Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CBA Advance

For those of you not familiar with the Christian book industry, there are two major trade shows each year: CBA Advance in January and the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in July. Advance is considerably smaller than ICRS but is still a good opportunity to make connections and see what products are coming out in the next 3-4 months.

I had several meetings scheduled this year that took up most of my time on the show floor, but there were still opportunities to do some wandering and check out some of the vendors that we don't deal with directly. In fact, we had a bit of a contest to see who could come up with the wackiest product being displayed. Now, you have to understand that, while most companies are on the level, there are still a fair number of people out there that are either trying to make a quick buck or even worse, have no clue that what they are selling is downright wrong.

Case in point: Fisherman. This is a company making Jesus figurines playing soccer, surfing, riding a Harley, bull riding, etc. I kid you not! Check out their website! While I understand the concept - Jesus is with you no matter where you are or what you're doing - there is something unseemly (if not outright sacrilegious) about the creator of the universe wearing a football jersey, fading back into the pocket to throw a screen pass 15 yards downfield. By the way, I won the contest.

I often come away from these shows with a general sense of uneasiness but this time I actually felt dirty after having spent the better part of three days looking at this stuff. There are some wonderful book publishers out there who have real hearts for ministry (many of whom I have the privilege of working with) but all of the Jesus junk vendors make me want to run away and never look back in case I turn into a pillar of salt.