Thursday, July 07, 2005

Book Mecca

So tomorrow morning will find me bleary-eyed with Starbucks in hand at Dulles airport for my way-too-long flight to Denver for the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). It used to be called CBA, the convention of the Christian Booksellers Association. But no, they had to go and change the name this year confusing everybody. But I know why they did it.

I love going to CBA, I mean ICRS, because there are books EVERYWHERE! And I happen to love books. But it has become so much more than books. Many of the aisles are filled with what some people call "Jesus junk". You know, any little trinket or dust collector that sports a Scripture or a poem about God. Tons of pictures, dolls, jewelry, T-shirts if they can put "Jesus" on it, they do. Now, I buy a lot of books and a bit of music, but I don't even remember when I bought something else besides a card at the Christian bookstore. This is not new stuff, it's been around for a long time but I suppose some big-wig somewhere wanted to make sure that "retail" was the focus rather than "booksellers".

And I'm not sure how I feel about that. Partially because most of the people who write the books that line the shelves of a Christian bookstore do so because they want to help others in some way. We want to share truth whether it is through a story or the next twelve chapter "You can Overcome X". But all the other retail stuff? What's the purpose? It's basically to make money, right? We can argue that we wear t-shirts or jewelry or hang framed prints in our halls to be a witness to others. While that may be true on some level, our real witness is the way we live our lives, the way we treat others, the way we exhibit peace in the midst of pain. Frankly, I've seen too many people wearing Christian T-shirts that made me want to run in the other direction. Those Christian fish on the backs of cars certainly aren't helping many people be more polite and courteous drivers. Sometimes, that witness is a bad one.

I have one piece of jewelry that I wear all the time. It was a gift from my grandmother. People notice it regularly and I find it funny that when they point it out it's almost code for "I'm a Christian too". But as for all the other stuff? I feel compelled in other directions now.

So I'll be wandering up and down aisle after aisle of "stuff" in Denver the next few days so you won't see me blogging here until next Thursday. Until then, be blessed, and be a witness with your life.