June 22, 2008

A Slice of PIE: The Christian Ghetto at Barnes and Noble

There are some Christians who would see the “Christian Inspiration”, “Christian Fiction” and “Bibles” sections at Barnes & Noble as a victory in Jesus. I think it’s a defeat of the first order and directly contradicts the Scriptural injunction of the Great Commission -- because what atheist would be caught dead among the rows of Christian Inspiration?

A hard-core science fiction fan might rather die than have her best friend discover her touching a Christian Fiction novel.

This way, B&N – and Borders and WalMart and Target and Lucifer – have created an island of literary safety for Christians to go to (because they don’t want to be sullied by those racy romances) and non-Christians to stay away from (because they are very happy with their personal philosophical choices, thank-you-very-much!)

Hell forbid, a seeker might stumble across the autobiography of Billy Graham alongside a Mahatma Ghandi autobiography. We have made SURE that all that “Christian stuff” is safely packed away with suitable warning labels so that all the people who aren’t Christians won’t be offended and are handily warned away from Christian thinkers like T.D. Jakes and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. People seeking the latest New Age Tarot book or PHILOSOPHY FOR DUMMIES absolutely will NOT stumble across Richard Swinburne or Dorothy L. Sayers’ THE MIND OF THE MAKER. Certainly, sports jocks won’t be able to find Skip Bayless’ (honest and critical) book about Tom Landry, God’s Coach because it will be hidden in the “Christian Biography” section.

Why NOT shelve Dee Henderson in the MYSTERY section? Why isn’t Frank Peretti’s THE OATH in the Literary Fiction section near Chuck Palahniuk’s FIGHT CLUB?

Because the Christian right has insisted that we have our own place in the store, a place we can call our own, a place where everyone thinks alike, and speaks the same language – while at the same time, making less money than others who write exactly the same thing but don’t carry the label “Christian…”. Voluntary or involuntary, this place is called the…

ghetto – (Italian: “part of the city to which Jews are restricted”) formerly the restricted quarter of many European cities in which Jews were required to live; "the Warsaw ghetto"; any segregated mode of living or working that results from bias or stereotyping; a poor densely populated city district occupied by a minority ethnic group linked together by economic hardship and social restrictions wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

And as we all know, the ghetto is a dangerous, dangerous place to live.

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