The top-sellers could fill an interfaith bookshelf: Rabbi HaroldKushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," the Dalai Lama's "AnOpen Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life," Huston Smith's "TheWorld's Religions," Karen Armstrong's "A History of God: The 4,000-YearQuest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam"; and "Chicken Soup for theUnsinkable Soul: Stories of Triumphing Over Life's Obstacles."

While some book tours have been canceled or postponed, best-sellingChristian author Max Lucado decided to stick with plans for his firsttour of mainstream bookstores during the first week of October. Threehundred people showed up for an Oct. 1 signing in Waldorf, Md., for hisnew book, "Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were NeverIntended to Bear." The book interprets Psalm 23, the biblical poem thatPresident Bush quoted when he addressed the nation on the evening ofSept. 11.

"It's been a time of ministry with people in the stores," said RonLand, senior vice president of corporate sales for Thomas NelsonPublishers, the Nashville, Tenn.-based publisher of Lucado's book.

"He prays with them and the stores have been very open to that. It'sa very unique time in the country to be able to go into general marketbookstores and have a lot of folks that want to be reassured and beprayed for."

In an interview just before the tour, Lucado said he expects bookswill be a continuing resource.

"The power of books is they speak to people when they want to bespoken to," he said. "I think a book, ... anything in the realm ofspiritual comfort, is going to be a real popular tool that people aregoing to use in the next few months."

And retailers aren't just selling books to customers reacting to thecrisis.

"Stores are telling me that people are buying a lot of worship andpraise music, finding that to be very soothing and to be encouraging,"said Bill Anderson, president of CBA, the Colorado Springs, Colo.-basedtrade organization for the Christian retail industry. "There's so muchScripture in many of those songs, it's a great way for them to take itin."

In addition to music, mainstream and Christian stores are sellingT-shirts, many with themes about patriotism and prayer.

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    Kerusso Activewear, a 15-year-old Christian apparel company, isrushing to fill orders for T-shirts with both Christian and secularthemes. Some shirts aimed at the general market quote President Bushwhile others headed to Christian stores quote the Bible. A "God BlessAmerica" shirt comes with or without a verse from Psalms that reads"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."
  • The Berryville, Ark., company has been on double shifts and has hadto enlist other printers to help fill the demand.

    "It has been over and above our ability to fill the needs thatquickly," said Vic Kennett, president of Kerusso Activewear.

    Publishers also are fielding requests for older publications thatfit the times, in addition to more recent ones.

    "We also had ... an old back issue of a magazine that dealt withanger and folks are asking for that again," said Sherry Elliott,marketing director of Upper Room Ministries, a United Methodistpublishing company in Nashville, Tenn., that specializes in books anddevotional magazines.


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