In the Ghetto…

Nope, not the Elvis song! I hear these horror stories about the Christian ghetto “where sanitized saints…separate from the world and keep safely out of its way.” Sometimes, I’m not sure what to make of them. But today, I had my own “ghetto experience,” and it was kind of comical and a little tragic at the same time. Here’s the deal…

I was looking for a “slimline” version of the Bible to tuck into my briefcase, so I headed off to our local ghetto. I headed over to the Bible section and began to look around at all the different translations and versions and editions (Yes, the US Marines, Little League coaches, and women executives all have their own edition…go figure!). Anyway, I had decided to get either a New Living Translation or The Message: Remix, depending on which one was the thinnest and took the least space.

I found an NLT that was just about perfect, except I didn’t really want it in black (I know, picky, picky!). I also found a hardcover edition of Remix. I gathered these two and headed over to the customer service counter to ask if there were any others beside the ones on the shelf.

The very nice, very friendly woman said, “No, what’s out is pretty much what we have. Maybe you missed some in that section. Let’s go take a look!”

OK, I thought. Maybe I did miss some. She took the two I had in hand and off we went!

“Why are you looking for these particular Bibles?” she asked. Then this…

“You do know this one (holding up The Message: Remix) is just somebody’s paraphrase, don’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied.

“Well, why do you want this particular one?” she asked again.

“Because it has the verses marked in it,” I said.

She had that disgusted kind of look, and then put it back on the shelf! Holding the black NLT, she said, “And this one…well…this one…um…this one is not a word-for word translation, you know. If I were you, I don’t think this one would be my first choice. Do you have a good English study Bible?”

I tried to conceal my laughter. “Yes, ma’am, I actually have several good English study Bibles. I’m looking for one to stuff in my briefcase.”

She wasn’t through yet! “Well, you really ought to re-think these Bibles, because they aren’t as literal as some of the others. They kind of stray away from the usual text. I’d just hate to see you get something that doesn’t have the right language in it.”

At this point, I don’t know which was annoying me more – her condescension toward the NLT and The Message, or the fact that the salesperson was actually trying to talk me out of a purchase!

So I did what every self-respecting annoyed pastor would do, I guess. I said, “Thanks for your concern, but when I really, really want to check out the right language, I break out my Hebrew and Greek editions. I’m just looking for a Bible in one of those translations that won’t take up a lot of space in my briefcase.”

She put the black NLT back on the shelf, and picked up a “gift and award” edition of the New King James Version! “This may be more what you’re looking for,” she said. I thanked her, and said I’d just take the black NLT after all.

We got to the counter, and of course, she asked if I had a “Perks” discount card. I pulled my “Pastor Perks” card out and I thought her jaw was going to drop! Literally! She started backpedaling and stammering and apologizing profusely! As though it was OK for me to get something “different” since I was one of the “anointed” or something.

Anyway, pretty funny to me…

Guess I should stick to my “own” ghetto from now on. Naaah…don’t even get me started there!