The Books We Read
I had the privilege of standing before God's people gathered at our local assembly in Foley, Alabama yesterday.
(For those of you who don't know, I am a teacher-type more than a preacher-type.)
I taught on the necessity of guarding your heart and using the power of the scriptures.
Some of the passages from which I drew inspiration were:
- Pro. 4:23--guard your heart
- Rom. 12:2--renew your mind
- Heb. 4:12--power of the Word
- Phil 4:8--things to think about
I went into the house today and found Susie reading a book.
I said, "Wow. Neat. You're reading one of those books."
Susie said, "I've BEEN reading them. I'm almost done with them."
I had gotten these books from her cousin who loved these books. Susie loves her cousin, and constantly imitates things she does.
I went over and casually picked up one of the books from the stack. As you can see, they are short children's books.
I opened the book into the story, and the first thing I saw was the character having tantrum after tantrum. She rolled her eyes. She kicked things. She said how she hated everything.
All of a sudden, something clicked for me, and I thought to myself, "Where are my notes from yesterday's service?"
I went and got my notes from your sermon, and I couldn't believe it! What you talked about was happening right in front of me.
I thought of Susie's cousin and the attitudes she developed that made her not fun to have around.
I thought of the past few weeks and how Susie's attitude had really gotten bad. She kicked things. She rolled her eyes when I would tell her to do something. She was refusing to go with me to church.
In fact, it was so bad yesterday morning that I actually thought about not coming to church.
It had become so bad that I went forward to ask for prayer for my situation yesterday. I was at my wits end trying to figure out what to do. Interestingly enough, I asked for prayer BEFORE your sermon.
After seeing what is in these books, and then connecting it to your sermon, I think I understand.
But, this is something I don't understand. All these books are on the New York Times Bestseller list. How can that be?
The main one, of course, is that this mother's prayers were answered so quickly.
Secondly, is that I was used in some small way to be a positive part of this story.
Thirdly, is the reality of the situation itself.
Susie's mother said that yesterday's sermon was just like so many others--whoosh! Gone--before she got out the door.
"But, then I remembered I took notes, and I had to go find them, because it seemed this related somehow to what you said.
"From my notes, I recalled how you talked about how we are influenced by outside things, and how we need to protect our minds."
What she saw was the reality of the things I spoke about being manifest in her own life. We simply are not as aware as we could/should be about how we are influenced.
She also was stunned that these books were on bestseller lists, and mentioned this more than once.
I've looked at a couple of them.
They are well-written--at least from one perspective. They accurately portray the thoughts and expressed feelings of many seven-to-ten-year-old children. The language the characters speak reflect an awareness on the author's part of the world of children.
The problem I have is that rather than model something noble, she only reflects as a mirror.
Therein lies the problem.
There is nothing to strive for, nothing to emulate. There is simply justification for what is. A mirror in which society may gaze at itself.
This is not an uncommon scenario with today's artistic endeavors.
In the movie, "Bringing Down the House," with Queen Latifah and Steve Martin, there is an especially revealing scene along this line.
Martin is having trouble with getting his son to read. He comes into the living room and sees his son with a pornographic magazine. He snatches it away from the boy saying, "Why are you letting him read ...? He's reading!" Latifah winks knowingly.
Justification. A comedic situation glosses over the degradation for the nobility of reading.
"Dad, what's a rack?"
"It's a country."
The Rest of The Story
Susie's mother showed her daughter what she was seeing in the book. She emphasized the part about the character rolling her eyes. "Susie, what do you think about this?"
She said she went and got her notes, and read aloud, "If you feed your mind on garbage, then garbage is what will come out.
"Her eyes got really big. After about only three minutes of talking to her, everything changed. It really lightened up around here. It's been better all day.
"I asked Susie what she thought we should do. She said we should get rid of the books."
Susie's mother knows all the problems won't go away with just this realization. She knows there is still work to do.
The books, about 30, will all be trashed.
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