The first two lines of my book, Stuff Christians Like are, “If you buy this book, God will make you rich. I was going to say, ‘If you read this book,’ but I’m pretty sure people who get it at the library won’t receive the same amount of awesomeness as people who buy it.”
I wrote that as a joke, but also as a stern reminder that when it comes to the book Stuff Christians Like, you should buy it in triplicate or “wheelbarrow-full” instead of getting it at the library. What you really shouldn’t do is photocopy the entire thing, a feat that would admittedly require an industrial stapler and the strength of former World’s Strongest Man, Magnus ver Magnusson. As an author, I don’t really have to worry about people bootlegging my book. Unlike music, no one can easily make a copy of the entire book. Even if they did, they would feel a tremendous amount of guilt because every Christian knows it’s ten times worse to bootleg Christian materials than it is non-Christian.
I learned this a few years ago when a friend brought home a few pirated movies he purchased in a rough section of Atlanta. Some of them looked good and you could actually enjoy the film. Some though looked like the time Kramer bootlegged a movie on Seinfeld. It was just one shaky handed gentleman holding a camera in a crowded theater. People walked through the shot, kids were talking, someone sneezed. It was horrible.
I didn’t have a problem looking through his collection of movies until I came to the last one. Guess what it was?
“The Passion of the Christ.”
“Oh no,” I remember thinking, “I’m pretty sure we’re allowed to bootleg secular stuff, even though cool people no longer say that word, but we’re not supposed to bootleg Christian stuff. I think that’s in the book of Joel maybe.”
The distinction I drew in my head was ridiculous. Whether it’s a Christian piece of media or not isn’t the real issue. I shouldn’t bootleg any of it. But maybe it’s no longer a problem now that there are so many legitimate ways to listen to music for free. Pandora, Grooveshark, and YouTube make it easy to sample stuff you want to buy. And a lot of artists actually give away whole albums these days.
Am I the only one who ever felt extra weird burning a Christian CD? Did you ever photocopy some Bible study plan you know you should have purchased instead and thought, “I hope there’s not a verse in there about not stealing?”
Am I the only one who has ever thought this way?