Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Book burning

A friend asked Sook Ching why our family reads books that have wizards, talking animals, and goblins (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc). No, this friend has never read any of these books, nor does she have any inkling what they are or who the writers are, except for what her church leaders say about them.

“Aren’t these things occult?”
“Our body is God’s temple, so why do you want to fill your mind with these things?”
“Would Jesus sit down to watch these movies with you?”
“Would you burn all your books if God asked you to?”
“What do you mean you see something about Jesus’s sacrifice in Spider-Man? Spider-Man is just a comic book character - he’s not real.”
“Well, I have not missed anything by not reading or seeing these things, right?”

It continues to disturb me that many people in the church are unable to appreciate the arts - books, movies, music. Granted, there are stuff out there that are plain bad, aesthetically or scripturally, even blasphemous. Many things that pass for art these days are simply not good, wholesome, or pure.

But this is precisely the point. Once you go down that road attempting to divide good from bad, you will be enmeshed in legalistic one-upmanship. I believe it’s the sort of mindset that devised the Jewish law or 613 halakhah - legal extrapolation of the Ten Commandments regulating life and conduct. I also believe it’s why the Islamic polemic on halal and haram has made control freaks of the Muslim self-righteous.

Some interesting links:

Torah 101
Ask the Imam
Flex The Brain (Issue 11-01-03)Gene Edward Veith's article on reading which appeared in WORLD Magazine Online. He says "reading books the right way keeps the mind in shape the way exercise keeps the body healthy."

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