Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Tea - You are what you read

"You will be the same person in five years as you are today
except for the people you meet and the books you read."
Charlie Tremendous Jones
When the discussion of reading books with children used to come up, a saying I heard quite often was "it doesn't matter what they are reading as long as they read".  I was then and continue to be appalled by that statement.

Reading junk, bad social theories, bad theology, and pornography will no more make a healthy child (and adult) than eating McDonald's three meals a day will bring about a healthy body... and I do crave an occasional Big Mac!

When I was growing up, there were no boundaries to my reading and I did read just about everything I could find.  Some of which stayed with me in beautiful ways while others I wish I could wash my brain of their images.  I know personally it matters what we read.

I will be forever thankful for friendships made in the early years of my faith, those people who recommended those authors who would lay a strong foundation for my faith.  The pastor of the Presbyterian church I attended at the time had become influenced by Francis Schaeffer, so much so that he was at L'Abri on my wedding day and my marriage was performed by our Associate Pastor.

I can't say I understood all of what Schaeffer wrote, my brain doesn't work the same way so I have to read pages two or three times before I "get it".  However, I bonded immediately with Edith Schaeffer's writings, as did many (if not most) Evangelical women at the time.

I would be a different person if the books by the Schaeffers had not been recommended to me as a young Christian.  Thankfully, there were excellent books by Christian women (in addition to Edith) whose writings help mold and shape me as a wife, mother, and homemaker.  Women such as Elisabeth Elliot,  Anne Ortlund and Emily Barnes.  Later I came to enjoy the books by Elizabeth George (the Christian writer, not the novelist by the same name).

One thing I always have to remember is that these books were read by choice in a decade many women were turning to books by Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer.  I chose to read the books I did because of who recommended them to me.  These were the women I wanted to become like, the women who read Elisabeth and Edith and Anne and Emily.

Did I only read Christian books?  Of course, not.  While I decided long ago not to read defiling books, one does not have to be a Christian to teach how to live in Beauty.  I don't think Alexandra Stoddard comes even close to being an Evangelical Christian (her non-decorating writings lean toward New Age thinking) but she had a great influence on the way I decorate my home.

Tasha Tudor wrote about being reincarnated and wanted to return to a past century when she died... but that didn't stop me from gleaning the good stuff she wrote about Beauty and the courage to be yourself.

Julia Child doesn't seem to have any faith at all from what I have read in her books but she taught me to be brave in the kitchen.  Not to worry about making a mistake and if I did... just to call it something else.

For you see, as we become discerning in our reading, we know who are our spiritual advisers in books and those authors we want to read for non-spiritual enjoyment.

What about fiction books?  My preference these days goes to the more genteel and lovely stories of Elizabeth Goudge, D. E. Stevenson, Miss Read, Jan Karon, etc.  Which is amusing because my television viewing habits lean toward murder mysteries.  Hmmmm... one should have a balance in their life?

With all of us, really good literature helps form the person we become.  Whether we are children or adults.  But remember... we need to give grace to other parents who allow books that we didn't. 

I have a lot of friends whose family loved the Harry Potter books but we didn't read them.  That was fine.  My son and I watched Dragon Ball Z together when he was a child, which would cause some friends to shake their heads in wonder.

God knows what is best for each individual family and not being infinite ourselves... we don't.  What my family deemed appropriate may be different than a friend's choice as long as neither are what I would call defiling.  Let's just say you will find no books starting with "Fifty Shades..." in my library.

However, one of my favorite novels is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.  Embedded in the story is her philosophy but if you know what it is, you can ignore that and appreciate her writing that is (I think) more relevant today than when it was written... as she warns against becoming too dependent on the modern world and technology.  Remembering this was written long before the Internet!

Is there a type of book I will never read?  Well, personally I don't read books with a lot of bad language or shall we say... lewd behavior?  I also do not read books these days by atheists disguised as Bible teachers and those making an attempt to draw me away from the faith. 

Not that I am concerned they could... for they can't!... but I once had a friend who attended a liberal Presbyterian seminary tell me he wished he hadn't read some of those books for he had to filter them out on his way back to the reality of faith.  I'm too old for such nonsense these days.

Which brings me back to children... I am a firm believer in filtering all books kids read as young children through my standards, up until their teenage years.  I still wouldn't have defiling books in the house but I prefer teenagers be challenged in areas when they live at home and can ask questions.

I gave books to my daughter (who was not homeschooled) and then provided a full course in worldview to my son (who was homeschooled), knowing full well that if they were going to a University they would need to be prepared. 

I know this is a rather rambling Sunday post.  I told a friend that I was having a hard time getting the words to land just right in my brain.  So my friends... this is where my thoughts led me.  Hopefully they make sense.

Some of  the books and authors mentioned or eluded to in this blog post are:
Atlas Shrugged... here.  (Read with discernment.)
Edith Schaeffer... here and here (her most famous books among many).
Anne Ortlund... here (her most famous book among many).
Emilie Barnes... here (her most famous book among many).
Elisabeth Elliot... here (a good introduction among many).
Alexandra Stoddard... here and here (I especially love her decorating books).
How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay... here (one of the books given to my daughter before college).
Starting Points... here (used with my son's homeschooling).

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Image:  Kim Sung Book Shop


Vee said...

You make perfect sense, Brenda. I don't have too many qualms about reading any book though I often find that it just isn't a good fit for my sensibilities. There are too many wonderful books to read and time is too short to waste time reading a book that gives no depth and breadth.

Poiema said...

I enjoyed your post and have read nearly all the books you mentioned. So thankful they were available to me in my younger, formative years. It's always fun to compare notes with a fellow book lover ;)

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

We really are so similar! No wonder Stephanie thinks we’re the same person.

Excellent post!

Deborah Montgomery said...

Speaking of Elizabeth George, the mystery writer. I just started reading a book by her because I like a good mystery, and was so upset by some very graphic sexual scenes I threw it out. I am not opposed to reading widely and of non-Christian authors, but I don't want certain images in my brain. It is good to be discerning. I tried to read some atheist writers like Richard Dawkins just to understand, but I couldn't stomach it. I have also heard the "it doesn't matter what they read as long as they're reading" argument. It's not a good idea. I stopped going to the library for a couple years b/c one of my children was always drawn to books I didn't think would be good for him (he was only 8 or 9 at the time).
I love the authors you mentioned. Edith Schaeffer was an early mentor of mine too.

Heather said...

I totally agree! I think it's totally ridiculous to think that what we read won't affect us! We are very careful about what we read and let our children read.
Those same ladies are the same ones that I read as I was being formed into the woman that I am.

I love to read fiction, and will often reread favorites. Austen ,Dickens, Miss Read, Georgette Heyer, L.M.Montgomery ,L.I. Wilder. 😊

Little Penpen said...

I agree! I try to be discerning about what I put into my mind. Thanks for the book recommendations!

Anonymous said...

So true Brenda...and it is so imperative that we are careful what we and our kids and grandkids listen to and watch as well!! We are now in a huge battle for the safety of our little grandkids because their dad is in p o r n and they have been "groomed" to some extent...of which we do not know the full extent at this point. Presently, the courts seem unable to prevent his having the kids without it seems I and hubby need to join others in a bigger way, and if we cannot save our own, maybe we can help stem this horrid tide for the rest of the nation. Latch key kids are not a good thing...they DO get addicted at a young age and then feel free to play with their own children even. GOD HELP US...we had NO IDEA the problem was so big until the last couple years. We need EVERYONE's help in this battle or our country will soon be sunk. But just as Esther was most likely NOT planning to be queen...and GOD helped her save her nation...maybe HE will be gracious and help us save this one...we can hope!! Thanks for the encouragement. Some of us so need that, Brenda.