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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

Re: Heh

I might take exception to the "mindlessly" thing, but yeah, otherwise you've just pretty much nailed it. #2, especially.

Everybody's got a belief system and a worldview (or maybe a rapidly-shifting variety of belief systems and worldviews :), but some of them definitely seem more ludicrous/inconsistent/controlling than others. Organized religion, though, tends towards these weaknesses in a lot of ways, primarily because of the basic inability of their adherents to deal well with ambiguity and uncertainty. It's easier to reduce things into ridiculous blacks and whites, just so you can tell yourself that 1) you have some measure of control and 2) you're individually special in an immensely huge and impersonal universe. :)

I think there's a baby in the bathwater, but there's so much cruddy bathwater that the baby gets drowned sometimes.

Horrifying imagery. Ah well.