Banned Books Week

Oct. 1, 2010

We have come to the end of Banned Books Week, where avid readers everywhere band together to protest the idea of banning books (or more accurately, band together to celebrate books they love that have been banned by having readings and themed parties). Books are banned and protested for a sundry of reasons, reasons we sympathize with and some we certainly do not sympathize with. But even when it comes to books we don’t think are appropriate, movements for the outright, absolute banishment of these books from libraries or from Christian society is rarely helpful. Such movements cause division over matters which are disputable and sometimes simply draw more attention to and raise more interest in the book a particular group is trying to get rid of.

Often, books are banned by people who haven’t read them and do not understand them; people simply join the banned books bandwagon. And while fight or flight may be more natural, only the act of humbly engaging is constructive. We are called to act in creative and redemptive ways as we pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is essential to engage, not merely absorb or avoid, books (and ideas) that scare and/or anger us, books that feel wholly foreign to us. Although—for of a variety of factors, not the least of which because each of us has our own sin-issues particular to our personality and set of experiences—not everyone will be able to engage with everything at the same level. And it’s the which and by whom and the how that requires more individual discernment than broad banishings. Even when you cannot personally engage by reading this or that book for whatever reason, abiding an attitude of general engagement as a member of the Body of Christ fosters that humility-infused unity so foundational to our new life.

As we celebrate Banned Books Week here at Probe, we invite you to chew with us on the questions such an acknowledgment brings to the table. We’d love to hear your thoughts, and as always, keep reading.

• What are some constructive alternatives to banning or burning books? ie. discussion forum, panel discussion (even at the library in question) or for a meeting of the PTA

• Should a Christian pause and ask, Am I being retributive to “those liberals” and others who certainly ban Christian or conservative viewpoints? Is that something that promises to be profitable, biblically speaking? Is it a Christlike motive?

• While understandably fighting for convictions, could I be guilty of putting my own personal convictions on others inappropriately? How could this be detrimental or even wrong to do with non-believers? With believers? [disputable matters passage, like meat offered to idols]

• Would it be more profitable to read and discuss the book in question with my children and even others’ kids w/parental permission (perhaps with some blocking of objectionable portions) than to rail against the author, message or library?

• Pragmatically speaking, am I simply bringing objectionable materials to light and putting them up on a stage by the attention they are now getting because of my lobbying efforts? Am I offering ammo to those who oppose any censure or social accountability?

• Am I giving the Enemy a foothold for bitterness in me or my kids? In onlookers?

This blog post originally appeared at