Sending a Message

mWe423KSomeday, when I grow up, I want to own a bookstore.

Like a cool used shop, with lots of old books, furniture for folks to sit on, and a bunch of bibliophiles that come in on a regular basis.

And while I can appreciate those stores where there are books crammed everywhere, two deep and literally flowing off the shelves, a Rob Dixon shop will be the most organized bookstore you’ve ever been in.

After all, it’s my nature. Everything in its place, with clearly marked shelves, fastidiously tidied up at the end of each day. And one thing is for sure:

I won’t let Tertullian influence the relative positioning of the topics.

This morning I walked into a Christian bookstore and saw this:

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Put aside the nauseating “Manual to Manhood” title for a second (fourth shelf up on the far right side), with its stereotypical instructions on how to cook a steak, how to throw a football and find a wall stud. That’s stuff for another post.

Instead, look at the juxtaposition.

In an oh-so-subtle way, what could that particular bank of bookshelves be communicating?

You guessed it. That leadership and male-ness belong together. That they are yoked together. Literally, that they share a plastic sign. That of course a bookshop patron would be interested in one if they are interested in the other.

And, in case you’re wondering, the woman’s section was about 15 feet away on another shelf, next to the potpourri, greeting cards and wall hangings.

Can you see what something as innocent as product placement can communicate?!?

As with last week’s post on the U.S. Presidents, it’s important to say that I don’t think anyone is doing anything intentionally here. I’m sure the Presidential poster maker is simply putting faces on a board, and, likewise, this bookshop owner is just putting books where they make sense.

The problem is that when it comes to gender and Christian bookstores, too often what “makes sense” is less about what’s right and more about what Tertullian tells us is right.

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