Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sampling ... or Soaking?

I just read (and enjoyed!) a book that I want other people I know to read: The Fault in our Stars. I came home from a youth conference (yesterday) rife with topics about living holy, sexual purity, and keeping a God-focus, and the first thing I did was to read a book in which the characters wrestle with existential questions and do NOT find that Jesus is the answer. It's a book where the teenagers [spoiler alert] have sex outside of marriage. It's a book with lots of values, and it's only a mixed bag of them that are the sort of values that I want imparted to my own three kids.

So what's with the recommendation?  Why would I put such a book on my family reading list?

My daughter read it before I did.  (And maybe one of my boys, too--I'm not sure.)  Her friends read it before she did, friends that follow Christ and friends that don't.  It has been made into a PG-13 movie that is receiving really high marks on the movie-ranking sites.  This is a book that reflects culture and shapes culture.  It's important to read.

It's not a "good" book.  There is profanity.  The kids are presented with opportunity to think about their relationship with Creator and the afterlife, and the reader is not left with a strong connection to the reality of either.

I do recommend reading this and other books that similarly capture/reflect/shape the Zeitgeist (spirit of the age).  On the other hand I also am reminded of the importance of choosing carefully what we meditate on.  The Bible has wisdom about that.  If I read one book where the teens ask existential questions and come up empty, angry, and godless, should I then read one book that reinforces a worldview based on Biblical understanding of existence? Two? Should it be a 3:1 ratio of books that reinforce Biblical truth compared to books that explore the prevalent truths of popular culture?  What about the ratio of movies?  Music?

I guess the question is: do I taste-sample of my culture's Zeitgeist worldview ... or soak in it? What books and media do I choose to soak in?

Rub your hands with vinegar and you'll be smelling wafts of vinegar afterwards.  Soak in vinegar and you'll eventually become a pickle.

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