The Power of Books
When I was a little girl my parents would read at least one book to me before bed, perhaps as many as three. Some of those books I learned verbatim before I could ever read. I never tired of them. I have loved books, reading, and writing all my life. My father is an avid reader and my mother was an English teacher. Needless to say, I was in very, very good hands.
One of the most valuable gifts my parents diligently instilled within my sister and I was how to think. Critical thinking was highly valued and esteemed in our home — and that meant many mature debates on various subjects throughout our school age and college years. It even meant being able to rightly persuade our parents at times. But it also meant being able to make good sound decisions; being able to weigh matters judicially in a proper context that was morally right and true; and being able to test and prove all things apart from face value. These were considered essential life skills. Our family is one of strong minds. We are strong-willed, independently-minded, and we are very successful. Our parents taught us well. We know how to think. And for that I am forever grateful.
One of the ways those life lessons were learned is through various books. This included stories, documentaries, magazine articles, and even film. One of my favorite genres in literature is memoirs because ordinary people can lend so much wisdom to us. I love reading about people from other cultures, worlds, and backgrounds that are so different from my own. I find it exhilarating, fascinating, and thought-provoking. I also love biographies and documentaries because they are so deep, rich, and grounded. I have learned so much from others and the lives they have lived, both in their mistakes and successes; their pains and their pleasures.
When I walk through my neighborhood there are two stations where a little library is nestled. These little libraries are built like a house with a roof and a glass door. One is perched upon the stone ledge of the sidewalk. It’s covered with trails of ivy and flowers. The other is at the opposite end of the neighborhood and it’s built upon a pole like a birdhouse. People take and contribute their books at will. It’s lovely. Absolutely lovely. I cherish these types of gifts in our community based on trust, honor, and the generosity of spirit. There’s a little something for everyone in those tiny libraries.
Current Book Banning
When I witnessed the banning of Dr. Seuss¹ this last week, I was not only heartsick– I was truly horrified. I honestly did not know what to think at first. I had to verify this, of course. But once I found it to be true and valid, my heart just broke. I immediately made as many Amazon purchases of Dr. Seuss as I could, and I began to fondly remember those times as a child when I would experience his elaborate imaginations! It was so much fun! To this day, I still enjoy Dr. Seuss. In fact, as an adult, the child within me still loves children’s books. I think there is something in all of us that relates to our childhood which never really dies. If we take the time nurture that part of us we can gain so much joy in our adulthood.
So, everyone… as you may have guessed, this post is about the current cancel culture, book burning (banning) and censorship that has grown so prevalent. The reason I shared a bit of my own story is because I want you to think about your own. And in a moment, we’re going to touch on how this affects us as Christians with respect to the Bible. But I want to ask you: What are some of your favorite books? Furthermore, how have they affected your life?
I mean, what would we do without Shakespeare? Where would we be without Charles Dickens or Mark Twain? How could we ever appreciate the Antebellum without Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind?
The current state of affairs really hits home for me as an author, book-lover, and avid reader. But it also hits home for me as a Christian. Because if they can ban Dr. Seuss– what’s next?
The current banning appears to be very anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Anglo-Saxon, and anti-history. It’s quite aggressive, in my opinion. Is the Bible and other religious texts going to be banned as well? How far will this go? And will we allow it?
Our Christian Duty
I believe we have a duty to make our voices heard in writing our governors, senators, congressmen, and the like. Our leadership need to know where we stand. However, I believe we also must petition God for the preservation of not only sacred and holy texts and religious material, but all books. We must stop the banning. We must stop the senseless censorship. We must remain free to choose what we read, just as much as we need to remain free to choose what we speak or believe. We need to pray for wisdom in how God would have us take action against these outrageous moves.
Authors everywhere are feeling the pangs of disassociation, criticism, and judgment upon their works. Many are stricken with fear. I do not believe we should stand down, be frightened, or stop writing. I do not believe we should stop publishing. In fact, I believe we need to be more prolific than ever before. We need to read more, write more, and begin speaking out. As citizens we need to actively circulate written work.
I urge you to think about the books you’ve read in your life. Perhaps you’re not a reader, per se. However, it is very likely those books affected you in a way that left you with something valuable. They taught you something. They introduced you to peoples, cultures, places in the world, and times past you would have never otherwise known or experienced. You’ve been somewhere through those books. You learned lessons through others mistakes. You gained wisdom from those who traversed the path before you — and it saved you worlds of heartache and injury in life. You have probably grown to love certain cultures, types of literature, and perhaps even long to write yourself.
There are things we can do in response to this movement that is positive, affirming, and life-giving:
(1.) Practical: Begin making your voice heard before your state legislators and governor.
(2.) Spiritual: Begin petitioning God for the preservation of His Word and other religious texts, including secular works and the preservation of free speech, free thought, free beliefs, and the preservation of all cultures and their literacy.
(3.) Personal: Begin considering how books have shaped your own life: personally, academically, and professionally. Now consider what your life would be like without them. What does that make them worth to you?
(4.) Consider what books you currently have on hand. Which ones have you read? Which ones do you readily reference? Which ones can you share with others? Which ones have not been read or used?
(5.) Visit your local library or bookstore. Support new authors — especially those with a Christian message.
(6.) Develop a book list for yourself. What reads do you long to digest this year? Make some goals for yourself. Invite your spouse or a friend to read a book with you. Consider reading together as a family.
(7.) Create a reading nook in your home if you don’t have one. Begin introducing the lovely leisure of reading into your life again.
(8.) Begin a reader’s group in your community through your church or neighborhood. Exchange books. Share them. Talk about them. Begin to rediscover the luxury of literacy and the many wonders books contribute to our individual lives, and our culture.
(9.) Read to your children. Read the Bible to them. Read them children’s stories. Talk with them about the topics, the words, and how this relates to their lives. And yes, read them some good ol’ Dr. Seuss!
(10.) Begin to ponder and really consider the advent of literacy and what it’s done for us. And then consider supporting it!
Valuing Our Freedoms
If we don’t start valuing the works of free-thinking people; people who are churning their craft for the masses, we are eventually going to lose what the world has gained — the ability to think, speak, believe, and learn for ourselves. Remember, we must know how to think if we’re going to know what to think. That’s never something anyone else should be doing for us.
If we let them rob us of Dr. Seuss, what’s next? God bless you as you take action and move forward with God.
¹ Refusing to Print Dr. Seuss Books Has Nothing to Do With Combating Racism, by Jessica Marie Baumgartner, The Epoch Times, March 4, 2021
Cheers & Shalom,
Image Credit: izoca | Pixabay (pictured is the Klementinum Library in the Czech Republic – renowned as the world’s most opulent and beautiful library)