Sunday, September 19, 2010

A (Christian) Take On Banning SPEAK

Myra McEntire inspired me to write this. Her post about this topic is here.

Laurie Halse Anderson, author of SPEAK, describes the whole issue here. Also, check out that video of her reading the poem about SPEAK, because it's very powerful.

Also, C.J. Redwine amazes me, and this is why.

Those are the good posts. This is me hopping up on a giant soapbox that I really have no right to stand on. Just wanted to get that out in the open.

On at least a bi-weekly basis, I think this same thought: "I wish people like that didn't shout the loudest."

This time, it's that some guy wants to ban Speak for being "soft porn." You know, Speak? That book about a girl getting raped and choosing not to speak at all, rather than report it? Apparently that's porn. The Bible says so. Wait, what do you mean the Bible says nothing of the kind? Color me flummoxed.

Somewhat problematically, I can't get those people to shut up, even if I want them to. I believe in freedom of speech, so their opinion is here to stay, as it should be. But they don't have to shout louder than me.

So, let's do this.

The book-banner guy is a Christian. I'm also a Christian (as you have probably noticed). I'm against censorship. I'm really against the insinuation that rape victims are participants in "soft porn." And when I say "against," I mean "I've been angry all morning."

My major objections to this fellow are religious, so that's what I'm going to talk about. There are plenty of wonderful, secular arguments against censorship, and I agree with many of them. So, if you don't want to read about my religious beliefs, that's okay, I don't mind, but I wanted to warn you.

You can summarize Christian teachings in two parts: crucifixion and resurrection. Brokenness and mending. My concern with many Christians is their refusal to acknowledge brokenness. It's all fine and good to walk around thinking "I've been saved! Woohoo!", but seriously: saved from what? Sometimes I wonder if they even know, or if it's too uncomfortable to think about.

I believe the resurrection has little significance unless you understand the crucifixion-- and vice versa. We Christians need to understand both to the best of our abilities. And our belief is that the crucifixion happened because of sin-- everyone's. I try to think primarily of my own sin, because it reminds me not to get self-righteous. My sin. Mine. Just as much as anyone else's. Remember.

The world is broken. No matter how much time you spend covering your eyes, and covering your children's eyes, the world will still be broken when you uncover them. And when I say the world is broken, I mean that bad crap is happening to people everywhere and people are doing terrible things everywhere. Do you want your kids to understand just how beautiful the grace of God is? Then they have to understand how crappy the world is. It's not just "a good idea." It's necessary.

People can make their own decisions about what their kids read. But as a Christian, I urge fellow Christians in particular to think hard about those decisions, not just to jump to the simplest conclusion. Remember that you cannot, and you should not, shield your children from the truth. Now, I'm not saying we should expose our young children to disturbing material before they're ready. I am definitely not saying that. But there's a difference between "you're too young for this" and "I don't want you to witness this 'immorality'. Ever."

Jesus' greatest commandment was for us to love one another, and he didn't mean love in that gooey Hallmark way. He meant a love that was often deeply uncomfortable. That makes you want to scream because you don't want to forgive that person for what they did to you, not ever. That makes you want to scream because you don't want to hang out with that loser, not ever. I think books like Speak help us understand people. If we don't even try to understand rape victims, we will treat them like they have some kind of sickness and we've got to stay away. But love isn't running away from something that makes you uncomfortable, it's forcing yourself to run toward it.

The world is broken, and we need to know that. We need to understand how damaging sin is or we'll never understand why we need to turn away from it, and fight against it with everything we have. So, will I let my future children read books like Speak when they're ready? Absolutely. Then we can all talk about it. We can talk about how sometimes the world sucks but we believe in a God who wants to mend it, and we are His hands and feet; we get to help.

So, think about it. And read.

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