I don’t remember what I was doing yesterday, but it occurred to me that our country—modern age? zeitgeist?—has an endorsing problem exacerbated by its weird relationship with “banning.”
As writers, do we think publishers endorse their books? Oddly I’m not sure I’d say that. I think publishers, particularly secular ones, largely publish for profit. Sure, they may have pet subjects they look to include, such as trends, scandals, and bizarrely fluctuating morals, but some books come with warning labels. Right?
I kind of wish more books came with warning labels. It’d really help clarify things!
Meanwhile, if people hear that a book has been banned from a public school, there can be an uproar! But, aren’t books in a school library those books particularly endorsed for their educational content?
A public library is a place for the public’s things. I can see why some can argue for freedom of expression there. (I don’t consider myself a book banner.) But . . . aren’t some books endorsed over others just because of the sheer number of books? Public libraries can’t afford to house everything. Not by a long shot! And, a library’s spending has to depend on the individual priorities of those authorized to do so: librarians and maybe a board.
Too often the public fails to recognize the endorsing problem. Who are the proper endorsers for a school library? A public library?
Nowadays there are so many books, it’s hard to just read what has already been endorsed by a friend (although God bless GoodReads for being awesome). What can be done? Is reading a book a silent endorsement? Surely not. Although many may take it that way. (Oh, the complications of instant access community!)
What I think is good to remember is this: Christians don’t have to endorse books. It doesn’t mean we want to “ban” them. We aren’t picketing outside publishing houses as far as I am aware, demanding some sort of “take back publishing” response. We aren’t closing circles against self-published books: on the contrary, I think self-publishing and shock-monger traditional publishers have almost traded places!
That stance in between endorsement and acknowledgement that “bad stuff” exists with certain rights . . . it isn’t always clear to people. Even to ourselves sometimes. I mean, will I ban my kids from reading something when they’re super young? YES! But would I phrase it that way to my friendly librarians? NOOOOOOO!
Granted, maybe the Internet will do away with people caring about banned books. I mean, my local library still highlights banned books and lists of banned books. Sigh. Who knows? I fear banned books will come into vogue against both books and freedoms I hold dear. It’s not like banned books aren’t a reality around the world in various settings and “standards.”
Anyway. Feel free to throw away scuzzy books. If you need permission, you have mine. Books aren’t inherently good and just because content has been produced in print or digital form doesn’t mean it’s worth reading or sustained existence. Even if we aren’t the ones who choose what remains extant and what isn’t.
Extant. I love that word. You know what Christians can say about some of the bizarro, soul-crushing, body-bending stuff out there? It’s extant. We’re not currently working to crush it out of existence. But there sure are a lot of beautiful, true, thoughtful, moving, relevant other books we’d rather read. That we can endorse as well as share with family, friends, and libraries around us!
In the world to come, do you know what will be extinct? AWFUL DEGRADING BOOKS! And, endorsing problems along with every other kind of problem. 🙂
Ok, writers. Let’s fill up this world and this time with good books. As far as I’m concerned we can try to drown out the other stuff while reprinting so much of the good older stuff! What do you say?