For the Love of God

I was reading John B’s most recent Blog Meridian post when I came across this description of a Wichita bookstore that he frequents:

There’s no coffee bar there, no fancy tilted shelving displaying the stock, no subdued, recessed lighting. You go there to buy, sell, trade and talk about books. But not in a pretentious or refined way. Books are the commodity there, just as with any bookstore, but nothing there detracts from the books. You don’t go there for Atmosphere. You go there for books. Period. It possesses all the analogous refinement of a livestock-auction arena; it’s a meat-market for book-lovers. Everyone in there is on the bibliophilic make. You hope to get lucky and pick up a few to take home. Everybody knows why you’re there, so you don’t have to pretend. Drool. Fondle. Grab an armload of books–the implicit promise of a trip home–until something better presents itself around the corner… Take one over to the comfortable (if well-used) couches for, um, closer examination. Hope for jouissance.

Besides the thought that if I’m ever in Wichita, I want need to visit this Bookaholic place, here’s what popped into my head as I read this: when was the last time you heard someone praising a church for similar reasons?

There’s no coffee bar there, no “come early and have a doughnut” sign on the front lawn, no grandiose choir, no special classes for 3 year olds, 5 year olds, junior high teens, senior high teens, college kids, career-minded girls, single moms, single people, desperate housewives, mid-life crisesing men or golden agers. You go there to think, talk, hear, and learn about God. You go there to worship. But not in a pretentious or refined way. God is the focus there, just as with any church, but nothing there detracts from Him. You don’t go there for Atmosphere. You go there for God. Period. It transcends analogous comparison; it is the only thing like it. Everyone in there is there for worship. Everybody knows why you’re there, so you don’t have to pretend. Listen. Sing. Ask. Fellowship. Sit in your pew or chair and meditate upon the greatness of God and His Son Jesus Christ. Pray for conformity to Him.

What do you say?

18 thoughts on “For the Love of God”

  1. Charles,
    First of all, thanks for linking.
    Second, though I’m a high-church Lutheran born and raised, I’m certainly sympathetic to the sentiment you express in your rewrite of my paragraph. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of highly-programmed, something-for-everyone kinds of churches; they strike me as being rather like those people who have a different theme for their family Christmases each year. What more/other theme does one need?

  2. Charles,
    First of all, thanks for linking.
    Second, though I’m a high-church Lutheran born and raised, I’m certainly sympathetic to the sentiment you express in your rewrite of my paragraph. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of highly-programmed, something-for-everyone kinds of churches; they strike me as being rather like those people who have a different theme for their family Christmases each year. What more/other theme does one need?

  3. John,
    I’ve been meaning to link to you for a long time. I read Blog Meridian fairly religiously and appreciate (even when I don’t necessarily agree with) the thoughtful posts you create. Anyway, I appreciate the comments on the church as well and hope you didn’t mind me hijacking your thoughts.

  4. John,
    I’ve been meaning to link to you for a long time. I read Blog Meridian fairly religiously and appreciate (even when I don’t necessarily agree with) the thoughtful posts you create. Anyway, I appreciate the comments on the church as well and hope you didn’t mind me hijacking your thoughts.

  5. Charles,
    I’m flattered to learn you’ve been a regular reader. But this–“I . . . appreciate (even when I don’t necessarily agree with) the thoughtful posts you create”–means more to me than any number of “I agree with everything you say” comments. Thank you, sir. Just for that, into my list of “Daily (B)reads” you go.
    I can’t think of a more generous person to have my thoughts hijacked by.

  6. Charles,
    I’m flattered to learn you’ve been a regular reader. But this–“I . . . appreciate (even when I don’t necessarily agree with) the thoughtful posts you create”–means more to me than any number of “I agree with everything you say” comments. Thank you, sir. Just for that, into my list of “Daily (B)reads” you go.
    I can’t think of a more generous person to have my thoughts hijacked by.

  7. I love it when a great post catalyzes another great post. The bookshop is a place I would need to visit. The church (hypothetically) is a place I would love to belong. Thinking about it in these terms, a place unabashedly about God, no “extra” perks, is refreshing.

  8. I love it when a great post catalyzes another great post. The bookshop is a place I would need to visit. The church (hypothetically) is a place I would love to belong. Thinking about it in these terms, a place unabashedly about God, no “extra” perks, is refreshing.

  9. Ariel,
    Catalyzing is I suppose preferable to cannibalizing… Regarding the bookstore, is it worth a 3 hour drive for you to see this place firsthand? Regarding the church, it’s kind of scary in the sense that no one’s ever went to hell for loving bookstores because of the coffee, but loving church for the wrong reason, that’s potentially fatal. “Come for the doughnuts, stay for the worship”, it’s practically an American institution.

  10. Ariel,
    Catalyzing is I suppose preferable to cannibalizing… Regarding the bookstore, is it worth a 3 hour drive for you to see this place firsthand? Regarding the church, it’s kind of scary in the sense that no one’s ever went to hell for loving bookstores because of the coffee, but loving church for the wrong reason, that’s potentially fatal. “Come for the doughnuts, stay for the worship”, it’s practically an American institution.

  11. Charles,
    Sounds like home. Perhaps the single greatest place I have apreciated church, in the realest sense. Not a whole lot of pretentiousness there. I can recall a time when I knew a man who posessed a way with words, and the writing of scripts. But that was a long time ago, in another unpretentious place, far north of here. Perhaps you remember this place?

  12. Charles,
    Sounds like home. Perhaps the single greatest place I have apreciated church, in the realest sense. Not a whole lot of pretentiousness there. I can recall a time when I knew a man who posessed a way with words, and the writing of scripts. But that was a long time ago, in another unpretentious place, far north of here. Perhaps you remember this place?

  13. Tim,
    I vaguely remember this north place, but as you say, it was a long time ago. Regarding the man who loved words, I heard he got married and had a couple of kids, but still makes time for words on weekends. 😉 How are you doing? You can email me at gymbrall aht gmail dawt com if you like.

  14. Tim,
    I vaguely remember this north place, but as you say, it was a long time ago. Regarding the man who loved words, I heard he got married and had a couple of kids, but still makes time for words on weekends. 😉 How are you doing? You can email me at gymbrall aht gmail dawt com if you like.

  15. A.J. posted an entry a while back about how churches “market” themselves and try to find “brand identity.” It is a trend which distresses me. While I agree that Christ has answers for those in all circumstances, I bemoan the examples you cite. For me, simplicity in Him is what it’s all about.

    Cheers.

  16. A.J. posted an entry a while back about how churches “market” themselves and try to find “brand identity.” It is a trend which distresses me. While I agree that Christ has answers for those in all circumstances, I bemoan the examples you cite. For me, simplicity in Him is what it’s all about.

    Cheers.

  17. Sounds like Witchita is the home of great bookstores. Another one I know of there (only from its amazing book table at the Glen Workshop) is Eighth Day Books. They write in their web intro, “if a book – be it literary, scientific, historical, or theological – sheds light on ultimate questions in an excellent way, then it’s a worthy candidate for inclusion in our catalog. Reality doesn’t divide itself into ‘religious’ and ‘literary’ and ‘secular’ spheres, so we don’t either. We’re convinced that all truths are related and every truth, if we pay attention rightly, directs our gaze toward God.” Yeah, that’s my kind of bookstore!

  18. Sounds like Witchita is the home of great bookstores. Another one I know of there (only from its amazing book table at the Glen Workshop) is Eighth Day Books. They write in their web intro, “if a book – be it literary, scientific, historical, or theological – sheds light on ultimate questions in an excellent way, then it’s a worthy candidate for inclusion in our catalog. Reality doesn’t divide itself into ‘religious’ and ‘literary’ and ‘secular’ spheres, so we don’t either. We’re convinced that all truths are related and every truth, if we pay attention rightly, directs our gaze toward God.” Yeah, that’s my kind of bookstore!

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