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December 28, 2006

 In the News

photo of Cannon's Old Time Bible House, Eureka

There's an almost tragic irony in a Bible bookstore closing its doors the day before Christmas Eve, but this was the position in which Cannon's Old Time Bible House on Wabash Street in Eureka found itself last week. The Bible House is what is usually called a Christian Bookstore, the type of place where you can buy Bibles (naturally), Christian T-shirts and bumper stickers and books by the heavyweights of the evangelical world, such as James Dobson, T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer.

The eponymous Tim Cannon, an easygoing, goateed man working the register, didn't seem in bad spirits on the second-to-last day of the store's existence. Clad in a T-shirt and jeans, he cheerfully recommended authors and gave advice about large-print Bibles to the few patrons who had managed to crowd into the retail space.

Even though the Old Time Bible House, a green, squarish building with bars on its windows, looks like a good-sized structure, passersby might not (as I didn't) realize that about 80 percent of the space is actually Living Water Pentecostal Fellowship, where Cannon is pastor. The bookstore -- at least in its everything-must-go incarnation -- is tiny, and only about four people can shop comfortably.

The inventory was nearly depleted, but as of last Thursday, one could still find the flagship books and CDs of evangelicalism in America that probably aren't available elsewhere in Eureka. A copy of Hal Lindsey's apocalyptic-panic classic The Late Great Planet Earth nestled next to C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The surprisingly hip music section included, along with a few compilations with names like "Godrock," CDs and cassettes (yes, Christian bookstores always have cassettes!) by sophisticated, thoughtful artists such as Rich Mullins, Kevin Max and PFR. You could get an audio-drama version of The Mark, one of the popular Left Behind series, on CD.

According to Cannon, the shop had barely been breaking even for two years, and shutting it down will allow his church to add a room for kids. "I'd rather have a Sunday School classroom," he said.

It isn't as if Bibles will no longer be available in Eureka, but there was a kind of gentle intimacy to the place that seems a loss. When I was a dollar short for my cassette purchase, an old Christian rock album, the only other customer offered Cannon a bill on my behalf. "I want to bless you," she said to one or both of us. But Cannon had just swiped my debit card. "Too late, I ran it already," he said. "It's OK."

-- Joel Hartse

Joel Hartse writes on music for the Sacramento News & Review, the Portland Mercury and the Times-Standard.


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