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The Good Book Business

gakked from _faithinfiction: a fascinating New Yorker article on the Bible-selling industry.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"...research has found that ninety-one per cent of American households own at least one Bible—the average household owns four—which means that Bible publishers manage to sell twenty-five million copies a year of a book that almost everybody already has."

and

"'The Personal Promise Bible' is custom-printed with the owner’s name ('The LORD is Daniel’s shepherd'), home town ('Woe to you, Brooklyn! Woe to you, New York!'), and spouse’s name ('Gina’s two breasts are like two fawns')."

and

"The publisher of Zondervan, Scott Bolinder, spoke with excitement about the possibilities for distributing the book on iTunes. 'A person hears about it, says, "I don’t know, I’m not parting with thirty-four dollars. But I’ll try the Book of Revelation for a dollar-ninety-nine,"' he said."

Just...keep...reading. I experienced a kind of shock, a horrified fascination, a repulsion, and the occasional moment of thinking an ideas might actually be a valid way of reaching out to people. I think the best quote, though, is a summary of the underlying conflict in marketing God like this:

"The problem, as [a former religion editor] sees it, is that 'instead of demanding that the believer, the reader, the seeker step out from the culture and become more Christian, more enclosed within ecclesial definition, we’re saying, "You stay in the culture and we’ll come to you." And, therefore, how are we going to separate out the culturally transient and trashy from the eternal?'"

Comments

The paradox is this:
to make this foolishness wise
destroys its wisdom.
To build this weakness up
destroys its strength.
Its power bowls over
by revelation, not apologetics.
To peddle a palatable Cross
merely sells
a pretty package
of nothing.
To spruce it up for the trade
defaces the Artist's work.
Leave it unadorned
in its bare
foolishness.

(excerpt from http://www.katspace.org/ficstuff/Stories-KathrynAndersen/WrittenOnATuesday)

The difficulty lies in determining the line between "stripping away the incomprehensible jargon" and "sprucing it up for the trade".
Surely at least part of the line is drawn when you persistently choose content over form? Don't make it suit the market, don't make it "sell"; and also don't gold-plate it with religious trappings?

(Actually, I'm sad that more Protestant churches don't regularly use the Creeds, because they are simple statements of truth and only have a couple of words that require explanation to the modern person.)

Of course, it's also true that "the kingdom is not matter of talk, but of power" (and now I need to go look that up--I think it's First Corinthians...).
Actually, I'm sad that more Protestant churches don't regularly use the Creeds, because they are simple statements of truth and only have a couple of words that require explanation to the modern person.

Like "catholic" and "apostolic".

But, yeah, I guess that's one thing to thank my Anglican upbringing for...