This weekend, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time; I visited a Christian book store for the first time since my deconversion. I had been inside a few as a doubter, but this would be the first time as a full-fledged atheist.
Besides having worked in one, I spent a good deal of my twenties inundated in that world, whether it was listening to the music or reading the books that came from it, or even leading retreats and giving talks in front of groups using material sold in those kinds of places. At the time, the whole marketed Christian culture was at once a little disturbing and also comforting in that it made my belief feel legitimized and at least...well...known and experienced in the same way as others. Christian stores sold stuff that sort of spread a McDonald's and Wal-Mart generic-ness through American evangelical Christianity. No matter where you would go for a convention or a concert, even several states away, you'd see someone in a Jars of Clay t-shirt or carrying the Christian bestseller that you had read, and even in addition to the common beliefs you held, you felt like you were among your own people. For lack of a better way of explaining it, it was comforting being around people who knew the same stuff.
One of the red flags that waved in my face for years about Christianity was the way Bibles for Children were packaged. I knew the material inside. I could see the frills on the outside. The two would never match up. Eventually, this would be one of the things I would have to take off of the "shelf" in my mind, and look at it, straight on and no excuses.
I have a lot to say about this issue and will write more about it in the next post, but for now I just want to post some pictures of the covers of Bibles for children that I found in the store. The photos of text are ones that I took on the inside of the cover below with the cartoon drawing of Jesus with some little children on it. Farther below, you can see a close-up that shows that this version is "easy-to-read." Maybe, but it's not easy for me to swallow anymore. I could have posted links to these texts or copied and pasted them here, but I wanted to make the point that these verses are really in these versions of the Bible.
I wonder what you all think of this. Of course, there's a lot that could be said about marketing, materialization, the whole princess nightmare that has leaked into all facets of girlhood. Also, believers could argue about versions of the Bible and which are accurate translations and paraphrases (NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, The Message, The Living Bible, etc.). But in this case, I'm really more interested in what people think about the juxtaposition of these covers and the material found inside. The passages I show here are only a few examples. I could have spent a lot of time in that store taking more. I could only stomach a few minutes.