My wife and I walked into a used bookstore in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Some of you have been there too. Not in Fredericksburg, perhaps, but in the Christian books section of a familiar-looking shop. You scan the shelves, hoping against hope. Eyes momentarily alight on the gloss of Philip Yancey, Rapture novels, and Billy Graham biographies. You peer more intently on the worn, cloth-shrouded hardbacks. No, you're not going to find a well-known treasure—a steal on a top-shelf commentary or some Spurgeon, but you might find something rich but obscure.
And then you realized that you've just blown 20 minutes.
But this time, on the way out I figured it was worth five more minutes to sift through the two or three tables of $1 books. And there they were: Ken Myers' All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes and Richard Mouw's The Smell of Sawdust. Both were on my Amazon wishlist, though for very different reasons.
Myers will have to wait a bit longer, but last week I settled into Mouw's book, a collection of 15 short essays on "what evangelicals can learn from their fundamentalist heritage." (The sawdust analogy is an allusion to the common practice of spreading sawdust on the aisles of fundamentalist/revivalist evangelistic tent meetings in the 19th and 20th centuries.)
Used bookstores really do offer many opportunities to feel cheated when paying $1 for a book. I didn't expect the sensation from a book I'd been deliberately looking for. I supposed I expected a more robust critique, analysis, and positive assessment of the strengths of revivalist fundamentalism. I suppose that was naïve. Instead, I read the literary equivalent of a patronizing pat on the head from an aloof uncle as a child displays the popsicle-stick-and-cotton-ball Bible-sheep created in Sunday school.
But you're wondering why I'm surprised. Point taken.
I hope Myers is worth $2.