Monday, June 03, 2013

Monday morsels: "truth triumphs"



So far 2013 has been a great year for reading.  I've been enjoying two books lately.  One is Barbara Kingsolver's book of essays entitled High Tide in Tucson.  (We discussed two of her essays for our book study group, which is why I read the book in the first place.)  The other is Karen Swallow Prior's Booked:  Literature in the Soul of Me, which tells about her journey through books that shaped her life at different stages, from Charlotte's Web to Jane Eyre and more.  (I heard about this book through many of my blogger friends and knew it was a must-read; so far it's wonderful.)

Interestingly, almost on the same day, I read a passage in each book about the importance of letting children read widely and not censoring their reading.  (Swallow Prior uses John Milton's phrase "books should be promiscuously read" to characterize this type of free, indiscriminate reading.)  I appreciated these comments because I know my love of books was enhanced by the fact that I was allowed to read whatever I liked, from Archie comics and Tom Swift books to Lucy Maud Montgomery and S.E. Hinton and Judy Blume and .... the list goes on.  In fact, after reading these passages, I am now almost not embarrassed about how many Harlequin Romances I read while babysitting.  Almost.

*****

"Now that I am a parent myself, I'm sympathetic to the longing for some control over what children read, or watch, or do.  Our protectiveness is a deeply loving and deeply misguided effort to keep our kids inside the bounds of what we know is safe and right.  Sure, I want to train my child to goodness.  But unless I can invoke amnesia to blot out my own past, I have to see it's impossible to keep her inside the world I came up in.  That world rolls on, and you can't step in the same river twice.  The things that prepared me for life are not the same things that will move my own child into adulthood .... If there is a danger in ... the works of ... authors who've been banned at one time or another, the danger is generally that they will broaden our experience and blend us more deeply with our fellow humans.  Sometimes this makes waves."
- Barbara Kingsolver, "How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life"
High Tide in Tucson (pp. 50-51)

*****

"It seems to me to be an entirely negative, not to mention ineffective, strategy to shield children from reality rather than actively expose them to the sort of truth that emerges organically from the give-and-take of weighing and reckoning competing ideas against one another.  Discovering truth is a process that occurs over time, more fully with each idea or book that gets added to the equation.  Sure, many of the books I read in my youth filled my head with silly notions and downright lies that I mistook for truth, but only until I read something else that exposed the lie for what it was .... Milton argued passionately in his treatise [Areopagitica] that the best way to counteract falsehood is not by suppressing it, but by countering it with truth.  The essence of Milton's argument is that truth is stronger than falsehood; falsehood prevails through the suppression of countering ideas, but truth triumphs in a free and open exchange that allows truth to shine."
- Karen Swallow Prior, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (pp. 14, 19)

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful recommendations and observations, Jeannie. As a fellow book-lover, I always appreciate both! Yours is the second recommendation I've read for Karen Swallow Prior's book, so I think I'll bump that one up a bit on my "to read" list. I've never been one to restrict my children's reading, or my own for that matter, to what I consider safe and like-minded material. Having said that, I have also learned to be a discerning consumer of literature. When a story is hopelessly dark with no discernible redemptive element, I usually decide it's not worth my time. I don't mind difficult subject matter if it's handled truthfully and with hope, because life is full of difficult subject matter. To pretend that we can just choose not to confront it is just...well, silly. Thanks Jeannie, and I look forward to more of your literary insights! Judy

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    1. Judy, I agree with everything you've said about reading difficult books, etc. Being a discerning consumer is a good way to put it, because we do have a limited time in our day (and life) for reading, and I want to read something that leaves me feeling the world is a good place in the hands of a good God. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. As you know, I dropped by yours when I read your comment on Tim's blog a couple of weeks ago -- and I have visited a few more times since because I enjoy what you write about, and how you write. Mondays are my quote days so hope to see you here again, on Mondays or any time!

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  2. Great connection between the two writers, Jeannie. And you know I'm a KSP fan!

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    1. The amazing thing is, they connected themselves! It was so interesting that I read both almost at the same time. I'm very glad to finally be reading KSP's book after hearing about it from you, Adriana, and others.

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    2. BTW Tim I just wanted to add that our Q&A post from a couple of weeks ago garnered the second-most pageviews ever of a post on this blog!

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    3. I'm #2!
      I'm #2!
      I'm # ... wait a second. I know what #2 is!

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