Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Balaam, best selling author?

I hate Christian Bookstores! And like most of my opening sentences this one, it should come as no surprise, requires a little explanation.

Yesterday afternoon, it seems much longer ago, I had a little time to kill between appointments. So I decided to visit a local merchant that, let's just say, might begin with "mard" and end in "ell". As is my wont on these occassions I wasted no time in homing in on the bargain section. I passed over several books that I probably will read in the future, but just didn't catch my interest on the particular afternoon in question. I spent a few more moments just glancing down the spines, then it hit me, (now this is not an origianl thought, nor is it even My first time at this particular rodeo) Why do we need seventeen hundred seperate volumes of over four hundred pages each to express God's opinion on the economy?

Okay, let's examine this, shall we? God, okay? God creates the universe in seven days. Walks through six thousand plus years of human history making friends. He chooses a few dozen of these to record bits of history and ideas, creating, if you will, a sort of snapshot of who he is and how he chooses to interact with humanity. He protects these writngs through various means and presents them to us as a collection of Truth. Sixty six books in all covering a wide variety of topics. The scriptures, the document we base our faith on, God's Word. So how is it that all of the books that have EVER had any legitimate claim to inclusion in the Christian Scripture do not add up to the contents of ONE SECTION of the average Christian Superstore?

Not only do most of these volumes have their roots within the historical framework of the American Empire, but most of them have been penned and published within the last thirty years!!!???? I turn the corner and am washed away by the vastness of the rest of this store, shelf upon shelf upon shelf of poorly penned opinion pieces and loads of CRAP! If God needs this much explanation he did a very poor job of telling his own story!

So I'm standing here kind of staggering under the weight of this huge question, which I'll share in a moment, when I am assaulted by a pitch video that is playing. A very sincere man is sitting on a stool on a carefully lighted soundstage and he is telling me that my life experience demands that I buy THIS BIBLE, because THIS BIBLE more than any other BIBLE can bring the TRUTH and POWER of The WORD OF GOD to bear on my life and situation. That this Bible is superior because the finest theological thinkers of our day have had a hand in crafting THIS BIBLE. Well, whoopteedoo!

It isn't that they aren't well educated, or that their opinions might be insightful, it is the sheer gaul of this advertisement that drives me to distraction! THEIR content is what will make God's word relevant to MY LIFE!!!???? The CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE couldn't get it right without THEIR help???!!!! Wow! How do these people sleep at night?

So, here's my question. If all of these "prophets" , "teachers", and "preachers" have their personal livelihoods attached to their personal publishing empires, who speaks for God? Really, because anyone who knows me will tell you I have no use for money. It rarely motivates the decisions in my life, and yet. If one of my acting students threatens to withdraw for reasons that are within my control to change it becomes very difficult for me to make my decision based on what I believe is "best" without being swayed by the power of that income. If my personal wealth is directly connected with my ability to get enough people to purchase and read my latest "teaching", "Prophetic utterance" or "Biblical Analysis", how can I possibly say only what I hear God saying?

There was this little guy named Balaam, back in the book of Numbers, you might remember him. He was known as a diviner, a prophet. As such it was his business to give advice, blessings, curses, etc. and collect a "diviner's fee" for doing it. Now, this guy was no huxter, he spoke to God his conversations are recorded in Scripture. It seems this King had a little trouble with some nomads from Egypt coming up to eat all his crops. He offered to pay Balaam to curse them, God told Balaam no, so he turned him down. The King sweetend the pot and told him on top of the payment he would make sure that everyone knew who had taken care of his little problem, which meant more business for Balaam, Balaam acquiesced and took the gig. On the way his donkey had to start talking to keep Balaam from being taken out by an angel from God with a flaming sword. It seems God had taken out a hit on Brother Balaam.

So, I wonder, how many of these "teachers" conducted focus groups, took an informal pole, asked around about trends, before they outlined their last bestseller? Heck of a way to sell books, great business model! But is this the way God's kingdom is supposed to operate? Is this really freely you have received freely give? So, I equate most of the contents of that bookstore with the wares being offered by "ladies" in stillettos and short skirts on the streets of any medium to big town in this and every other country (except maybe the muslim run establishments) and it makes me weep!

1 comment: said...

you'll notice all the free stuff oer at voyage. what you dont see is all the people contacting me literally from all over the world trying to figure out a way that we could "partner together in ministry" and make money off of stuff.

i always tell them thanks but no thanks. sometimes more nicely than others.