Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Own Banned Books

A librarian friend sent me the ALA's list of the 100 most frequently banned or challenged books from 1990-2000. Here it is, if you're interested: Banned Books. (I'd only read something like 25 of them.) Some of the books really are reprehensible. Hello? Little Black Sambo??!! So, the issue of banning books has been on mind.

Then I hear that Starbucks plans to have a quote from The Purpose-Driven Life on its cups this spring. They've made other provocative choices in this quotes-on-the-cups campaign, so this time it's just my turn to get my chain pulled, I suppose. But I hate that book. My resolution of these two separate trains of thought is that it's all right for ME to ban books. And since no one has offered me the position of "queen of the universe" with full powers to get others to do my bidding (a clear oversight on the part of the universe, but we'll get to that later), I only get to ban books in my own house. This one heads the still-forming list.

Book clubs everywhere, it seemed, were reading it, so I bought it. I couldn't make myself finish it. Trivial, demeaning, saccharine.... gosh, Andrea, tell us what you really think! Which is a shame, since I want a purpose driven life. In many ways, that's why I have this blog. Moreover, my faith is important to me. So wouldn't you think I'd love that book? Wouldn't you think I was the target audience?

Apparently not. For one thing, the author seemed awfully interested in selling me his other products. I guess if you're going to find your life's purpose in 40 days, you're going to need tools. Sloppy hermeneutics and sloppier psychological trivializations made me want to throw the book across the room. (I sold it on instead.) What's weirder yet is that it's mostly neo-conservatives making these exact arguments.

Perhaps most liberals knew better than to buy the book in the first place. This wouldn't be the first time I'd fallen into the "naively hopeful" camp. Nonetheless, I was hoping for, at the very least, a critique from the intellectually-rigorous, religiously-liberal side of the aisle. I'd do one myself, but I didn't finish the book. Whoops. Even better would be a guide to exactly the same thing from that perspective. It's probably true, as I suspected and feared, that I just have to do that myself, as well.


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