Saturday, January 21, 2012

Student Saturday: Bookstore Scavenger Hunt

It is well known that OBU recently fired Barnes and Noble after many years of efficient and capable management of the bookstore.  In its place, OBU contracted with Tree of Life, a company committed to censoring mainstream books and stocking books from (almost exclusively) fundamentalist publishing houses.

I'm not trying to suggest that I should be the final arbiter of what books Christian college students should have available to them.  Rather, I have consulted with alumni and friends and compiled a list of books that you should expect to find in any college bookstore.  The list includes some classics, some new volumes that should be of interest to people who are serious about the Bible, and titles that frequently appear on lists of "books that college students should read."  Since OBU is still supposedly about diversity of thought and administrators claim not to be turning OBU into a fundamentalist Bible academy, we can assume these books and others like them should be readily available in the university bookstore.  Right?

For each of the following 10 books that Tree of Life stocks, I will donate $10 to OBU.  In addition, I will give $10 to the first student who posts a picture of the book to our Facebook page.

A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens (1859)
The bestselling novel in the history of the world.

Saint Augustine (AD 398)
The dominant thinker in Christian antiquity gives his personal narrative, which became a bedrock of Western literature.

The Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan (1678)
A foundational Protestant text, this was Charles Spurgeon's favorite book after the Bible.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Jared Diamond (New York: Norton, 2005)
An argument about how science and technology, not moral or genetic superiority, account for why some societies win and others lose.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Steven D. Lovett and Stephen J. Dubner (paperback ed. is from 2009)
Widely read and hugely influential book about some of life's unusual connections and causal relationships.

The Lost History of Christianity
Philip Jenkins (New York: HarperOne, 2009)
This prominent historian is speaking at OBU next month.  Does Tree of Life carry his book?  I'll also accept either of the other two volumes in his History of Christianity Trilogy.

Jerusalem: The Biography
Simon Sebag Montefiore (New York: Knopf, 2011)
Clever and carefully researched story of Jerusalem's historical, spiritual, and contemporary importance.

The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us
Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine (New York: HarperOne, 2011)
Very well-reviewed new book from two of the top Old Testament scholars in the world.

NRSV Study Bible
The best ones are the New Oxford Annotated Bible (Oxford University Press, 2010), the HarperCollins Study Bible (HarperOne, 2006), and the New Interpreter's Bible (Abingdon, 2003).  But I've got $10 for any NRSV study Bible at Tree of Life.  The New Revised Standard Version's mantra is "as literal as possible" but "as free as necessary."  Unlike the better-selling NIV, the NRSV translation committee was not dominated by fundamentalists.  The NRSV features a number of distinctives that fundamentalists love to hate, most notably inclusive language, brothers and sisters.  Every decent college bookstore in America sells NRSV study Bibles.  Does Tree of Life?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
J.K. Rowling (New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2009)
I'm mostly curious to see if, like most "Christian" bookstores, Tree of Life believes Harry Potter is satanic.

Dollar Bonus Round!
A buck to you and a buck to OBU for every book by
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong
  • Oklahoma City pastor Robin Meyers
  • Astronomer Carl Sagan
  • Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould
  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson
I'm sure these people get bashed mercilessly in "Apologetics" and "Worldview" classes, but I'm sure you are encouraged to read them before you dismiss their arguments:
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Daniel Dennett

And Just for Fun...
Take pictures of the most ridiculous books you see in Tree of Life, "Christian" or otherwise.  Post them to our Facebook page, too.

I'm betting I keep all my money today.  But trust me, I would love more than anything in all the world to write a $100 check to OBU, give $100 to the students who found the books, and even pay out extra for the Dollar Bonus Round.  So get out there, Bison, and prove me wrong!

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