The Growing Interest in Spiritual Things

If the New York Times bestseller lists are any indication, people are more interested in spiritual things now than ever.

Man with outstretched arms

I can’t remember a single time when there have been more Christian books on the New York Times bestseller lists. The April 20, 2008 list, which is published on the Internet one week in advance of the print version, has eleven Christian books on the various lists. This is huge. I can’t remember a time when there were more.

Here are the books. Disclaimer: The fact that I list the book is not an endorsement of the book. Caveat emptor. (If you want to purchase a particular book, visit your local Christian retailer.)

This, of course, doesn’t include other “spiritual books” that some wouldn’t consider “evangelical.” These include:

As I said, I can’t remember a time when people have been more interested in spiritual things. This is good news for Christian publishers and good news for Christian retailers. Despite what we hear through the media, we should take heart. This is a moment in time that I believe is very significant and very unique.

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  • http://www.michaellgooch.com Michael L. Gooch

    I really enjoyed the way this article presents the case for a reawakening of spirituality in the world. After several decades of ‘punching in’ each day, I have noticed that more businesses are discovering the ancient secret of living life for a higher calling thereby bringing all the pieces in place. The connection between business success and business failure is obvious to those who want to scratch beneath the surface. In my new HR book, Wingtips with Spurs (not on the above bestseller list – dang!), the longest chapter in the book is devoted to the spirit and the successful career. It also covers the connectiveness of our actions and the important of spiritual wisdom.
    If you find spiritual beliefs contrary to science, then spiritual beliefs are viewed as measly superstitions and fallacies. This popular view is simply wrong. Science and religion operate under vastly different parameters. In my management book, Wingtips with Spurs: Lessons From the Ranch, I devote an entire chapter in this ‘business’ book to the connection of business success and aiming for a higher calling. In spite all of the majesty and awe that the scientific world inspires, science is not designed to answer the questions that religion asks. Nor should we use religion to fill in the ‘God of the gaps.’ Religion should embrace science as it improves our ability to explain how God put things together. Indeed, elites of organized religions hate the efforts to seek a scientific context for the appreciation of spiritual phenomena. They seek to control humanity with doctrine and dogma. Science in its intellectual, methodical, peer-reviewed processes can deepen our wonder and amazement at the power of God. Instead of warring factions, the two sides should encourage each other. I saw a newspaper headline recently that read, “Darwin vs. God, Round 2007: Kansas Declares Darwin Winner.” This is wrong on many levels. Splashy headlines are one thing; gross irresponsibility is another. I cannot stress it enough. God and science are not at odds. They never have been. Francis S. Collins, the scientist who lead the Human Genome Project, stated it best when he said, “Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced.”

  • Anne Rice

    You’re right. There are so many books right now about religion, and about faith on the NYT list. And everywhere I go in this country, in support of my novel CHRIST THE LORD, THE ROAD TO CANA, I find believers. We are not a post-Christian nation, not by any means, and anyone who thinks so is simply out of touch. People care passionately about their faith and how it informs their lives and their every decision. Becoming a Christian writer, focusing on Our Lord and His Life, has greatly strengthened my own faith and commitment, but no small part of it has to do with those I meet everywhere with the same concerns. Thanks for your kind words. Anne Rice.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Anne,

    Thanks for your comments. I have been so amazed—and pleased—to see your writing go in this direction and your audience follow. I think it is a testimony to the strength of your writing. You have a platform that very few Christian writers will ever know.

    Blessings,

    Mike

  • http://spiritual.thinkingpal.com Spiritual Pal

    Hi Michael,
    Pardon me, I am not a formal Christian. But glad to say that my religion accepts Christianity as authentic.

    About the “God of gaps” thingy: Most religious explanations are not explanations of “gaps” in human explanations, but explanations of “ultimatums”. What say?

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com Larry Shallenberger

    Anne,

    Thank you for your novel. Your closing remarks launched me on a love affair with Wright’s theology.

    At Michael,

    You included Buckingham as a spiritual writer. I appreciate the strength-based approach but don’t see it as intrinsically spiritual. What am I missing?

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    I was about to add Anne’s book to your list when you did it. Very cool to see she posted too! I’ve got the book on order. I’m a huge fan of her vampire books too.

    I’ve noticed this interest in spiritual things in people in general. They seem more willing to ask questions and have genuine interest. People are also interested in the differences of beliefs between us. I have some Amish friends and we often talk about our differences and our similarities.

  • http://emuelle1.spaces.live.com Eric S. Mueller

    I didn’t realize “Now, Discover Your Strengths” was considered a Christian book. When I started a new job last month, I was given a copy of the book and asked to take the “StrengthFinder” test. I took the test, but haven’t read much of the book yet.

  • Tim

    You might want to review the New York Times Best Seller list dated October 21, 2007.
    It had even more- a total of 12 Christian titles w/o Mother Teresa, Language of God, and Secret Life of Bees, etc..—>

    It’s All About Him by Denise Jackson is #33 on the hardcover non-fiction list.
    Signs of Life by David Jeremiah is #10 on the hardcover advice, how-to, misc. list.
    Thank You Power by Deborah Norville is #13 on the hardcover advice, how-to, misc. list.
    Inside My Heart by Robin McGraw is #12 on the paperback advice, how-to, misc. list
    Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge is #14 on the paperback advice, how-to, misc. list
    Quiet Strength is #12 on nonfiction list
    The Parting is #8 on paperback fiction list
    Summer is #25 on paperback fiction list
    90 Minutes in Heaven is #3 on paperback nonfiction list
    Reposition Yourself is #5 on hardcover advice, how-to, misc. list.
    The Five Love Languages is #5 on the paperback advice, how-to, misc. list
    Purpose Driven Life is #7 on the paperback advice, how-to, misc. list
    ———–
    Mother Teresa Come Be My Light is #14 on nonfiction list
    The Language of God is #18 on paperback nonfiction list
    Secret Life of Bees

  • http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com aart

    Hello!

    I’m a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He’s the first best-selling
    author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:
    http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com

    Have a nice day!

    Aart

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    Tim,

    Thanks for this information from the October 21, 2007 NYT lists. I guess this proves that last weekend wasn’t an anomaly. I believe this is part of the current cultural fabric.

    With regard to Marcus Buckingham, we have signed a new three-book contract with him. While the book is not Christian per se, it is written from that worldview—which is exactly how I would define “Christian book.”

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.brandilyncollins.com Brandilyn Collins

    Yes. And I don’t think it’s just in books. I see this in music, in the media, TV and movies. And–I don’t know if I’m just more aware or what–but it seems everywhere I go, I run into Christians. On the plane, in a store, in a business. We can look at this country and see so much turning away from God. Yet in the midst of that, He seems to be reaping quite a harvest. Go, God!

  • http://www.davidpleach.com davidpleach

    Mike,
    A good list and excellent observation. This “Christian worldview” thing, thought, is fuzzy. Your analysis has made “evangelical” as a subset of “spiritual,” but have included Buckingham’s decidedly non-spiritual work as part of a larger “Christian worldview” tent. If Christian worldview is the largest tent and big enough to include a business book without an intrinsically spiritual content, then Rice, Lamott, anything written by Garrison Keillor, any bishop of the Episcopal Church, or contributors to both Christianity Today AND The Christian Century should be included as part of a “Christian worldview.” Such a big tent may not work for a particular denomination, but it could work for a publisher seeking to illuminate the entire breadth and depth Christian faith and practice.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    David,

    You may be right. But the point is that, even if we throw that book out, there still is significant interest in books of a spiritual nature.

    For what we consider to be congruent with our Christian worldview at Thomas Nelson, see this blog post I made a while back.

    Thanks,

    Mike

  • http://www.davidpleach.com davidpleach

    Indeed. And it is encouraging to see that at the moment, most of the titles draw from Christian perspective. My apologies for finding a reason to locate a tangent and go off on it :-)

  • http://www.larryshallenberger.com Larry Shallenberger

    Congrats on signing Buckingham. And thanks for blurring the artificial lines between sacred and secular.

  • http://www.spiritofthescripture.com/blog Joshua Tilghman

    Michael, this is very good news indeed. Even tough I no longer share  the traditional christian mindset, I still respect that point of view and think it is a step in the right direction. We are spiritual beings having a spiritual experience, so it is good to see people discovering their roots again. Since I am writing on this post a few years after you compsosed it,  I can still say you’re right on!