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kenmorefield

ALA Banned Booked Week

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The Forbidden Library lists a great many books that have been banned, challenged, or burned over the centuries, along with the "reasons" & links to amazon.com, if you're curious enough to acquire the books for yourself. A few favorites:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll. Ace; Bantam; Crown; Delacorte; Dover; NAL; Norton; Penguin; Random; St. Martin. Banned in China (1931) for portraying animals and humans on the same level, "Animals should not use human language."

Le Morte D'Arthur. Sir Thomas Malory. Scribner; Collier; Penguin. Challenged as required reading at the Pulaski County High School in Somerset, Ky. (1997) because it is "junk." Granted, Malory has problems with his narrative, but YOU try to translate Medieval French texts into comprehensible Middle English.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. Macmillan. Challenged in the Howard County, Md. school system (1990) because it depicts "graphic violence, mysticism, and gore."

A Wrinkle In Time. Madeleine L'Engle. Dell. Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book's listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.
Edited by BethR

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Can I redirect this thread toward book-burning?

I have some opinions about it. I've never done it. And also never seen it (in person). Only heard about it and seen footage on TV and in films.

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I tried to burn a book one time, but it didn't work too well. It was very anti-climactic.

Edited by David Smedberg

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My feeling is that the one passage about the burning of books, Acts 19:17-20, is not a scriptural validation/endorsement of the practice. It was neither organized by the Christian leaders, nor condoned by them. It only happened once (no record it was ever repeated), and seems to have been a spontaneous reaction triggered by fear.

I don't object to anyone burning their own property (you can do what you want with your own property) but I'm appalled at the idea of seizing books belonging to others and burning them in public as some kind of statement.

As for churches that invite people to bring forth their own books for a public burning, this I oppose as well. Even though I believe you can do what you want with your own property, I feel such public spectacles are destructive on many levels. First, they make the book-burners look like Nazi's--not an association Christianity wants to encourage. Second, there can emerge a peer-pressure whereby the more zealous book-haters in the congregation try to force fellow parishioners to likewise purge their own home libraries, and then it's no longer a matter of conscience, it's now a bandwagon and a coercive scrutinizing of people's commitments to Christ. Third, it can cause division within families, especially when a parent demands that a child (usually a teenager) bring forth certain books which that child might very well have paid for himself to the sacred bonfire. Fourth, it's anti-intellectual.

Public burnings are nasty things. Private burnings I have no problem with.

If a person gets saved and realizes their own home library is filled with things that they now find personally abhorrent, then they should feel free to toss them in the dumpster. (That's something I did one night with all my Dungeons and Dragons books about six months after I got saved. I did it not because anyone told me to but because I randomly pulled them out of a long-forgotten moving box from the back of my closet and was sickened by what I saw). The extra drama of actually burning them is more of a ritualistic endeavor that some people might feel the need to do as a personal statement to one's self. I know of people who had private barrel fires in their back yards. But I again stress, it needs to be private.

A public burning MIGHT be acceptable if the ones doing the burning meet the following criteria (as spelled out in the Acts account):

-they are all prior practitioners of magic arts

-they were well-known in the community for their practice of magic arts (possibly even made a living at it)

-they have now become saved and repent of their magic arts

-they are all only burning their own magic books/tools, and no one else's

-they are burning these things as a public testimony of their renunciation of their former practices which everyone in the community knew them for

-there is more than one of them who meet all of the above criteria

-no one else is encouraged (or even allowed) to burn stuff with them

Beyond this I find public burnings reprehensible.

Edited by Plot Device

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This year marks the 30th annual "Banned Books Week." ALA has a timeline.

[bBW seems to be particularly well-timed this year, what with the whole Innocence of Muslims thing, which controversy led Slate, at least, to suggest that freedom of speech is over-rated]

Edited by NBooth

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Banned Books Week 2014--and for the second year in a row the number one challenged book in America is...Captain Underpants.

 

I dearly love freedom of the press, but it's just hard to get excited over Captain Underpants as a symbol for bold artistic defiance of cultural norms. Ulysses, yeah. Lolita, yea. Captain Underpants?

 

The other nine aren't particularly exciting, either: The Bluest EyeThe Hunger Games, Looking for Alaska--the most controversial would be Fifty Shades of Gray; the rest are fairly milquetoast, the kind of thing that gets challenged because it's innocuous to be on a high school reading list in the first place. I think we need a higher standard in this country; I'm pretty sure our "challenged books" list is nothing compared to many, many other nations--and as a result, year after year, our list is populated by YA novels and...Captain Underpants.

 

[Ok, yeah, in all seriousness--I get that this is a list compiled from school libraries, so it's going to veer heavily toward the YA market. My tongue is firmly in cheek]

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Well, Ive read none of these titles, but I have seen the film versions of two.  The Hunger Games, which was fun but didn't have me going to the bookstore.  And Bless Me, Ultima, which made my top ten list of best films from 2013.  I may head to Barnes & Noble and pick that one up.

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The ACLU has an infographic on banned books. It's pretty cool. But it falls into the same trap that, honestly, most people do [including myself]: it focuses on the sexy, artful, or classic as opposed to the frightfully banal--which, honestly, is what most challenged books are, if the list above is to be believed. It's easy to get excited about Howl being banned--Howl is a classic work of American literature. It's less easy to care--for many of us, anyway--if the book is Captain Underpants.

 

I don't know how to address that kind of gap. I'm not even sure it's a problem. 

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