The "Christianity" book section at the Chapters store I visited today has finally triumphed (the last time I visited was around a year ago) in being rid - as far as I could see - of anything remotely resembling actual Christianity and its plenitude of literature. Last year there was at least something like one third of the section that was reasonably solid. By lord, there was even Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth - and faced to the front!
Going over the section with wrathful scrutiny, my eye took in nothing but that which is new and already old: clichéd controversy, leftist garbage. Paul Was Not a Christian; Jesus in the Lotus; The Gnostic Gospels; With or Without God, with the ridiculous subtitle: Why The Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe. As if the two were ever at odds.
Why What We Believe Determines The Way We Live more like it. Oh, what lameness! like the one that blurbs about its title, Paul Was Not A Christian: because there was no verifiable religion at that time called Christianity! Wow, you mean the first followers of Christ hadn't yet adopted the name Christian? My mind has been blooooown awaaay! What a bunch of pathetic, perfumed rat shit.
There are a whole lot of variations on the same tired post-worn post-this and post-that titles: how to be "spiritual" without, you know, a church. As if a church is there to make you "spiritual".
But C.S. Lewis is still there. They don't mind having him in prominence, and Thomas Merton. There's just enough - just enough - in those two writers to lend themselves to the abovementioned Give Me Jesus Without The Church Please. Oh, and please can Jesus also be left-wing?
Just enough - together with a lot and a lot of twisting and outright ignoring by said I-won't-have-no-church ignorant reader - or I should say, just enough in Old Merton (this cheese is starting to get to me...hey look, zen!), whereas in Lewis it is more like merely enough.