They are burning books in Don Quixote’s yard but it strikes me that they have been burning books throughout history. Different groups have been so scared of certain books, they burned them. It’s called biblioclasm or book burning. Look it up. It has been going on since the dawn of civilization.
You know what that tells me? Books have power.
People burn books because they are scared of them, of what they can do to the reader.
What do we fear? We fear what we don’t know. So many times, people fear books they have not read. They fear not the books themselves, but what somebody else told them about those particular books.
I grew up under Communism for the first 15 years of my life and there was a lot of censorship going on. They did not like the Bible much, those Communists. But they allowed us the classics. So we read or heard about the most famous works of literature in Western civilization.
Once I became a Christian, I found out that some über-conservative Christians spoke against classic works of Western literature. These people may not have literally burned a single classical volume in their lives, but they practice biblioclasm with their words. You know how you can murder with a look or a word? You know how you can slander somebody’s character, aka character assassination, with a simple sentence? Christians have burned books by condemning books indiscriminately, by telling other Christians they should not read fiction or a certain author.
Back then, at 16, I was so thirsty for God’s Word, I did not have time to think about the controversy too much. I spent the next 25 years of my life studying the Bible and reading nonfiction books only. I have now come to a new fork in the road, in my quest to give my children a well-rounded education with a Christian worldview. To read or not to read fiction, that is the question.
Here’s my conclusion, after much prayer and supplication and studying the arguments on both sides: I encourage my children to read the classical works of literature produced by Western authors. Well, I do more than encourage. I lead by example.
I have started reading the books listed in The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. At the same time, I am requiring my children to read the classics as listed in The Well-Trained Mind.
I am not scared of the classics. On the contrary, I think they teach the children reading comprehension, vocabulary, cultural notions which escape non-reading Christians, good habits of mind, good story-telling, good writing, and that sticking to God’s principles is always best. Even in stories where the bad guy gets rewarded, there is so much misery, you are reminded God’s way is superior.
Some of these blanket statements could be qualified and further explained. My boundaries with books could also be listed here. But that’s another Thoughtful Thursday topic.