Archive Jake Meador Nota Bene

Jason Hood Reviews “The Zimzum of Love”

This review in Books & Culture on Rob and Kristen Bell’s marriage book The Zimzum of Love is solid gold:

The following is an edited transcript from the Summer 2011 editorial meeting of the Shadow Government of Religious Publishing, known in the industry as ShGoRP. The acronym rhymes with “corp.” as in “corporation,” which is probably just an accident.

Executive 1: “We’re in a crisis. Numbers are down. Bart Ehrman isn’t going to make back his advance. Dan Brown-style conspiracy has run its course.”

Executive 2: “What about Americanized Eastern religion? We can always go back to that well. Wayne Dyer, peace be upon him, is still on PBS.”

Executive 3: “Okay, but we need a fresh angle.”

Exec 2: “We need to make it practical. I’ve always felt like we aren’t connected enough to real life. Diet books and couples yoga books, that’s all we’ve really had. And if we hit something practical, like marriage … don’t forget, rich people who buy books are usually married.”

Exec 1: “Good point. Let’s work that marriage angle. Do we have anything in the pipeline?”

Exec 2: “I had a proposal last month from an assistant prof at UCSD, a feminist who is fighting porn culture. She pitched a self-help marriage book that uses the Four Noble Truths to teach resistance to desire, even in marriage. She was inspired by Gandhi’s celibate marriage and the way in which he used to lie with naked young girls trying to exercise self-control by not getting aroused. She has her husband ogle her nude body and resist arousal. They also commit to total silence every other month in an effort to resist the desire to communicate.”

Executive 3: “Interesting, but it won’t sell. We need something pro-sex and pro-communication. And we need the veneer of Eastern religion but not the substance. Something that sounds Eastern, but isn’t.”

Executive 2: “And it’s got to be practical. The polls are telling us we are perceived as too esoteric and too out of touch, not practical enough.”

Minion tentatively takes a stab: “Evangelicals. They love practical. They love sex.”

Executive 3: “Not our market, and I highly doubt they ‘love sex’. I know you’re just an intern, but you should’ve had a trigger-warning inserted into the pre-meeting memo before you mentioned evangelicals. God, the fact you brought them up is not just naïve, it’s microaggression.”

Executive 1, gently: “It’s not her fault we bought their publishing houses. And those people do buy books. And their sex books really ship.”

Minion takes the lifeline from Exec 1 and puts all her chips on the table: “Sure. And look at what they buy.” Pulls up charts on iPad. “Apart from the sex manuals and a shocking number of Greek grammars and Bible dictionaries, these people buy touchy-feely. They read Amish romances by the buggy-load. They love experiential, emotional material, straight from Jesus, if they can get it, like Sarah Young. They love practical. Just look at Osteen.”

By Jake Meador

Jake Meador is a writer and editor from Lincoln NE and a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He curates the Notes section of Mere Orthodoxy and serves on the editorial board of the journal Fare Forward.

His writing has appeared in Books & Culture, Christianity Today, First Things, and Front Porch Republic.

Jake lives in his hometown of Lincoln NE with his wife and two kids. He is also the creator of the Inside Channel, a soccer magazine and email newsletter.