This morning I was reading “My Prayer Journal” in the Victorian Baptist Witness. Part of the diary for Wednesday and Thursday went as follows:
Something interesting happened today. Saw Greg put ‘religion’ and ‘new age’
books together (in the ‘new age’ section). He even put the Bibles there! It
really upset me and I was surprised at the intensity of my feelings. …
Well I spoke to Greg and thank you God, he was really cool about it. It
actually opened up some discussion about my faith. And it felt so natural
talking about it. … he was relieved that I could advise him on what should go
in the ‘religion’ section and what should go in the ‘new age’ section (he didn’t
mind at all when I said they were very different).
There is so much here that I could comment on – the assumed difference between religion and New Age, for example. But considering that this was an issue of the Witness devoted to exploring being a Christian in a secular workplace, I want to look at where the books should have been placed.
Being married to a librarian myself I can understand the desire to have things in the right place. However, given that New Age would definitely fit the criteria for a religion I expect they wouldn’t be far apart. It raises two questions for me. Why would we prefer to put Christian books in a place a New Ager might never look? And why put them where a Christian will never encounter the New Age books?
If we are truly interested in ministry in the marketplace, then we must not hide Jesus from those in the market, while at the same time we need to learn how those in the market think if we are to expect to impact their lives.
The depth of the secular/sacred divide for the person writing the diary might be guaged from the intensity of their feelings when the Christian and New Age books were innocently placed side by side. Should we be offended? Can’t Jesus take care of himself? Where would he be found – hanging around the church or out in the market?
Lots of questions. I’d like to hear some of your answers.