Should Christian Parents Ban Books

by Rachel Baker on April 29, 2014

The actual question here should be “Should any Parents Ban Books”. I’m not sure the religious background of a parent makes them more or less able to be pissed about what their child may be reading, and let’s be honest, if a parent gets so far as to start talking about book banning, then they are pissed.

The article below, which is where the title of this post came from, is actually about another article about how the son of an evangelical pastor now views literature (and probably the world around him) because of the experience he had with what books he was allowed to read in his household. I think the title is incredibly misleading. In literary circles the phrase ‘ban books’ means something completely different. Sure, in the above mentioned household, the son was not allowed to read certain books…but that doesn’t mean that he could eventually get access to them and read them in say, the school library. They were not allowed, but not banned.

If we ask the question “should Christian parents ban books” then we are really not asking about the book they want to ban as much as asking about how much do we really want someone else’s religion dictating the lives of our own children. But, if we change the title to “should any parent ban books” – well, then, we are talking about something completely different. And both of these titles need to have the additional words “in their own households” added unless we are talking about actually going to school board meetings with the rest of the villagers with pitch forks and torches to take a book out of the school system for good.

Anyway, the article below is a good one. Enjoy!

Tim Parks, son of an evangelical pastor, recently wrote a thought-provoking piece for the New York Review of Books exploring his history of reading. He remembers reading children’s stories and the Bible, in an isolated yet comforting environment, always under the watchful eye of his parents. But when Parks sought to explore and read books that offered a “broader view of life” he clashed with his parents. Nietzsche, Beckett, and Gide were off-limits.

“Away from the Bible and children’s books, reading was not always good, and when it wasn’t good it was bad,” he writes. “Very bad.”

Parks’s piece isn’t essentially about the nature of “book banning” in Christian homes. He’s primarily exploring his own reactions to literature, and explaining the way he reads through the lens of his past. But his description of parental permission and alarm should serve as a caution to Christians.

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