Oct 16, 2010


So, this wasn't the post I planned to write after my long sabatical from writing :) But I have been inspired as I was pondering Misfit Cygnet's blog post from earlier this week. If you don't read her blog, you should!

I left this comment on her blog earlier this week regarding the book Hunger Games. (sorry for those of you who have read it already...but I did change a few things)

I am a recovering Harry Potter addict. I read all of the books several times. I loved them. They were the thing that got me reading again. I loved listening to them. I could answer every question about "Harry Potter-ness." I will admit I was a little ( a lot) obsessed.

AND THEN, and then my eyes were opened to what God teaches about the glorification of priestcrafts and witchcraft.

Morm. 1: 19

19 And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samurel the Lamanite.

Morm. 2: 10

10 And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet; for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.

My extended family likes to give me a hard time because I used to love Harry Potter and then I quit cold turkey…threw out my books, threw out the movies (this was back when there were only two), and refused to see anymore.

I should mention here...I DO NOT desire to create a Harry Potter debate, or Hunger Game, or any other book that has magic, violence, romance, questionable language, etc. in it. I want to talk about principles. And for me the principle was obedience. God says this is wrong, that this is the power of the evil one, this is a kin to murderer's and thieves and robbers. So for me and my family we choose to believe it is wrong and do not partake.

However, this obedience has created a problem for me, now I am nervous even to read Narnia because of the “magic” and perversions. I cringe when I read the “magic” chapter in the Secret Garden or the inuendo’s in the Giver. It is so prevelant. It is everywhere. So, how do YOU judge? What criteria do you judge your books against?
My daughter received The Bridge to Terribithia for her birthday last year. She read the first chapter. It takes the Lord’s name in vain several times. She said she would not like to read it. I am proud of her for her courage and virtue. However, she now chooses not to read because she is afraid of what she will find. She is sticking with Little House on the Prarie and Anne of Green Gables and I can’t say I blame her. Almost every other book out there is steeped in magic (satan’s imitation of power), romance and/or pornography, incorrect attitudes towards parents and family or gender roles, glorification of self and achievements, etc. It is hard even to find picture books to read to small children that don’t include these over-tones. I once thought they were cute and fun and childlike. Now I understand them for what they are…calling evil good and good evil.

So, I began pondering......what makes a book good? What makes a book a classic? What makes it okay to read? What is the Lord's standard for me. What is the principle?

I have read some books that some consider classics. I will mention two here for the sake of my own personal argument (which may or may not be corect). And as I mentioned above I do not desire to start a dialogue about specific books and if they are good or not. But I thought of two books that I have enjoyed in the past and are "classics" Enders Game and Elantris. Both of these books, in my opinion, contain graphic violence and graphic language. Both also have strong messages about good and bad as well as virtues, friendships, qualities of a good leader, human nature, world views, healing etc.

When (just being honest for myself here)I reflect upon what I learned from reading them.....I did learn things. I learned things about society, I learned things about myself, I learned things about others that I love. My eyes were opened to understand things I didn't understand before. They were also both highly entertaining, quick paced, and well written. I did learn things. I did gain understanding. I did enjoy a good story. The Lord taught me some things from these books that I needed to learn.

BUT...and you'll notice it's a BIG BUT. When I read a classic like Jane Eyre I wanted to be more virtuous. I wanted to be more courageous. I wanted to be strong willed in my desires to keep the commandments...all of God's commands, not just the temptation to avoid immorality. I desire and am willing to sacrifice in order to become that type of person.

When I read The Chosen I want to be a better parent. I want to be a better friend. I want to understand the Jews, and other cultures and beliefs. I want to be vigilant in doing what I know my mission in life is to do and be. I want to read the Bible more and gain greater understanding. I want to become a better person.

EVERY TIME I read these books I am recommitted to those principles, and new ones. So, I may be wrong (as misfit says....I often am :) ) but I think truly to be a classic it must not only change us because we learn grow and have a different perspective, BUT (there's that word again) we must truly come closer to God by reading it. The book must give us courage and strength and righteous desires, and virtue, knowledge and ability to BE better. To be more like God is. It should help us see ourselves and others for who we truly are and who we truly must become. It should leave us wanting more...not because we wish the story would not have ended, but because we have been spiritually edified. Because we have received a new heart. Because we have repented of our lack of faith and understanding. Because for a few pages we were nearer to being who God means for us to be.

I have a new standard. It's a pretty high one. It's a pretty scary one. It's one that is going to take lots of prayer and faith and obedience. But I believe my time here on earth is precious. It is the time for me to prepare to meet God. I don't want to waste it when He can and I believe wants to guide me to something so much greater if I just turn it over to Him.
What books have you read lately that have drawn you closer to God, that have changed your heart, that have inspired you to BEcome?


  1. May I humbly recommend three books of fiction:
    1) The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
    2) The Power of One by Bryce Coutenay
    3) Anthem by Ayn Rand

  2. I was researching Harry Potter things on Friday (the debate about it - why some people think it's bad, why some thing they're crazy, etc). We have loved the books in our family, but since I hadn't read them in several years I wondered if I would think differently of them now.

    I came to the conclusion that the people who did not like them where people who had a better understanding of witchcraft than I did. I'm pretty naive as it's never been a temptation or in any way part of my life, but it's real and it's out there.

    I'm not saying the books are evil and that they'll do bad things to kids for reading them, but I did see that there was merit to what these people where saying. I talked to my family about some of the things (I was planning on writing about it on my blog soon also) and they agreed that we didn't need to have them in our home. So I took them to D.I. yesterday.

    I feel the same way you do about classics. I remember reading 1984 and how it did help me see things in a new light, but I am certain that it offended the spirit and did not inspire me to be a better mom or to draw closer to God.

    I wish I was more well read so I could know what books to recommend to my children! I'll just have to rely on the Holy Ghost and do my best. In the meantime, I hope to get recommendations from people I trust (hint, hint).

  3. oh, and I'm going to start reading the books recommended on the TJed for teens book so that I feel better about handing over the list to Spice when she is ready. I know you've been reading some so if you want to give me any advise on any of them, please feel free!

  4. Great post. Lots of great thoughts on choosing where we spend our time and our sources of influence. I like your conclusion. If I'm going to spend hours on an activity, let it be one that makes me better and more of what I am meant to be.

    I really had hoped to talk to you more at the retreat. I had a great time. I love being with so many great women seeking to be better. I hope we meet again sometime. In between that I will be reading your blog and hoping you are feeling better all around.

  5. This has reminded me of Elder Bednar's talk where he said, "it's not about the earrings." And I think this subject is similar. It's not an attack on specific books, but a closer look at their content. I'm so glad Misfit & you have brought it up, because it's making me think harder about what I allow into my home.
    On the subject of the Narnia books & magic, (I may be remembering them wrong) but I don't think the kids actually USE magic. They aren't casting spells and chanting. There's just magic around them that is supposed to be an allegory for God's power. Does that make sense. Still, if it feels like it's moving too close to the fence I can't blame anyone for wanting to avoid that.
    I'm still trying to figure out other kids books myself. It's hard!

  6. So what is your new higher standard? Do you know or are you still trying to figure it out? I kept raising the bar until it couldn't get any higher. I used to complain that I couldn't keep up with them and read everything they were reading. Then I realized my children don't need to be reading so many hours a day and going through books so quickly.

    It has been worth it. These changes have produced miracles in our home.

  7. I recently read A Tale of Two Cities. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to it. It was probably because I had seen the movie every year in my French class in high school. The book was beautiful and powerful. It left me wanting to be a better woman.

    The movie never portrayed completely the goodness and powerful influence of Lucie Manette. In the book her character was a stark counterpoint to Madame DeFarge. Each woman was powerful in her own way, but Lucie was for light, life and love. Madame DeFarge was for darkness, death and revenge. Madame DeFarge reminded me of the stereotypical, high powered woman that society often holds up as a model for us to follow. I want to be like Lucie. I want to teach my daughters to have that kind of influence too.

    Of course, besides the wonderful characters there was so much to learn about how tyranny when overthrown by a new tyranny only leads to greater captivity. I had just read The Real George Washington a little while before so it was interesting to compare how two groups of people sought for freedom. It was only by adhering to true principles that freedom could be acquired. Anarchy is not freedom.

  8. Hi! I found your blog from the DCH board. I really like a lot of what you have said here. I just finished reading all of the Narnia books with my kids, and we absolutely loved them. There wasn't any magic as far as spells or anyone using power other than Aslan the Lion, who is a similitude for Christ. My kids and I talked a lot about all of the symbolism in the books, and the word "magic" is simply used as another word for Aslan's power. It is very plain from a Gospel standpoint, exactly what CS Lewis was meaning when he told the story. For us it really seemed to invite the Spirit, and in no way drove it away. I was actually amazed at how closely every book paralleled a principle of the Gospel, and it led to wonderful conversations with my kids. Maybe if you preview them first, and then decide whether to read them with your kids? Anyway, that's my 2 cents, but if you pray about I'm positive that you will get an answer whether they are right for your family! Thanks for letting me read your insights.