positive influence on many of my friends and peers. this is the kind of "christian bookstore" i can support!

dan, i understand what you're getting at with the appeal to christians to appreciate form as well as function. but do you really think that a christian bookstore which advertises itself on a billboard as "missouri's most beautiful" is ACTUALLY beautiful? my guess is that it's probably gaudy and gauche, which many christians--to your point exactly--mistake for "beautiful."

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Alvy   

I went downtown yesterday to look in a few stores, including two Christian bookstores that are poles apart: Wesley-Owen (website here) and Pauline Press (website, um, nowhere it can be found, anyway). And here's the problem I identified: Wesley-Owen has all the money to keep the presentation slick, everything shiny and attractive, commercial-looking, but the content is crass; Pauline Press has quality content, but the place badly needs refurbishing, half the books have been sitting around on shelves for years and have faded, dog-eared covers, and the prices are at the top end of the scale. Maybe someone can expand and supplement that into a broader critique of what's wrong with Christian bookstores in general.

Edited by Alvy

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If there was possibly a means for church lay people to begin asking for a better library ministry do you think the church leadership would support such a venture?

In addition, if church libraries became a viable option to obtain books could this possibly be a means to challenge the "christian Wal-Mart?"

The best way to improve the selection at a church library is to donate some of what you think is missing. Very few churches have an acquisition budget and even if they do, who is doing the acquiring? You look through the stacks and I'll bet that's how some of the wierder stuff got in there. Further, if some of the titles offered to the library are a bit dicey according to those in charge, rather than be affronted by a refusal, it would be good to have a few diplomatic defenses of the titles ready to use. As I see it, simple sales pitches as to why the library could be improved by their inclusion.

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kebbie   

i just got an email today from a long-lost college friend, ben, who is last person i'd expect to end up working at a christian bookstore. and yet... he is. and he's blogging about it!

those of you who've posted to this thread should get a kick out of it. ben's a cynic, but he's a loveable cynic. and that makes all the difference.

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run   

I did get a kick out of reading Ben's blog about the Left Behind Board Game:

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

Yesterday, I discovered Left Behind-The Movie TM Board Game (yes, that

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kebbie   

ha! nah, i think he's ok where he is. read the blog and you'll get a good sense of his ability to survive against the odds!

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Ben   

We sell these bumper stickers that say, "Angels protect this car."

I'm probably evil for thinking this, but if I ever see a car with that bumper sticker, I want to run it off the road. Then I'd ask them, "Where were your angels? On their cigarette break?"

Ooh, he's got a nice mean streak!

Ben.

Edited by Indigojones

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