Visit to a bookstore

Knowing in advance
Prepares for, but cannot change

It was exactly where I expected it to be: out of the way.

It had exactly what I expected it to have: the same things it had the first and last time I'd been there before. Shelves of Bibles that hadn't turned over, bought to exploit economies of scale. (And in their defense it had worked. If I'd been in a mind to buy another, it would've been at least $5 cheaper than anywhere else.)

It served exactly the purpose I expected it to: a consolation for its customers, a comfort, a reassurance.

Everything was neatly compartmentalized. Each shelf had a label on top of it. "Women's Issues." "Roman Catholicism" (a single shelf.) "Charismatic" (a whole row of shelves.) "Calvinism" (underpinning the entire store; Driscoll, Piper, and a number of damned, fat, thick, square books in the furthest corner from the door, of the man himself, for his 500th something-or-other.) "Vida Christiana" (another few shelves.) A wall of generic Christian music I could not recognize and still wound up humming along to. Compartmentalized. No shelf overflowed into any other.

What about the rest of us? The ones who walked away from their shelf, which wasn't represented in the first place? Trying to grow that seed on the soil of their souls? Working out their salvation with fear and trembling, not sure what it even means? One foot raised, and uncertain where to lay it down?
For that there was nothing that I remember. Nothing at all.

From a marketing perspective, it was a thorough failure. So consoling and safe for its customer base, it not only couldn't provide for somebody outside that base; it couldn't provide a reason for them to join it, if they were interested.

I wasn't. I am no Calvinist, and I understood all too well what all of this meant.

And it was why I have no reason to go back, except in the event that I want to experience what I knew in advance. (Which I probably will some day.)

Knowing in advance
Prepared for but could not change

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