Should Non-Christian Literature be avoided?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Tim, Aug 3, 2003.

  1. Tim

    Tim
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    Following up on the Lewis and Tolkien thread, I get the impression that some think that literature which was written without a truly Christian perspective should be avoided. Is that so?

    For example, Melville's "Moby Dick"--considered one of the greatest works in the English language--is by his own confession "a wicked book". So should Christians avoid reading it? Or should we read it critically and thus gain some perspectives from Melville's viewpoint?

    I'm only considering literature in this question--not pulp fiction. In a case like "Moby Dick" the philosophy and tone of the work are what is objectionable rather than titilating immorality and crude language.

    I find Melville a masterful author, though I read him with a wary eye. He portrays human wickedness and weakness as few have--though sometimes sympathetically.

    Your thoughts?

    Tim
     
  2. Mike McK

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    It depends on the book.

    I've been lurking on another board and there is a discussion in which they're condemned C.S. Lewis to Hell for the Narnia series and concluded that Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" and Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" are blasphemous.
     
  3. KenH

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    No, non-Christian literature should not be avoided. That would rule out newspapers, news magazines, financial magazines, pet magazines, almost all books ever written, etc., etc., etc.

    To do so is a very extreme, hermit-like position.
     
  4. dianetavegia

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    I don't think so. I'm VERY careful of the Christian authors I read and have my open Bible ready to prove or disprove what the author says. I'm more concerned about new Christians reading every book out there and then taking what an author says as gospel without verifying.

    I love to read and have very eclectic tastes. I like fiction and murder mystery type novels.

    Diane
     
  5. Deacon

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    Mike posted that some people say,
    Les Miserables is my favorite book of all times. I gave it as a gift to a pastor friend of my to read in his off time. Hugo's description of the priest and his works are what true faith is all about.

    I read a lot. If I were to guess about half of the books I have in my collection are from unchristian sources. Lots of history books, lots of technical books, a smattereing of religious books (by unbelievers) :rolleyes: and a fair amount of secular fiction.

    When you read literature of any type (even Christian literature), you have to keep your mind open to whether the author is leading you into other worldviews that you don't agree with.

    Rob
     
  6. Ben W

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    People should be mature enough to decide if what they are reading is o.k or not. Literature that is not neccesarally Christian is not bad,

    Every kid should read a "Biggles" book [​IMG]
     
  7. Artimaeus

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    Eph 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS

    We can read a wide variety of things. Just keep in mind that what we read has an effect on us. We've all heard GIGO but the reverse is also true, QIQO (Quality In - Quality Out). Legalism (You can or can't read this or that) is not a good thing. License (You can read anything you want, as much as you want) is also not a good thing. This is where wisdom come in.
     
  8. Johnv

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    The word "Secular" is not an evil term. We in our extreme ferver have often made it such. FOr example, wiping myself after using the restroom is a secular event, but I would be amiss if I refrained from it. Now, if another Christian wants to use a bidet instead, hey, who am I to tell them otherwise? As for Moby Dick, I read it. Great literature. The bottom line is, Christians should make their own determinations individually as to wether they want to read it or not.
     
  9. Wisdom Seeker

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    I find it interesting that Moby Dick is the book that you used as an example. The only thing that I could find fault with Moby Dick was it's tendency to drone on in seemingly no perceivable guided direction. I do feel a sense of accomplishment to be able to say that I trudged through it. Something that unlike other literature I would not be willing to do again.

    I don't understand the attitude that a Christian should not read. And that is the underlying message here. Not do not read this or that, but fear reading for the santitity of your spiritual state. I abhore that attitude with every fiber of my being.

    I think what is "Truly Christian" to one person, will not be to someone else. There is no reasonable way to be "right" regarding this subject. There are extremists who will argue the point to extraordinary lengths. And the direction that their opinion takes is not determined on what is right, but on what they perceive to be right. Even the Bible has opposition about what is "correct" or "Truly Christian".

    Classic Literature is not something that I am willing to avoid. I want my mind to be well rounded in as many areas as it can handle.

    And whether you choose to avoid the temptation of reading anything other than the Bible or not should be answered according to your own personal choice on the matter.

    I personally feel that if a book can rock me off my foundation, then there is something structurally wrong with my foundation.

    To each their own.

    [ August 04, 2003, 03:07 PM: Message edited by: WisdomSeeker ]
     
  10. Joshua Rhodes

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    I do not believe that just because a literary work is secular means it should be off-limits. I love Shakespeare, Melville, Aquinas, as well as Dante. I have gleaned truths about human nature, as well as entertainment value from these sources. My mind is guarded, however, and I know not to pick certain types of reading up... for fear that my mind will be susceptible to false impression. Just my humble opinion. [​IMG]

    In His Grip,
    joshua
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Absolutely not.

    If we are going to be salt and light in our culture, we need to understand the culture in which we communicate. That entails being conversant on the major works of the culture and being able to relate them to the truth of God in Christ.

    The Apostle Paul gave us an explicit example of this when he preached on Mars Hill in Athens. He quoted a line from a poem to the pantheon of Greek gods (specifically to Zeus) and reinterpreted it in light of Christ: Acts 17:28 “…for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'
     
  12. RaptureReady

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    No, it should not be avoided BUT, if it is contrary to the word of God, it's trash.
     
  13. Johnv

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    Your point is valid, but I think using the phrase "contrary to the word of God" can be a bit ambiguous. For example, should I avoid Baum's "The Wizard of Oz" because it doesn't condemn wizardry? Should I avoid Chricton's "Jurassic Park" or Shelly's "Frankenstein" because they espouse playing God? Or what about "Romeo and Juliet" because it espouses premarital sex and suicide?

    Naaah, I'll read 'em all, and get from them the purpose they were intended, rather than the purpose my local pastor tells me they were intended.
     
  14. Baptist Believer

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    Hate to nit-pick, but I think that one of the "morals" of these two stories is that it is a bad thing to play God. These stories illustrate the dangerous consequences of messing with God's realm.

    :D
     
  15. Johnv

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    Consider my nit picked [​IMG] .
     
  16. Tim

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    Quoting Wisdom Seeker,"I find it interesting that Moby Dick is the book that you used as an example. The only thing that I could find fault with Moby Dick was it's tendency to drone on in seemingly no perceivable guided direction. I do feel a sense of accomplishment to be able to say that I trudged through it."


    I think Melville's "droning" may actually be some of the most clever writing in "Moby Dick". There he often uses symbolism and allusions to make some philosophical points. It wasn't until my second time through that I picked many of them out. It's his "third level", i.e. First,it's an adventure story, second a moral tale, and third a personal complaint against God and His righteous ways.

    He was a genius, but definitely not pro-Christian. So I read him with admiration for his skill, but with caution for his beliefs. So it should be with all literature.

    Tim
     
  17. HS

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    If God guides you in your daily life at work (assuming it is secular), then it can't be that different from a writer (doing his/her daily "secular" work).

    I'm not sure how we can exclude secular writers yet deal with a secular DMV system in getting our license or secular mortgage broker in getting our home refinanced. What's the difference? We can see God's work and inspiration in all things.
     
  18. RaptureReady

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    To the above books, I would say avoid them because what good use comes from them.?

    Is pastor wrong alot?
     
  19. Joshua Rhodes

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    Could you define good use? I derive entertainment from some of these sources. I do not go to these sources for Scriptural "meat", so why avoid them? I know in reading a Piers Anthony novel, that I will most likely come across a statement of belief from an atheist point of view. If I can recognize that, and it helps me to see insight into how possibly to apologetically discuss this with an atheist, then I consider that to be a viable use.

    However, admittedly, most of the times I sit down with Shakespeare, Melville, Tolkien or others to relax and enjoy. This, I would consider, is good use also. Just my humble opinion. [​IMG]
     
  20. Johnv

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    You would seriously advise someone to refrain from reading classical literature? I guess we should ban the reading of Moby Dick and Romeo & Juliet from our private Christian schools :rolleyes: .

    Pastors who espouse your view, and try to assert that it's the only biblical answer, would be wrong, yes.
     

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