Thursday, April 19, 2018

Christian Bookstore Apologizes For Journaling Bibles Email

A Christian bookseller issued an apology for an earlier email it sent about journaling Bibles when people complained about a phrase.

There are times when I wonder why Jesus doesn’t just come back to Earth ahead of schedule and just begin smacking people upside the head.

Granted, I’m glad He doesn’t, because I’m sure I’d deserve a smack or three myself.

But then I run across stories like this and I can’t help but think there’d be at least a few people He’d line up ahead of me. (At least, I’d like to think so.)

First, let me talk for a minute about journaling Bibles.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, they are Bibles that give a great deal of extra space so that the reader can make notes or “journal” on the side of the text. Some people have turned this into a hobby, choosing to decorate the margins with colorful illustrations that turn God’s Word into, pardon the expression, “Word art.”

These illustrations highlight key portions of text in creative and colorful ways.

It took me a while to process the idea, to be honest. I’m one of those who grew up with the notion that the Bible was a barely reachable text in some ways, and that you should revere it to the point that you’d never deface it. “Defacing” it, in the way I understood it back then, meant that you’d never so much as underline or highlight a passage.

You could write your name on that first page and add the date you were presented the Bible (even if you presented it to yourself), but other than that page, you weren’t supposed to dirty up the Good Book with scribbles.

As a kid, I was horrified one day to see my maternal grandmother’s Bible because she had scribbled all over it and highlighted portions in multiple colors. It almost gave me a headache just looking at it. How she could actually read the text she’d scribbled over the top of — in handwriting that wasn’t that legible to begin with — was beyond me.

Over the years, I heard other pastors point out that the Bible was written for us, and therefore was ours to study and that we should make notes or highlight passages that spoke to us so that we could better remember what God might be specifically trying to say at that moment in our lives.

So I got over the “Don’t write in the Bible thing.”

This notion of Bible art through journaling seems to be gaining popularity lately.

You can see an example of how some people create decorative embellishments as they become inspired by Scripture here.

A Kentucky church even hosts a workshop to introduce worshippers to the concept, and it’s hosted by someone who suffered a health scare years ago and found comfort in a particular verse, then found ongoing encouragement through the art form.

I’ll find a verse or I’ll have a devotion that morning and a verse will stick out to me and then I’ll draw it in (the Bible), and it allows me to meditate on the scripture while I’m drawing it.

I’ve seen friends of mine post pictures of their work on Facebook, and some of them are quite beautiful. If they’re getting something out of it, who is anyone else to complain?

Now onto this apology.

According to this message board (and other Facebook posts I’ve seen), Family Christian sent out an email on April 3 about the journaling Bibles they sell, and according to a follow-up email posted at the link above, the subject line of the email “concerned” some of its customers.

The subject line in question read, “Channel your inner creative.”

It’s a popular phrase that has been around for years. But apparently, some subscribers to Family Christian’s mailing list felt the store was moving towards some unwanted “New Age” direction because of its word choice.

I can imagine Jesus at least doing a facepalm.

According to the board, Family Christian issued a follow-up email two days later that read, in part:

It was not our intent to use New Age or inappropriate language to advertise our products in any way. More important, we did not mean to depart from the foundational Christian message that is the cornerstone of our Company. Our goal was to help embrace and celebrate the gift of creativity.

Creativity is a gift. And it’s even regarded as a spiritual gift. I’ve taken a few “spiritual gifts” tests and the top gift I have, according to the tests, is “creative communications.” (That was something of a relief, after all, since I work in the communications business.)

There’s nothing wrong with being creative. From the Christian perspective, there’s nothing “inappropriate” with with “channeling your inner creative” when you’re focusing on the Bible and your time with God.

Why Christians would allow their feathers to get so ruffled by a simple email subject line as to actually take the time to contact a Christian business and complain is beyond me.

Except for one simple, possible explanation: If you spend all your time looking for something that’ll offend you, sooner or later, you’ll find it, whether it’s reasonable to be offended or not.

Those who were that fired up better hope Jesus doesn’t take offense so easily to their missteps. They might find themselves among the first in that “smack upside the head” line after all.

1 Comment

  1. Wow – once again, overthinking and utter stupidity are thrust to the fore by these folks with nothing more engaging to do but criticise!
    But first, I have to show my ignorance and ask, what is a face palm? That’s something of which I’m totally unaware.
    You’re going to be considerably farther down the line than you think, you know. I’m not suggesting that you aren’t on it, or at the tail-end of it, but over the years I have read many a post by you, cogitation get over the foibles of this or that person or group professing to be all about the religion, but yet so far off the mark in their beliefs that it is just ridiculous! So, give yourself some more credit. I doubt you would even *see* the head of the line. That’s for all those who profess to *God* wanting money, such as television evangelists, who won’t even get to see five seconds of heaven…
    Now, I’m not really in the habit of defacing my books, but when I was a kid, even though I loved my books as much as always, I wrote or – especially – drew in them. Constantly. My craft was practiced everywhere, no exceptions. Walls, books, school books’ covers (made conveniently out of brown paper grocery bags), notepads, margins of homework, you name it. Nothing was sacred. Now I carry around small art pads for when I’m struck by inspiration.
    But I see nothing wrong with highlighting important passages, and if you have seen any original old books, such as The Book of Kells, which I have seen with my own eyes in Ireland, or pictures of old original books, long before the advent of the printing press, you would see some of the most beautiful art- and scroll-work ever done; enough so that it is hard to concentrate on reading the book, when the images are so gorgeous. I never had to really deal with the “don’t write in [your book’s title here]” thing.
    This seems rather like a good idea.
    The title of the e-mail also sounds like a good idea. I certainly can’t see the “New Age” part of it… Or even anything wrong with it.
    I would wonder about it being a gift, and certainly a gods-given gift. I see things in terms of nature and nuture, but not nature, nurture and god(s). And thus far, it is almost entirely nature. I’m an artist. My talent, if I were to call it such, is not a matter of an unseen someone – it is part of my genetic make-up, a “gift”, as it were, from my biological father. It is quite easily seen. He is an artist, too, a good one. But he was truly only a small, very small, part of my life. He and my mother divorced when I was 2. He very rarely saw me after that. And yet, there it is – I’m an artist, too. Handwriting is also passed down genetically; temperament, attitude, sarcasm, eye colour, height, genetic diseases, etc. – the whole list is there. Is it a gift? Maybe, but I prefer to think that the one who made it what is now is my sweat, effort, tears, emotions, experiences, etc., are what went into making it what it is. Nothing else.
    Is that ego? Maybe it is, I don’t know. But no one is born with a talent that still doesn’t start as just an ember, something that has to be fanned and grown to a full flame. And I did that, with some help from others, but those others were all corporeal beings…

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.