One of the glorious features of the USA is that the only criterion for getting anything, or indeed getting admitted to anything, is money. If you have the cash, they’ll let you do it. Take the biggest book display on earth – in the area of religion theology and biblical studies. It was a veritable theme park, with all sorts of wonderful people hawking their wares. The fact that this was my sixth conference in about five weeks meant that my mind was wired to enjoy this other, fascinating dimension at the book display.

To begin with, I was intrigued by the logo of IVP Press. Must be an Aussie who designed this one:

Missionary position, anyone?

Then there were the friendly people from ‘Ravel Unravel’, waiting expectantly for a string of religion scholars to sit behind a camera, answer four questions and promptly find themselves on the internet:

For some strange reason, no one was tempted. Then I met the lovely, quiet Buddhist man, hoping to sell one book and offering free pins. I loved it.

Of course, there is an ‘I’ in the Dalai Lama, who was present at the meeting, vying for attention with Heerak Christian Kim.

Deep …

Not to be missed was the intriguing project:

That should reshape the whole debate over secularism.

And then I met the founder and (to my knowledge only member) of the International Nimbarka Society.

I dream of having hair like that. He was a little nonplussed, though, when I mentioned that my main interest these days is Marxism and religion.

However, the highlight was the ‘Simple Truth’ stand. Here one began by throwing cloth balls (that’s Sean Burt) …

… into the mouth of a green frog:

One then fished for a Bible verse with a fishing rod, after which and depending on how many balls the frog swallowed, one was given either a beautiful badge:

Or an absolute must, a mobile phone screen cleaner:

Or a ‘tote bag’:

Or best of all – a t-shirt:

That’s pretty much my Christmas shopping done.

So enthused was I after my first visit that I brought others to undergo the stimulating experience:

That’s Tripp Fuller of ‘Homebrewed Christianity‘ (who interviewed me for a podcast), Jeremy Rollins and Clayton Crockett, both theologians.

The caption at the top left is, um, somewhat appropriate. By this time, the people at the stand began to know me rather well, welcoming me back with a smile.

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