My love/disdain for Christian Book Distributors

I love Christian Book Distributors.  Sort of.  I love their books.  Well, not all of them, but I love that, in one website, I can find a wide selection of reasonably-priced books (which, of course, are mostly Christian in nature), a fantastic selection of homeschooling texts and materials, fair shipping charges, and the best customer service of just about any large company I’ve encountered.

Since we order from them frequently, they often send catalogues.  Reams of catalogues.  Homeschooling.  Clearance.  Children’s Products.  Sale.  Holiday.  Members Only.  Every.  Conceivable.  Occasion.  Or.  Category.  Only the Oriental Trading Company rivals them for catalogue-proliferation.

Actually, most of the catalogues do get perused by someone in our family.  However, one of them that gets thrown immediately into the recycle bin is of CBD’s Gift and Home selections.  To me, virtually everything in that particular catalogue is the embodiment of the word insipid.  It’s full of plush toys (mostly for grownups), resin figurines, Thomas Kinkade paraphernalia, scriptural plaques, woven throws, and Precious Moments “collectibles.”  Almost all of these products have on them somewhere, a Scripture verse or reference, or some kind of inherently Christian name, making that lap desk a Christian lap desk.  IMO, it gets rather out of control, and devolves into the ridiculous.     

(I’m not the only one who shares such opinions:  Erin posted a short, funny blog about Teddy Ruxpin’s Fervent Cousin, the “Interactive Prayer Bear” found in one of CBD’s catalogues.)

What brings this to mind is this:  someone found my blog by searching for:  “BUY ON LINE CHRISTIAN GLOUTEN FREE PRODUCTS.”  What, exactly, would Christian gluten-free products be??  In case CBD wants to start a new line, I suggest:

  • A large g.f.  cookie with a decoration of:  “Congrats on Your Recent Diagnosis” written in g.f. icing, with an appropriate Scripture reference. 
  • A “Sorry That, Barring a Miracle, You Won’t Get Well Soon” card, complete with, again, an appropriate Scripture verse. 
  • A resin plaque in the shape of a cross, engraved with “Bless This Gluten-Free Home.” 
  • A woven tapestry throw, depicting a bountiful Thanksgiving scene, but with sheaves of rice instead of wheat, and a small, dense-looking loaf instead of the puffy, golden, “regular” kind of bread, with, yet again, an appropriate, woven Scripure verse.

Anyone have any other suggestions? 


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 5, 2007, in Christian Living, Funny Stuff, Giving searchers answers, Shopping. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I thought Bloglines had a glitch until I realized you really did post again just now! lol

    LOVED the gluten-free line suggestions. Thanks for the laugh!

    I, too, have a problem with CBD’s home and gift line. Nothing says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” quite like gifts for the home made by slave labor in China! lol It does bug me that a thing is suddenly “Christian” just because a verse is slapped on there. There’s nothing wrong with a Christian company selling a pretty tea set or throw pillows or whatever, but putting verses all over everything … it just seems so … commercial!

  2. Nothing says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” quite like gifts for the home made by slave labor in China!

    😆 My thoughts exactly.

    It does bug me that a thing is suddenly “Christian” just because a verse is slapped on there. There’s nothing wrong with a Christian company selling a pretty tea set or throw pillows or whatever, but putting verses all over everything … it just seems so … commercial!

    Again… my thoughts exactly!! I have no problem with there being Christian businessmen. Christians need to earn a living, too. But, sometimes it seems way more “business” than “Christian.”

  3. ha! I like the “Bless this Gluten-Free Home” plaque idea. 😀

  4. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Where there’s an almighty buck, there’s a trinket, or in this case a bit of (read landslide) “jesus junk”. The wild thing is people LIKE and BUY the stuff or they would not sell it. So, while you and I think it’s cheese, there are scores of suzy sanguines who think the stuff is touching and give it to their friends!? Go figure.

  5. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Hey, move my “(read landslide)” after”bit”. Comma Dot Comma will be here and see that I made no sense and broke up my prepositional phrase or some rule in the universe!

    As I hit the pillow last night, I thought, “DUH!!!” The person very likely did the search for a Christian GF company NOT cuz they wanted a stupid plaque. Many Christians actually like to patronize “brothers and sisters in Christ” for business. (the verse that says that we should do good to others, especially to those who are of the household of faith comes to mind) Keep the money in the family so to speak. That’s why many businesses will put ictheus (sp) fish on their card or listing. My Grandpa used to do that. I guess if you are truly gifted in evangelism, you might intentionally seek out the heathens. ;O) Anyway, there you have my conclusion on the matter.

  6. Melanie ~ Happy to amuse you!

    RCG ~ Regarding your first comment, that boggles my mind, too. That “praying” bear has several reviews on CBD, which means people are buying them. Eek. However… Someone gave Audrey a little praying bear that says the “Now I lay me down…” prayer, which, of course, we never use. The prayer, that is. We tailor-make our prayers. Anyways, I was a little horrified by the bear, and did my best not to show it upon receipt of the gift. But, wouldn’t you know it? Audrey adores the “maymen” bear. And, I think what annoys me about the bear on CBD is the ad copy. He’s a “committed prayer warrior”??? Come on!!!

    RCG ~ Regarding your second comment, the same thing came to me, last night, that it’s more likely that someone was looking for a Christian-owned business.

  7. This is hilarious! I was just listening in the car to a sermon where the guy was talking about how the christian sub-culture constantly churns out cheap imitations of what the world has to offer and validates it with a fish symbol and a scripture verse. To illustrate this he showed some slides including…. an “I am the bread of life” bread board. Yes. You read that correctly.

    Now, all you need is to insert the (gluten free) parenthesis between ‘the’ and ‘bread’ and you’re sorted.

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear….

  8. Rubber Chicken Girl

    The emerging church is doing the same thing….imitating what the world has to offer, only they are making it hipper and more artsy. Is that any better? Hip worldly or tacky worldly, take your pick.

  9. My good friend works for a Christian Music label and distributing company. I won’t say which. She says that even the reps laugh at all that stuff stamped with WWJD and FROG, etc. She calls it “Jesus Junk.”

    I mean, come on! Does anyone need “Christian” nail clippers???

  10. Here’s the sermon, Karen. Its by a guy called Kevin Jamison, an Acts 29 church planter in Ohio. The church is called The Oaks Community Church. This sermon was one of a series he’s doing right now on the sermon on the mount and it’s geniusly entitled “The Lite of the World”! Here’s the link –

  11. You’ve reminded of that line in Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma…” about ‘Flesh coloured Christs that glow in the dark’. I remember when I visited Lourdes as a teenager being utterly shocked at the utter commodification (not that I knew that word then) of people’s faith – the whole town seemed full of shops selling icons.

    An “I am the bread of life breadboard”???

    But twas ever thus – I remember reading that in medieval times, there were enough pieces of the true cross circulating to stock a lumberyard. Cue Martin Luther…

  12. Rubber Chicken Girl

    I am listening to Kevin Jameson. A LOT he’s saying is great….NOT conforming to the world stuff. I have to wonder though how publishing WORLD magazine is inappropriate?? That’s like saying we cannot have conservative talk radio, like we cannot have a voice. My take on the news magazine thing is that it is nice to read something beyond Time and US News and World Report and not wanna throw it against the all mid-read. Plus, Christian news magazine (s)–I think there’s ONE conservative, ie World–brings up issues I care about, like pork barrel spending and what is tucked into the War Bill for the benefit of the left. Not something the New York Times of Time will flag me on. He says, too, it’s poorly written. Which brings up a peave of mine. I often hear Christians–artsy ones in particular–whine about the quality of Christian authors, musicians etc. Hello. A little logic goes a long way. Comparing the Christian writing world to the secular writing world is like comparing New Zealand rugby to Australia rugby. Why the heck do the All Blacks never win it all? Ummm. Maybe cuz you are looking at a pool of 4 million up against a pool of 20,000,000. It’s like wondering why the homeschool soccer team cannot beat top A high school team in the country. People don’t seek to suck. It a person is in a small pool and has a 1 talent gift and someone offers them a paycheck to write, should that person write or slit their wrists (bury their talent). I cannot stand elitism in any form. Jesus Himself said that there are not many elite, noble, rich, etc among us. It’s a fact. We should give our best, but we are not all Blaise Pascal or CS Lewis. It would benefit our pride, but alas.
    I agree with the speaker on not walling ourselves off entirely, but the interaction with the world should be *intentional*, not just an excuse to smoke a cigar and have a beer or get freebie peeps at porn on MySpace. The emerging church really digs James but skip a bit of it:

    27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)

    Unspotted from the world….Christian artists for years have tried to break down some wall between secular and sacred. But the Word of God is full of the fear of the Lord and distinction between the profane and the holy. It’s central to the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

    This guy thinks we evangelicals use the ballot box to have influence and power. I don’t agree. I don’t know the stats, but if Christians actually voted and voted pro-life, we’d win every election, hands down. People are apathetic or they are drifting left. So, the influence there is nill in my opinion.

    He says that we should be known as people of moral purity. Totally. Spiritual depth. If that means handling meat, sure. He also says we should be known as people of intellectual rigor. That’s all fine and well if it is your gifting, but it’s not a biblical mandate since not all of us in *the tiny pool that is Christianity* can attain.

    That’s all. Now I have to listen again while not typing or looking at pressure cookers!

  13. As I e-mailed you, Shellie, I have enough thoughts on the subject for a whole ‘nother post, which I will do when I have time.

    But, in short, I think that those Christians who are in areas of public ministry or influence should be held to a higher standard.

  14. Rubber Chicken Girl

    I don’t have time to read now. It’s late. Just a quick sum up…..A. I don’t think you not liking tacky stuff is elitism…..just the whole tangent I got on about the notion that most of the Christian authors and artists are just out there intentionally being lame when we just have a smaller pool to glean from. Most people are doing the best they can with the hand their dealt, ie they are not all brilliant. B. I was thinking, too, that although it is safe to assume the buyers of jesus junk are Christians, it is not safe to assume the sellers all Christians. They are just people making a buck. I guess we can debate whether it is inherently evil to have bad taste.

    More later.

  15. Rubber Chicken Girl

    Oh yeah, by held to higher standard, I would agree. However, I would saya higher standard in terms of holiness and godliness, not brilliance and weirder art or more amazing, beyond their ability literature that gains the praise of men.

  16. Well, here’s my 2 cents. I don’t think striving for excellence is elitism. I think it’s a mandate.

    We are called to proclaim the gospel through our actions and gifts and we must try as best we can to bring honour to Christ in what we do. Churning out religious-esque laughable crap sends a message to the world that our religion is also a joke, in the same way that muslim extremism reinforces the stereotype that all muslims are crazed suicide bombers.

    If we can’t do a degree of justice to the glory of our saviour we should butt out and let someone who DOES have more than a modicum of ability do it instead of us, while we do something WE are more suited to and gifted for. We all need to be busy with the work of the gospel.

    There are artists and musicians who are superb and write wonderful songs within the “Christian Scene”, but there’s equally as much Jesus Junk in that sphere too. I speak as one who prior to conversion myself laughed at how dreadful some of it was.

    I would argue that our “Bread of Life” chopping board, by bringing scorn, is actually working in opposition to the gospel. Tackiness wrecks credibility, and in a day when christianity’s credibility is rock bottom, we don’t need it, gluten-free or otherwise!

  17. Oh man, I hate that particular CBD catalog, too, and it’s why I can’t frequent Christian bookstores for my books without major irritation: the checkout counter is always littered with tacky Thomas Kinkade verse fridge magnets, “SMILE JESUS LOVES YOU” pens, and WWJD friendship bracelets. Gag me.

    Oh, I bet you 20-1 though, that google search was to find gluten-free communion elements.

  18. Thanks for stopping by, Adriel. If you’re right about the gluten-free communion wafers, folks can find them here.

  1. Pingback: Christian Elistism? « Only Sometimes Clever

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