If you’ve been in the store recently you’ve probably noticed some new faces among the staff. One of those staff, Christopher Cuffman, is also the new face on this blog. Here’s a little bit about him:
Louis: Tell us a little about your new position with Baker.
Christopher: My title is “Academic, Bible, and Catholic Buyer.” I’ve been finding that it can be tricky to explain to people what exactly that means! Basically, I do all of the store’s buying for the Academic Department (which includes books related to theology, biblical study, biblical commentary, Bible reference, history, comparative religions, and the like), the Bible Department (which includes accessories and covers), and the Roman Catholic Department (which includes various Catholic-interest books, kids books, Bibles, and icons). My desk is out on the sales floor, so I also answer a lot of customer questions about our books and Bibles–and everything else.
What has surprised you most about your new position?
Every day is different! Some days are filled with ordering and phone calls, while others have me busy with organization or customer assistance. I generally start my day with a to-do list, but rarely do I get to very much on it due to the unpredictable nature of the job. Fortunately, though, I’m finding it all to be fun and challenging!
What vision do you have for the department?
My desire is for the department(s) to be not only robust in terms of the quality and breadth of what we have available, but to also to be tuned to the needs of our community here in West Michigan. I want Baker to continue to be a place where people can be equipped with the tools they need, have their questions answered, and their feedback heard. Listen and learn, inform, and equip—that’s basically how I view my role with the department.
What is your educational background?
I attended NorthPointe Christian Schools here in Grand Rapids where I was fortunate to have had some wonderful teachers who whet my appetite for theology and biblical study. I’m currently taking classes toward a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies through Grand Canyon University, but frankly I find that most of my learning takes place through the more informal means of reading and listening
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Some of the authors who have had the greatest impact on my thinking are James Boice, Mike Horton, Philip Jenkins, C.S. Lewis, J.I. Packer, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Cornelius Van Til, Michael Card, and N.T. Wright.
What subjects interest you the most?
When I took this position my wife was a tad concerned that I wouldn’t have time to feed all of my reading interests, because my interests really are quite varied. I’ve found that I can’t learn about one thing without it changing how I think about everything else, so I explore a lot of different corners. Recently, though, my preferred subjects have included the church’s mission, cultural critique, studies in the Torah, hermeneutics, racial dynamics in the church and society, and the nature of the atonement.
Will you be continuing the blog?
Indeed, I will, and I’m very excited about it! I can only hope to one day be as illustrious and knowledgeable as my predecessor, but I will indeed by forging ahead with the blog.
What kinds of posts would you like to do most?
I’ll continue doing posts pertaining to new books as well as ones about what I’m currently reading. I’m also interested in doing some posts about current events and conversations taking place in the church at large. While I will interject my own thoughts and opinions where appropriate, my main goal will be to inform and connect people to resources.
Will you continue to do the book giveaways?
Name a couple of books you’ve enjoyed the most in the past year.
Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ by Thomas F. Torrance was a fascinating read. The way it embraced the mystery of Christ’s atonement and resisted emphasizing any one “theory” at the expense of the bigger picture was refreshing and very helpful.
Bruce Shelley’s Church History in Plain Language was a very solid overview of the major people, ideas, and movements within the history of Christianity. Really enjoyed it.
And this one isn’t so much of an academic book, but Counter Culture by David Platt was a helpful take on what obedience to Christ looks like in the midst of a culture such as ours. Our culture’s opinions and stated values are changing at such a rate that many of the issues discussed in this year-and-a-half-old book are already outdated. But the attitude of obedience and the root of the Gospel are not, and that’s what makes it a good read.