Hey, Zondervan: Next time try more kitsch

GetReligion fell silent last week on the several stories about Rolling Stone rejecting an ad for Today's New International Version Bible. Why? I was stunned into silence by Rolling Stone executives' discomfort about the words "real truth." I found their decision beyond parody, beyond snark, beyond righteous or unrighteous indignation.

Well, thank God for Cathleen Falsani of the Chicago Sun-Times, who has unearthed this story's ironies and turned them into a fine column.

These are my favorite paragraphs:

A spokeswoman for Rolling Stone told me they wouldn't comment on the Bible brouhaha, but she stayed on the phone long enough to say that a USA Today article quoting Kent Brownridge, general manager of Wenner Media, which owns Rolling Stone, was accurate.

"It doesn't quite feel right in the magazine," Brownridge told USA Today. "We are not in the business of publishing advertising for religious messages."

This from a magazine that famously and for years published notices for the Universal Life Church's mail-order ordination in its classified ads.

. . . [Zondervan executies] asked for the magazine's no-religious-advertising-only policy in writing. And they're still waiting.

Maybe if the religious message is appropriately sarcastic or kitschy, it doesn't count. This would explain the presence of a small ad for T-shirts emblazoned with a cartoon Jesus -- crown of thorns, arms outstretched -- and the words "Put down the drugs and come get a hug" on page 71 of Rolling Stone's Jan. 26 issue.

Perhaps Rolling Stone honchos were worried that an ad for a Bible would somehow blow the cool.

Sadly, that ship has already sailed, having been launched (if it hadn't been years earlier, as many argue) when "American Idol" star Clay Aiken graced its cover on July 10, 2003.

Update: The Jan. 25 USA Today brings news that Rolling Stone will accept the ad after all and has issued a standard mistakes-were-made apology. Cathy Lynn Grossman reports:

"We have addressed the internal miscommunications that led to the previous misstatement of company policy and apologize for any confusion it may have caused," Lisa Dallos, spokeswoman for Wenner Media, Rolling Stone's parent company, said Monday. She declined to elaborate.

This story joins thousands of others in the "Uproar = Free Advertising" category:

"We're frankly thrilled that Rolling Stone has decided to accept our ad," said Paul Caminiti, Zondervan's president of Bible publishing.

. . . Meanwhile, the controversy has driven such demand for TNIV, Caminiti said, that Zondervan will be moving it into stores ahead of schedule.

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