People have written whole books on this topic–both the whys and hows–so a teeny little blog post will not even make a dent! That’s why Megan and I plan to write lots of blog posts about it…. (in all our abundant spare time, of course). We were blessed by the Lord (and I mean that!) in attending Covenant College where our professors constantly challenged us to view the world through the lens of Scripture. Then, we were blessed by the Lord (again, I mean that!) to be able to attend Hollins University together for our MA’s in Children’s Literature; through that experience, we helped sharpen each other’s skills and continue to do so to this day. Since Hollins, we have been blessed by the Lord in being part of communities, both libraries and schools, that supported this type of literary analysis and provided us with extra tools in our tool belt. We hope to share some of this with you through this blog. We are also raising young children (5 and 1 on the way between the 2 of us–all 5 years old and under), loving our husbands, seeking to serve our local congregations, managing our homes…. and this blog must come after those pursuits. Our other contributors have similar home callings.
That being said, I’d like to throw out a few preliminary thoughts. I am taking a Young Adult Resources class this summer as part of my library/information science degree, and I am gaining increased familiarity with both what is available to our young people as well as with how the world thinks about this literature. I’ve been wrestling with how to look at these books through my Christian “glasses.” Everyone has a worldview, and it colors how he or she thinks, acts, interprets, believes–no matter what the stimuli, a worldview (or glasses) is in effect. As believers, we need to be sure that the pair of glasses with which we view the world contains the prescription of the Word of God. And I am struggling with how to apply the Word to some of the books I’ve read that my colleagues are praising so highly:
- Am I just being Victorian in my sensibilities?
- Is there some merit to some of these books despite some of the flaws?
- How should we be handling some of the hard things in life when they crop up in literature?
- How much do we describe in the book and how much do we leave to the reader’s imagination?
- Is there any topic off limits?
- How can we, as Christians, help redeem the image the library world has of us? (Trust me, folks, it ain’t pretty! Who do you think has been responsible for (often nastily or seemingly naively) challenging the most books? Even burning books? You guessed it: people who claim to be Christians.)
- How can we be a light in this dark world?
I hope to explore some of these issues this summer and invite any and all comments from the peanut gallery! Some Scripture came to mind this morning that has direct bearing on these issues, and I’ll leave you with them. As I wrote in “Messy Books,” I do not think Scripture prohibits us reading books that deal with the sinful side of life, but I think the treatment of that messier side of life should be closely examined.
Romans 12: 2
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
2 Corinthians 10:5
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,