‘Christian bookstores’ and the unsustainable bubble of the evangelical subculture

Some evangelical “gatekeepers” imagine they can still control the boundaries of their subculture and thereby can continue to control the lives and souls and thoughts and imaginations of those within it.

Or, if you prefer to put the most charitable spin on it, these gatekeepers imagine they can still guard the boundaries of that subculture and thereby protect the lives, souls, thoughts and imaginations of those within.

That used to work. It doesn’t anymore. The gatekeepers are still ferociously guarding their gates, but the walls on either side of those gates have crumbled into dust.

Consider the latest losing battle for these gatekeepers — a lopsided defeat in which they seem to imagine they’re still the winners: LifeWay Christian Bookstores will no longer be carrying DVDs of the movie The Blind Side.

Pastor Rodney L. Baker of Hopeful Baptist Church of Lake City submitted a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention, demanding that LifeWay pull the PG-13 film over its language content.

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in annual session June 17- 20, 2012, in New Orleans, expresses dissatisfaction with ‘The Blindside’ and any product that contains explicit profanity, God’s name in vain, and racial slur,” reads the resolution in part.

The resolution will be introduced to the Southern Baptist Convention at its Annual Meeting next week in New Orleans.

Although LifeWay has already agreed to pull The Blind Side, Baker still intends to submit the resolution as a way of sending a message about LifeWay and the content of its products.

Marty King, communications director for LifeWay, [said] he had hoped the move on the part of the book store would remove the controversy from the New Orleans meeting.

King understands how this works. “Controversy” is Step 1. Step 2 is to resolve the controversy by banning anything that any gatekeeper suggests might be “controversial.”

The Rev. Rodney L. Baker’s resolution didn’t pass, but he still got his wish — ensuring that good Southern Baptists in good Southern Baptist bookstores will be protected from profanity and Sandra Bullock. But if Baker imagines that this will somehow keep Southern Baptists from buying, owning and enjoying this movie, then he’s living in a fantasy of the distant past.

Here is the Amazon listing for The Blind Side on DVD. You can buy it new for $7.56 or used for $1.50 or so. The page also features tons of five-star reviews from viewers who describe it as “family friendly,” “inspirational” and “uplifting.”

LifeWay Christian Bookstores is a large and still-influential chain with 165 locations across the country. But which do you suppose sells more DVDs — LifeWay or Amazon? Do you think it’s even close?

More people shop at Amazon. More Southern Baptists shop at Amazon. More conservative, evangelical and fundamentalist Southern Baptists shop at Amazon. Southern Baptist evangelicals are still buying and watching The Blind Side, but LifeWay no longer sees any of the revenue from those sales.

The walls are gone and no one — not even conservative, sheltered, evangelical-leaning-fundamentalist Southern Baptists — needs to go through the gates or the gatekeepers anymore.

Mass media — from television to FM radio — chipped away at those walls for decades. Then the Internet came along and bulldozed them to the ground. (See earlier: “The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained, part 1” and “The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained, part 2.”)

But even though those walls are gone and cannot be rebuilt, the gatekeepers still maintain some of their power — partly through inertia and custom, partly through demagoguery that convinces their intimidated followers to pretend the walls are still there.

The so-called Christian bookstores still help to shape the evangelical subculture, even though its borders have become much more porous. Their timidly, tepidly cautious conservatism eschews all potential “controversy” and they have, through long habit, trained Christian publishers to adopt a similarly cautious, timid and tepid approach.

Rachel Held Evans discusses the chilling effect this has in a recent post titled “Christian bookstores and their chokehold on the industry“:

Christian bookstores have developed a reputation for producing a highly sanitized customer experience, purging from their shelves any language, content, or theology that doesn’t meet their uber-conservative standards. Walk into your local LifeWay and you will find plenty of Precious Moments statues, specialty Bibles, Veggie Tale movies, and Thomas Kinkade prints … but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires — as true art should! The Christian bookstore experience is, in a word, safe. But safe is not how Christians are called to live, and safe is not what artists who are Christians are called to create. In fact, based on LifeWay’s own standards, the Bible itself — which includes profanity, violence, and sex — should be banned from the shelves.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that the problem of sanitized Christian bookstores extends far beyond the inventory on the shelves to create an entire Christian subculture that is so sanitized and safe it often fails to produce art that is relevant to our culture or our lives.

Now I’m going to say something that will probably get me into some trouble, something that many editors and writers are afraid to say for fear of losing their jobs or their book contracts, but something which desperately needs to be spoken out loud: Christian bookstores have a chokehold on the Christian publishing industry. And this chokehold not only affects the inventory you find on Christian bookstore shelves, but which books are contracted by publishers, what content gets edited in the writing and editing process, and the degree of freedom authors feel they have to speak on their own blogs and platforms. As a result, the entire Christian industry has been sanitized, while its best artists look elsewhere for publication.

Evans gives several examples to illustrate the point, then describes how this chilling effect also influences the theology, politics and academic credibility of the evangelical subculture:

But what is perhaps most disturbing about this whole culture is the pervasive, stifling fear it has created among writers, editors, and publishers. I have spoken to former editors who left Christian publishing because they were exhausted from living with the fear that they would be fired for sticking their necks out and championing “edgy” projects. I know authors who are afraid to share their egalitarian views on their blogs because they might lose their book contracts. I too have hesitated before being honest about my views on gender, politics, and homosexuality for fear of repercussions. No one seems to like that the industry is this way, but many are just too afraid to challenge it.

For all the amazing people who work in Christian publishing, and for all the amazing books they produce every year, there is this undercurrent of fear and insecurity that undoubtedly stifles our collective creativity. And this fear and insecurity is a direct result of the unreasonable standards held up by Christian bookstores.

All true. And desperately sad once you realize just how little it takes for a project to be regarded as “edgy.”

Oddly, though, I think I’m more optimistic about all this than Evans is. That’s kind of a role reversal. She’s supposed to be the hopeful young idealist challenging evangelicalism from within, while I’m supposed to be the jaded old cranky exile, lobbing cynical criticism from the outside. But again, inside and outside don’t mean that much anymore now that the walls are down and all that remains of the old boundaries is a scattering of fortified gates standing alone on the open landscape.

So I don’t think that Christian bookstores can maintain their chokehold on Christian publishers much longer.

Those publishers finally seem to be realizing what Warner Home Video — the successful marketer of The Blind Side on DVD — already knows: You no longer need Christian bookstores to reach Christians.

Yes, old habits die hard, and many publishers remain fearful of doing anything that might jeopardize the once-necessary imprimatur of LifeWay and the other bookstores that were once so influential within the former boundaries of the subculture. But being publishers of books, they’re in a better position than most to also realize the inevitable truth about bookstore chains — which is that if they’re very lucky, they may just barely out-survive newspaper chains. Even the most timid and subculturally captive Christian publishing companies have already begun relying more on Amazon than on any of those old-guard brick-and-mortar chains. The publishers have already seen what the future will look like, and it doesn’t include much of a role for LifeWay, et. al.

The walls are gone. There’s no longer any need to pay the toll to use the gates.

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  • sarahinez

    A friend, in her late 50’s, with a senior in college  was asked if she’d had strict limits on TV and Internet.  “I didn’t hide anything from him,” she said. “I wanted him to see all the bad stuff while he was still at home and I could help him understand it.”

  • hidden_urchin

    That reminds me of the time I walked into the room and saw my 11 yo sis watching TV.

    “Whatcha watchin’?”
    “Law and Order: SVU.  It’s my favorite show.”

    When I asked her mother about it she said, “Yeah, I figure it’s not worth fighting over and at least she’ll be paranoid.”

    The 9 yo brother’s favorite franchise is James Bond.

  • hapax

     

    “Law and Order: SVU.  It’s my favorite show.”

    Law & Order Sweet Valley University? My goodness, have Elizabeth and Jessica started running drugs or something?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Law & Order Sweet Valley University? My goodness, have Elizabeth and Jessica started running drugs or something?

    *snerk*

    You’re not the only one who keeps thinking that’s the title :P

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I swap initials and often refer to it as “Law and Order: Sports Utility Vehicle”. 

  • arcseconds

     what about “Law and Order: Shut the Vuck Up”

  • Tricksterson

    Only in my twisted fantasies.

  • EnopoletusHarding

    Sigh. Why can’t fundamentalist leaders understand their present practices are on the wrong side of history?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No one ever thinks they’re on the wrong side of history*. If they did, wars would be rather more one-sided.

    The real poser is why anyone who’s even *heard of the concept* of history keeps holding out hope that *this time* it’ll turn out that *this was the one time* when oppressing people and denying them rights will turn out to be the right decision.

    (* Not *quite* everyone. I saw an article a few months ago by a lawmaker who had changed sides on marriage equality, and they quoted him as saying he still thought it was wrong, but he recognized that he was “on the wrong side of history” and he didn’t want to have to answer to his grandkids some day about why he’d been on the side of the oppressor)

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    Fundamentalist leaders *like* being on the wrong side of history.  It’s where they’re comfortable; it confirms their prejudices and their self-image as beleaguered

    heroes outnumbered by the forces of evil.  It feeds their follower’s addiction to righteous indignation, and their own addiction to the donations those followers make to anyone promising to stand against all the things about which they’re indignant.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Finally someone is taking a stand against satanic nazi Sandra Bullock!

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    LOL. That’s up there with the boardgame “Seals of Satan”, where the players have to combat the titular baby seals armed with diabolical powers of cuteness. Sandra Bullock is almost EXACTLY as satanic as a baby seal. 

  • Tricksterson

    Which is why we must club them both to death!

  • Pat B

    What? Is this an in-joke or something?

  • arcseconds

    Domine, defende nos ab Sandra Bullock
     

  • flat

    Yea,h you know what the problem is when you sanitize to much: it is that you don’t give people a good defence mechanism against real diseases.

  • Jenora Feuer

     Reminds me of what is one of my favourite comics from the long-since stopped webcomic ‘The Parking Lot is Full’:

    http://plif.courageunfettered.com/archive/wc161.gif

    Not satisfied with protecting children from bad media influences, parents install chips in their kids’ heads which block out violence and sex in real life.  Cut off from much of human experience, an entire generation grows up to be moral infants.
    You cannot imagine what kind of creatures their children will be.

    Looking over some of the stuff in the archive makes me wonder if Zach Weiner of SMBC was familiar with the strip.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Not satisfied with protecting children from bad media influences, parents install chips in their kids’ heads which block out violence and sex in real life.  Cut off from much of human experience, an entire generation grows up to be moral infants.

    You cannot imagine what kind of creatures their children will be.

    What children? Sex is a bit of a prerequisite there.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

     Like helicopter parents who keep their Mini-Me’s germ-free, even following Mini-Me around with hand sanitizer and Lysol spray on anything Mini-Me touches.  When those childhood diseases and minor sicknesses Mommy so studiously heads off are what teaches the kid’s immune system IFF what to recognize as “enemy”.

    And the kid eventually dies from anaphylactic shock at 17 when somebody opens a can of Planter’s Peanuts fifty meters upwind.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I hope it won’t get that bad, but I wonder if the resurgence of some diseases can partly be pinned on the increasing sheltering of children so that even with the vaccinations they get, they’re not “trained” to withstand otherwise garden-variety illnesses as well.

  • Jessica_R

    And it also leads to a stunted shallow morality, and life for that matter. Buck and Rayford are awful, awful people but they don’t cuss or drink and therefore are “good”. There’s no place for Hellboy chomping on a cigar while saving the world, Spock sacrificing himself to save the ship, or other moments in secular media that are more meaningful, and more Christian for that matter, than what you’ll find in the Junk For Jesus shop in the mall. 

    I mean even the music, good music glorifies God if there is one, and this utterly secular track for an utterly secular western is more spiritual than a dozen antiseptic CCM CDS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-rHdSWZLpQ

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    …or other moments in secular media that are more meaningful, and more
    Christian for that matter, than what you’ll find in the Junk For Jesus
    shop in the mall.

     
    Jessica.  I have found more Gospel and more Christ in some My Little Pony fanfics than you find in the Official Christianese fiction & art of the Jesus Junk Store circuit.

    And have you noticed that the Christianese activists who are into the Junk for Jesus industry also heavily advocate censorship and banning of everything on the Outside?  Kill off the competition and they’ll HAVE to buy your stuff.

  • Jay

    Something like 70+ % of Americans are at least nominally Christian, and about 30% are evangelical.  Pretty much every retail outlet, including online ones, sells extensively to Christians.  I think Lifeway’s niche is that people go there when they want something inoffensive, for social reasons.  

  • walden

    But having their own stores is “signaling” cultural norms: This is in, this is out.  So even if people can get the unapproved movie or book easily elsewhere, there is the apparent value of defining the holy and heathen. 
    This can lead to odd and interesting outcomes.  A minister I know went into a Christian bookstore shortly after the Rob Bell “Love Wins” release, and was informed that all of Bell’s previous books had been removed from the store and were no longer being sold.

    I’d be interested to hear, who else (and what else) has been withdrawn from these stores over time, in commenters’ own experience?  Who has had the anathema, the interdict imposed (like the medieval church)?

    Conversely, has anyone (any product) been restored to community, replaced in the seat of honor (like Henry at Canossa, after self-abasement, sackloth and ashes), and once again sold to the faithful?

  • ReverendRef

     Conversely, has anyone (any product) been restored to community,
    replaced in the seat of honor (like Henry at Canossa, after
    self-abasement, sackloth and ashes), and once again sold to the
    faithful?

    I think Amy Grant fell into that category.  I remember a dust-up over her divorce from Gary Chapman and subsequent marriage to Vince Gill.  After the divorce and her crossing over into non-Christian music, she seems to have restored to the faithful community.

    The_L1985: I always had a vague dislike for Chrisian bookstores regardless.

    The dislike I have for Christian bookstores comes more from the fact that I’m expected to fit into their definition of what a “proper Christian” is.  And as an Episcopal priest, I certainly do NOT fit into their definition of an RTC.  And especially after today when the General Convention voted to authorize liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships.

  • hapax

     

    And especially after today when the General Convention voted to
    authorize liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships.

    Not to mention prohibiting discrimination against ordaining clergy on the grounds of “gender identity or expression.”

    w00t!

  • ReverendRef

     Not to mention prohibiting discrimination against ordaining clergy on the grounds of “gender identity or expression.”

    Yep.  From all the reports I’m getting, the debates on these Big Ticket Issues have all been very respectful — nothing like the cheering and whatnot that went on before.  That’s a good sign.

    Of course, outside of GC, the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.  South Carolina has seemed to lob the first volley post-equality votes.  While not blatantly obnoxious, and rather calm I think, you still see where they’re going:

    We grieve that General Convention has further departed from these values
    and adopted a resolution to permit pastoral license to violate the
    existing canons on marriage. We believe this decision will seriously
    wound the Church and ask you to join us in prayer for God’s One, Holy,
    Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    And as I recall, it was South Carolina that lobbed the first volley in another battle over equality.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The dislike I have for Christian bookstores comes more from the fact that I’m expected to fit into their definition of what a “proper Christian” is. And as an Episcopal priest, I certainly do NOT fit into their definition of an RTC. 

    Most “Christian bookstores” I’ve been in put stuff about Catholicism in the “cult” or “other religion” section, so…right with you.

  • Fusina

    As someone who used to be employed in a “Christian Bookstore” we did, once upon a time before Amazon, have a better selection of Bibles. Um. I quit my job there after one too many “Christians” was rude. Probably the best thing I ever did for myself. And I am with sarahinez friend, I do not censor books/movies/internet. I will warn the kids in general terms what they are likely to encounter in the books they pick up to read, and I am always available for them to discuss things, but I hate censorship with the passion acquired by those whose parents were into it in a big way.

  • Jared Bascomb

    I’m willing to bet that they have  Mel Gibson’s torture-porn flick in stock.

  • Cmasling

    All this fuss over a shitty shitty movie.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     Of all the perfectly legitimate reasons not to watch ‘The Blind Side’……

    I mean come on people, a Jim-figure is perfectly helpless in society until rescued by rich suburban White Southerners and their One True American sport…   

    Maybe the real reason they blacklisted this film is that it’s essentially porn for their right wing followers. 

  • Amy Pemberton

    Dumb question regarding The Blind Side:  It came out in 2009.  I assume that it was on video sometime in 2010, latest.  And Lifeway and the rev. in FL just now noticed now that it has a PG-13 rating?  To quote the MPAA

    “PG-13 — Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13. A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category….”etc.

    While a PG-13 movie is not required to have profanity, the rating means that you shouldn’t be shocked, shocked that it contains some naughty words.  Especially three years after the movie came out in theaters, for crying out loud.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

     It came out in 2009.  I assume that it was on video sometime in 2010,
    latest.  And Lifeway and the rev. in FL just now noticed now that it has
    a PG-13 rating? 

    RTCs (Real True Christians) are notorious for being Late Adopters in general.

  • LouisDoench

     It’s actually a pretty liberal story if you read the book.  I mean, Micheal Oher is a real live person. the film takes liberties, but at its core it”s a true story.

  • GDwarf

    Because, Ross, history shows that sufficiently-supported oppression can last for millennia. Of course, by the time the cracks are visible, it’s too late for the oppressors to win, but it’s easier to pretend that isn’t the case.

    Plus, of course, they think that history will judge them to be in the right. It’s not oppression if they’re doing it, because they’re good, and all that.

  • glendanowakowsk

     Because, Ross, history shows that sufficiently-supported oppression can last for millennia. Of course, by the time the cracks are visible, it’s too late for the oppressors to win, but it’s easier to pretend that isn’t the case. 

    Maybe, like George Will, they’re trying to run out the clock.   
    Après moi, le déluge  and all.

  • Richard Hershberger

    “Even the most timid and subculturally captive Christian publishing
    companies have already begun relying more on Amazon than on any of those
    old-guard brick-and-mortar chains.”

    It seems to me that an obvious course of action for such a publisher would to create a new “edgy” “Christian” imprint and market it through Amazon and B & N and the like, while keeping the old imprint “pure” for the “Christian” “bookstore” market.  [Scare quotes used advisedly.]

  • Ursula L

     …but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires — as true art should! 

    I have a bit of a quibble with this.

    Art can also be about something being beautiful, or at least pretty, and therefore giving pleasure to the observer.  

    A Kincaid print may not intrigue, agitate or inspire.  But that’s not what the people who buy them are looking for.  A Kincaid print is intended to be pretty and comforting.  A warm and well-lit home, the safety of protective walls and of the fire on the hearth that has been the focus of human life for thousands of years.

    Art inspires emotion.  And emotions like feeling comforted and secure are as real as less-pleasant emotions such as agitation.  

    There is a heavy dose of class and economic prejudice in the idea that “real” art evokes conflicted or negative emotions such as intrigue or agitation, rather than pleasant and comforting emotions. 

    If your life is comfortable and secure, then it can be interesting to surround yourself with art that evokes less comfortable emotions.

    But if your life isn’t comfortable and secure, you don’t need art to evoke emotions like agitation – you spend plenty of time being agitated by the very real problems in your life.  

    If someone working 70 hours a week between three minimum wage part time jobs without benefits can have feelings of comfort and security evoked by a piece of art, that’s genius. Because when you’re working 70 hours a week at minimum wage, comfort and security are very precious.  

  • LoneWolf343

     The emotion that a Kincade print inspires to me is disgust followed by rage. I don’t think it is working.

  • PJ Evans

    a Kincade print
     I don’t even like the appearance of his paintings. The lighting and colors are unreal. (For real horror, you should see the stuff he did for Disney. It’s the ‘Disney Dreams’ line. I wouldn’t put one up in an adult’s bedroom, never mind a child’s room.)

  • hidden_urchin

    The sad part is that some of his early work is pretty good.  You know, when he actually included darkness in the painting to offset the light.  Here’s a solid critique of his work from an artistic perspective.

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/23/kinkade%E2%80%99s-cottage-fantasy/

    The new stuff, though, I find more creepy than comforting.  Where is the light coming from?  It’s like everything is on fire.

  • everstar

    No, no, it’s just radioactive is all.  Sure, it’s toxic, but it’s so pretty when it glows.

  • Tonio

    I think you may be buying into the same dichotomy that you’re condemning. The 70-hours-per-week worker can and does appreciate art whose meanings go beyond the comfort and security of escapism. I suspect that the dichotomy is often the other way around, with socially privileged consumers craving sentimentality in art because anything deeper may smack of social changes that threaten their position. Like how TV writers in the 1960s ignored the turmoil on the streets or dismissed it as the work of Commie troublemakers. In my experience, Kinkaide’s fans tend to be gatekeepers like Fred describes, wrongly equating comfort and security with nonthreatening because they live in a world of phony bogeymen.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Art can also be about something being beautiful, or at least pretty, and therefore giving pleasure to the observer.
    A Kincaid print may not intrigue, agitate or inspire. But that’s not what the people who buy them are looking for. A Kincaid print is intended to be pretty and comforting. A warm and well-lit home, the safety of protective walls and of the fire on the hearth that has been the focus of human life for thousands of years.
    Art inspires emotion. And emotions like feeling comforted and secure are as real as less-pleasant emotions such as agitation.

    Fallacy of the wrong comparision. There is enough good, true art that is soothing for people after a 70 hr. week.

    I most certainly would not hang Guernica on my bedroom wall. But the “Sunflowers” of Van Gogh have been scientifically proven to contain exact the right shade of yellow that makes people happy (by hitting the chemical producing thingie in the brain that reacts to sunlight). And a cheap reproduction of them doesn’t cost more than a crappy Kincaid painting.

    So it’s quite possible to buy a book with reproductions of conflicty art to look at and a nice soothing picture to hang onto your wall without giving money to Kincaid and his ilks.

  • veejayem

    Well said. There is an unpleasant element of elitism in a lot of contemporary art that acts as a “Keep Out” sign. A few years ago there was a show of Monet’s paintings in London and it was extremely popular. Then the reviews started to include snide little comments about Monet’s work, seemingly because (shudder) ordinary people liked and responded to it.

  • Albanaeon

     Honestly, if I were to go for light and peace and comfort,  I’d do an Impressionist like Monet.  Or maybe 16th Century Dutch Still Life.   Or some of the 18th century Japanese prints.  Or Georgia O’Keefe. 

    But really, great art is about how the message of the artist is conveyed.  Things that get attention tend to be the more outrageous things, but there is, was and will be a large amount of good art that is all about making people feel good and that’s it.

    Kinkade’s “problem” isn’t that he had shtick and stuck to it.  He made a living and a name for himself and a pretty pure expression of a commercial artist.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Except that he and his followers tend to insist he was a “great artist.”  And he wasn’t.  Particularly as he took to fuzzing in light from everywhere and thinking he was done.  Did it enhance the “feeling” of light?  Did it set the mood?  Was it an experiment of what it would be like if their was always diffuse light?  Nope.  He was “The Painter of Light” and that’s what he did.  And he did it without the awareness of how shlocky it really is that gives Warhol and other pop artists an edge or charm. 

    In the end Kinkade’s work is highly symbolic of Evangelical subculture as a whole.  It’s got some merit, but its so wrapped up in what it is supposed to be, safe, comforting and predictable, that it becomes almost a self-parody.  And it tends to warp the culture’s appreciation for good things.  Kinkade’s not a terrible artist, but he was not anywhere near as good as he could be, or how good he and his proponents insist they were.

  • Olivia

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to decorate one’s home with pretty, reassuring, comfortable images. 

    There’s nothing wrong, either, with wanting to buy a “sofa sized painting” with colors that match one’s living room curtains and upholstery.  But that’s not what art, in its strictest sense, is about. 

    Whether or not Christian bookstores need to carry “true” art—-the kind that challenges the senses and stands the test of time, and not just in a sentimental way—-is debatable.  But, in my opinion, at least, a store that claims to be dedicated to an eternal Truth ought to offer some merchandise reflecting the classic nature of that Truth.  Not just cute contemporary decorations that will look very dated in another 10 or 20 years.  

    The practice of Christianity is about many things, but it’s an error to suggest that it should always reflect smugness and personal comfort. 

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I’m supposed to be the jaded old cranky exile

    But I met you and you were nothing like that.

    And in retrospect you were incredibly polite given that it takes all of half a second for me to get distracted and suddenly forget the conversation in favor of needing to know what that protest sign says. 

  • The_L1985

    I always had a vague dislike for Chrisian bookstores regardless. They struck me as being located square on the corner of God Avenue and Mammom Street.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    I was always under the impression that Christian bookstores and gift stores primarily existed to give blue-haired old ladies a place to purchase gifts for nephews and nieces and women from the Sunday School class who have busted their hip and whatnot. In other words, gifts for people for whom you feel obligated to buy gifts but don’t know well enough to purchase something thoughtful, so you get something they’ll never read or use but which reassures them that (a) you’re a Christian, (b) you think they’re a Christian, and (c) you cared enough to spend $20 on a book with a picture of an angel on the cover. 

  • Mau de Katt

     When I was a “new Christian,” back in the early 80’s, the local Christian book store was independently owned and not a chain.  A good friend of mine worked there, and the older couple who owned and ran it were very nice and genuinely cared about their customers.  The products were still pretty much the same, but somehow didn’t seem nearly so bland and sanitized as the chains later did to their inventories.  Instead, their store seemed to me (the new believer) to be a mysterious place full of hitherto unknown wonders buried under the surface of “normalcy.”

    I remember there were books by not-so-well-known authors, books that weren’t so uber-marketed, even books that dealt with different Christian viewpoints than the “mainstream evangelical subculture.”  Heck, I remember buying a record (actual vinyl LP, lol) put out by a “Christian metal” group, Stryper, that had a pretty “out-there” cover (by evangelical standards; I must be honest,  I bought it because of the cover, lol), at that store.  The older gentleman owner was a bit taken aback by the cover of the album and by me buying it, and expressed his concerns that I “might not find it appropriate” (I had that “innocent & naive girl-next-door” aura, much to my chagrin), BUT he not only sold it to me, they actually carried it in the first place.

    But like all independent bookstores, secular as well as “sacred,” the chains came along and put them out of business.  To me it seems poetic justice that Amazon is now putting the chains out of business, culturally as well as economically.

  • Otrame

    My mother was asked if it was alright for me, a sixth grader, to read a certain book that was supposed to be for 8th graders.  She was astonished.  “She can read anything she likes.”

    “But you might not want her exposed to certain ideas.”

    “I want her exposed to everything.  I believe in immunization, not isolation.”

  • Amy Pemberton

    My brother had this issue with a librarian once.  In fairness to the librarian, I think it was more an issue that she thought my brother wouldn’t be able to understand it and wouldn’t enjoy it than that she was trying to play censor.  My brother was offended and my mom backed him.  
    My parents pretty much had the same philosophy as your mother.  Me and my brother were allowed to read pretty much what we wanted.  Heck, my mom even defended us from people who thought we should read “more serious” stuff.   (You get this a lot if you’re young and you read fantasy and/or science fiction.)  She figured that we were reading and it would be dumb to discourage us.

    There are certain kinds of teachers and authority figures who always want to control what people “under” them read.  Especially as you get older it may be presented as much as quality control as censorship–“Why would you want to waste time on that trash!”  Be polite, but ignore them.

  • Münchner Kindl

    My mother was asked if it was alright for me, a sixth grader, to read a certain book that was supposed to be for 8th graders. She was astonished. “She can read anything she likes.””But you might not want her exposed to certain ideas.””I want her exposed to everything. I believe in immunization, not isolation.”

    So did your mother send you to measle parties, too, and into the hospital isolation ward to play with MRSA-patients? Going into the other extreme is understandable, but not a good option. There are books and movies whose violence is disturbing for unprepared children, or whose demeaning attitude towards women / minorities you don’t want your children to accept unquestioningly. (And unless you watch / read everything together with them, you can’t always adress this  – a lot of stuff, esp. the attitudes underneath, children won’t adress directly).We already have a big problem that because porn, esp. violent porn, is trifling easy to find on the internet, that a big portion of youth, esp. male teens, get their whole idea of what sex is from that. Studies show that they indeed believe that “a girl that says no doesn’t mean it, once she’s gang-raped she’ll like it” “bigger is better” “women must be treated violently”, and that can be charted to the increase in violence against girls.So screening of problematic material until a certain maturity is reached is sensible. Of course, since each child is different and therefore will reach maturity at different ages, and will be disturbed by different things, this needs to be done on an individual basis. And talked about with the child as to why – a simple “I forbid this” without explanation will only tempt children to get the media from other sources. A good respectful discussion will make them understand.

  • malpollyon

    Citation seriously needed.

  • Münchner Kindl

    For what exactly – that there are measle-parties? Or that they are a bad idea?

    That violent porn exists on the internet, and that teenagers can find it?

    Or the studies that they are influenced by it?

    What standard of proof for citations do you accept? Because I’m sick and tired of going digging for cites only to have them
    a) ignored
    b) dismissed because they’re in “newspapers” not science journals (I don’t have access to science journals, and I’m a layperson; furthermore, just because the US has Fox news and journalists who don’t understand how reporting works doesn’t automatically mean that every other county has also media who can’t be trusted; dismissed because it’s in German)
    c) attack the source and their reputation by impugning them (usually without any evidence of course).
    So I only dig out cites if you are willing to accept them, not if you dismiss/ ignore/ impugn them.

  • malpollyon

    I want a citation for the claim that “violent porn” has a strong influence on its consumers.

    I’d accept a citation to a scientific paper in any language that explains what methodology they used to establish specific causation. I won’t accept a link to a Newspaper report, unless it gives enough details that I can easily track down the paper and verify it myself (I have access to most academic journals through my University).

    I’d be interested in an explanation of why you think that censorship of offensive material is more effective than countering distorted perspectives with accurate information, particularly once a child reaches the teenage years.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    First, screw you Disqus for eating my carefully composed intro twice.

    Second, I have no preconceived ideas about what the effect of consumption of violent porn is likely to be. I do tend to agree with Munchner Kindl’s general point, that complete exposure to all things at any age is not necessarily a great idea. I also think that he’s been rather abrasive in other threads recently, but personally find the response to him in this particular one surprisingly harsh.

    Anyway, I’m as far from an expert on this subject as one can be, but 5 minutes of looking at journal abstracts on Google scolar came up with a whole bunch of research.

    A Meta-Analysis Summarizing the Effects of Pornography II Aggression After Exposure
    MIKE ALLEN, DAVE D’ALESSIO, KERI BREZGEL
    Human Communication Research 1995
    Abstract:…The summary demonstrates a homogeneous set of results showing that pictorial nudity reduces subsequent aggressive behavior, that consumption of material depicting nonviolent sexual activity increases aggressive behavior, and that media depictions of violent sexual activity generates more aggression than those of nonviolent sexual activity. No other moderator variable produced homogeneous findings.

    This is not a concluse review on the literature. I just don’t think you can say that Munchner Kindl is completely talking out of his arse on this one.

  • christopher_young

     Kindl and SPBHCB: I think you’re overreacting badly here. When a parent says, “I want to expose my children to everything”, they’re using a figure of speech to mean, I want to make sure my children to understand that it’s a big, varied world out there and there are bad bits as well as good bits, not that they actually plan to make the kids sit through a programme of snuff movies.

    Look, if somebody invites me to dinner and asks if there’s anything I don’t eat, I’ll likely reply, “Oh, I’ll eat anything.” But if I sit down at their table and they pass me a plate of hemlock fritters garnished with arsenic powder, they’ll discover that I won’t, in point of fact, eat anything.

    I’m quite sure that any thoughtful parent* who “wants to expose their children to everything” would in practice take pains to steer the children away from anything they thought they couldn’t yet handle. But do so in such a way that the children both have a sense of expanding their own boundaries, and a confidence that their parents don’t bullshit them about trivia, so that when they do strongly advise them not to do something there’s probably a good reason.

    *Yes, I know there are a lot of thoughtless parents out there who cause their children a good deal of harm in all sorts of ways. Those aren’t the people we’re discussing.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Kindl and SPBHCB: I think you’re overreacting badly here. When a parent says, “I want to expose my children to everything”, they’re using a figure of speech to mean, I want to make sure my children to understand that it’s a big, varied world out there and there are bad bits as well as good bits, not that they actually plan to make the kids sit through a programme of snuff movies.

    The second part is a completly different meaning from the first. Is this a special US definition of that term? (Because Americans can only understand extremes, so if you are against censorship or even filtering in any form, you must allow everything, but in practice not?)

    Look, if somebody invites me to dinner and asks if there’s anything I don’t eat, I’ll likely reply, “Oh, I’ll eat anything.” But if I sit down at their table and they pass me a plate of hemlock fritters garnished with arsenic powder, they’ll discover that I won’t, in point of fact, eat anything.

    That example doesn’t fit. Hemlock and arsenic are poisionus to adults,too. This is about things that teens or adults can handle, but small children or teens can’T yet.
    I remember the anecdote of a real mother in a book about child-rearing, on how the mother tried to discuss with her child why she wouldn’t let him watch a particular movie for being too drastically violent. The mother used the analogy of “We don’t feed Sauerkraut to babies, because their stomachs can’t handle it yet, they would get belly-ache. Your mind can’t yet handle that movie, but in some years, it can.” The kid asked “How do we know that babies can’t handle Sauerkraut? Did somebody feed it once to find out?” Then some days later the mother comes home and the kid says “I now know what you mean about the Sauerkraut!” Turns out that in an afternoon TV programme approved by the mother with usually normal content, they had for some reason without warning shown a person with half their head blown off, which had badly frightened the kid watching.

    I’m quite sure that any thoughtful parent* who “wants to expose their children to everything” would in practice take pains to steer the children away from anything they thought they couldn’t yet handle. But do so in such a way that the children both have a sense of expanding their own boundaries, and a confidence that their parents don’t bullshit them about trivia, so that when they do strongly advise them not to do something there’s probably a good reason.

    And yet, this isn’t filtering. This is also not the discussion with the child about what’s not suited yet for them and why. No, this is completly different from what I described because …?

  • christopher_young

    I’m not American.

    But there is a widespread, and as far as I know international convention in colloquial English that people say “I will do anything/eat anything/go anywhere/let my children do everything” as an expression of a general approach, but with an unspoken sub-clause to the effect of “anything or everything within the constraints of what a person in my culture would regard as unlikely to cause serious or lasting harm directly or indirectly.”

    The effect of the implicit sub-clause depends on whether the speaker is being entirely serious, in which case it can be taken as excluding intolerable cost or lasting physical or psychological damage, or whether the speaker is engaging in light banter, in which case it might mean that they would exclude getting up too early on a Saturday morning. You can only judge from context and your knowledge of the speaker, but usually it’s clear enough. Certainly if someone who seemed otherwise to be an intelligent and attentive parent said that they wanted to immunise their child against the bad shit in life by exposing them to everything early on, I would not take that as meaning that they weren’t going to take care to avoid physical or moral harm to the children.

    tl;dr. What PJ Evans said upthread.

  • Münchner Kindl

    But there is a widespread, and as far as I know international convention in colloquial English that people say “I will do anything/eat anything/go anywhere/let my children do everything” as an expression of a general approach, but with an unspoken sub-clause to the effect of “anything or everything within the constraints of what a person in my culture would regard as unlikely to cause serious or lasting harm directly or indirectly.”

    Thank you, that was the first helpful thing so far. Unspoken sub-clauses that mean roughly the same what I explicitly said: that filtering some stuff is a good idea.

  • Lori

     

    The second part is a completly different meaning from the first. Is this
    a special US definition of that term? (Because Americans can only
    understand extremes, so if you are against censorship or even filtering
    in any form, you must allow everything, but in practice not?) 

    Is it actually possible for you to make an argument or point without it being a jab at America and Americans?

  • Münchner Kindl

    Um, we are talking about American attitudes shaping American language since this is an US-centric messageboard. Generally, Americans seem to have trouble understanding why limiting freedom of expression in any way shape or form is a good idea, because of the knee-jerk reaction (visible in this thread) of equating “restricting access” = censorship; censorship = terrible!

    And it’s especially aggravating considering that most Americans are those who say “I let my children read/ watch everything!” yet also say “My child must not have one drop of alcohol before turning 18” (with it actually being illegal in several states even for parents) and “My child must not have any sex before turning 18” (again, some acts being illegal in several states.

  • Lori

     

    Um, we are talking about American attitudes shaping American language
    since this is an US-centric messageboard. Generally, Americans seem to
    have trouble understanding why limiting freedom of expression in any way
    shape or form is a good idea, because of the knee-jerk reaction
    (visible in this thread) of equating “restricting access” = censorship;
    censorship = terrible!

    And it’s especially aggravating considering that most Americans are
    those who say “I let my children read/ watch everything!” yet also say
    “My child must not have one drop of alcohol before turning 18” (with it
    actually being illegal in several states even for parents) and “My child
    must not have any sex before turning 18” (again, some acts being
    illegal in several states. 

    So you’re justifying acting like a bigoted jerk by…..acting like a bigoted jerk. That’s pretty special.

    For your information, Americans don’t generally “have trouble
    understanding why limiting freedom of expression in any way
    shape or form is a good idea, because of the knee-jerk reaction
    (visible in this thread) of equating “restricting access” = censorship;
    censorship = terrible!have trouble understand.” Censorship issues in
    America generate complicated, and often very intense, debate. The First
    Amendment  is far from absolute and in practice censorship often
    happens, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for bad ones.

    The fact that our approach to free speech =/= the German approach
    doesn’t mean that our reactions are knee-jerk. You’re constant lecturing
    about what Americans are and what’s wrong with it are beyond tiresome.

    TL; dr: You’re bigoted and ill-informed and I’m rapidly coming to the
    conclusion that it’s not worth trying to discuss things with you.

  • arcseconds

    Müncher Kindl:

    I gotta say, from where I’m sitting, there’s a lot of mutual misunderstanding in this thread, and to some extent you’re being dumped on ‘unfairly’.

    But you’re not doing yourself any favours with painting Americans with these broad (and negative) brushstrokes!

    I’m not American, so I’m not taking this personally, and just between you and me I’m inclined to think similar things sometimes myself.  But I wouldn’t say this to their faces: I know it’s only going to cause hostility and a bad reception (so shh! this is our little secret).

    Also, generalizations, even if accurate as a generalization, are seldom universally true, so it’s neither accurate nor nice to deploy them in a way that makes it seem as though you think the generalization is true of the individual that’s standing in front of them.

    Of course, all Germans are rude and abrasive, so it’s probably not your fault that you’re like this, but you’d find things a lot easier going if you started to learn to edit out the anti-American stuff.
     

  • Tricksterson

    Yeah but that was violence!  To use the show Heroes as an example it was deemed perfectly okay to show Hayden Panettiere’s autopsied corpse but God forbid if they had shown a nipple.  But then that’s the US.

  • Münchner Kindl

    I’d accept a citation to a scientific paper in any language that explains what methodology they used to establish specific causation. I won’t accept a link to a Newspaper report,

    Then I can’t give you a quick cite – the last article I read was in the Zeit magazine.

    And it wasn’t a scientifically controlles study exposing adults to non-violent porn; it was a study of asking teenagers about their experiences with porn (internet and other media) and their attitudes towards sex, esp. asking male teens about attitudes towards girls.

    Another study or part of that study was also asking teens who had already done acts of sexual aggression (like rape) on why they had done it and not stopped, and a large percentage answered with “because we saw that when a girl says no, she doesn’t mean it”.

    Now, obviously there is more than just porn a factor: a lack of proper sex ed. in the family; a lack of proper relationship models in the family and friends; a general emotional neglect of the teen by adults. Nobody is saying that watching one porno on the internet will turn a teen into a violent raping monster.

    Rather, what is worrying is that a) most pornos that are on the internet today are violent (as compared to 10 years ago) and that
    b) the teens say directly and indirectly that they have problems keeping fiction and truth different, esp. if other influences are lacking.

    I’d be interested in an explanation of why you think that censorship of offensive material is more effective than countering distorted perspectives with accurate information, particularly once a child reaches the teenage years.

    First, I did not in any way advocate censorship, and it’s not about “offensive” material. If you had read my post fully, you’d seen the part where I talked about how each child is different and affected by different things, so what material is appropriate at what age will differ wildly.

    I also did not advocate a simple ban, but rather a discussion with the child as to why he/she shouldn’t consume certain materials until older.

    As for countering distorted perspective with information: Did you follow in any way the research about psychological influence via emotions in the past decades?

    Violence, horror or otherwise unsuited material, along with bad role models, influence emotions.

    Factual information goes to a very different part of the brain. You can’t use information to counter emotions. If somebody is convinced that he is allowed to take what he likes because he’s a psychopath or because he was spoiled rotten, giving him information that is not good won’t do anything.

    The research of the past decades with adults have shown to how much a degree people are and can be manipulated without noticting, but you think letting children see that violence is accepted can be countered with the information “well that’s not really true”?

    I don’t really know how I can explain so wide a gap.

  • Münchner Kindl

    A few links:

    Interview with the president of the German society for the sociologial study of sex http://www.zeit.de/zeit-wissen/2009/03/Aufklaerung-Kasten-Interview

    How pornos change brain chemistry and behaviour esp. in male teens:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/29671981/Are-Kids-Addicted-to-Internet-Porn

    Georgette Constantinou, a pediatric psychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, said viewing pornography at that age “puts boys into a constant hyper-sexualized state.”

    In young males, Brooks has discovered in his practice, viewing porn teaches them to wallthemselves off from too much emotional intimacy in sex and to sexualize all feelings of emotional and physical intimacy. Because their closest approximations of emotional intimacy and most intense exposure to sensual pleasure occur almost exclusively in the context of rapid-orgasm sexual activity, male adolescents learn to closely associate sex with intimacy.Many men are unable to be aroused without porn…. Jensen said that often sex portrayed on the Internet is not consensual.´Having a 14-year-old watch a 55-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl have sex, thinking that·s acceptable to meet that man·s needs, is very concerning,µ Jensen said.´There are sounds and images that may seem like someone is emotional, when, of course,they·re not. And a child doesn·t have the context or maturity to make sense of all thosethings,µ said Jensen. She said children begin to think that·s what sex is. And now they·reseeing it at an earlier age than before.

  • malpollyon

    If you find more information on that study you mentioned before I’d be very interested in reading it, from your description it sounded like exactly the kind of evidence it would take to begin convincing me. 

    The interview and news article on the other hand are not strong evidence, the article is full of unsupported controversial claims and the only serious mention of the science is that studies show no causal link between viewing pornography and attitudes towards women. Of the few genuine statistics actually cited, none really point either way as to whether porn is uniquely problematic. The interview, as far as I could tell, makes no reference to specific evidence (except an unnamed study on U.S. soap operas, am I misreading that part?), just again asserts the magnitude of the problem.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So did your mother send you to measle parties, too, and into the hospital isolation ward to play with MRSA-patients?

    You know, in addition to committing various logical fallacies (jncluding purposely carrying lines of argument to absurd conclusions based on overly literal reading of the word “immunization”), you’re also being kind of a dick.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Ah, breaking out the personal insults again.

    So following an argument to its conclusion to show its absurd is a fallacy? A literal reading of immunization is a fallacy?

    If the attitude of your mother was as you stated it that nothing should be filtered in any way or shape, then I fail to see how it’s absurd to point out where that leads to.

    If your mother did draw a line somewhere, because some things can be harmful, then you need to say so.

    I also note you didn’t adress the point of my post – that extremes in both directions are bad. Extreme filtering is bad, but extreme openeness is also bad.

    I guess once you had slapped the label of “logical fallacies” onto my post, you didn’t have to bother reading further.

    Really pleasant the intelligent discussions here…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Just because I only quote part of your post for context doesn’t mean I haven’t read the whole thing.

    And you’re still being a dick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    So following an argument to its conclusion to show its absurd is a fallacy? A literal reading of immunization is a fallacy?

    Yes. Yes it is. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

  • LouisDoench

     It’s the 21st century where I come from… adults can say “kind of a dick” without it being character assassination or a personal insult.  That’s friendly advice ’round here.

    “You’re being and obtuse, thin skinned fuckhead.” Now that would be a personal insult, if it were directed at someone in particular perhaps. 

  • Ima Pseudonym

    “”So did your mother send you to measle parties, too, and into the hospital isolation ward to play with MRSA-patients?”

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. 

     At the age of ten, I was already avidly devouring Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, Clive Barker, J. G. Ballard, William S Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft and Dean Koontz.  The books tended to be gory and violent, with heroes (for a given definition of the word “hero”) that were often morally ambiguous–or morally complex, if you’re feeling generous–and and with characters that were damaged in various extremely disturbing ways.  I was never forbidden to read them.  Even at the age of 9, I was able to understand that there were things the characters did that weren’t acceptable in real life, and even in the world of those stories, except perhaps under the extremely narrow range of conditions that were posited in the books themselves (being fictional to begin with, it didn’t matter).  And when I had a problem understanding something, I asked my parents. 

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think it did any harm to me. Quite the opposite, in fact.  I saw a larger, wider world than the one I lived in, and the characters within those books doing the things you describe were generally depicted as villainous “heart of darkness” types no sane person wanted anything to do with, so they were valuable examples of people you didn’t want to emulate. 

  • Münchner Kindl

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think it did any harm to me. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    The old “I was beaten as child and didn’t harm me, so everybody can be beaten, too” argument.

    If you don’t want to speak for everybody, then what use is your personal anecdote? Maybe you could imagine a different 10-year old who would be unable to sleep for weeks on end after reading about government conspiracies experimenting on humans or unstoppable killers or other King and Koontz stuff (not to mention Lovecradt, with its horror and racism).

    (And then the kid asks an adult about it and learns that yes, indeed, government did experiments on people with drugs without telling them; yes indeed, there were very racist people; yes indeed there are psychopaths who can kill without any remorse).

    I saw a larger, wider world than the one I lived in, and the characters within those books doing the things you describe were generally depicted as villainous “heart of darkness” types no sane person wanted anything to do with, so they were valuable examples of people you didn’t want to emulate.

    Good thing I didn’t recommend forbidding anything. Good thing I specifically described how to evaluate what a child can consume at what age depending on each child. Oh wait, you all skipped that part and argue against a strawman.

    Because reading King or Koontz with characters specifically described as bad is exactly the same as all literature and movies. It’s not like there are books out there – like Left Behind? – or movies (like Bruce Willis, Batman et al) where the “good guys can do what they want because they are good; revenge and vigilantism are good” and other messages are pushed underneath the surface. No, that’s not a problem at all.

  • PJ Evans

    If the rest of us understand that the line about wanting the kids to be immunized was intended to be read as allowing the kids to explore the world around them and make some mistakes, then you’re really trying hard to misunderstand it.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Oh, so it’s not important to be clear in your posts anymore? You just know that everybody understands what you mean, no need to try and be clear.

    You can tell that to Fred, too, he can reduce his wordcount immensly if it’s no longe important to clarify things.

    I also don’t remember being against immunizing kids…

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It’s hard for my to have much sympathy for the folks Evans is worrying over:

    I have spoken to former editors who left Christian publishing because they were exhausted from living with the fear that they would be fired for sticking their necks out and championing “edgy” projects. I know authors who are afraid to share their egalitarian views on their blogs because they might lose their book contracts. I too have hesitated before being honest about my views on gender, politics, and homosexuality for fear of repercussions. No one seems to like that the industry is this way, but many are just too afraid to challenge it.

    Pause for a moment, and reflect with me…
    …would be fired…. might lose their book contracts…
    These are folks who have jobs, who either have or are likely to get writing contracts. How do they have jobs or contracts? Because they made a very deliberate choice to work with a niche market. 

    It’s a bit like hearing the laments of commercial jingle writers being denied the chance to compose great music.  Is it potentially unsatisfying to the artists? Sure, but the folks who stick around do so not from a spiritual calling, but from a much more simple mercantile need.  If you want to play fusion jazz, you play fusion jazz. If you make and license Kenny-G-like “soft jazz” tracks to Muzak-like companies, it’ll probably be a whole lot less creative, a whole lot less inspiring, and probably a fair piece more lucrative. That’s the trade-off a lot of artists and writers and creative-folks have to make. I don’t see why we should fret or worry especially because Christians have to make those same choices.

  • 2-D Man

     It’s a bit like hearing the laments of commercial jingle writers being denied the chance to compose great music.

    Yes, but no one ever threatened to fire a jingle writer for writing great music.

  • Marc

    Mr.  Clark, I’m wondering if you’re still doing the “Left Behind” analysis.  I followed it for awhile, and then life happened.  I did, however, enjoy your analysis (especially as one who used to believe what the LB authors were selling), and I’d love to continue reading more.

  • PJ Evans

    the “Left Behind” analysis

    Fridays.

  • Becky

     Marc – Fred is still doing the Left Behind analysis.  A new post goes up most Fridays, and you can find the old ones here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, we’re in the third book now.  You can find a handy guide to any you missed over in the column of blogs to the right.  New posts are generally on Fridays.

  • Worthless Beast

    I have yet to get any big important agents or publishers interested in my writing work, but I think it’s notable that when issuing queries, I will propose to folks representing “Christian” work AMONG fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, but will AVOID those who only or mostly deal with the “Christian” market.

    I tend to think the spiritual referencing is too vauge and broad for a niche market, and that this kind of market would be offended by mentions of magic, science, talking animals, rather frank violence, the brief mentions that people-have-sex-to-make-babies, and of course, in one of my novels, my basing a slavery system on something I read in the Old Testament.   A friend once compared the gist of my work to that of Madaline L’Engle. I don’t know how accurate he was – a great compliment if true – I just don’t know if any “Chrsitian” bookstores ever sold her work.  My stuff might be more marketable to the Neon Genesis Evangelion fans than evangelicals.  In any case, I don’t want to be caged.

    I babysat for a kid once who had a couple of Veggietales tapes. I thought they were cute – something good for a toddler, colorful, stupid puns and bad jokes – stuff kids like. I won’t  badmouth the Veggies – at least circa 1999. They were cute.  

  • LouisDoench

     My atheist household has a lot of Veggietales videos.  I actually think they are hilarious at times. Very well produced. Many of the stories are only thinly religious.

  • GDwarf

    The idea that there exists, in the modern world, people who think the MPAA is too lenient on sex and swearing confounds me.

  • arcseconds

    I’ve always wanted to be  a jaded old cranky exile, lobbing cynical criticism from the outside.

  • Lori

    Their timidly, tepidly cautious conservatism eschews all potential
    “controversy” and they have, through long habit, trained Christian
    publishers to adopt a similarly cautious, timid and tepid approach. 

    If you want to see the perfect manifestation of this go to the writer guidelines for any line of “inspirational” romance novels. They are truly astounding, and not in  a good way. They’re so restrictive that I have a real respect for any author who can work within them and actually produce a book that’s the slightest bit original or distinctive. (I don’t want to read the book because inspirationals are not for me, but I admire the effort.)

    The library here in my tiny little town is actually quite good, all things considered. It does serve its market though and that means a lot of inspirational romances. There are times when I go in and feel like my head is going to explode if I see one more Amish romance on the new book shelf. I’m pretty sure that the weird RTC fetish for the Amish is due at least in part to the fact that they’re a subculture that fits readily within the narrow lines  that define so much inspirational romance.

    To be fair, there is one upside to the narrow guidelines. In order to bring some interest and distinctiveness to what could otherwise be incredibly cookie cutter books many Christian authors and publishers write about a much broader range of historical periods than is common in mainstream romance. (Things have change some in recent years, but for a long time historical romance was all Regency all the time. I’m still so burnt out on the Regency that the mere mention of Almack’s tends to give me an eye twitch.)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     If you want to see the perfect manifestation of this go to the writer guidelines for any line of “inspirational” romance novels.

    Do you have an example? I’m fascinated.

  • Lori

    I can’t find the one I’m thinking of, mostly because I can’t remember which publisher it was for. I’ll try to dig it up.

    To be clear, the guidelines for the inspirational lines from Harlequin are pretty much what you’d expect and IMO not unreasonable. The ones I’m thinking of are for explicitly Christian publishers.

  • Leila

    Hey Lori :)
    I think what the others are mentioning is the 2009 flap between Ted Dekker and Steeple Hill  where he posted on his website a listing of the words and situations that wouldn’t be publish in the works of that publisher.  Words like bra, butt, sex, etc.  If you google Ted Dekker and Steeple Hill, you should find a copy of the the list on other’s websites, But Dekker eventually made peace with Steeple Hill and took the list down from his site  a long time ago. It did make for funny reading though.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “bra”, huh?

    I guess quantum mechanics is out, then.

    (You can’t have a bra without a ket. ;) )

  • EllieMurasaki

    Buh?

    Re the list: do good Christian women all have sufficiently small boobs that no support is necessary, or do large-boobed good Christian women all wear corsets instead?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Sorry, science geek humor. Basically a bra in quantum mechanics is one half of a product you take of wavefunctions (the ket is the other half). So it has a perfectly innocuous meaning there, but of course the word is identical in spelling to the breast-support-item :P

  • GeneMachine

    I guess quantum mechanics is out, then.

    Well, you can have a ket without a bra, though. At least you can note down superpositions under the given restrictions ;)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Shhh. ;-) Quantum Romance is …. Uncertain.

    *badum-tish*

  • Lori

     

    I think what the others are mentioning is the 2009 flap between Ted
    Dekker and Steeple Hill  where he posted on his website a listing of the
    words and situations that wouldn’t be publish in the works of that
    publisher.    

    Believe it or not, I don’t think that’s the list I was thinking of. The one I’m remembering had all those things and more. There was stuff about how ministers are allowed to be portrayed and which characters can and can’t be non-Christian and on and on.

    The Steeple Hill list does give a good idea what I’m talking about though. It’s a list obviously designed to produce a book that doesn’t offend the most easily offended segment of the target market. It reads like it was created by a focus group of the most uptight older Southern Baptist ladies you’ve ever met.

  • Leila

    Interesting, Lori :) I would love to know where I can find that list as that’s one I didn’t get to check out.  And you’re right on how the Steeple Hill list reads. One of the reasons I tend to avoid most traditional christian publishers is due to standards like these kinds of lists.  Makes me feel like I’m reading a children’s book instead of a work for adults.

  • hapax

     

    Someone has to still have those lists because I’m sure they still apply, but I’m not sure exactly where to look.

    I printed those out years ago because I needed to explain to our cataloguers what the library’s definition of “Christian fiction” was (for shelving purposes, not cataloguing purposes — something like THE MESSIAH OF MORRIS AVE will still receive a “Christian fiction” genre heading, but won’t be shelved in that section).

    The ECPA and related organizations no longer provide them publicly — I’m not sure because of blowback or because they prefer to keep them proprietary information, but I suspect the latter.  You don’t want people “outside the tribe” scrutinizing the formula and using it to game the system after all.

    I don’t have them with me right now, but as Lori says, they were astonishing in their specificity.  Not just “no sex no swearing no violence” as you might expect;  there were specific doctrinal positions (e.g., rejecting the efficacy of sacraments or the necessity of ordained hierarchy in order to achieve God’s favor) that must be explicitly affirmed somewhere in the text.

    I think most established writers in the genre already know these, at least subconsciously.  It’s sort of like how, in the LB books, the previously secular and worldly Buck suddenly starts talking in Evangelical-speak the moment he says the magic words, and nobody finds that weird;  that’s just how people talk.  In the Christian publishing world, these guidelines aren’t stringent;  that’s just how people write.

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    Having seen The Blind Side, I can attest to the fact there’s nothing objectionable in it at all. Well, there’s a fight scene and some profanity, but overall it’s a movie with a very positive message. I quite liked it. Maybe they just dislike it because of the scene where Sandra Bullock smacks the football coach on the butt.

  • flat

    Now on the other side I am not a fan of GRIMDARK when it is only written to be GRIMDARK.

  • hamletta

    LifeWay. Oy. Back when they were the Baptist Sunday School Board, they had a tunnel under Broadway to the main post office in Nashville. 

    The main post office is now an art museum, but they still freak me out. The SBC owns a huge chunk of downtown Nashville, and my li’l Lutheran parish is just a coupla blocks away. I count on my Episcopalian brothers and sisters at the Cathedral to hold the line if they start another 30 Years’ War. 

    I’m only kinda joking. 

  • aunursa

    I took my ten year-old to see The King’s Speech when it was in the theaters.  She loved it.

    I couldn’t believe that it was rated “R”.  No sex or nudity.  No violence.  No drug use.  Two brief scenes in which Bertie exercises his voice by repeating profanities.  (She giggle during those parts.)

    It should have been rated PG.  Instead, films that provide nonstop gratuitous violence — including torture, gratuitous profanity, intense sexual acts, and frequent drug use are routinely labeled PG-13.

    I’ll never trust the ratings system. 

  • Tonio

    Good point. The current system is preferable to government intervention in countries like the UK, where local boards can ban movies. Still, many of the assumptions that drive the ratings are ridiculous. Sex scenes with non-white lovers or gay lovers almost automatically get more restrictive ratings. What you describe is the same attitude that drove the phony controversy over Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl – there probably would have been little outcry if, say, the show had included a fistfight with Justin Timberlake. Have you ever seen “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”?

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    I’m not sure I’d agree – while local councils in the UK technically CAN still ban films, I can think of only instance of that happening in my lifetime – Cronenberg’s “Crash” which was banned by one (rather small) council in London (and still is, technically, but since councils only have jurisdiction over cinemas, not home video, i’s rather a moot point now).

    Furthermore, from what I understand, the MPAA’s power may not have the force of law, but it seems to be a lot more effective than the BBFC’s power. 18 rated films (excluding pornography, which can only be shown in licenced cinemas with tighter ID rules) are far more likely to be shown in cinemas here than NC-17 rated films in the US. Referring to “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”, the BBFC actually seems to be far closer to the way the movie wanted classification to work – ratings are explained in exact detail, filmmakers have a right of appeal (and the BBFC will work with them prior to release if they are seeking a specific rating), and the BBFC goes out of its way to be public and to seek feedback from the public at large over what content is acceptable at what rating. I know government enforced control over media is a big issue for many people (and for good reason), but I’ll take well run state classification over an anonymous private board that refuseds to explain its decisions.

  • Tonio

    You must be younger than 30, since Monty Python’s Life of Brian did experience some local bans, and that was when home video was in its infancy.

    MPAA’s system didn’t include detail until fairly recently, and you’re right that the board doesn’t explain its reasoning for ratings. My concern with government having veto power over which films are shown is that this can very easily be used to stifle dissent. To a lesser extent, a government ratings system could face the same problem – severe ratings could be used to punish politically outspoken directors or actors. I’m still shaking my head that some democracies still have blasphemy laws, which were used to attack the Python film.

  • VMink

    There’s a fascinating documentary called “This Movie Not Yet Rated.”  I have a few problems with it — namely the way it “outs” the members of the several committees that the MPRA consist of — but it is a good look at the process of rating a movie.

  • Leela Bisht122

    This is spectacular! Simply put i appreciate reading your written content everytime I get feed alarm.http://www.religionstube.com/videos

  • Dan Audy

    Thanks for the cites Sgt.  I will have to see if I have any access to those articles through my local university.  Most of the research I’ve seen indicates that pornography (and violent porn in particular) displaces sexual violence rather than encourages it.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Most of the research I’ve seen indicates that pornography (and violent porn in particular) displaces sexual violence rather than encourages it.

    In that case, maybe you could cite the context of that research? Did they measure influence on adult men or on juveniles (who are still forming their whole moral system)? Normal adult men or those already in prison?
    How did they measure “influence” – the famous “penis-on-electrodes” response?
    And finally, what porn? Naked breasts isn’t porn. Violent porn is different from normal porn.

  • Ima Pseudonym

    ” The old “I was beaten as child and didn’t harm me, so everybody can be beaten, too” argument.”

    I was going to ask why, exactly, you’ve suddenly become incredibly confrontational and (apparently) angry in your recent posts, but then I remembered that this is the internet and arguing on the net is moronic no matter who wins.  So have it your way.  Peace out.

  • Münchner Kindl

    but then I remembered that this is the internet and arguing on the net is moronic no matter who wins. So have it your way. Peace out.

    oh wonderful. So first you start an argument/ discussion, and then you leave, feeling superior.

    Yeah, what a suprise I get confrontational after being attacked. No relation to how the people treat me, no. You are so peaceful after all!

  • Ima Pseudonym

     No, I’m ending the argument/discussion before it gets any worse than it already has.  I don’t know where you got “feeling superior” out of it, since what I’m feeling right now is “ridiculous” for having set foot in this thread in the first place.

  • GDwarf

    Why not let children read/watch things? Sure, there’s stuff out there that will give them bad ideas, but the point, the important point, is that stuff will be out there long after you lose the ability to deny them access to it, and if the first time they encounter it is at a time when they cannot or will not talk to you about it then they only get the bad view, not the counter argument. If, instead, you let them be exposed to things that are inappropriate but you think they can handle, and then talk to them about it, you prepare them to think critically when they encounter such stuff in the future.

    It’s not like having a “Measles party”, it’s like giving your child their shots.

  • Münchner Kindl

    So you didn’t read the rest of my post or misunderstood it?

    I don’t feel like trying to argue anymore with people who keep on twisting what I said. Maybe it’s because “everybody else understands what it means”, and so what I say means something different to you, too.

  • Pat B

    Your post wasn’t that long or that confusing. People read it, they got it. What they don’t get is how you got from “I don’t restrict my children to media intended for children” to “I show my children violent (and in the case of some of those studies you cite, illegal) pornography.”

    Believe it or not, despite your distaste for American culture, we -do- actually get that showing hardcore porn to kids is a poor idea. In fact, in almost all municipalities it is illegal, usually called “Corrupting a Minor.” It is, in fact, too easy for kids to get porn on their own, but in the absence of effective content blocking software and with the ubiquity of the internet that is just a fact of life.

    The reason people seem to be attacking you? You use disingenuous augments (i.e. You let your child read Lovecraft? Why not infect them with Measles!), you display a level of nationalistic arrogance which is nauseating even to us Americans, and you act like your a huge victim when you’re really just a troll.

  • Münchner Kindl

    What they don’t get is how you got from “I don’t restrict my children to media intended for children” to “I show my children violent (and in the case of some of those studies you cite, illegal) pornography.”

    Which is nowhere in my post at all. It’s those misrepresentations of what I said in my post that make me wonder if people read it or just applied some weird lens to totally misunderstand it.

    I did not advocate showing children porn. I did not advocate censorship. I did not talk about “appropriate” content.

    All I did was point out that the literal reading of saying “I let my child read everything” (Since I can’t read unspoken subclauses specific to one culture) is a bad idea, since some contents can be harmful to children, depending on age and personality. I therefore DID NOT suggest any ban – I precisly spoke against bans because they can be circumvented – but a discussion.

    You use disingenuous augments (i.e. You let your child read Lovecraft? Why not infect them with Measles!),

    Again you are distorting what I said.
    The OP cited his mother who compared letting her child read “everything” to immunization.

    This is a wrong analogy, because immunization works with dead or part-virus in order to cause no harm. In terms of reading books, this would be the parent selecting books/ movies based on their assessment of the personality of the child what would be frightening, watching a not-terribly-scary movie/ book with them together and then discussing the problematic parts.

    I compared “letting the child read everything” without any supervision or discussion with the child (which was not given explicitly in the OP – and again, I go by what’s said, not by unspoken ideas) to measle parties, because they are similarly dangerous instead of immunisations.

    One extreme – which I DID NOT advocate – is total censorship: not letting the child read anything that I find offensive. The analogy is letting the child live in a bubble.

    The other extreme is letting the child read anything books, TV, internet, without supervision, guidelines, discussions. This is analogus to measle parties.

    The sensible approach is filtering those things that could upset the child, but talking with the child about why he/she shouldn’t see it yet; watching things / reading books together; discussing about how to seperate facts from fiction, good fiction from bad fiction, good heros and role models from bad ones. The analogy are immunisation shots.

    Now, the last, sensible, responsible, takes-a -lot of time for parents, approach was all I suggested in my post.

    Yet everybody stomped on me, distorting it to mean not appropriate things or offensive things, calling it censorship and so on.

    If everybody agrees that the OP meant version 3 and not version 2, then I don’t understand why you all attack me and twist my post.

    you display a level of nationalistic arrogance which is nauseating even to us Americans, and you act like your a huge victim when you’re really just a troll.

    Just where did I say that it’s better here? Was it pointing out that other countries have media that are responsible and serious unlike Fox news? Other than that, I didn’t talk about my country being better in any way. I guess you are using the old fallacy again where it’s not possible to critizce something about one country without implicitly claiming that your own country is superior in that. Guess what: criticzing country A about one particular point doesn’t say anything else about my opinion of country A in other points, or my opinion of country B.

    And when everybody attacks me, and I defend myself, I am labeled a troll. Yet you attacking me is … kindness and peace, I guess?

    I now wait for you to misuse this post, too.

  • Lori

     

    Just where did I say that it’s better here? 

    When you say things like “Because Americans can only understand extremes” that does not communicate that things are no better were you are. In case you’re not aware of the habit, you say things like that a lot and yes, it creates the impression of nationalistic arrogance.

    This community doesn’t support the kind of people who advocate a jingoistic, exclusively US-centric POV because that attitude is bigoted, inaccurate and unproductive. Saying that Americans are this or that or do such and so is also bigoted, inaccurate and unproductive*. In general we’re not any more welcoming of that crap than we are of “‘Merica F*** Yeah!”

    *We have a population of 311+ million. There are very few fair, accurate
    ways to fill in the blank in “Americans are ____________ “. It’s a good sized country, there are a lot of us and we have a complex and varied history. We have some of just about anything you can name, but other than being USians there’s not much that we all have in common. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    So you’re reading the literal text, without examining it in terms of culture or context.  Interesting.

    On an unrelated note, what do you think of American Fundamentalist Christians?

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It’s those misrepresentations of what I said in my post that make me wonder if people read it or just applied some weird lens to totally misunderstand it.

    Are you sure those are the only two possibilities? That people either didn’t read what you wrote, or “just applied some weird lens”? Are those really the only explanations you can think of, that everyone is wrong except you? 

    The phrase “my 12-year-old daughter can read anything she likes” is hyperbole. That should be obvious, especially in the context in which it was said: a parent was responding to an outsider’s criticism of her parenting choices, a situation that often provokes a defensive and often hyperbolic reaction. This is not a cultural issue, this is a reading comprehension issue. “Someone told my mother I shouldn’t have cookies before noon, and she told them she lets me eat whatever I want, and if I get sick, I’ll learn from my mistakes” is another example of this genre. I don’t think it matters what culture you’re from, offering a mother unsolicited criticism of her parenting choices is likely to get you a terse reply. 

    Your response to hyperbole seems to be more hyperbole, but unlike the original source, you seem deeply invested in your over-the-top remarks. Your first sentence compared reading text to MRSA exposure, implying excessive parental negligence by drawing an analogy between uncensored reading lists and life-threatening infections.  By the third sentence, you had conflated “she can read anything she likes” with books and movies. Then you strongly discounted the role of parental involvement with a false dichotomy.  (“unless you watch / read everything together with them”)  Now, a humble four sentences later, (well, three and a parenthetical)  you’ve moved on to discussing the effect of violent internet porn on teenage boys.

    You went from a 12-year-old’s reading material to male teens watching violent porn in less than five sentences. Making such exceptional shifts in subject, under the premise of responding to a hyperbolic remark, is what drew negative attention. An insistence on defending your 5-sentence leap from a mother’s reaction to criticism leading to violent internet porn harming teenage boys did not help any. By the way, that absurd progression was not a reducto ad absurdum, it was a very poor “slippery slope” claiming ‘if mothers let their daughters read anything, then teenage boys will watch violent internet porn and become damaged towards women!’ 

    It’s clear you care about the issues of pornographic portrayals of women, and their impact on young men, and those are important issues to be sure, but they have fuck-all to do with Christian bookstores banning “The Blind Side” or mothers allowing their daughters the freedom to read challenging material. 

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, here’s what I wanted to see a citation for:

    But the “Sunflowers” of Van Gogh have been scientifically proven to contain exact the right shade of yellow that makes people happy (by hitting the chemical producing thingie in the brain that reacts to sunlight)

    Not because I’m rude, but because that kind of remark has the ring of an urban legend. 

  • Pat B

    “Because Americans can only understand extremes…””And when everybody attacks me, and I defend myself, I am labeled a troll…I now wait for you to misuse this post, too.”
    Honestly, I would understand if this was a one-time thing where you say something completely absurd and flame-y because of legitimate language issues or cultural misunderstanding. I get it, it’s easy to step on people’s toes accidentally, especially online.
    But I’ve been lurking and reading this blog since before it moved to Patheos. I can’t easily recall a time when you didn’t jump in, start ranting about America sucking, talk about how they do it much better they do it in Germany, and then turn around and say it’s Americans who are too sensitive and can’t take criticism. 

    It’s irritating, ineffective at convincing people of anything, and has successfully derailed the interesting conversation about child-rearing methods into a flamewar about your out-of-nowhere anti-pornography screed. 

    So yeah, it’s not misrepresentation to say you jump in and attack people on nationalistic lines, derail interesting topics, and then act victimized. That is literally exactly the pattern you’ve been on for at least the last year. It’s getting old.

  • PJ Evans

     We understood what you were saying. The problem is that what you think was intended doesn’t match what we think was intended.

  • Tonio

    With the Harry Potter series, we’ve had to remind our children not to repeat the instances of rude language, particularly the words they’ve never encountered elsewhere. They haven’t asked why the middle-school-aged wizards can drink butterbeer and the teenaged ones can drink firewhisky, but that may be because we consume very little alcohol in our house and the kids might not even know what whisky is. We share a love of the series, and I greatly respect Harry’s values such as doing what’s right instead of what’s easy and standing up for one’s friends. Although we avoid deliberately sheltering them, the challenge seems to be in teaching them not to blindly imitate inappropriate things.

  • Mau de Katt

     

    They haven’t asked why the middle-school-aged wizards can drink butterbeer

    I don’t know about the firewhiskey, but “butterbeer” is a word play on “butterscotch” (which is not a version of the liquor “scotch whiskey.”)  From what I remember from my brief online “research” forays, butterbeer was nonalcoholic, and was rather more of a butterscotch-flavored ginger ale-y type of beverage than an alcoholic beer variant.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My understanding is that any Internet recipe one finds for butterbeer is nonalcoholic because the books indicate that thirteen-year-olds drink butterbeer, and therefore thirteen-year-olds expect to be allowed to drink butterbeer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     I’m not sure, IIRC in Book 4 when Winky gets drunk on butterbeer Ron says “it’s not strong, that stuff” and Dobby explains that it is “very strong for house elves.” That indicates that there is some alcohol in it, and not just nonhumans reacting weirdly to it. It’s probably about as strong as some ciders.

  • hapax

    When I say “I let my children read anything they want”, I mean exactly that:  “I let them read anything they want.”

    I do say, however,  “I think you may find that reading that will make you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.”  I do say, “I am not going to supply it for you.”  I do say, “I expect you to talk about it with me afterwards.” 

    Surprisingly enough, we do not have the rule in our house that “Everything that is not forbidden is compulsory.”

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    hapax: When I say “I let my children read anything they want”, I mean exactly that:  “I let them read anything they want.”
    I do say, however,  “I think you may find that reading that will make you feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.”  I do say, “I am not going to supply it for you.”  I do say, “I expect you to talk about it with me afterwards.”

    Teaching/studying media as I do I had access to a C-band satellite dish back in the day when much of the material went out unencrypted. When a youngish relative came to stay I had a simple rule “you can watch anything you like as long as I sit in the room with you while you watch it.” It is amazing what a teenaged boy will not watch if he has to watch in the same room as a woman the same age as his mother. 
    I didn’t kid him about things, I didn’t make comments I just sat there reading and occasionally looking up to see what was going on. He decided what he felt comfortable/uncomfortable with. We never had an argument although we did have some interesting discussions.

  • aunursa

    Have you ever seen “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”?

    I’ve heard about it, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Probably something I should make time for.

  • GDwarf

    @Münchner Kindl: Your initial post was ambiguous, at best. Your choice of words and examples suggested very strongly that you found the idea of letting kids read/watch things considered “too mature” for them was categorically wrong and akin to a Measles party.

    Re-reading it, I can see what you perhaps meant instead, but it’s far from clear. Especially given how you seem to be attacking someone for using a colloquial turn-of-phrase and an innocuous example.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    The one time I went to a Christian bookstore, I saw a rack of shirts adorned with phrases like “JESUS DIED 4 U”. Somehow, I got outside before the wracking waves of laughter.

  • aunursa

    And when everybody attacks me, and I defend myself, I am labeled a troll. Yet you attacking me is … kindness and peace, I guess?

    Welcome to Slacktivist. 

    Please buckle your seatbelt and keep your arms and legs inside at all times.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One of my favorite summaries of Kinkade’s work was an essay that described him as the “Pornographer of Light”, claiming that he used light not as most artists would, but rather relied on cheap exploitative tricks with light to evoke simple emotional responses, in a sort of “I don’t actually have to do any work here, if I just do this thing with light it will evoke a conditioned response in my audience” way.

  • VMink

    So basically he’s the Rob Liefeld of the location study set?

  • Egrimm

    Some people just don’t like to buy perversion. It’s what the customer wants, not what someone wants to shove down their throats. It’s retail, not government.

  • lee akki

    good  and awesome , actually i want from few months age some blogs related
    Christianbookstore i did read many but this  book give amazing information  related to 
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  • Evisceratus

    It is too safe to be a Christian anymore just as it was once too safe to be a Roman. All the demons have been exorcised, all the heathen armies have been crushed, and all the heretics have been burnt. We are facing the problem of any apex predator and that is that when food is too plentiful you run the risk of getting fat and losing your edge. Can a dull sword be sharpened? Yes Will we remember how to use it when we sharpen it? I hope so.


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