Cba Gets Beyond The Flaky Fringe

Each year the Christian Booksellers Association holds a convention for publishers and other suppliers to enable them to meet the thousands of Christian bookstore owners from across the country. And a mammoth event it is; only a few of the largest cities can host it. Last month in Saint Louis, more than 7,000 people came to visit 800 displays, and to listen to authors and musicians.

When one sees this event described in the newspapers of the host city, it is common to read many clever words describing the more flaky fringe items—including silly slogans, cheap jewelry, and plastic banners. We note that Christian writers have also lightened and brightened their copy with reports of dubious items in various corners of the enormous exposition halls. These writers have wondered with justification where Christ was in all this hoopla. It is indeed a valid question. However, having just returned from the CBA convention, we find that although we did see embarrassing items, these did not make the dominant impact.

It is true that we don’t feel very comfortable, for example, with frisbees that spin out the slogan, “The Rapture: The Only Way to Fly,” or T-shirts emblazoned with “Heaven or Hell? Turn or Burn.” But as we walked the mammoth hall and talked to various publishers, we found a lot of things right. There was Zondervan selling the NIV Bible by the thousands—and ultimately, millions. If this was hucksterism, it didn’t come across that way; we’re glad for every one of the NIV’s that go out. As we wandered past the very tasteful and impressive displays—from Moody Press and Gospel Light and Revell and Word and Thomas Nelson and Tyndale House and Scripture Press and David C. Cook—it was hard to find an ...

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