Christian Bookstores-Part 2

29 Apr

I had promised to take you behind the shrouded mysteries of employers and employees of Christian Bookstores.  But the the comments after my last post,  made me realize that I had some more to say about it’s customers.

Biblereader is the one that asked about a very special breed of Christian Bookstore customer…..

The King James Only Customer

The KJV Customer usually will head straight to the Bible counter and begin to ask numerous questions about why you don’t carry a better selection of the King James Version.  When you inform Mr. or Mrs. KJV Customer that most people prefer to read an English translation that doesn’t require a Masters in Shakespearean English, they will launch into numerous  arguments to prove that the KJV is really the only Bible Translation that one should ever read.

One milder KJV Customer told me that  they had done a study (not sure who the they was she was referring to) and they found that the King James Version of the Bible was actually easier to read than any other Bibles.  Uhhhhh-no way Jose!  I grew up reading the King James and if there is one thing it is not, is an easy read.

Sometimes, I would cite some of the verses from the King James that I never understood, until I had read them in a modern translation.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

Psalm 23:1  “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”

What the heck, why didn’t the Psalmist want the Lord as his Shepherd?  One customer accused me of being uneducated for not understanding what being “in want” meant.  I told this customer that a friend, who grew up in Great Britain , had told me that they had misunderstood the same verse in the same way.  Sheesh-if the English can’t understand proper English, than how can I?

1 Corinthians 5:7 “Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump”

I wonder why that wasn’t on any t-shirts or bumper stickers in the store?  Maybe we could have named our store New Lump Christian Books.  What is a new lump anyway?  On second thought…..

Some of the verses just cracked me up, because of ye old English phrasing.  Who can forget this one?

John 11:39 “Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

Ah yes….he stinketh Lord.  As did the King James Version, as far as I was concerned.  It’s just a translation people! Sorry, but once I got my High School fingers on the newly completed NIV, there was no going back.

“Creepy Guy Who Hits on You” Customer

Ok…so being a guy myself, I actually didn’t have any guys hitting on me ( at least, none that I know of).  But I had many younger female employees, ages 16-25, that would often have Creepy Guy linger around the store, and vie for their attention.  Creepy Guy would ask one too many questions, or start asking a female employee whether they were married or not.  Some of the girls would get invites to Creepy Guy’s church volleyball game or he’d ask them if they were going to the next big Christian concert.  There was something a little awkward and well, creepy, in the way they would always seem to be avoiding the male employees and be sharking the younger females.

My wife even got hit on by one of our regulars when she was 6 months pregnant and showing.  When she got over the shock and pointed to her belly, the guy laughed nervously and then asked out the girl standing next to my wife…..I think she chased him out of the store with a King James Bible or threatened to tie him up and play Carmen’s “The Champion” if he didn’t exit the store.   Anyway, I think many times, Creepy Guy, was just a lonely guy who was socially awkward and had run out of options at their church singles group.

Last but not least, was the shoplifter.


This had to be the worst part of my job.  Dealing with a shoplifter always left me with a pit in my stomach and the shakes.  It got so bad, that we had to install a whole anti-theft machine at the entrance to the store.

One time, I caught an elderly woman trying to leave the store with a couple Amy Grant CD’s and the novel Joshua-by Girzone.  She started yelling at me and telling me that she was in a Bible study with my boss.  I called the police and she was arrested (never fun).  It turns out she had warrants out in multiple States for shoplifting.

Then there was my Vineyard thief.  Back in the day, when Vineyard music was pumping out the best-selling worship CD’s.  Our little Vineyard thief would come into the store on release day, and we’d be missing a copy within an hour of the CD hitting the shelf.  We never did catch our Vineyard worship thief, and the irony of someone stealing a worship CD always miffed me.

Lastly, there was the shoplifter who stole us blind, but their conscience had caught up with them.  One time, it was a couple in marriage counseling .  They confessed to their pastor, that they had stolen over $10,000 worth of merchandise from our store.  He made them call the owner and work out a payment plan.  That ended up being one expensive counseling session!

Many time we’d get an anonymous letter, confessing their crimes and promising to send money for all the items they stole.  And if you want to know one of the most popular items stolen from our store….the Bible.  And it was almost always an expensive leather-bound Bible that would be swindled.

Nothing like feeding your faith, with a copy of God’s Word that you obtained while breaking the commandments.

17 Responses to “Christian Bookstores-Part 2”

  1. Recovering Agnostic April 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Maybe I’m cynical, but this seems like a fairly typical cross-section of Christians and churchgoers to me.

  2. christianagnostic April 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    I don’t know if you’re being cynical….considering the store I worked in was in the northeast, folks like your KJV only crowd stuck out as unusual. Maybe in other parts of the country it’s more prevalent.

  3. graceone April 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Well, you have definitely had some interesting experiences in these stores. 🙂

    I’m out of the loop. I mostly shop at Barnes and Noble’s religious/philosophical section or Amazon. I used to especially love Borders before they went out of business. Their JavaCoola was the best.

    N.T. Wright is currently my favorite Christian author/scholar. I’ve recently finished his book, “Simply Christian.”

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 12:49 am #

      I miss Borders….used to be one right next to my work. Mow it’s just an empty storefront 😦

  4. theaspirationalagnostic April 30, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Hmmm, makes me wonder…for some reason, the few times that I go into my city’s religious bookstore (there is one in my state!) my children ALWAYS need to use the loo. So Im sure I seem to be the ‘customer who only comes in to use the toilet’ ;).
    I always make a guilt purchase, though..

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 12:52 am #

      LOL…yeah, we had a few of those, but they were usually folks with kids. Which is totally understandable…I’m sure your guilt purchase is appreciated.

  5. Donald Miller April 30, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I’m bowled over by the $10,000 in theft.

    I’m a KJV customer, and so was Christopher Hitchens. His essay about the bible is a pretty interesting read.


    I just made a post that I thought I’d let my followers know about. I’ve been posting one every day for a while, so you’ve probably been swamped with updates. But this one I’m interested in getting some comments from my followers. It’s called “Imagine There’s a Heaven”. I hope you have time to stop by and comment.

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 2:49 am #

      Thanks Donald….to be clear, I would occasionally read the KJV, and had memorized many verses using the KJV. But it fell flat for me on many verses, leaving me scratching my head….hence, my enthusiasm for newer English translations.

      I’ll be sure to stop by and read your latest.

      • Donald Miller April 30, 2012 at 2:59 am #

        I’ve heard people refer to a so-called “New King James Version,” although I’ve never cometh acrosseth it myself. A little tweaking hear-th and there-th would be fine by me. But mostly I diggeth it.

  6. christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    I heareth, tis rather lumpy.

  7. Freedom April 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Great post! I remember the KJV only crowd, never had to deal with the shoplifters, but I am sure they existed. As far as Creepy Guy, we had those – I remember some of the females would go hide in the back when “creepy guy” showed up.

    A friend at that the time told me that he thought the KJV was easier to read than Shakespeare. After studying some of the works of BIlly S, I had to agree with my friend that KJV is easier to read. It was not written at as high a level as Shakespeare’s works. If I remember correctly, the KJV uses around 8k different words and Shakespeare used around 30k different words in his collective works.

    Do you remember when This Present Darkness was a big seller? Everyone wanted to read it and it brought in more traffic to the bookstores. Of course, I have a lot of criticism of that book, which I was not able to even mention in the bookstore – like the fact that the book seems to have been written at a second grade reading level (if that).

    I hope there is a part III to your stories!

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      I agree that the KJV is easier than Shakespeare….but that’s because most of us are reading a revision of the KJV from the early 20th century. Thomas Nelson used to publish a facsimile version of the original 1611 version. It was barely readable. The spelling and sentence structures were unlike most modern revisions and the original King James Version also included the Apocrypha.

      This Present Darkness…yes, I remember it well. I hate to admit it, but reading this book helped send me into my Charismatic stage. It wasn’t great literature, for sure. But at the time, it introduced me to the whole concept of spiritual warfare. Which I was fascinated with, at the time.

      I’m sure I’ll have more to tell from my bookstore days….too much to choose from, lol!

  8. christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Here’s a link I just found for the original wording of the KJV…have fun!

  9. thebiblereader April 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    I love this series that you have done.

    speaking about KJV-onlyism, a few weeks back. I across a KJV-only blog, and in their mission statment they were talking about the KJV was God choses bible, it was more accurate/inspired than the greek and hebrew manuscripts.

    It got so bad they guy stopped putting up my response, and resorted to straight ad homineum attacks. my last 5 reponses they guy actually deleted my comments.

    • christianagnostic April 30, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      yeah…I learned pretty quickly that this crowd is die hard, and very few are willing to discuss the issues.

  10. thebiblereader May 3, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    I am actually a little shocked people would actually steal bibles out of a christian bookstore. I’m not sure whats a bigger shock, A) the moral irony of stealing a bible. or B) the fact that you kind find a bible anywhere, at church, on the internet, heck come knock on my door, my wife just bought 4 new bibles I probably won’t ever use.

    for christ sake, you can download a bible app onto your phone.

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