No. 554



Are you familiar with the saying, "Will it play in Peoria?" For the uninitiated, this saying is traditionally used to ask whether a given product, person or promotional theme will appeal to the mainstream or "Main Street America." The belief was that if a new show was successful in Peoria, it would work anywhere in America.
Since that time, the idea has expanded to other products and services to use as a test market. It is in this context that I would like to tell you about a couple of books that have been playing in other parts of the country, but I don't think they represent the values of Main Street America. The title of these books are "Conversations with God" and "Conversations with God for Teens" both written by Neil D. Walsh. These books sound harmless enough by their titles and have been on The New York Times best seller list.
However, once you look inside and read some of the content, these publications make truth of the statement, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Let me say up front that this is a free country and, under the guise of "freedom of speech," an author is free to write what he or she chooses to write. As a Christian, the problem I have, and you may have it as well, is when someone presupposes to speak for God. To be sure, if a writer does make this choice, I would like for them to be consistent with what the Bible says and not come up with their own personal desires or choices. After all, the Bible has been around for more than 2,000 years and this writer has been here for less than a hundred.
Allow me to give you some examples and you be the judge.
The author purports to answer various questions from kids using the "voice of God." For instance, when a girl asks the question, "Why am I a lesbian?" his answer is that she was born that way because of genetics. He then tells her to go out and celebrate her differences. Another girl asks the question, "I am living with my boyfriend. My parents (now there is the rub), say I should marry him because I am living in sin. Should I marry him?" Again Mr. Walsh's answer is, speaking for God, "Who are you sinning against? Not me, because you have done nothing wrong."
Another question asks about God's forgiveness of sin. His reply, "I do not forgive anyone because there is nothing to forgive. There is no such thing as right or wrong and that is what I have been trying to tell everyone, do not judge people. People have chosen to judge one another and this is wrong, because the rule is "judge not lest ye be judged."
He's right about that one, but did you notice the switch. The Bible does tell us that we should not judge one another, lest we also be judged. But remember, he is speaking for God and God alone has the right to judge others. You understand when I wade into a subject like this that I am not a preacher and I'm not a perfect Christian, but there comes a time when you have to take a stand for what you believe. It's been said that the Bible is a book that everybody owns, but no one reads.
This has never been more obvious than when a book like this makes The New York Times best seller list. What's even sadder is that books like this, and others like them, are being sold to school children through The Scholastic Book Club. I have a good friend here in our community who has taught elementary school for more than 25 years. Some time ago I asked her what she thought about Scholastic Books. She said, "Some are very good, but you have to watch them." I know now what she meant by that comment. Is it any wonder that millions of kids in our country are so mixed up, when they are fed this kind of mental diet?
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")