Over at her blog this week, Rachel Held Evans related her frustrations over working with a Christian publisher. In this case, Thomas Nelson, because they have banned the use of the word “vagina” in her upcoming book, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”
I suppose when they signed contract with Rachel it never occurred to the publisher that she would have the balls to talk about her vagina in a book about womanhood, heh? But then I suppose Thomas Nelson wouldn’t use the word balls either, heh?
Here’s how Rachel explains it:
But I soon forget the conversation because I’m too busy arguing with my publisher. They won’t let me use the word “vagina” in my book because we have to sell it to Christian bookstores, which apparently have a thing against vaginas. I make a big scene about it and say that if Christian bookstores stuck to their own ridiculous standards, they wouldn’t be able carry the freaking Bible.
I tell everyone that I’m going to fight it out of principle, but I cave within a few days because I want Christian bookstores to carry the sanitized version of my book because I want to make a lot of money, because we’ve needed a new roof on our house for four years now, and because I really want a Mac so I can fit in at the mega-churches.
I feel like such a fraud.
Only Rachel isn’t the fraud. The fraud lies within this whole business we’ve created and labeled “Christian.”
There is something inherently wrong with calling a publishing house “Christian”.
The problem is this — it automatically sets up the “us” and “them’ rhetoric. It’s a way of saying to the rest of world We live above the fray that is the rest of the world.
And the real problem with that is that it’s a lie.
Christian publishers are not any more righteous than any other publisher. Listen, I’ve worked with both secular and Christian publishers and lo, and behold, I’ve found that they are both interested in the same thing — money. How many books sold.
Thomas Nelson is a business. A business dedicated to selling books. They want to sell a lot of books. Millions of them if possible. They are censoring Rachel because they are afraid that vagina might offend their audience and that audience might not buy Rachel’s book. Which is really convoluted thinking if you think about it because the majority of the buying public have a vagina.
I ran into the same sort of thing while trying to find a publisher for A Silence of Mockingbirds. My editor at the time was the smart and insightful Andy Meisenheimer. Andy wanted so badly to publish this book. “We have to do this book,” he wrote to me after reading the story. Of course it wasn’t long after that that Andy got the proverbial pink slip, or whatever it is that Christian publishers give to people that they don’t want to pay any more.
Of course there wasn’t a Christian publishing house out there who was going to touch this story because let’s face it, Christians don’t abuse children, right? Only the Fray do that. Those Others, obviously godless bunch. People gone wild without God.
Which again makes no sense if you think about it, because who else should be leading the charge against the epidemic of child abuse in this nation if not the Church, if not the Christians, who, ought to not only know better, but be showing everyone else how to do better?
And theologians argue over why people today don’t find the Church relevant to their lives. Perhaps the answer to that question could be found in the books Christians refuse to print, sell, buy and read.
Sometimes it seems that all Christians publishers really want us “good Christian” women to write about are Amish Vampires.
How, pray tell, is a gal supposed to get through A Year of Biblical Womanhood without her vagina?