Christian bookstores – once a haven of rest for my thirsty soul – have begun to irritate me like a splinter in the eye. Here’s why:
Christian bookstores have become to me an awkward symbol of our artificially divided thinking:
- We have the “Lord’s” day, and then we have (other) days.
- We speak of the “Lord’s” work, and then our (secular) work.
- We refer to our “Christian” life, and – presumably – our regular life
- We value “Christian” art, and devalue every other kind of art.
- And we bathe ourselves in “Spiritual” music while eschewing pop, classical, country, and jazz music.
It’s almost as if we live in two completely different worlds: The “Christian world”, and the actual world!
Which brings us to “Christian” bookstores: The ultimate expression of a divided world, where each book is sanctified, certified and bona fide. Our local stores in Florence offer Christianized teddy bears, scripturized school supplies, sanctified jewelry, religified trinkets, and ultra-sanitized fiction.
But here’s the honest truth: There is only one world. And there are only books. Some, written by believers, are rich with truth. Others, written by non-believers, contain rich truths as well. Sometimes believers get things wrong, and sometimes unbelievers get things right, because believers do not own the copyright on truth. Rather the Truth holds a copyright on us. And the Truth, (who is a person), is well able to teach us along the way. At this point I’m becoming convinced that the drivel in our Christian bookshops can be as spiritually damaging as the worst of Barnes and Nobel.
The answer is simple: strip away the arbitrary titles and embrace discernment. Drink deeply from books, art, and music which reflect the glory of God regardless of categories. The important question is not “Did a Christian write this, paint this, sing this, but rather does this thing reflect the glory of our beautiful God?