“Maybe there really is a God.”
Young Sam has had this nagging sense in his heart for a few weeks now. But he’s always been an intellectual, so he’s not the type of guy that just goes on feelings. So he does what he always has done when he wants to find the answer to something—he goes to his local library.
This time he’s going to study the claims of Christianity against the claims of new atheism. He’s a little more familiar with what the new atheists teach. But he figures he had better check the books out anyways. It’s a familiar section for him and so he quickly pulls some of the more popular books off the shelf. He loads Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and a couple others onto his arms.
Next he finds himself in a rather unfamiliar territory—the somewhat scant section in the library on Christianity. A few faces seem familiar—these are guys that he’s seen on television, so he figures they must be the best representatives.
On top of his books on New Atheism he’s loading himself down with books by Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, another book called the idiots guide to Christianity, a book written by one of the popes, and a book about the history of Christianity.
Christianity doesn’t stand a chance.
No Fault of the Library
This is not the fault of the librarian. She picks books based upon bestseller lists, professional reviews, and requests from patrons.
The books that are most popular in Christianity (sadly) are usually not intellectual or scholarly treatments. Truthfully they are more akin to self-help books than anything to do with the gospel. But most librarians don’t know this. They often have meager budgets and so if they are going to stock something in the non-fiction section then they need to be sure that its something that will be checked out. If Joel Osteen is a best-seller then it’s a pretty safe bet that somebody will want to read it.
But none of this bodes well for people like Sam trying to learn the truth about Christianity. We need to help our librarians and young learners like Sam at least be able to give the gospel a fair shake.
How To Change This
You can’t do much about the bestseller list. Nor can we do a ton about peer reviews and librarian magazines. But there is one door that is wide open that can help us get solid Christian books in your library. You can request them.
Most librarians are open to suggestions. I contacted our local library and I’ve been tasked with giving our librarian a list of solid Christian books to help shore up the non-fiction section. I doubt my situation is that unique. Libraries want to provide a service for the community. Enough requests of the same books will likely result in their being stocked.
However, there are a couple of tips to what books you ought to request.
- Don’t request really old books. I know you love the Puritans (I do too) but most librarians try to get these types of books through inter-library loans.
- Don’t request rare books. I know you love books like Torn to Heal (and I appreciate that) but you’ll be better served requesting books a bit more popular.
- Don’t shy away from the classics. I’m pushing to get the Institutes in our library. There are some old books that they need to have for research purposes. But request these books based on history, quality of literature, etc. and not based on theology.
- Don’t focus on controversial topics. As much as you’d like to get a book in there about a Christian view of sexuality now is likely not the time. You are doing foundation work here. Help build a good sturdy base first.
You want to get solid biblical books that are also relatively new, have good covers, and are at least moderately popular.
So here is what I’m asking from our readers. Help me put together this list for our library. Once I have your suggestions and combine them with my own I will make this list available to all of our readers. Then I’ve got a challenge for you to get these books in your local library.
So…which books fit the criteria that you believe would be great for a local library?