Philip F. Lawler
Phil is the editor of, which brings you daily news headlines from a Catholic perspective. He is the author of The Faithful Departed, a history of the Church in Boston and the scandal of the abuse of children by priests.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

plain brown wrapper?

It's happened again. A friend of a friend-- we'll call him Mr. A-- asked about The Faithful Departed in a Catholic bookstore, and was told the store didn't carry the book. When Mr. A asked why, the sales clerk replied quite honestly that his boss didn't want to cause any trouble with his bishop.

Mr. A persisted a bit, telling the clerk that he'd heard good things about my book. At that point the clerk, after glancing over his shoulder, leaned over the counter and said that he'd read the book, liked the book, and just happened to have a copy available for sale-- not on the shelves, but right there under the counter.

So Mr. A got his copy, the bookstore got its sale, and I'll get my commission. Everybody's happy, right?

Yet I can't help thinking that something is wrong-- yes, even morally wrong-- when a store sells a book that it won't allow on display.

(I don't want to identify the bookstore, because I don't want to cause trouble for the clerk. It was not the National Shrine bookstore-- where the same sort of thing was happening a few months ago-- but it was a store located in a major East Coast city.)

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