Friday, October 7, 2022

Book Bans

 It happened! A school district banned the Bible. You may remember I recommended it in a previous column. If we’re going to get into the business of book banning, then this Biblical collection of violent stories and graphic sex, including rape and incest, needs to be at the top of the list.

Keller Independent School District outside of Fort Worth, Texas, has removed all versions of the Bible. It leaves me wondering if the Scriptures used by millions of people around the globe, will become part of the fuel for a public book burning.

There  are countless reasons for resisting book banning and book censorship.The following are my top ten:

1. There’s some useful material! If you take the Bible as an example, it has been an inspiration and guide to people of faith for centuries. It has a rich history of being used as a moral and ethical guide, even though there are some disturbing stories; and a main character for Christians, gets nailed to a cross to suffer a rather agonizing death.

2. You are introduced to some rather disturbing material! This seems to me a plus, not a minus. How much better to be introduced to some of the difficult circumstances in life through the printed page, before one encounters them face to face; or even afterwards, to help give the difficulty a little different context. Others, like parents and teachers, can often offer us context more easily to the printed page than the lived reality.
3. Some books banned are award winning literature! They have artistic merit. They are crafted well by a renowned writer. What’s next to be banned? Music? Poetry? Dance? Paintings? (Maybe I shouldn’t even mention this as it may give the censors additional targets; or the assassins new prey for their weapons).
4. Book banning could leave us with only mundane and boring reading!
It would be like going to the amusement park and finding the Ferris wheel gone, only a carousel remaining. “1984” was memorable reading, a great Ferris wheel. Maybe it’s on the banning list because it was a warning that got the date wrong.

5. Whatever political persuasion is in control gets to choose the books! Republican! Democrat! Theocrat! Autocrat! Take your pick. Eventually, if they all have their turn, they may put libraries out of business.

6. With book banning an educational purpose gets lost! Sometimes books can introduce us to a reality of life that prepares us for the future. It can help us learn about the tendency in human communities to enslave others, before someone tries to enslave us. Books can warn us of problems and pitfalls in our future and give us knowledge and courage to face them.

7. There’s always more to the story! Some people read the Bible and other books as if the words and ideas are frozen in time. If you look closely enough, the story continues; with another writer, another take on the same or similar material, another interpretation of the story. We need them all, all the stories, to have a full and more complete understanding.

8. You have a conversation starter with friends!
Some of my best conversations with friends are about books. Many of them the banners would burn. One friend and I meet occasionally to trade books and talk about them. I’m sending a friend off on his cross-country trip today with four books I’m donating to his time on the road, two of which most school districts in Texas would probably ban. 

9. Books don’t make good firewood! If you watch the video of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee burning “demonic” books like Harry Potter, you’ll notice that they have a good fire going first before they throw in the books. Pastor Greg Locke gets clearly worked up in the video by the “witchcraft” he sees around us. Good-bye the “Twilight” series!
10. There’s always the oral tradition or the internet! Personally, I like the feel of holding a book in my two hands with the printed page. There’s too much screen time in my life as it is. I don’t need or want an ebook. But in a pinch, if my chosen book were burnt, I’d go on line. Even more satisfying, I’d opt for the oral tradition. Give me a storyteller like Duane Hollow Horn Bear any day. It’s even better than a hold-in-my-hands book.

Carl Kline

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