Banned Books Week

We have come to the end of Banned Books Week, where avid readers everywhere band together to protest the idea of banning books (or more accurately, to celebrate books they love that have been banned by having readings and themed parties). Books are banned and protested for a sundry of reasons, reasons we sympathize with and some we certainly do not sympathize with. But even when it comes to books we don’t think are appropriate, movements for the outright, absolute banishment of these books from libraries or from Christian society is rarely helpful. Such movements cause division over matters which are disputable and sometimes simply draw more attention to and raise more interest in the book a particular group is trying to get rid of.

Often, books are banned by people who haven’t read them and do not understand them; people simply join the banned books bandwagon. And while fight or flight may be more natural, only the act of humbly engaging is constructive. We are called to act in creative and redemptive ways as we pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is essential to engage, not merely absorb or avoid, books (and ideas) that scare and/or anger us, books that feel wholly foreign to us. Although—for of a variety of factors, not the least of which because each of us has our own sin-issues particular to our personality and set of experiences—not everyone will be able to engage with everything at the same level. And it’s the which and by whom and the how that requires more individual discernment than broad banishings. Even when you cannot personally engage by reading this or that book for whatever reason, abiding an attitude of general engagement as a member of the Body of Christ fosters that humility-infused unity so foundational to our new life.

As we celebrate Banned Books Week here at Probe, we invite you to chew with us on the questions such an acknowledgment brings to the table. We’d love to hear your thoughts, and as always, keep reading.

  • What are some constructive alternatives to calling for book bans? ie. discussion forum, panel discussion (even at the library in question) or for a meeting of the PTA
  • Should a Christian pause and ask, Am I being retributive to “those liberals” and others who certainly ban Christian or conservative viewpoints? Is that something that promises to be profitable, biblically speaking? Is it a Christlike motive?
  • While understandably fighting for convictions, could I be guilty of inappropriately imposing my own personal convictions on others? How could this be detrimental or even wrong to do with non-believers? With believers?
  • Would it be more profitable to read and discuss the book in question with my children and even others’ kids w/parental permission (perhaps with some blocking of objectionable portions) than to rail against the author, message or library?
  • Am I giving the Enemy a foothold for bitterness in me or my kids? In onlookers?
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4 Responses to Banned Books Week

  1. Pingback: Flashback Friday: Banned Books | speak what we feel

  2. jesseadler says:

    I think in reading choosing is inherent. What really bothers me about banned books is (and I’m getting angry just typing this) that it’s not about choosing not to read something – it’s about taking that right from others – making that choice for them. Controlling them.

    It’s notable that books on the banned list are often masterpieces of litterateur that often don’t fearure the convenient or conventional view people are trying to get others to believe.

    “While understandably fighting for convictions, could I be guilty of putting my own personal convictions on others inappropriately?” I think not. Let them read the synopsis. If the don’t want to hear what’s contained therein they can spend their money on something else.

    Rant over!

    • reneamac says:

      Thanks, Jesse. I’m a bit confused by your “I think not” statement. It seems from your comment that you agree that banning books, taking away the choice for others, is generally an inappropriate imposition of one’s personal convictions on other free agents. (I think the question was worded in a confusing way; hopefully that’s been corrected.)

      Anyway, thanks for “speaking what you feel” about banned books. I couldn’t agree more.

      • jesseadler says:

        Hello – I think the problem is my ineptitude with punctuation and double negatives. Books should not be banned – we should all be free to choose what we read for ourselves 🙂

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