The Bible, Costco, and Fiction: On Foolish Christians and Multiplying Hot Dogs

By Adam Ericksen 11-21-2013
Nicholas Eckhart/flickr

Costco recently apologized for placing "fiction" stickers on Bibles. Nicholas Eckhart/flickr

The religion section of The Huffington Post published an article on Tuesday about how some Christians are responding to Costco. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about how Christians are celebrating the fact that this big-box store not only makes a profit and actually pays its employees a living wage.

That, after all, would be Good News.

No. These Christians are outraged because Costco had Bibles labeled as fiction.


Well, I had to see this for myself, so I went to Costco during my lunch break. Now, as any loyal Costco shopper will tell you, there are two times when you should never go to Costco because of the crowds: the weekend and 12:00 p.m.

So, I braved the lunchtime crowds to find the Bibles labeled with the offensive “fiction” sticker. I planned to take a picture of said Bibles for you to see, but alas, my Costco didn’t have Bibles, fictional or otherwise.

They did, however, have hot dogs. And I’ll take a $1.50 non-fictional hot dog over a $14.99 fictional Bible every time.

I love Costco.

We know about this Costco’s offensive Bible sticker because of a pastor named Caleb Kaltenbach. Despite his totally awesome name and his totally awesome twitter profile picture where he’s drinking from an R2D2 mug, Kaltenbach is all offended by Costco.

Dude, simmer down.

Christians are becoming known for being offended by anything. Some even claim that Christians in the United States are being persecuted. I wouldn’t be surprised if some loony tunes Christian states that Costco is part of a cultural conspiracy to persecute Christians.

Kattenbach didn’t say that, but he came close. He actually got an apology out of Costco by talking to Fox News (bet you didn’t see that one coming), stating: “On the one hand Christians should not yell out ‘persecution.’ We aren’t living in Iraq or Iran. But on the other hand, I believe that we do need to stand up for our faith and we need to be vocal about our concerns.”

No. We don’t. Because every time we “stand up for our faith” and are “vocal about our concerns” we make fools of ourselves. I can already hear someone offering a vague quote from St. Paul about the Christian faith being “foolishness to the Gentiles.” So, okay. Go ahead and take pride in being foolish.

But Paul wasn’t talking about being stupid. Christ crucified is foolishness to many because it says God’s power isn’t seen in fighting against the Empire of Costco when it offends us. The foolishness of Christ crucified is that Christ didn’t fight back. He didn’t defend himself. He didn’t whine about being offended. Rather, he offered forgiveness and then he moved on to his resurrection and offered peace.

Now, nonviolent love that offers forgiveness and love to those who have offended us is foolishness to the world and to many Christians. But that’s the kind of foolishness St. Paul was talking about. If the Gospels are non-fictional (and I’m foolish enough to believe they are) accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then we should follow Jesus into the death of not being offended and into a resurrected life of loving everyone, especially those with whom we might take offense. In other words, death and resurrection is a process of becoming un-offended.

If the Gospels are accurate accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then how would the resurrected Jesus respond to the Bible being called “fiction”? He’d gently laugh, and then he’d multiply the $1.50 hot dogs so that everyone could share in the bountiful feast that is the Kingdom of God.

Adam Ericksen blogs at the Raven Foundation, where he uses mimetic theory to provide social commentary on religion, politics, and pop culture. Follow Adam on Twitter @adamericksen.

Nicholas Eckhart / flickr

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