Seek and Ye Shall Find? Depends on Where You Look.

There are sixty six books in the Protestant Bible — and hundreds more books written about that original set. How’s a truth-seeker supposed to keep track? We’ve asked Mike, a reader, teacher, writer, and sometimes preacher, to guide us through the shelves and sort the secular from the sacred.


It is difficult to find intelligent and stimulating literature from a Christian perspective. I have searched and researched Christian bookstores such as Lifeway and Family Christian as well as the secular establishments of Barnes and Noble and Books A Million with little success.


Let me illustrate what I’m saying by using the example of a local grocery store in the town of Pensacola, where I live. We have all the large grocery store chains represented here, but it is commonly known that, if you cannot find an item and you are desperate, the smaller Apple Market will probably have it, or they will make it a priority to get it for you. In some mysterious way, this tiny market has a better selection, as well as a family oriented atmosphere. This is true of most local bookstores as well. You may pay a little more, but you are supporting your local community, and you are establishing healthy connections in your immediate periphery.



Totally undercover as myself, having an appearance of one who is barely literate, I entered Barnes and Noble with the purpose of searching for books by authors that I believe to be both credible and challenging for my personal growth and mission. Initially, I looked for those authors who teach me to observe the world around me. Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, and Anne Lamott were nowhere to be found. Then, I looked for literature from apologists such as Ravi Zacharias and R.C. Sproul … nothing. They did have C.S. Lewis, but everybody has C.S.Lewis. There was no sound devotional material as in the writings of A.W. Tozer or Oswald Chambers … only the fluff that would make cotton candy look like health food. There was nothing from contemporary thinkers like Brian McLaren or Peter Rollins. There was some Rob Bell, but it was probably because all of his books have been recently reprinted with appealing new covers. There were a few books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Timothy Keller, but nothing by Eugene Peterson or N.T. Wright.


There were countless specialized study Bibles. “No need for the original prophets and apostles,” they imply. There were books about heaven written by children and books by those who claim to have literally been to hell and have returned to market their findings. I did not know that athletes and entertainers were such spiritual giants! And then there is the infinite supply of health, wealth, and relationship books that tell you how that you can manipulate God for your own purposes. And when did Beth Moore replace Mother Teresa?!


Go to your local bookstore where your dignity and worth can be restored, where you can find books chosen purposefully and intentionally, and where they will probably know your name.


Michael Rollwagen holds a Masters of Divinity and has thirty years experience as a pastor and teacher. He strives to forget most of that, though, and concentrate on helping people. He writes a weekly blog, More Undignified, and runs a faith-based non-profit, WordWalk, in Pensacola, Florida.

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