‘Hi, I’m looking for a Christian book …’


“LifeWay Christian Bookstore, how may I help you?”

“Hi, I’m looking for a Christian book.”

“Well, you’ve called the right place. What’s the title? I’ll see if I can find it for you.”

“It’s called The Brothers Karamazov.”

The Brothers …?”

“Karamazov. With a ‘K.’ It’s by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”

“Well, let’s see. I’m not familiar with that title, but let me check the computer. How do you …”

“D-O-S-T-O-Y-E-V-S-K-Y. Sometimes it’s with an ‘I’ at the end. Sometimes without the ‘Y.’ It’s Russian.”

“I’m not … I’m not seeing it here. …”

“You’re a Christian bookstore and you don’t carry Dostoyevsky?”

* * * * * * * * *

(10 minutes later)


“LifeWay Christian Bookstore, how may I help you?”

“Hi, I’m looking for a copy of John Donne’s Holy Sonnets. That’s D-O-N-N-E. …”

"Patheos has also become more and more unusable. There are the effects of the new ..."

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LBCF, No. 186: ‘Lone Gunmen’
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LBCF, No. 186: ‘Lone Gunmen’
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LBCF, No. 186: ‘Lone Gunmen’

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  • *is suddenly reminded of how “socialist realism” used to demand a very narrow range of artistic styles that were “acceptable”, and used to result in some fairly bland art*

  • Keromaru5

    Here’s what my list would be:

    The Seven Ecumenical Councils, translated by Philip Schaff
    The Life of Moses by St. Gregory of Nyssa
    The Ball and the Cross by G.K. Chesterton
    Mystical Visions of Hildegard of Bingen
    The Rule of St. Benedict
    The works of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
    Showings, by Julian of Norwich
    On Ecclesiastical Polity, by Richard Hooker
    The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila
    Ascetic Treatises of St. Isaac of Syria (if you want to talk about Dostoevsky and Christianity, I understand Isaac was a strong influence on him)
    The Septuagint — the Greek Old Testament.

    Also, do these stores ever have The Way of a Pilgrim?

  • Emcee, cubed

    Okay, my comment really was a reply to this comment

    ask for an “interlinear bible”.  It has the original greek on one side and the english on the other.  you just need to know what to ask for.  You can also get the original hebrew with english next to it.

    when I wrote it, and not to Fred’s post. That’ll teach me to not quote, and assume the Reply button actually works…

  • everstar

    I will never stop being perplexed by A Wrinkle in Time‘s being challenged and banned because–wait for it–it lists Jesus as a philosopher:

    Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.

    Yeah, Jesus wasn’t a philosopher or a religious leader!  Get your facts straight, L’Engle!

  • Jenny Islander

    @Keromaru5: I’m pretty sure that all of those are in stock at the local Orthodox Christian coffee shop and bookstore right now, and if they aren’t there, the staff can call over to the Orthodox seminary’s bookstore for a copy.  Meanwhile, Cornerstone [Real True] Christian Bookstore has been closed for years.  I’m not sure whether this has more to do with the strength of the religious community that patronized each store or the strength of their business plans.

  • VMink

    Re Johnny Cash not being ‘Christian music.’

    This despite “When The Man Comes Around” being so terrifying that it gives me goosebumps, and I don’t even believe St. John’s Revelations to be relevant prophecy.

  • VMink

    For something more contemporary, see if they have any “King’s X.”  Their reaction to that request would be quite telling indeed….

  • Which is kind of ironic, because just as prominent conservative mormons have been making mormonism “acceptable” as part of the tribe of neoconservative-evangelical-christianity, there seems to be a grassroots movement among the rank-and-file mormons gaining momentum on causes less amenable to the conservative tribal markings (I’m thinking specifically of the news that 71% of Utahans now support some form of same-sex union recognition)

  • Sam Kabo Ashwell

    No, no. A Christian book is, by definition, a book that nobody who is not a Christian would ever want to read.

  • Tricksterson

    You say that as if it were a bad thing.

  • Tricksterson

    No Dante?  Art thou shitting me?

  • Tricksterson

    Or their book store sketch.

  • Tricksterson

    Only with the roles reversed.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes but he’s hateful and insane so he gets a pss.

  • Tricksterson

    Madeline L’Engle?  Her work has definite Christian themes but is often considered too liberal to pass muster.

  • Tricksterson

    The accurate reply would be “Only from the Gospel of Mark onward.”

  • Richard Hershberger

     “…but…”Worthy is the Lamb” is so much fun to sing, but it’s a deeply weird image of God even for a Christian work.”

    What?  No complaints about about liking sheep?

  • Original Lee

     Or alternatively, they only see the sci-fi cover and don’t understand the allegory.  My daughter’s 7th Grade class had to read some L’Engle books and I spent quite a lot of time explaining to the parents where the Christian themes were.

  • Original Lee

     Technically, Mormons are post-Christian, because their faith is based on what Jesus did after the Ascension.  IMO, the Mormons use the protective camouflage  of “We’re Christian, too,” because back in the day, they had to flee to Utah to avoid another massacre.  To people who have a religious litmus test for the Presidency, the not-Christian thing is usually very important.  Having a black man in the White House has shifted the balance for them.

  • What could also be fun to do is reverse this – call up the Christian bookstore and complain that they have shelves of books full of incest, adultery, murder, and all other sorts of filth. Act as indignant and prudish as only an RTC can, demanding they get rid of these un-Christian books.

    When they ask which books, of course, point out that all of this stuff is in the Bible…

  • Rhubarbarian82

    It’s the same logic that means Johnny Cash isn’t considered Christian music…

    My most thorough “reading” of the New Testament was listening to Johnny Cash read through it. It’s both funny and sad how they consider him outside the tribe.

  • seniorcit

    Reminds me of my strictly fundamentalist Baptist mother saying that she only read books that were “true”……..meaning the Bible and missionary biographies.

  • Jenny Islander

    Re Messiah as a litmus test for whether the Christian bookstore sells more than pap: Actually this work, specifically the “Hallelujah Chorus,” is quite popular among RTCs.  I once picked up a hymnal from Sword of the Lord Press at a garage sale.  It contained some of the hymns I learned in mainstream churches, plus a lot of horrible stuff about how if you’re a Christian you must be happy happy happy happy happy all the TIIIIME and how Jesus will have a sad if you don’t nag your whole family to say the special prayer and get their hands stamped for Heaven, and then there was the one about the dying Gypsy (yes they went there) boy who said the special prayer just in time and therefore something something Jesus is the bestest.  But they also had the “Hallelujah Chorus” recast in four-part harmony for singing in the pews.  It made it past the “classical=highbrow=humanist=BAD” hurdle.  Try asking whether they carry Handel’s Creation

  • Joshua

    you must be happy happy happy happy happy all the TIIIIME

    twitch, twitch


    Those scars apparently run deep. Thanks for the reminder. shiver

  • Keromaru5

    @d6b10ec23cff70130610f61ef0660fca:disqus Doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve come to respect how the Orthodox put so much emphasis on their history.  It’s something I wish I saw more of in the Episcopal Church.  A while back someone spoke during the announcements about EfM–a class sponsored by Sewanee that takes people through the Bible, church history, and theology, which I highly recommend–mentioning how it deals with things you don’t normally hear about in church, like “Cappadocian Fathers,” or “Caroline Divines.”
    And I thought, “Wait, why don’t we hear more about the Cappadocian Fathers and Caroline Divines in church?”

    Also, I feel I should clarify: except for Richard Hooker and the Septuagint, I actually have all those books.  I just started rereading the Rule of Benedict today, since it’s his feast day and all.

    Oh, of monks, here’s a couple more: Raids on the Unspeakable, and Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, both by Thomas Merton.  They’re both about social issues, especially war and civil rights, from the perspective of a Trappist monk.

  • Tricksterson

    Sad for them.  I don’t think Cash ever worried that much about what people thought of him.  He knew what he was, both the good and the bad and told it truely.

  • Jenny Islander

    I’m an EfM graduate and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to dig into the history of Christianity and learn some theology and midrash at the same time.  IME there is a lot of history taught from the pulpit, just not general-survey-type history.   I’m used to sermons that not only dig into the context and original text of a Bible passage, but also examine how it has been interpreted in the past and who it has inspired.  I can’t put together a timeline of Church history, or even Anglican church history, just from the sermons I’ve heard over the years, but I don’t think that Sunday morning is the time for that.

  • Shiloh

    I think I would be considered a “fundy”, but I grew up loving Narnia and the stories from there.  I understood why Lewis did that, because I think it goes back to we see the outside, but God sees the heart – and it was the condition of his heart that was seen to allow the guy to get into Aslan’s country.  

  • Jessica_R

    I think L’Engle said it best too, “Bad art is bad theology.” I’m a humanist and I love her books because while she’s a Christian, a good story is a good story. 

  • “Any Hildegard of Bingen CDs?”

    “Any biographies of Julian of Norwich? How about Heloise d’Argenteuil? Elizabeth Hooton? Sojourner Truth?”

  • The_L1985

    Do they at least have Pilgrim’s Progress? I never liked that one much, but next to the Bible, it’s the best-selling Christian book of all time. If you don’t have that, then there’s no point in even calling yourself a “Christian” bookstore to begin with.

  • The_L1985

    The date is definitely important. My grandmother had to go to Amazon to find the rest of the Heritage of Lancaster County series, because Christian bookstores no longer sold it.

    The oldest book in the series was published in the 1990s.

  • The_L1985

    If you really want to break fundie-type brains, try Phil Collins’s “Think Twice.”

  • The_L1985

    There are modern recordings of Hildegard’s chants? How have I missed this?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Grapes of Wrath. Definitely ask for Grapes of Wrath.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    actually searched Lifeway’s site and found that indeed they do not sell the Brothers K though they have several biographies of Dostoyevsky. No Donne.

    No Donne? For crying out loud, what’s wrong with Donne?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That’ll teach me to not quote, and assume the Reply button actually works…

    Well you know when you assume you make an ass out of Disqus.

  • Ross Thompson

    Re Johnny Cash not being ‘Christian music.’

    This despite “When The Man Comes Around” being so terrifying that it gives me goosebumps, and I don’t even believe St. John’s Revelations to be relevant prophecy.

    Yeah, that was exactly the song I had in mind when I said that. The man was  a genius.

  • Fade Manley

    That’s exactly what I was asking for! I didn’t use the word “interlinear” but I did explain that I wanted that thing. Which means either they still didn’t have it, or none of the clerks were aware of its existence. I’m not sure which is worse.

  • Keromaru5

    @The_L1985: Sure, I have one called “Canticles of Ecstacy.”  It’s like listening to another dimension.
    Of course, I think chant by itself is pretty amazing, and definitely lends itself to a sense of the sacred.
    @d6b10ec23cff70130610f61ef0660fca:disqus “I’m used to sermons that not only dig into the context and original text of a Bible passage, but also examine how it has been interpreted in the past and who it has inspired.”That’s basically what I’m trying to say, and it’s one of my preferred ways of interpreting the Bible, too.  I don’t need a history lesson, just a reminder that those who came before us had something to say, too.  Probably just more of an issue where I am.

  • Tricksterson

    I do but probably because I encountered it via Little Women in which the girls set up what can only be called a PP themed dungeoun crawl.  So when I read the actual book I basically saw the whole story as a D&D module.

  • histrogeek

    Certainly not every fundy hates Narnia. Many, many like it. But I’ve seen more than once that the Calmorene gets a small, hyper-intolerant group angry. I agree that Lewis was showing that Aslan/God is able to see good in someone raised to worship someone other than Aslan.

  • Tonio

    For a long time I thought Narnia had the same audience as Left Behind, because the only people I knew who read it had grown up home-schooled by fundamentalist parents. The sequence in the first book after Aslan agrees to exchange his own life for Edmund’s is a rewording of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Almost like Lewis deliberately wrote it to sway kids to Christianity.

  • rlperera

    The most awesome Christian bookstores in North America are Eighth Day Books in Wichita (http://eighthdaybooks.com) and the Regent College Bookstore in Vancouver, BC (
    http://regentbookstore.com). Now there’s what I call really broad (and deep) selections. There are hundreds of books and authors I never would have known about if I hadn’t been able to browse in these bookstores (Eighth Day Books only through the massive book table that it hosts at the Glen Workshops every year). Every book that has been mentioned in this thread would be available from them. Except the likes of the Left Behind series (Regent Bookstore will special order that for you if you insist, but they don’t keep it on their shelves).

  • Joshua

    I read the Narnia books,and read them to my kids. Yeah, they are Christian allegories, deliberately so.

    So, not just home-schooled fundamentalists.

    I’m not sure that reading an allegory is really going to sway a child to a different religion, however. An educational tool rather than an evangelistic one, if you want to regard the series as a tool at all.

  • hapax

     Anyone who loves MESSIAH, or enjoys going to MESSIAH sing-alongs, stop reading now.

    I mean it.



    Actually this work, specifically the “Hallelujah Chorus,” is quite popular among RTCs.

    This doesn’t surprise me.  There is a strong case to be made that MESSIAH is a very, very anti-Semitic work.  The “Hallelujah  Chorus” in particular celebrates not the Resurrection, as most people think, but the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.


  • Joshua

    You know all Messiah fans are going to read avidly after saying that.

  • Joshua

    Truthfully, I’m not finding that article that persuasive. That the people involved in writing lyrics and music of the Messiah were antisemitic, sure, given the nasty culture of the time, I’d be surprised by anything else.

    But that the “nations” mentioned in 40 are supposed to include Jews along with everyone else? Not supported by the lyrics themselves, and a pretty weaksauce accusation if true. I mean, all the rest of us nations are already being accused by the lyric anyway. The article’s assertion, if true, wouldn’t make the Jewish nation any worse than the rest of us. Using “nations” to refer to all non-Jewish nations is kinda common in Christian and Jewish English-language literature concerning the Hebrew Bible IME anyway.

    And the alleged reference to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem? Also not in the text. The journalist’s allegation rests on an unsupported assertion that Ps 2:9 was “all but unanimous[ly]” taken to be a prophesy of the destruction of the Temple by the 18th Century English.

    Well, I’m not saying I disagree, because there must be a world of things I don’t know about the 18th C English and their antisemitism, but that article doesn’t persuade me of much, when I compare it with the actual lyrics of the Messiah.

    I mean, a quote from the Hebrew Bible set to music is antisemitic? Not impossible, maybe, but you’d want fairly extraordinary evidence to support that fairly extraordinary claim.

  • guest

    Several early music groups have recorded works of Hildegarde of Bingen, the earliest I think in the ’80s (if that counts as ‘modern’).  They should be easily findable on Amazon etc.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, IIRC Lewis specifically wrote them because he felt, at the time there was no Christian fiction grokkable by kids.