While it is true I do shop there, and sometimes fancy that I almost enjoy the experience, I must take issue with Berean's self-branding as a "Christian Store." Berean is not a Christian store. Berean is a religious store. There is a difference.
The spiritual squalor of the place never ceases to appall me. From the toothless grinning vegetables that gape at you from the children's section, to the glaring punk musicians that make Peter Jackson's Orcs look positively friendly, to the shameless nonsense advertised on the covers of cheap dating books, the whole thing begs the classic question: "Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?"
You may have noticed that the restroom in the back invariably smells of microwave popcorn. Last time I was there, I could not help but imagine the Devil kicking back with some buttery Redenbacher's in one of the back corners of the store, wickedly snickering to himself, finding the whole scene supremely entertaining, not to mention gratifying.
We are greatly deceived if we think that the cultural presence these stores provide scores an automatic point for Christianity. It doesn't. The Devil is perfectly happy to market Christianity, so long as he can vulgarize it, water it down, and generally make it cheap and stupid. (Besides, carnality sells so much better when dressed up as piety anyways. Why do you suppose immorality has been sacramentalized in nearly every pagan culture?)
It's not a Christian store. It's spiritual promiscuity scented with potpourri.
Perhaps you're thinking that it's been too long since I've smashed something and I'll feel better after I get some sleep. Perhaps you're right. But I really believe that there is some serious sabotage going on here and that we need to be awake and on the alert. ("I'm turning shepherds into sheep / And leaders into celebrities / It's holy sabotage - just look around you / 'Cause everything's for sale in the 21st century..." -dW)
None of this is intended to deny the relevance of Philippians 1:15-18 to this situation. Proclaiming Christ - "in pretense, or in truth" - always constitutes a miscalculation on the Devil's part. The name "Jesus" is eternally invested with a sublime power - whether uttered in anger, apathy or adoration. Indeed, one of the best arguments for Christianity is simply "all the fuss." G.K. Chesterton, recalling his own spiritual journey, speaks of the "odd effect of the great agnostics in arousing doubts deeper than their own:"
As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith, from Huxley to Bradlaugh, a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind - the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Doubleday, p. 85
You can still buy a plain Bible at Berean, provided you have the patience to sift through the reference versions annotated by the gurus and the teeny-bopper or God-and-graffiti ones marketed to the teenagers. Since we are all so blessedly "individual," we must of course also have the full round of "I-am-me-and-there-is-no-other" editions: "The Sportsman's Bible"; "The Teacher's Bible"; "The Sailor's Bible"; "The Policeman's Bible"; even "The Golfer's Bible." If these titles were tongue-in-cheek it would be funny. They're not, and it's not.
"Excuse me, Sir, where can I find a 'Sinner's Bible'?"
Image courtesy of wga.hu