Be Careful What You Wish For

In my car in recent days, I’ve been listening to Sara Paretsky’s Fire Sale, featuring her favorite detective, V. I. Warshawski.

Many fans of this genre have recommended Paretsky to me, so I thought this would be a pretty painless way to test her out. In ways the book is predictable: evangelical Christians are the bad guys–greedy, hypocritical, even violent. Or they are good-hearted but impossibly naïve.

Even an Hispanic evangelical pastor can’t catch a break. You’d think that being part of a poor and oppressed community in south Chicago would earn this guy some points from the liberal-minded author. No such luck. He sabotages workplaces, gets self-righteous, arrogantly presumes to know how young people should conduct themselves sexually, and in various ways subtle and overt thwarts the work of our heroine, V. I.

The author’s agenda gets the best of her literary sensibilities as she doles out stereotypes in big heaping spoonfuls. Bias and prejudice overflow from her “tolerant and open-minded” pen.

But I digress. What I wanted to mention was something that made me laugh out loud. Three times in the novel an IVP book makes a cameo appearance. The young, good-hearted but impossibly naïve evangelical has been reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a book IVP sold well over 100,000 copies of in two editions back in the 1980s. (The book has since been published by Thomas Nelson.)

I suppose all small and medium-sized publishers look forward to the day that their output gets noticed by the mainstream media. Sometimes, though, we should be careful what we wish for.