NEWS FLASH: If you're carrying your mother's Bible to church, or even hiding with it in your closet, you are SO second millennium. Seems the Bible, more than ever before, is becoming BIG business:
Gone is the day, largely, when the Word was valued for its contents and for its living, breathing effect on people's lives...for many it's the hottest accessory:
Always a dependable seller, the Bible is in the midst of a boom. Christian bookstores had a 25% increase in sales of Scriptures from 2003 to 2005, according to statistics gathered by the Phoenix-based Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, a trade group. General-interest bookstores, while declining to give figures, have also seen increasingly strong sales. "Bibles are a growth area for us and we're giving them more space in our stores," said Jane Love, religion buyer for Barnes & Noble. "It's partly because of the way they've evolved over the last three or four years."
"For a long time the Bible was just the Bible," noted Kevin O'Brien, director of Bibles at Tyndale House. "You put it out there and people bought it. They didn't ask about the options, because there weren't any options. But now, especially in evangelical circles, people are seeing their lives not just in color but high-definition color, and they want the Bible to fit in with that. This is not your mother's Bible."
But Bibles are becoming as much personal statements as fashion statements. "What people are saying is 'I want to find a Bible that is really me," noted Rodney Hatfield, a vice president of marketing at Thomas Nelson. "It's no different than with anything else in our culture."Really. No different than anything else? Then it's no wonder that we want it dressed up, decorated, packaged, and marketed like the latest self-help book or romance novel...
Responding to such desires, publishers offer compact Old and New Testaments like Thomas Nelson's so-called checkbook Bible and Zondervan's Bible in a Bag, as well as myriad themed Bibles, among them archaeology, leadership and sports. "Sometimes what you have to work with seems quite inadequate," begins one section of the basketball edition. "Consider the plight of Rollie Massimino, the coach of the Villanova Wildcats . . . Villanova was ranked, well nowhere . . Several thousand years earlier there was another underdog group that didn't have much to work with. They were called the Israelites."Yep, and I'm sure we'd read about how God got out his Blackberry and advised the Israelites that they were to confront the Canaanites with a full-court press.
It's a wonder that the Bible Boom hasn't been accompanied by a corresponding explosion in Godly living and thinking, huh?
(I will have to confess here that this fashion accessory angle is all not an entirely new phenomenon. I am the mother of a daughter who once brought our family van to a screeching halt as we left for church, telling The Papa that she absolutely HAD to go back inside for just a minute. When she came running back out to the car, I asked her what in the world had been that important, and she looked at me with one of those "Duh!" looks so common in a 15 year old and said, "I had to switch Bibles! That other one didn't match my outfit!")
Read more about the Bible Boom in this WSJ Opinion Journal piece.