Friday, March 20, 2009

I’m on Twitter!

After avoiding it for a long time, I’ve finally joined Twitter, the insanely popular micro-blogging site. You can follow my “tweets” at dwcongdon.

Observations on working at a major book retailer

Some of you know that I work part-time as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. I enjoy bookstores. I like to browse the shelves, see what’s new, smell the freshly printed pages, feel the different kinds of paper. Working at the store helps me maintain contact with the world of fiction, which I have missed ever since leaving behind my English major as an undergraduate to pursue graduate studies in theology.

And the discount doesn’t hurt, either.

As part of my job as the opening bookseller on Saturday mornings, I have to scan the new fiction and romance titles into the computer. I use this fancy laser device that reads the barcodes and creates lists which are then accessible to booksellers throughout the week, so that they know what titles are on the "new fiction" and "new romance" shelves.

Suffice it to say, I come across some hilarious titles. Primarily in the romance section, of course. Back during the Christmas shopping season, I took a couple minutes out of my day to record the best titles currently on display. (I could put together a whole new list for the titles up now, but this will do nicely.)
  • The Mane Attraction
  • A Knight Well Spent
  • Tall, Dark, and Texan
  • Lord of the Forest
  • Single White Vampire
  • All I Want For Christmas Is a Vampire
  • Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa
It’s hard to maintain your composure when handling books with titles like this.

Despite the amount of junk published every week, in an age of iPhones and Kindles, I am glad to be in a place where tangible books are made available for people to peruse and purchase. As much as I love technology, nothing beats the feel and smell of a new book (whether actually new or a used book newly acquired).

Perhaps at a future date I will post some thoughts about the moral-ethical side of working at a bookstore. I don’t mean the whole capitalist-industrial complex bit. Rather, I mean the things you learn as a worker having to handle customers who are often difficult and abrasive. It can be a real lesson in patience. But that’s for another day.

Pietism Conference at Bethel University

Currently, Bethel University is hosting a conference on pietism with the theme: “The Pietist Impulse in Christianity.” The conference began yesterday and ends tomorrow. The plenary lectures are:

Donald Dayton
“Why Study Pietism?: The Significance of the Pietist Impulse in Christianity”

Emilie Griffin
"We of the Broken Body: Toward a Piety of Hope and Reconciliation”

Shirley Mullen
“The ‘Strangely Warmed’ Mind: John Wesley, Piety, and Higher Education”

Roger Olson
“Pietism: Myths and Realities”

Jonathan Strom
“The Challenge of Pietism for the Ministry and the Laity”

Tonight at 7:30, Roger Olson will give his plenary lecture. For the full schedule of events, click here.

... and all the people rejoiced!

From an email sent out today:

“The Board of Trustees of Wheaton College has announced that President Duane Litfin will retire from his position in mid-2010. As Wheaton's seventh president since its founding in 1860, Dr. Litfin has served the College for almost 17 years. ...

The Board of Trustees has appointed a Presidential Selection Committee to conduct the search and selection process for Wheaton's eighth president. They invite nominations, expressions of interest, and applications for the position of President.

Please visit for more information including selection procedure, presidential profile, committee members, prayer guide, and frequently asked questions.”

In all fairness to Pres. Litfin, he did a half-way decent job. He is certainly a brilliant fundraiser. It’s just too bad that his fundamentalist and dispensational theological views led to some really poor decision-making on his part and a culture at Wheaton that was largely inhospitable to progressive political and theological work. Let’s pray that the trustees can find a suitable replacement that will bring Wheaton College back into the vanguard of evangelical scholarship.

Evolution and Original Sin

Evolution and Original Sin Evolution and Original Sin steve martin A discussion on Evolution and the Christian theology of Original Sin.