Sunday, March 26, 2006

Abanes writes

The formidable Richard Abanes visited this site yesterday with a bone to pick with the last line of my previous post.

In objecting to the commercialization of the Christian response to the Da Vinci Code, I ended with an inflammatory remark:

You know, because we want you to know the truth and set the record straight, but not before we collect your $19.99 + tax.

This stung Mr. Abanes, the author of one of those books and many other mass publishings. He wrote in response:

It is unfortunate that you would cast aspersions on the integrity and motivation of so many men and women of with your comment

Mr. Abanes continued by justifying -- needlessly -- his right to collect a fee on his work as a journalist and Christian book author.

As a former journalist, no one needs to make an argument with me about the need to collect money on what amounts to a great deal more work than people realize. Christians have every much a right to charge for their work as non-Christians. That wasn't my point.

What I do take issue with is, in defense of our faith, we Christians think too much like this world. We think in terms of marketplace and marketing. We don't look and see if someone else is already filling a role. We see market share and a chance to capitalize on culture and fads.

That is in no way meant to impugn Mr. Abanes' character or intent for writing his book. His may be the best champion of the truth. I don't know. I've never read it. It would take me more than a few years to read all of the books on the subject. Neither do I know his intentions for writing it, and I do not write this in judgment of him or his on-going book-writing ministry. I am positive writing the book cost Mr. Abanes valuable time and money, and he should be compensated for that time. God bless him for recognizing the need for a response and attempting to address it.

As a corporate Church, however, I am certain we do not need 100 for-profit books (and more on the way) to respond to the mistruths of one book. We need one unified response: We know our history and we will not allow anyone to play fast and loose with it. That is a difficult message to get out to a resistant public, though, when there's a cover charge at the door of truth.

I think there is a place for books, but we have so much more power at our fingertips to reach a much broader audience. Where is the church-wide support for a website -- or even 100+ websites -- with the same content? Where is our open defense in magazine articles? Where are the public challenges to debate Brown (or his wife, who appears to be the sole researcher of the code) on the "facts" of his book?

My beef is not with Mr. Abanes or any of the other authors of those books. My beef is with the flabby Church and its silence beyond the marketplace.

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