April 23, 2018

An Author Of Note

On Monday, Chaplain Mike ranted on three topics—which is very good for a Monday. Normally I can’t work up to three until Wednesday or Thursday. But the Chaplain knows his stuff, and he worked right up to three good ones. Unfortunately, most of the comments were centered around Francis Chan wanting the elderly to stop acting their age, and never got to my favorite of the three: the “chokehold” Christian bookstores have on our Western Christian culture.

Chaplain Mike referenced an excellent post by Rachel Held Evans on her blog. Rachel talked of taboos in Christian publishing—mentions of alcohol, pre-marital sex, profanities, and using medical vocabulary such as vagina—and how this creates an artificial, safe world Christian readers like to inhabit. I know this from many sides of the fence, having been an author, an editor, and a bookstore employee. Christian readers want to be kept twenty miles from the nearest sin, and expect the characters in their books to be as close to perfect human beings as possible. Anything less and—gasp!—sin is at the reader’s doorstep.

I won’t repeat what Rachel so clearly and aptly has already enunciated in her essay. Instead, I want to talk about one specific author I think epitomizes Christian publishing today. This author is proficient in his writing, turning out books on a frequent and regular basis. His name is Gilderoy Lockhart.

What? Of course you’ve heard of him. Some of his bestsellers include Break With A Banshee, Holiday With A Hag, Voyages With Vampires and Wanderings With Werewolves. Still unfamiliar to you? Lockhart is featured prominently in a book that most Christian stores wouldn’t stock on a dare: Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

Know him now?

Gilderoy Lockhart is the author of these and many other books detailing his adventures dealing with “dark creatures” such as hags, banshees and the like. They made for fascinating reading and earned Lockhart an army of adoring fans, fans who couldn’t wait for his next book. There were just two problems. Lockhart never actually had the experiences he claimed to have had. And his readers still believed him.

Thus Lockhart arrived at Hogwarts to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, a subject he knew nothing about, yet a subject that would be crucial for students entering the real world who had to deal with real evil. While he appeared to be just a vain, arrogant self-boaster, he turned out to be quite dangerous.

Gilderoy Lockhart is a familiar face in Christian publishing. Oh sure, we have the obvious Gilderoys in Mike Warnke, Todd Bentley and others who told tales not even remotely close to the truth. Those are easy to spot. I’m talking about Gilderoy Lockhart who writes books your neighbor in the pew this coming Sunday is reading. Books written by a smiling man—or woman—who seems to have all the answers. Who knows THE way out of your financial mess. Who knows THE way to turn your rebellious kids into angels. The Gilderoy Lockhart who shares seven principles to, well, to anything you want.

Sure, Joel Osteen is an obvious “Gilderoy,” but there are many, many others. Books like this tickle ears and cause no pain. They are sugar-coated and easy to swallow. The picture of the author on the cover shows more teeth than found in a denture convention. The message in this is that all you need to do to have that great life you’ve desired is shell out $22.95 and get to reading. Gilderoy writes books on the secrets of fasting, especially using the Daniel Fast. Secrets of praying, especially using prayers found in Scripture. Secrets of financial freedom, especially using biblical principles.

Do you note how much these books “use” things? Life is simple, says Gilderoy. All you have to do is use the right tools to get what you want.

But when it comes to real life, Gilderoy is of little use. When the electricity is shut off due to non-payment, where is Gilderoy with the funds to get your lights and AC back on? When your spouse leaves you, where is he to help you thru those lonely nights? When your child dies, how much help are those grinning teeth then?

The books that line the shelves of Christian stores, and line the pockets of their publishers, are dangerous books. They feature crayon drawings of a make-believe God who blesses the good people who follow principles, and ignores the cries of those who don’t. Those who read Your Best Life Now, expecting to find God around each corner, giving them up-front parking spaces at the mall, are at a total loss when they’re let go from their job or when diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Gilderoy is no where to be found, and neither is the God they have tethered themselves to.

Whose fault is it that Gilderoy Lockhart occupies such a central place in Christian publishing? Well, there are the publishers, who honestly don’t care about the content of a book. Really. If the author has a strong enough platform, meaning a way to market themselves and the book, it can be as heretical as can be. Many publishing houses now leave the editing up to the author, only needing to know enough of the content to create sales sheets and back-cover copy.

Then there are the bookstores, who know they will sell many more copies of a book dealing with how to be joyful, healthy and wealthy than a book that walks the road of suffering with no guaranteed happy ending. Bookstores, like publishers, are in business to make money. If readers are buying pablum, them pablum will be on the menu in bold letters.

And there are the readers. Honestly, do people actually read this crap? The best thing I can say is that surveys show the vast majority of those who buy a non-fiction book seldom read the whole thing. In the case of books by Gilderoy Lockhart, that’s a good thing.

Finally, there is Lockhart himself. The books he (or she) writes are not meant to be great literature. I’m ok with that. My favorite author, Robert Capon, did not create great literature. I fault all of the Gilderoy Lockharts—and their ghostwriters (oh, didn’t I mention that most of these books are written by ghosts?)—with preying on the simple, the foolish, those whose ears long to be tickled. I fault them for not only using anecdotes proven never to have happened but for encouraging these readers to believe in a dualistic good vs. evil, blessed vs. cursed, world. Of course, writing, “Life sucks most of the time, when it rains it monsoons, and cheaters really do prosper” is not going to get someone a three-book deal and bus to travel in.

My solution? Threefold. First, stop trading in bookstores that sell books by Gilderoy Lockhart. Tell the manager or owner that until they get some grown-up books for you to look at you won’t be back. Second, get rid of the mindset that only “Christian” books contain truth or give glimpses of God. Ghost Rider by Neil Peart and Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey are two examples of books written by decidedly non-Christians that have shown me the face of God. And third, as much as you can, stick to dead authors. If their books are still in print, there might just be something in them worth reading.

This afternoon I want to mention a person you will seldom meet in a Christian bookstore. Stay tuned.

 

 

Comments

  1. Problem is, there are more customers who demand crap (and who screech whenever the bookstores carry anything that really challenges them) than there are customers who insist Christian bookstores actually carry anything of substance. The only exception I’ve found is Christian Book Distributors—and they’re not dumb; they’ll still sell Joel Osteen’s books, because that’s what the foolish masses demand.

    As for me, I won‘t bother with my local Christian bookstore until they carry U2 albums in their music section. Not U2 tribute albums: Actual U2 albums. That‘s the sign the bookstore owner has actually grown a spinal column. Till then, I‘m shopping Amazon.

    • I’m old enough to remember when only Christian bookstores carried U2 albums – the first two, anyway – because they had “Jesus” in their lyrics. Licorice Pizza and Wherehouse wouldn’t carry “religious” LPs. My, how times have changed.

  2. I would love to see a display of Gerhard Forde’s books in a Christian bookstore.

    5 will get you 10 that they have never heard of him.

    PS- The last time I was in a Christian bookstore was 1984 when I thought that my dog ran in there.

    But he wouldn’t even go in.

  3. The only Christian bookstore I visit is the Fuller Seminary bookstore. You can buy Buechener’s books and NT Wright and dozens of other meaty works. It’s refreshing, and rare.

    As for the rest, it’s become a squalid literary ghetto very much of their own making. Feed people slop for long enough and they’ll sooner or later lose the capacity to appreciate anything better or more complex. I’m convinced that all this has come about because of institutional sin, the sins of timidity and safety and mediocrity and pablum and fear all churning about and helping to perpetuate so much of the drivel that passes for Christian writing.

    The bright lights are there. The Madeline L’Engles and Dallas Willards and Brennan Mannings and so many others. But they are harder and harder to find. The treasures are often buried and hidden. Don’t give up looking.

    • Juniper says:

      John,

      Have you been to the Archives book store in Pasadena? Its not too far away. Used books!

      • Make that two stores. Completely forgot about Archives as I was thinking new books. Been there many times. Great store.

      • Randy Thompson says:

        I’m originally from Southern California, and no trip back to Pasadena is complete without a stop at Archive Books. This place is a real treasure, filled with books for people who actually read serious books. It’s a great place to kill an hour or two wandering through its many shelves.

  4. Richard McNeeley says:

    I don’t go in Christian bookstores, I would rather find what I want online and download it.
    I think the bigger problem is with the pastors that read this junk and then regurgitate it from the pulpit.

  5. Ahhh….what a pleasure it is to agree with EVERYTHING you wrote Jeff(rey)!

    I think you’re describing a god (note lower case ‘g’) who has been fashioned to the religious consumer’s image. Treat him nice and he’ll give you what you want.

    Someone on facebook made this interesting comment however regarding Evans’ post that “we’re talking sad, mainstream publishing and sales (which explains her concern), not serious study and engagement with life and the Bible (see Crossways, Nelson, etc.. for that)”

    Keep it up Jeff!

    (John From Down Under)

  6. Raymond Carver

    Alice Munro

    James Joyce

    Gene Wolfe (!!!)

    Ted Hughes

    Alice Oswald

    Native American, African, Oriental, Celtic, Greek mythology

    Job, Psalms, Mathew, Isaiah, Genesis

    Just a few examples of authors/poets etc. that have opened my eyes

  7. +1 on just reading dead authors. In the end the pablum gets swept away and a few books demonstrate staying power.

  8. Those stores are plastic and very discouraging.

    • But some still retain a good selection of Christain mugs 🙂

      • But do they sanctify your coffee or tea? You see?! I tried one of those years ago and got no holier. I mean not at all.

  9. Mary Anne Dutton says:

    This is of SUCH value. Please keep opening the eyes of those who desire to think and discern. We need to know what is going on out there – really. We need to be disturbed.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Because discernment is so much more that “I Sense the DEMON of Fill-in-the-Blank Inside You!!!!!”

  10. Steve Newell says:

    Let’s see, we don’t want a book with sex and adultery, murder and executions, lying and deceit, sadness and loneliness, suffering and pain, and the feeling that God has abounded us.

    I guess that many Christian book stores couldn’t carry the Bible.

  11. “This afternoon I want to mention a person you will seldom meet in a Christian bookstore.”

    Newt Scamander?

  12. I stopped shopping at Christian bookstores loooong ago. Frankly, Amazon is just cheaper. Now, back when Amazon was torched by evangelicals for selling a supposed “how-to guide to child molestation” (it was removed from Amazon’s “shelves” as soon as it was brought to light), many of my Christian friends swore to never, ever use Amazon again. As for me, I’ll continue to pay less than $5 for my gently used books, and enjoy reading them.

    Even Border’s is cheaper than most Christian bookstores! Do the owners of these places really consider what they’re doing “ministry”? I mean, if the books are hidden behind the “Full Armor of God Pajamas” and the “Testamints” displays, I really prefer not to shop there.

  13. I think the bigger problem is with the pastors that read this junk and then regurgitate it from the pulpit.

    Very good point. It took me a while to cotton on to this one. I was listening to a dynamic pastor preaching a thought-provoking sermon. But I realised It sounded very familiar, because it was taken pretty much directly from a book I’d read the previous week.

    In this particular case I wasn’t too bothered, because I actually liked the author in question. But it’s made me more aware of how much ‘sermon prep’ is mostly flipping through ‘Christian’ books and pulling out some usable material.

  14. Michael says:

    Why do you have such a problem with Gilderoy’s victorious lifestyle?

    Although, I have to say, I’ve soured on him since he ended up in St. Mungo’s. Why can’t he get his memories back? I just don’t think he has enough faith.

    • Why do I have a feeling that “Is Gilderoy dating anyone?” or “WHY can’t I find a real man like Gilderoy Lockheart?!??” would be heard at every youth and church singles group were he an actual Christian author?

      • Michael says:

        Oh sweet Lord, you are completely right. Those settings have a mixture of emotional, sexual, and spiritual angst that is POTENT.

    • There is already a blog post (soon to become a book, maybe) Fifty Shades of Virginity…
      http://www.devotionaldiva.com/2012/07/fifty-shades-of-virginity/

      • Random responses:

        1. I expected this to be a blog by a geeky guy who collects Star Wars toys.

        2. Well she’s right–there ARE shades, and it’s a slippery slope, so to speak, between…okay, I’ll stop now.

        3. I assume there are coffee mugs, t-shirts, and thongs for sale…?

        4. And when she finally gives it up, will there be a video of that too? (This has already been attempted several years ago, but it surfaced that the “virgins” were imposters.)

        5. I understand why she wants to stay a virgin, but what I don’t get is, why does she want to tell the entire world about it? Can one be both a virgin, and an attention whore?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        There is already a blog post (soon to become a book, maybe) Fifty Shades of Virginity…

        Now I know how Chaplain Mike felt when he found out I wasn’t making up Praise Ponies (“Just like My Little Pony, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”)…

  15. dumb ox says:

    During my most recent visit to a Christian bookstore, the type of merchandise I saw on display reminded me of a theme park gift store: pens, t-shirts, coffee mugs, wall plaques, etc. The god represented there seems like just another amusement park ride. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “I survived the god coaster” t-shirt there. It’s just part of a make-believe “Happiest Place on Earth” (TM) sort of place. I think the similarities to a theme park are not an accident. I recall that not long ago many, many Christian ministry leaders were reading up on Disney, Inc’s business model and attempting to emulate its success. When you wish upon a star, all your dreams come true. Sound familiar?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’m curious to see what the Christianese bandwagon knockoff machine does with the current best-seller 50 shades of Grey. (In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s mainstreamed BDSM for bored housewives; the genre it spawned is actually called “Mommy Porn”.)

      “Just like 50 Shades of Grey, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

      • +1

      • Make them Amish, and you’re sitting on a gold mine.

      • Beakerj says:

        50 Shades of Grace, coming to a Xtian bookshop near you….

        ‘Grace, a beautiful young christian woman ( not conventionally beautiful, her mouth was just a tad to large for conventional beauty..), with a heart for Christ, meets Christian, a backslidden believer who likes his women to sign a ‘no religion’ clause. Through a series of dates involving innovative activities (based on Mark Driscoll’s semons) & her overwhelmingly godly submission, Christian is won back to the faith.
        Epilogue: his quiver is now full, and he manfully provides for his entire Biblically submissive family.’

    • humanslug says:

      Of course all your dreams will come true — that is if you’re a Bible-believing, overcoming, serpent-stomping, spirit-filled, positive thinking, upper middle class, straight-line Republican-voting child of God.
      After all, we’re all just tourists wandering through this wicked world on our way to Gloryland. And if we’re careful to stay inside the walls of our exclusive resorts (I hear it’s dangerous outside) and make sure we buy only what God wants us to buy, then someday, praise God, we’ll get there.

      • dumb ox says:

        “After all, we’re all just tourists wandering through this wicked world on our way to Gloryland.”

        I can’t help but visualize the Griswolds in their “Family Truckster” on their way to Gloryland (aka Walley World) to the tune of “Holiday Roads”.

  16. But when it comes to real life, Gilderoy is of little use.

    THIS: rather than get ten shades of apopleptic (sp?) , Jeff’s comment above is the one I try to use when warning against cotton candy masquarading as real truth. It doesn’t apply to real life , or real anything. Very nice work, Jeff D.

    • “apoplectic”…….sorry….where’s my 7 keys to victorious, life changing grammar study guide when I need it ??……

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Aslan declawed and castrated and purring on the laps of the Church Ladies, all Nice and Safe and Nice and Sweet and Nice…

      Which is really gonna help when (not if) Tash kicks in the door.

  17. Just an aside.

    You left out another principal characteristic of Gilderoy Lockhart, his vanity.

    If I were ever so inclined, I could never be published and have my work in a Christian book store. I don’t have good enough hair, my skin complexion is bad and I wear glasses. I do have good teeth!

    Looking at the Christian books, with their big blown up pictures of their authors on the cover, it’s clear what they’re selling, and it isn’t Jesus.

  18. Steve Newell says:

    Next time at your local Christian bookstore see if they the following: Luther’s Small Catechism, The Book of Concord, The Westminster Confession, the writings of St. Augustine, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

    I even wonder if the staff of many Christian book stores even know about these and other great books of the Christian Church.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But they’re sure to have that Burpo kid’s NDE Travelogue of Heaven.

  19. MelissatheRagamuffin says:

    The last time I went into the Christian bookstore I was looking for a large print Bible. Come to find out that the selection of Bibles is no better than Barnes and Noble, and Barnes and Noble has better prices.

  20. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Rachel talked of taboos in Christian publishing—mentions of alcohol, pre-marital sex, profanities, and using medical vocabulary such as vagina—and how this creates an artificial, safe world Christian readers like to inhabit. I know this from many sides of the fence, having been an author, an editor, and a bookstore employee. Christian readers want to be kept twenty miles from the nearest sin, and expect the characters in their books to be as close to perfect human beings as possible.

    Which is discussed at length in the online essay by SF author Simon Morden, Sex, Death, and Christian Fiction, with a sequel written six years later.

    • I find it interesting, though, that in Steve Farrar’s Point Man, both the words “penis” and “vagina” are used. Can a Christian male author get away with words that a Christian female author cannot?

  21. Jeff – The Gilderoy Lockhart analogy was a stroke of creative genius! I immediately got your point and it will stick with me. I also liked the following quote:

    “They feature crayon drawings of a make-believe God who blesses the good people who follow principles, and ignores the cries of those who don’t.”

    • I’m sharing this with my kids. They’ll get the analogy and hopefully the lesson will save them some of the pain I had to go through. They are bombarded with this sort of stuff not just from Christian books/movies but also from youth pastors. Unintentional yet ignorant 20-something Gilderoys who have yet to face and overcome any real evil in life.

      • MelissatheRagamuffin says:

        Just my .02: If I had it to do over again I would not let my son go to children’s church or be a part of youth group. He would sit right in church next to his mamma. When he (and I) were young I trusted in the goodness of the children’s church and youth group leaders, and for some stupid reason I thought the church vetted these people. HA! They did incredible spiritual damage to my son with this stupid: If you pray the magic prayer life will be hearts and flowers and rainbows crap. Of course, my son has experienced that life is not like that, so now he thinks all of Christianity is crap.

        I also know of several other kids who went through children’s church and youth group with my son and they are all spiritually screwed up. My son is probably the least screwed up because at least I realized at some point the damage that was being done and started working to counter act it.

  22. Peace From The Fringes says:

    It’s worth noting that there are small, independent bookstores that are able to source and provide wonderful, diverse material. The owners can take personal responsibility for what appears on the shelves (for better or worse) rather than receiving marching orders from Corporate Headquarters. Unfortunately, they may not be able to offer bargain basement prices, but their flexibility as well as the quality and responsiveness of the staff often makes up for it.

    “Hearts And Minds” in Dallastown, PA comes to mind. I’m sure there are many others.

    • Great point

      In the interest of being provocative, I thought I’d throw out a follow up question to your comment

      How many people here would purchase a book at an independent store and pay more money?

      It’s all good to complain about the selection at Christian bookstores, or bookstores in general, but would we put our money where our mouth is. If you found the bookstore, that offered the most enlightened and perfect selection of books, but where you had to pay 3-4 extra bucks for a hardback edition, would you still put down your money? I hate to say it, but I think many of us would probably end up buying the book through Amazon (or some other online book seller), where we could pay less money and get free shipping.

      I think what this points out is that there are economic factors here. While some people might want to have the collected works of Luther at your favorite bookstore, it’s still a bookSTORE, where they actually have to sell books to stay in business. It’s not a library. Bookstores, help develop a market but they don’t set the market. At a certain point, they have to carry the books people want, even if all of us happen to hate those books.

      • cermak_rd says:

        The only argument I would say to that is that Christian bookstores were selling this type of material even back in the 80’s before the advent of Amazon & such (BCAI–before the common availability of the internet).

        Catholic Bookstores are all over the map, most don’t have a decent selection of books, but a lively selection of saint cards, rosaries, crucifixes, et al.

        Jewish Bookstores, at least the one I know on Devon (a bit of a joke, Devon has several Jewish bookstores–it’s long been an immigrant’s mall with one able to travel the 4 corners of the earth without ever leaving Devon) in Chicago has an incredible selection of books in Hebrew and English, with a nice selection of children books and Hebrew learning materials, heck they sold Talmud on CDROM last time I was there. Of course, one can also get mezzuzzahs here and other Jewish stuff. I don’t know if this is typical though. A glance online showed me a frightening collection of Jewish crap like 5 plagues fingerpuppets (no, I’m not making that one up, and I really don’t remember the plague of clowns), plastic, glow in the dark mezzuzzahs and other weird stuff.

        So it makes me wonder, if I visited the Hindu bookstores on Devon would I see similar stuff? Sikh stores? Buddhist stores (yes, I know I would expect to see cheaply made statues of the Buddha that one should not get too attached to).

        • Michael says:

          Agree with your assessment of Catholic bookstores. There definitely are some that specialize in Jesus Junk with a book aisle in the back. But there are others–like the one at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC–that are veritable libraries of the Church Fathers. Of course, the fact that it’s at a college probably helps a lot.

          Also–“5 plague fingerpuppets?” Seriously? Did we lose a verse in Genesis that says part of the curse of the Fall is stupid religious kitsch?

        • Buddhist bookstores most definitely have books. Some of them will be based on somebody’s doctoral dissertation, on subjects for which you should get an advanced degree just for knowing what it is! But they do have more popular fare, like relationship advice books.

          New Age / Pagan bookstores will usually contain a few scholarly tomes, some erudite but non-scholarly woo, and a lot of non-intellectual popular fare. Plus candles and crystals and such.

      • Peace From The Fringes says:

        It’s a great question and I responded. However, since I’m incapable of properly navigating a simple website, it ended up in the wrong place. *sigh*

    • I once owned such a bookstore. Not a Christian Bookstore per se, just a small bookstore that reflected the tastes of its Christian owner (me). I received many compliments on my particular selection from all who came in, Christian and non. But I didn’t get enough purchases to stay in business once the recession hit. By increasing my percentage of impulse gifts I was able to stay in business for a while but people can and do get books cheaper ordering online.

  23. It almost feelings fitting that you posted this today. My eighth grade teacher died in a motorcycle accident this week. The last thing anyone needs is a Joel Osteen book.

    • On a positive note, some stores do have a selection of cards that apply to grief situations and other life passages that other stores don’t carry. You do have to watch out for overly sentimental or cliche ones though.

  24. Peace From The Fringes says:

    I would and I do!

    It’s true that even the small, independent stores need to serve the entire community. The popular pablum is available: Amish Romance and Save Your Way To Salvation. Everybody has to pay the mortgage. However, they are secretly (and a bit subversively) delighted to show you the challenging and controversial fare in the next aisle. The ability to make educated choices — and then educate ourselves through our choices — is a great blessing and worth a few extra dollars… dollars that I would probably have just blown on strappy sandals or a nice Merlot anyway. 🙂

  25. I work on Sunday afternoons next door to a Christian bookstore. I can’t go in there because it’s never open on Sundays. Sabbath and all, don’t ya know.

    I’m really at a loss with this situation. Where can I get all the necessities of Christian life, like pennies with crosses cut into them, Gaither Vocal Band VHS tapes, and texts on the demonification of the toy industry? I’ve had to resort to buying plain shirts at Walmart and drawing parodies of popular brand names on them with crosses instead of the letter T.

    This makes me sad. What would Jesus do?

    Wavy.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I’ve had to resort to buying plain shirts at Walmart and drawing parodies of popular brand names on them with crosses instead of the letter T.

      This makes me sad. What would Jesus do?

      Probably go over to WeLoveFine and pick up some of their My Little Pony Art Deco T-shirts, fresh from the Satanic Toy Industry. (I’m not making that up — the artwork on those is impressive!)

      • “…fresh from the Satanic Toy Industry.”

        As much as I love those shirts, and want one, their prices are pretty…. DIABOLICAL!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yeah. I’d check Equestria Daily’s “NIghtly Roundup” postings for any announcements on discounts or promos.

      • I went to welovefine.com. I think I just lusted in my heart.

        Wavy.

  26. Marko Requena says:

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Do you note how much these books “use” things? Life is simple, says Gilderoy. All you have to do is use the right tools to get what you want.

    Isn’t that the very definition of Magic?
    (And not necessarily the type they teach at Hogwarts…)

  28. Well, there are the publishers, who honestly don’t care about the content of a book. Really. If the author has a strong enough platform, meaning a way to market themselves and the book, it can be as heretical as can be.

    Rupert Murdoch owns HarperCollins, which owns Christian publishers Zondervan and Thomas Nelson. He now controls 50% of the Christian market, including the New International Version and the New King James Version of the Bible.

  29. I recently watched an Anne Graham Lotz video about “hope when you are feeling defeated”. The video was all about heaven and what a wonderful place it was.

    To be honest, that really didn’t hlep me very much. I have a 13-year-old son with autism. Right now I’m desperately worried about his future as an adult. Telling me how wonderful heaven is doesn’t answer the question of, what will happen to him when he is an adult? Telling me how wonderful heaven is doesn’t answer the question of, how do we meet his needs NOW?

    The problem I have with “how wonderful heaven is” is that it may be 40 seconds, 40 minutes, or 40 years before I get to go there. I need to know how to live my life NOW (and not my “best life” now.) And too much of Christian writing seems to boil down to, do these #(fill in the blank with the proper number) principles and your life will be OK.

    And so HELP me, if anyone tells me to “just trust God and everything will be all right”, or that “God is in control”, they will be very lucky if they don’t get a punch in the nose!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I recently watched an Anne Graham Lotz video about “hope when you are feeling defeated”. The video was all about heaven and what a wonderful place it was.

      “In the Sweet By and By,
      You’ll get Pie in the Sky when you die…”
      — old Wobbly march anthem, “The Preacher and the Slave”

      And so HELP me, if anyone tells me to “just trust God and everything will be all right”, or that “God is in control”, they will be very lucky if they don’t get a punch in the nose!

      Don’t forget the accusations of “If You Only Had Enough FAITH…” and sniffing out The Secret Sin That Must Be in Your Life.

      “He needed killin’, Your Honor.”
      — The “Texas Defense”

  30. I think the problem is not so much Gilderoy Lockhart as Dolores Umbridge.

  31. Would Jesus turn over the tables and knock over the card swipers at a so-called Christian bookstore, that is, assuming that he would even enter one?