Thursday, October 09, 2008

Heaven Forbid! Bibles in Barnes & Noble

I was in the Barnes and Noble today, looking for a new journal and as I was examining the various offerings I overheard one of the clerks say to another, "Boy, some of my customers are really going to get upset about these."

Curious, I looked over at what he was doing -- hanging up new bookmarks with a large, decorative cross on them, these amidst the fluffy white puppies, cute kittens, nature offerings and various bookish and avant garde designs. Hmm. Did he really mean what I thought he did? Did people really come into the Barnes and Noble and complain that they are selling cross bookmarks?

I stayed around in the adjacent aisle even though I'd already determined it didn't have what I wanted and continued to eavesdrop.

The other clerk came over to see what the first one was talking about and offered a story of his own. Apparently elsewhere in the store they had some teen study bibles displayed on an endcap that had set customers off, as well. They didn't think those bibles should be there at all, but especially not in the nonfiction section. If anyplace,they should go in the fiction section.

"Well, I think they have a case, sort of," said the first clerk.

From there the conversation continued but I couldn't follow it -- the first clerk said something about why the bibles were on the end cap, and added the fact that some people (not sure who) couldn't see the sign that said 'study Bibles.' I'm not sure what effect their seeing that would have had on the situation, largely because I'm not sure what situation he was referring to.

Was it the one where people looking for the bibles couldn't see the sign and so couldn't find the bibles, thus necessitating the end cap which offended the other people who apparently don't think bibles should be sold in a secular book store?

Or the one where people objecting to the bibles couldn't see the sign and so didn't know that they were study bibles and as such really did belong in the nonfiction section.

What was of greatest interest to me was that it was an issue at all. I was astonished to learn that people actually go into a general book store and complain about the sorts of books it sells. Of course I could see complaining about pornography, so maybe I shouldn't be so astonished. It all depends on your scale of values. And sadly more and more people in this country seem to be holding to a scale of values that not only excludes the Bible, but actively opposes its principles.

This was recently illustrated for me by a "much forwarded" email of an editorial piece on Sarah Palin written by Indian spiritualist Deepak Chopra. In it he took many of my values and turned them around as being evil. Small town values = "petty, small minded parochialism"; family values = "code for walling out anyone who makes a claim for social justice"; patriotism = "the usual fallback in a failed war."

Oh, yeah and Sarah Palin is the evil shadow of Barak Obama.

Wow. If you want to read this editorial, it's here. Not that I recommend it, since in my opinion Deepak Chopra is heavily influenced by and promoting doctrines of demons. But I think there are many who apparently adhere to the viewpoint, so from that angle it is interesting.