A couple of days ago, I found out that this week is Banned Book Week. I’ve seen some posts about it in my reader over the past two weeks, but since there’s been so much grading to do and there were so many posts, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.
Over at Cindy Grigg’s blog, she has a list of 19 frequently challenged books. Many are ones that I read and enjoyed: The Great Gatsby and Brave New World among them. (Seriously, if you’re in late high school or an adult, Brave New World is a must. It’s an eye-opener.) They both have adult content, so I understand why they would be inappropriate for younger age groups. But banned outright?
The one I was most surprised to find on the list was Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, I had to do some research into why. But once I did, it was obvious. I had a firsthand experience with the reasoning during my senior year of high school.
I dual enrolled in some college courses that year, and one of them was speech class. At 7:30am, the class was a mix of 19 year olds, 20-somethings, and adults returning to earn a degree. It was a small, community college class, so I ended up becoming acquainted with some of the people, including one of the adult men. I don’t remember his name anymore.
For one speech, the professor allowed me to use The Lord of the Rings as my topic. I was so excited to pull that speech and PowerPoint presentation together. It was a breeze since I already knew so much about all things Middle-earth and had a collection of pictures from the movies saved on my computer.
After giving the speech, I was pulled over by the aforementioned man who asked something to the effect of, “You like Tolkien and you’re a Christian?”
I was puzzled. How could those things possibly be at odds?
He presented his reasoning — the same reasoning I found while researching. It has wizards in it. And magic. And that Dark Lord, Sauron. Christians can’t like that, can they? Isn’t it dark and full of, you know, witchcraft?
But anyone who says that obviously knows nothing about Tolkien or the books. He was a devout Catholic, and his works contain themes that are reflective of the Bible. None of it’s allegory (because he, understandably, detested it), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t correlations between the two. I could go on and on with the research I did around that time, but suffice to say, I don’t believe that any of it conflicts with my faith. If anything, I believe that the books compliment it. After all, as Tolkien would say, “God is the Lord, of angels, and of men — and of elves.”
This is why I would argue that people should read and research things for themselves before jumping on a bandwagon. And that doesn’t just apply to books. :)
Have you read any of the books on the banned/challenged lists?