Consider the source

I had to take a book back to the library the other day, barely read.

I didn’t want it in the house. I didn’t want any of our voracious young readers to pick it up.

It was recommended by a friend when we were comparing good reads, and so I got on the library’s wait list for it. It was an intriguing premise: a love story of a man who travels through time, randomly and not of his own choosing, and the woman he keeps coming back to.

*sigh* I should have realized that a “love” story on today’s list of “good reads” is most likely a s** story, full of titillating details. But I read so little of modern fiction these days, I had forgotten. (s** is a euphemism, obviously, not because I’m afraid to say the word, but because I don’t want web-crawling robots to pick up on this post for the wrong reasons)

(I picked up a book by a popular Christian author recently, and it was too explicit for me… refining fire has been at work over the past few years, I think, even though I wasn’t noticing…)

There’s something about the act of s**– it’s difficult to discuss on this G-rated blog, but when you look at origins, there’s the Biblical principle that the two shall become as one. That is in the context of a proper helpmeet (who became mother of all the living), made for the Man because in all the world, in all of Creation, no suitable helpmeet could be found for him (no surprise, actually — it was all part of the Plan) until God took a rib from the man’s side and fashioned  Woman. Their union was part of the beauty of creation. Man was incomplete without her, but when they came together it was as if his missing part had been restored, and together they made a perfect Whole. They were truly made for each other.

The physical act was meant to be a part of a whole, part of a relationship of two becoming one, in spirit, in vision, in common purpose. In an ideal world, people would not be self-destructive, and so if your mate is as a part of yourself, you would look out for the other person’s best interests, and the other person would be looking out for yours. (I’ve heard it said by strident modern voices that marriage should be a 50-50 proposition, and they’re darn well determined to make sure their partner gives every bit of 50 percent; but the marriages that I see working are the ones where each half of the whole strives to give 100 percent.)

Since the Fall and the corruption of Creation, the physical act has also been corrupted into many things: an expected culmination to a casual encounter, a way to hurt someone else, often a way of using or being used to fill some deep craving that, only temporarily satisfied (if you can even call it that), keeps coming back and demanding more.

Pick up almost any romance novel and you’ll likely find yourself immersed in p*rn, not so many page-turns away. Even in Christian books, if you’re not already desensitized to it, you’ll read thoughts and actions that stir your own feelings, a sort of virtual adultery (yes, for the Lord said if a man even looks on a woman with lust, he’s guilty; that’s how serious this is).

In the classic books that we’ve been reading the past decade or so, certainly there are romances, and love stories, and even implied immorality. Notice the key word: implied. Not in your face, blow by blow, thought-by-thought, sensation by intimate sensation as you find in today’s books. It’s as if people just cannot get enough; like addicts, they need more and more to approach that all-elusive feeling of satisfaction.

This modern book, so highly recommended by a friend, was so much more explicit than I’d want to read, or want our teens to read. I forgot to consider the source, you see. The friend and I have a touchpoint, a small slice of common ground, a place where our taste coincides, but I did not realize how different our tastes in literature could be, until I picked up this book, opened it at random, and began to read.

It makes me sad, because good books are hard to find, and she had thoughtfully given me a list of her favorites to consider for summer reading leisure. Now I must consider carefully before bringing any of those books home, for even if I have the discipline to put down a book I find unwholesome or damaging to my inner thought life, I don’t need the girls to be filling their heads with such thoughts. (Ah, I sound such a prude, but on second thought is that such a bad thing to be? Its derivation is from the French for “virtuous woman” or so The Free Dictionary says. “Prude” could also be short for “prudent” which, rather than the “overly” and “excessive” modifiers attached to “prude” has instead a connotation of wisdom and sound judgment. Why is it so common in our fallen world to taunt people for trying to walk the narrow path instead of the broad way that leads to destruction? Rhetorical question, the Bible has a number of passages that address this.)

So, do you have any book recommendations, whose authors hold to higher moral standards, or at least show consideration for their reader?

Just off the top of my head (and I’m in haste, so this will be a short list), these are some we’ve enjoyed:

– anything by Jane Austen (except Northanger Abbey, didn’t like that one)
– just about anything by Miss Read (yes, there is some impropriety expressed by some characters, but “crime doesn’t pay” in her world, just as is true in the real world)
– Jan Karon’s Mitford series
– hobbity fanfiction posted on the web by an author with the pen name Dreamflower
– C.S. Lewis’ works
– J.R.R. Tolkien’s works
– Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter series
– Ellis Peters and her Cadfael series
– Cornelia Funke’s Ink- trilogy

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5 responses to “Consider the source

  1. I know what you are saying. I remember when I felt convicted to get rid of a certain author’s books, not just because I felt I didn’t need to be reading them anymore, but because my oldest was getting old enough to perhaps pull one off the shelf and read it (they were thrillers). I don’t miss them at all. There is so much more truly good stuff out there. Everyone has to go through their own conviction process, though. I would like my kids to start at a better place than I did, so things are filtered (pre-read) by me around here now.

    Since you already said you like the Ink series, I will ask if you have read Dragonrider. If you haven’t, and you are taking a trip anywhere this summer, I’d like to recommend it as an audio book. Bendan Fraser does the voices and it is absolutely wonderful. My kids (including the older ones!) imitated the voices and characters for weeks. It’s an interesting storyline, but it has been a few years, so I hesitate to summarize it here for you. Maybe we will listen to it again on our vacation in August.

    Another book we listened to on tape was Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Even though the main character is a girl, the cousins are boys and my boys liked it. The vocabulary is amazing. The lessons learned are good. I like her books a lot.

    Most of the “adult” books I read are non-fiction, and the rest of my reading time is spent pre-reading books for my avid 12 yo reader, so I don’t have much to recommend here. I did just read Kirk Cameron’s biography, Still Growing. That was interesting. Did you know his dad named him after Captain Kirk? lol. His mom let it go since Kirk also means “of the church.” It turned out to be an appropriate name. He has six kids now.

    Hope this gives you a few ideas and that they aren’t way off.

    • homesweethomeschool

      Thanks for the recommendations! I have not read Dragonrider yet, but we really enjoyed the Ink series (though I felt it rather ironic that the author was putting the fictional author in a bad light for manipulating his reader’s feelings with the death of a character, and then she did the same thing).

      We love Eight Cousins, and its sequel Rose in Bloom (though it’s rather sad in one place). Have you read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl? That’s another good one, even though she does get a little preachy now and then.

      Kirk Cameron named for Captain Kirk? Now I’ve not heard that before.

      I have avid 12 and 14yo readers, and I really cannot keep up with the 14yo, who reads faster than I can. Book recommendations can be a great tool, so long as you know if the recommendation is given by someone with similar taste. Still, I’ve read some wonderful books that I never would have given a second glance, if it had not been for a recommendation. (The Dean’s Watch was one of them, off the top of my head.)

  2. Thank you for the great recommendation on A Murder for Her Majesty, by Beth Hilgartner! That was a hard one to put down and I can’t wait for my oldest to read it soon. I’ll pass it on to my mom to read as well:)

    I sure understand not being able to stay ahead of reading for a child! My oldest devours books in less than half the time it takes me to read them!

    If you enjoy biographies, A Man Called Peter, by Catherine Marshall is a great one, according to two people I know. It is in my to-be-read pile:) I also have Christy sitting on my desk (somebody just gave it to me:), by the same author. I haven’t yet read it, but my mom has often mentioned it as a really good book. On biographies, I highly recommend the YWAM biographies as they are just so wonderfully readable and interesting.

    If you enjoy Christian fantasy at all I have a huge long list I could recommend!!! Just let me know:):):):):) There is so much more out there then when we were growing up! I remember that mostly all we had were JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis … and I still haven’t even read most of the Tolkien yet!

    Right now I am reading Heart & Mind: What the Bible Says About Learning, by Ruth Beechick and at only a couple of pages in, it is looking really interesting … but then I absolutely adore Ruth Beechick!

    Hmmm, I don’t really know what you enjoy reading most, but I could go on about books I have enjoyed for a very long time:) What genre’s do you enjoy reading most?

    • homesweethomeschool

      Oh, yes, I remember reading A Man Called Peter and Christy a long time ago. Hmmm. I wonder if G. is old enough to read Christy now…? Will have to revisit that book.

      I need to dig out the YWAM bios I’ve bought over the years. I wonder how many of them the girls have read when I wasn’t looking?

      We do enjoy Christian fantasy, and I’d love to see your list. We read a couple of books in the Terrestria Chronicles series, and they were pretty good (if a little predictable), and we loved The Shining Sword (actually had to buy a second copy of that one, as the first copy got dropped in the bathtub–name withheld to protect the guilty party).

      I want to read Ruth Beechick’s book about teaching history (not the Genesis title, but World History Made Simple). I saw it at the curriculum fair last year and meant to pick it up this year, but forgot.

      Just looked up Heart and Mind and it looks very interesting. I would love to hear your thoughts on the book as you go through it.

  3. OK, here is our short list for great Christian Fantasy:
    DONITA K. PAUL writes the Dragon Keeper Chronicles (there are five of them), which include: Dragon Spell, Dragon Quest, Dragon Knight, Dragon Fire and Dragon Light. She is also writing the Dragons of Chiril series: The Vanishing Sculptor is already in print, but the second book in this series, Dragons of the Valley, is being released on September 21st, 2010 (we are waiting with much anticipation!!!).

    BRYAN DAVIS has written several series. We whole heartedly recommend two of his series: the Dragons In Our Midst series (includes Raising Dragons, The Candle Stone, Circles of Seven, and Tears of a Dragon) and The Oracles of Fire series (includes Eye of the Oracle, Enoch’s Ghost, Last of the Nephilim, and The Bones of Makaidos). These two series are related and should be read in a certain order according to the author:) There is clear Christian analogy in these books. They do include a small element of romance, but it is minor and very pure as one of the main characters basically symbolizes purity. Some of the characters are fictionalized accounts of people that are mentioned in the Bible (Enoch, Elam, Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth, to name a few). The series are absolutely fascinating and we really enjoy Bryan Davis’s writing. However, his third series, Echoes From the Edge, was a big step up in the violence department … I read these to my oldest out loud and I was not happy with some of the violence in the story (thank goodness we can edit as we read right!?). Also, as an adult, I was confused a bit by some of his symbolism and story lines, but only in this third series. I think he was shooting for something really good, but I wasn’t easily able to figure out where he was going with some of his characters. The third series was not younger children reading material … I would say older teens and adults, if you like mystery and fantasy mixed together and don’t mind the pretty graphic details of violent themes. He also wrote Star Lighter; my oldest has read it, I have not. My mother read it and said that there was more elements of romance in it, and I wasn’t going to have my oldest read it for that reason … but he sneaked it off of my “to-be-read” shelf and completed it before I knew what happened (it was sort of like a drive by reading … he is now MORE aware of staying away from the books on that shelf unless he asks me first).

    WILLIAM D. BURT writes the King of the Trees series, which includes – The King of the Trees, Torsils in Time, The Golden Wood, The Greenstones, The Downs, and Kyleah’s Mirrors. The seventh book in the series, The Birthing Tree, has been sent off to the presses, but we have not yet found out a specific date for its release … we can’t wait to read it!!! When we were reading these books, my oldest commented several times that it was like reading an exciting part of the Bible. I, myself, really loved much of the imagery and how the imagery and allegory really made me think more about some of the aspects of God.

    L.B. GRAHAM writes the Binding of the Blade series. There are five books in this series: Beyond the Summerland, Bringer of Storms, Shadow in the Deep, Father of Dragons, and All My Holy Mountain. At first attempt, we had a hard time getting into the first book (it starts with a flash back and then jumps into the current story, making one feel confused a bit at first), however, after some encouragement from the young man that runs Exodus Provisions, we tried again and after we got into the first book we sure enjoyed reading all of the rest of them and were glad we did. There are many battle scenes in these books and a couple of weddings, but not a lot of romance (these are the words of my oldest boy). It has been maybe two years ago that we read these and while I remember that they were wonderful reads, I don’t remember all of the details. I would also say that these are not grade school level reading books due to battle scenes and some other content.

    CHUCK BLACK wrote the Kingdom series and the Knights of Arrethtrae series (which is somewhat related of coarse). There are six of the Kingdom series: Kingdom’s Dawn, Kingdom’s Hope, Kingdom’s Edge, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign. There are four of the Knights of Arrethtrae series in print already, and it looks as if the author is shooting for at least two more: Sir Kendrick & The Castle of Bel Lione, Sir Bentley & Holbrook Court, Sir Dalton & The Shadow Heart, and Lady Carliss & The Waters of Moorue are already in print, but Sir Quinlan and The Swords of Valor and Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest are not yet in print, but are due to be released in October of this year. These books basically take the events of the Bible and put them into the setting of the time of Knights.

    On Ruth Beechick’s books:
    I have the World History Made Simple and we are using it with our oldest as part of his learning activities. I adore it! I have so appreciated and enjoyed Mrs. Beechick’s Genesis: Finding Our Roots, as well as Adam and His Kin. My curiosity, about exactly how old our young earth is and how “ancient” history all fit together with the history that we read in the Bible, had become more acute over the past couple of years. Ruth Beechick answers those questions in World History Made Simple and lays out a simple curriculum with each section of her book. This book pulls a lot of world history together and allows you to see how things really fit together. It also has a section on “How Dating Went Wrong” and another section on “How to Date the Old Testament”. I found it to be a fascinating book and I was so happy to have answers to the questions that had been floating around in my mind for a couple of years!

    I found Heart and Mind: What the Bible Has To Say About Learning to be priceless to me! So many times God brings just the right thing to my attention to read, to figure out another aspect of educating my children (and myself). I feel keenly that God used this book to reveal some really great truths to me (that were of coarse already in his Word to us, but Ruth really helps to put them all together in one place in a way that helped me do some higher level thinking about the whole subject of heart in learning). I have been deeply and silently upset and confused about something for at least the last six to eight years. I was helping out with a VBS and in a teacher training they handed out a pamphlet that they wanted utilized if we had the chance to talk with a child about accepting Jesus as their personal savior. In the booklet it was emphasized (and by the children’s ed teacher as well) that we should NEVER use the phrase, “Ask Jesus into your heart”, as they were certain that this would scare children that we were asking them to let somebody actually crawl into their physical body – thus making them too fearful to actually make a choice for the Lord. This bothered me on so many levels and yet I did not have the knowledge or research to articulate why it WAS wrong! For years I have stewed on it. Well, in this book Mrs. Beechick puts forth a complete picture of all of the research on how the Bible uses the word “heart” … and guess what!?! The Bible uses the term literally almost 1000 times – never even hinting at symbolism! When the Bible says “Thy word have I hid in my heart”, it really means that it is actually stored in the heart! In fact, Mrs. Beechick uses the illustration of when her son was in an accident and had a traumatic brain injury. He was able to say words, but they made no sense. The nurses were trying to get him to count 1, 2, 3 … or say the ABC’s in order, but he was unable to do so because his brain was under pressure and swelling and thus disabled. However, when she went up to his bedside and started quoting, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth …”, he then continued on from there and quoted long portions of chapters of the Bible that she had taught him as a child! Truly he had stored God’s word in his heart as there was no way he had access to his brain at that time! She concludes the book with the fact that we CAN trust the Bible and use the terminology that it puts forth. When it (the Bible) says to accept Jesus into your heart, or to hide God’s word in your heart, that IS what it means! She also talks about creativity, higher levels of thinking, and learning at a heart level rather then just learning things with our brains. I will utilize her chart of questions to bring a child up to higher levels of thinking (from facts, to concepts, to relating the concepts, and finally to principles … and once your child is able to pull principles out, he/she can apply them to their own lives right!). After calling my mother to read her quotes and portions of this book as I read through it, I then loaned it to her as soon as I finished. As soon as it gets back to me I am going to start reading parts of it to my oldest as I feel that it will be valuable to him as well:) I think that my husband is planning on reading it as well soon:)

    We have not yet read any of the Terrestria Chronicles, but we have noticed them and keep hoping to have the opportunity to do so as the write ups sound really good:) We’ll have to look into the Shining Sword as well!

    Sorry I wrote such a long response … it is hard for me to stop my brain when I start to think about books I have enjoyed:)

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