Forget merchants in the temple, now, the merchants have become the temple.
The week, proving that when it comes to whoring out faith on the altar of Mammon, plenty of popular writers and speakers are willing to play the pimp: Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. They've followed the cash-cow 12 part "most expensive tract of all time" Left Behind series with at least two prequels.
Chalk Left Behind up in the same category as the Mantra of Jabez, "Jesus is my Homeboy," WWJD and Thomas Kinkade. Though that estimation probably isn't completely fair to whoever came up with the homeboy line, since he probably posesses more artistic nuance than is expressed in Left Behind.
The efficacy of the tract style approach to evangelism aside, what's the point of making someone buy 12 books at at least $20 each, if saving lost souls is the true goal? It would be interesting to see what would have happened if all the time, money and energy poured into these mediocre pieces of fiction had been channeled instead into Christians actually getting out of their comfort zone and engaging our culture? Is the church in America really so theologically atrophied that the only way we can present Christ to our friends and relatives is to buy them a series of books that read like a primate transcribed Clancy, Steele, and Chicken Soup for the Soul into twelve oversized tomes? It's about time the church got righteously indignant--as Christ did in the temple--and stand up to those who transmute our religion into some goddamned commericial enterprise and tell them we don't need more mediocre watered down representations of faith, we need committed, well-trained Christians ministering to the world.
For more thoughts on this trend, from Franky Schaeffer, see my previous post.