This morning began the MOPS program at my church. One of the things they had us do was to fill out a "get to know you" sheet about ourselves. It asked questions like what are your hobbies and what is your favorite snack, and then it asked the questions I hate. I have a love/hate relationship with "favorites" questions. I like doing them, but inevitably they ask what your favorite book is, and what your favorite movie is. I just can't answer those questions. There are too many variables. What genre? Is it rainy outside? Have I had a bad day or a good day? Do I feel like laughing or crying? Is it summer or winter? Some days my favorite movie is Gone With the Wind, other days it's Romy and Michele's Highschool Reunion. In general it's Singin' in the Rain or Bend it Like Beckham. And the question about the book? Don't even get me started. Who are these people who can list one book that is their favorite of all time, ever? I don't understand.
And then there's the part where I have to think about who's going to be looking at my answers. And I have to throw out some of my favorites. Today I wanted to put Love, Actually as one of my favorite movies. But it's got some really bad scenes that the people running MOPS would probably be horrified by. Same with Almost Famous. And for the books....I actually risked it and put The Time Traveler's Wife as one of mine, because probably none of them has ever read it, and they wouldn't bother to wade through it. Same story with Love in the Time of Cholera.
All of this brings me to another issue altogether. I've always struggled with what it's okay to read and what it's not. Barbara and I have dissected this topic before, and the only thing we've come up with is that it depends on the person and what they can handle and what makes them stumble. Christians, in my opinion, are notorious for throwing the baby out with the bath water, disregarding a whole book and its lessons because of a few bad things. Catcher in the Rye? Grapes of Wrath? Awesome books with important things to be learned, and yet at times they've been thrown out (they're both back in now, from what I hear). I also have huge problems with the Christian community's rejection of the Harry Potter series, because they don't reject the Narnia or Rings stories. Why? Because Lewis and Tolkien were Christians, and Rowling is not. And that's about the only difference. I tend to be open to reading just about anything, and haven't found much that's personally offensive to me (aside from the obvious trashy romances and so on). I've only ever refused to deal with two books: The Bluest Eye (too much gratuitous vulgarity) and The DaVinci Code (the whole idea just makes me uncomfortable). Other than that.... But does that make it okay? Admittedly, I read a lot that most Christians wouldn't approve of. But are they right? Or am I? Or is it really just a personal thing? Conversely, I think there are things that are wrong even though parts of the Christian community approve. The above Morrison book was assigned by a prof at Biola that I very much love and respect. I still think it's a useless book. But who's right? Was it just okay for him and not me? I try to base my judgment on whether the book has anything of value to teach. And that book definitely did, but, to my way of thinking, there was just too much trash to wade through to get to it.
What do you guys think? Is everything permissible? Or are there works of literature that are really wrong to read?