The Importance of Cultural Knowledge

by Ian on May 29, 2008

We just got our latest issue of Christian Retailing magazine and as I was flipping through pages I saw a very incongruous book cover. The book is an evangelical title on asking for and receiving the blessings God promises. The funny thing is that the cover features this work of art:

The Angelus by Millet

No big deal, right? It’s just two peasants praying in a field. Well, if you are an Evangelical this picture should give you fits. The title of the painting is “The Angelus”. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Angelus, it is a prayer that traditionally is prayed several times a day asking Mary to pray for us:

The Angel of the lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.
Hail Mary, etc.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.

And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.

Pray for us O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray
Pour forth we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection through the same christ our lord. Amen

If you are an Evangelical, this is certainly not something you would want on the cover of your book. Fortunately, cultural literacy is so low today that there is very little chance anyone who isn’t Catholic will actually catch the problem with the cover.

But this goof should get you thinking about the items you sell in your store. Do you really have any idea about some of the art and books you sell? Do you know what some of the great works of Catholic art and literature are? If you want to be a true expert that can help customers, you have to develop a deep knowledge of not only the product you sell but the history and tradition behind it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

robert curtis May 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm

recently a woman was kicked off a christian women’s blog when itwasfound outshe wasa catholic. my friend pursued the person in charge’s website, only to find her recommended reading list on which was C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce which is, of course about Purgatory, in which Lewis had come to believe. Had he lived longer, I think he would have joined Chesterton and Muggeridge as one of England’s stellar converts. No replies please. Lewis was Anglican, I know. Still 3 of his books on the top-ten Catholic paperback list speaks quite loudly. I myself am Catholic and his books are a mainstay in my library.


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