The Break-Up

I've done all that I can to repair this relationship, really I have. Despite the great times we have had together, this just isn't going to work out. We've been through second chances, and third chances, and more. But I am done.

I am breaking up with the local Christian bookstore. Once upon a time, I was a religious bookstore addict. If there was a religious bookstore of any sort, I would find it and spend hours perusing the stacks - usually walking out with a weighty stack of books. I loved local Christian bookstores.

Sure, I could get the same books online. But I could not walk into the store, wander through the aisles, browse through the books. I couldn't take a book home the same day that I discovered it and read through it immediately.

Then, as a pastor, I started to pay more attention. After all, this is also where the members of the church I serve shop. This is also where they would turn first, looking for good reading material about their faith. And I started to see the relationship tearing apart.

For some context, I live in a county of about 25,000 (a town of about 14,000). In this community there are 15 Lutheran churches, 2 large Roman Catholic parishes, and scattered UMC, PCUSA, and Episcopal congregation. In terms of the religious landscape, a very mainline dominated community.

It started with the Bibles. Over my five years here, I noticed the number of NRSVs on the shelf shrinking (the preferred translation in most of the mainline congregations in town). The store has 6 floor-to-ceiling bookcases of Bibles. The last time I went into the store I counted 6 NRSV Bibles on those 6 bookcases. This is not where I am going to send members to buy a new Bible.

Then I started to look at the most recent additions to the shelves. Do I really want the women in my church looking to Twilight as an example of good Christian relationships? Does anyone else find this as ridiculous as I do?

And then there's this: Preparing to Be a Help Meet. Let me go out on a limb: my fiancee will not be reading this book. Sorry. And anyone who gives this to my daughter should watch their back. I am raising my daughter to be a woman who knows who she is, who gains her identity first and foremost as a child of God, all on her own. And if I wouldn't want my daughter to read it, I'm not going to recommend it to any other woman in my church. (Do you think that Tamar read this before she seduced Judah?)

And then there was this. Don't get me wrong: Chuck Norris is awesome. Not going to argue about that. But can anyone tell me where the words "Jesus," "Christianity" or "faith" appear on the description of this book? Unless your particular religion is patriotism (which it is for many, so there's that), this does not belong in your religious bookstore.

I could go on. These are just the tip of the iceberg. And also, the last straw. I'm done. I am breaking up with the local Christian bookstore. I will continue to look for a Christian bookstore that is selling resources that promote the same sort of faith that is preached about and taught in the congregations I love. Until then, I am done.