Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Saturday, May 30, 2009

I don't usually go into religion on this blog, mostly because I'm a big ol' wuss and don't want to cause problems, but Writtenwyrdd's post about books banned from school libraries made me think. I hope this comes out semi-coherently.

Wyrdd says about the banned books,

And the main factor appears to be, once again, religious intolerance.  As in, you must believe exactly as I do, and I'll ensure that by giving you nothing to change your mind.  Which, as anyone who has studied any history at all knows, will not work.  In fact, suppression of ideas tends to have the opposite effect than the one desired!

And I agree. Suppression of ideas makes those ideas even more desirable to rebellious teenagers. If they want to really suppress them, the more  effective method would be to simply feign indifference.

However, you can see why these book banners would worry about education leading people away from church. In a fit of serendipity, this article about why one man walked away from Christianity came across my desktop immediately after I commented on Wyrdd's post. The main reason he gives for leaving is that Christianity just doesn't make sense. Actually that the existence of God himself doesn't make sense. That the only reason people believe in any god is because they were indoctrinated in their particular religion as children. (And looking at it objectively, that's mostly true, isn't it?) Religion is humanity's way of explaining the as-yet unexplained, and as science provides plausible explanations for the things we used to take on faith (as in the battle between creationism and evolution, and don't get me started on that) a modern person absolutely has to reconcile scientific knowledge with faith if they are to continue to embrace the Bible.

So to come back around to my point, yeah, education can transform the idea of God, and for many it disproves God's existence. Honestly? I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I believe in God, not as separate entity looking down upon us, but as part of us. Our life essence. Our selves. God does not need us to believe in God. I don't believe in Hell or being "saved" in the Christian sense, and I'm obviously not the only one. There's a shift in social consciousness coming about, and banning books which express different ideas is just a way to maintain a way of life that is losing its hold on dominance, just as we do at every major social shift. We'll settle down into a new way, and when that one goes we'll likely hold on just as tightly. It's what we do.

{ 8 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Yes, we humans are very predictable in our need to defend our beliefs no matter how ridiculous. (And I am not saying religion is ridiculous; just that rediculous ideas get defended quite rabidly despite the illogic!)

    Me, I believe in diety, and yet I can accept that I might be wrong. That my concept is likely nobody else's concept. And that's okay. I dont' need to defend it, because to do so is (to me) the same as trying to defend my perception of the color red. It just won't work, won't translate fully, and in teh end doesn't matter. ;)

  2. I feel the same way, Wyrddie. Each person's concept of God is likely unique, because each experience of God is unique. No need to defend it, and I guess that's why banning books based on religion doesn't really make sense to us.

    Thank you for the original insightful post. You always make me think.

  3. When will people learn? Oh right, they can't, books (a major source of learning) are being banned.

  4. I'm not afraid of what my son might read. He can think. And I'm not afraid that he will think differently than I do. He's not me.

    May he be able to read everything he wants to. May he be able to know what is out there.

  5. WIGSF, you're silly.

    Marta, I agree completely. Although I must admit to having to fight my controlling and fearful nature in my children's upbringing, which is ironic admitting that in a post about others' controlling and fearful natures. With a different upbringing, I could be one of the book banners. hehe

  6. Back when I was teaching English 101, I always made sure to fit in a mini-lesson on logical fallacies to help students construct better arguments. The one I spent the most time on was the straw man fallacy, mainly because it came up over and over again in students' papers. As I explained to them, if your argument is a solid one, then it should be able to take the full brunt of the opposing argument and come out victorious; if you have to hamstring or misrepresent that other argument to make yours look better, then your argument needs more work. And to tie this in to your post, if you have to suppress literature that runs contrary to your beliefs, then perhaps you need to do some serious thinking about your beliefs.

    I've always felt that any belief worth having is one that will stand up to thoughtful, considered scrutiny. Unfortunately, a great many people look upon the reasons that led them to believe or disbelieve something as being reasons that will convince others in exactly the same way. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been in an argument with someone who kept repeating the same thing over and over again, as if I only disagreed with them because I didn't understand their reasons. People get all kinds of angry and uncomfortable when there's a difference of opinion; personally, I think life would be terribly boring if everyone agreed with me on everything.

    Then again, there's also people who simply refuse to read anything that runs counter to their beliefs, and they don't want anyone else to read those things, either. I'm sorry, but if your beliefs are such delicate, fragile snowflakes that reading anything whatsoever to the contrary is a dire threat to their existence, then perhaps you aren't as invested in those beliefs as you want to convince yourself you are.

    For example, I'm an atheist, but I've also spent a lot of time reading books on various religions along with their holy books. The knowledge I gained about those religions caused me to scrutinize my own beliefs, and they came out the stronger for it. I've also known several people who have read many of the same texts and ended up feeling stronger in their Christian/Jewish/etc. beliefs or even switched their religious affiliation entirely to something that felt more correct to them. I love how the exact same knowledge can lead people down such entirely different paths, and I wouldn't for the world want to ban a single word of it.

    Oof, this turned out far longer than I thought it would. My apologies.

  7. I don't mind. :) I'm one of those who doesn't like to argue because I'm not very good at it. Most people argue to assert their rightness, but I feel more comfortable with the "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" method. A good discussion, to me, is when everyone is working toward the truth together, sharing ideas and coming to a consensus. Not the book banners way, apparently! I don't know how to fight that mentality.

    I know they are banning books to protect their children from harmful influence, but I sure do think they're protecting them from the wrong things.

  8. Sherri,

    This is a great post. I think people are figuring out the difference between spirituality and religion, realizing that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And of course the most certain way to have anyone all over something is to make it "taboo".


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