Friday, July 16, 2010

It's just fiction ... not a world-changing book!

There's another blogger that I really enjoy reading.  Jonathan Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like.  He's got a book out and even shows up every once in awhile to write a column for CNN about Christians. He writes a lot of satire and if you don't like that, you aren't going to like his stuff.  But, if you can keep a bit of an open mind, you will sometimes laugh and other times cringe when you recognize yourself in his writing.

Yesterday he wrote a post called "Hating Harry Potter, giving Gandalf a free pass."  Holy smokes.  I loved this.

A few years ago, my pastor came into my office with an email that he had received asking Christians to boycott the movie "Golden Compass" because the author questioned the authenticity of Christianity.  Well, what he was actually going after was the strictures that the 'church' places on us, but when it comes down to an author questioning faith, it is not something we should vehemently oppose ... it's a challenge we as Christians should be ready to address.

When Dan Brown came out with the "DaVinci Code," an entire subgenre of books were written to combat the ideas he set forth in that bit of fiction!

I love to read fiction - all kinds of fiction.  It has been an integral part of my life since I was very, very young.  Fiction has helped me define the world.  It opens my mind to new possibilities and exposes me to the thoughts and ideas of others.  In reading fiction, I discover grand ideas, subtle nuances and expressions of thought that I couldn't come up with on my own.

But, sometimes it is those radical - out there - types of thinking that scare people into accusations and ugly threats.  That narrow-minded reaction to new and odd ideas just incenses me.

Do you know that for centuries Christians have tried to make decisions on what should or should not be read - heck, even written? 

In late September, the American Library Association celebrates "Banned Books Week," a reminder that intellectual freedom is important.

It occurs to me that in America we find it horrendous that China and other countries don't allow their people access to information.  The internet is monitored closely and only those things that the government deems appropriate are allowed into the country. 

To be honest, there are several books that I wish didn't exist. I find them disgusting in their portrayal of Christ and Christianity.  But, at the same time, I am grateful that these books give me a chance to intelligently speak about why I can't stand them. 

"The Lord of the Rings" was written by a Christian - we don't know about J.K. Rowling's spiritual beliefs.  Philip Pullman (author of "The Golden Compass") questions Christianity, Dan Brown questions ignorant, blind faith.  Some of these things intrigue us, others scare us, maybe the fact that we are intrigued by magic and darkness scares us just as much.

But authors will always be there to challenge our thinking whether we like it or not.  They write because ideas are flowing through their mind faster and need to be exposed to the world.  Just like television - we can choose not to read their books. 

It occurs to me that Stephen King scares the bleepers out of me and I choose not to read his books because of the terror it instills in me.  But, I'm not going to boycott his books because I believe they go WAY over the top with fear and horror.  It's fiction, for goodness' sake and I can recognize that. 

I love my books.  I love Harry Potter and Gandalf.  I love paranormal fantasy, science fiction, dark mysteries, thrillers, I adore WWII and Cold War spy novels and love stories.  Every time I read a book, I get to the end wishing there were more to the story because I love to watch an author build a world and its characters.

I hope that for the most part, we are all sensible enough to recognize that fiction is exactly that - fiction ... not a new way to express truth ... fiction.  If our minds grow because we learn to look at the world with eyes that are bigger than before we read the book, great.  If we are simply entertained for a few minutes and can ignore the pressure and craziness of the world around us, great. 


Karen said...

Are you the same diane who worked at United Airlines? If you are let me know-I have got the wrong email for you---Karen A and Karl----

Diane Muir said...

No, Karen ... not me ... I never worked at United Airlines! :)