LifeWay Christian Bookstores. I’ve only been kicked out of four or five of them. Like an Amish gone rogue, I’ve even been banned from one in North Carolina. “We do not tolerate such belligerence from people like you,” I was told.
“What do you mean, ‘people like me’? Plus, what’s belligerent about posing a simple question?” I asked the lady escorting me out of the store.
“Your whole tone has been nothing but belligerent,” she responded. “I’ve been watching you. Listening to you make fun of the books we carry.”
“All I was asking is why most of these books were not in the fiction section.”
She didn’t find that very amusing, but I barreled through her Christ-like loving gaze and continued, “The vast majority of your literature has far more in common with modern revivals of paganism, specifically gnosticism, than historical Christianity. Plus, how do you justify selling Chuck Norris’ Blackbelt Patriotism in the ‘Christian Living’ section? I just don’t get it.”
“Well,” she rather condescendingly stated, “maybe if you had read the Bible you would understand.”
Sassy gal this clerk. I kind of dig that.
Slight, but not-so-much, attraction aside, I asked, “Is there some passage where Jesus dresses in a white Japanese superhero uniform and breaks flimsy boards with his bare-knuckles? If so, I must have missed it.”
Due my ecclesial and slightly over-zealous familial roots, I’m pretty sure that as soon as I exited the womb I was expected to have already memorized the gospels. I have a more-than-casual acquaintance with the Bible. Enough so that I’m pretty sure Jesus was neither a patriot (killed by the state), nor a black-belt in karate (taught nonviolence). Yet, such wholesome and virtuous bookstores like LifeWay and Family Christian Bookstores (has the latter actually ever read Jesus’ comments on the biological family?) major in the kind of literature glorifying those individuals who use Jesus as a means to justify and romanticize killing.
God love their Jesus-following/roundhouse-kicking/nation-state loving hearts.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.