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Friday, July 14, 2006


CBA--Politics and the Kingdom

I spent the past week at CBA in Denver. That's short for the Christian Booksellers Association International Christian Retail Show.

Boy, did that show confuse me.

A friend of mine summarized it like this. They represent some of the most conservative Christians in the country. They have to since large box booksellers like Barnes and Noble now offer a good selection of mainstream Christian literature. In order to stay competitive, many Christian bookstores have adapted to the conservative niche of Christians who avoid the mainstream. That and they have become more like trinket shops than bookstores.

Conservative Christians aren't just theologically conservative--they are politically conservative. Many of the presses and book stores publish material they know their audience wants, and it actively promotes specifically Republican candidates and generally Republican family values. By that I mean, they borrow Republican party language and spin in their books about gay marriage, ID, homeschooling, etc.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with mixing politics and religion. Politicians who bring their faith to work don't necessarily threaten our country with theocracy--as long as they live out their faith with integrity and serve the country as excellent politicians.

But CBA didn't have any political balance.

The closest thing to balance were the booths and presses that remained apolitical. One Jossey-Bass book went as far as to suggest that political conservatives could still support social justice and environmental conservation.

I know the presses were trying to give the audience what they wanted, but the lack of balance still bothered me.

Have you read the book What Jesus Meant by Gary Wills? It really crystalized exactly what I believe and why I have been (ever increasingly) getting so frustrated with politically conservative Christians. TIME recently coined the term Christianists and that hit home with me, too. It is very frustrating to be equated with a set of ideas and beliefs that I don't agree with (or really understand) because I am a Christian. Anyway, Jess and I liked the book a lot. If you ever come across it, I'd love to know what you think...

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