They found me. I used to call them CBD, but because of the popularity of a certain hemp-based product, Christian Book Distributors changed its name. Now I knew about them long before they had me on their mailing list when I taught at Nashotah House. When I was a seminary student in Boston I made occasional trips to CBD’s Peabody warehouse for sales—this was quite a boon to students who never have enough money (little did I know!). Books you’d heard about in class were there, for a fraction of the price. At Nashotah I always looked over their bargain page, because, well, professors like books. I recognized their catalogue in my mailbox instantly. The name is now Christianbooks.com. Grab some munchies and sit down.
Not only the name has changed. Back in my student days I could find academic resources here. As religion in America has become more and more polarized, what used to be CBD (if I use their current incarnation my computer insists on putting links in) has become radically conservative. Page after page of study Bibles reveal no hint of the mainstream bestsellers in the genre. It’s as if they don’t exist. More than that, if you leave them out maybe people will come to believe they don’t exist. Even the bargain books are nothing an erstwhile professor would buy. Instead of academic titles there are all kinds of Barnes & Noble-type gimmicks to get shoppers to spend their money. Like junk food for the soul. I look at the books on my shelf. Some of them were purchased, cash in hand on the ground in Peabody. Not any more.
There will be those who claim (fake news is the only news now) that what has changed is me, not them. The fact is places like CBD used to be more open minded. They admitted the possibility of doubt. Now your choices are Scofield or Ryrie. That should be enough for any appetite. Not only that, but many of the titles now sound militaristic. Battlefields and all. Thumbing through, I wonder where Jesus has gone. The evangelicalism of my youth was clearly Prince of Peace centered. Now it’s politicized to the point that I’m not sure what it represents beyond GOP values of greed, opportunism, and power. Anyone who thinks differently need not apply. How CBD found me after all these years, I do not know. I wish they’d consider saving the environment rather than printing catalogues to send me. The climate, despite what they would claim, has changed.