Saturday, February 24, 2007

Evil in Literature

I need some ideas for books that can be read for a relief society book club. I've gotten in trouble before for suggesting "inappropriate" books. The last book I suggested was "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson. The books deals with the aftermath of a young girl's rape and how she finally finds her voice again.

I think the book does an amazing job of showing how painful high school can be for some teenagers. In fact, although, I've never gone through anything nearly as traumatic as what the protagonist experiences, her feelings of alienation in high school is one that I could relate to. I was hoping that maybe some of the women could read it and then pass it on to their daughters. I though that it could promote some discussions of some very important issues that may go undiscussed among church members.

I wouldn't have had a problem if it had been vetoed because someone had read it and thought it wasn't any good, but to say that it is inappropriate for a church sponsored group really bothers me. I completely disagree that we need to avoid all mention of evil in our reading. Evil exists in our world whether we like it or not. We need to confront it for what it is, and learn how to combat it, not close our eyes to its existence. In my opinion, as long as a book shows evil for what it is, and does not try to glorify it, excuse it, or portray it as good, it can be something we can learn from. After all, isn't that what the scriptures do?

Instead, the books chosen for the book club so far have been ones like "Little House on the Prairie" (an actual choice). I loved that book as a child, but for the book club, I want something with some meat to it. To me, the whole point of the home and family activities, is to allow the women in the ward to move beyond the superficial interaction we have when we meet on Sundays and find real connections with each other.

So, anyway, and book suggestions that won't be vetoed by the RS presidency would be greatly appreciated;


3 comments:

Tigersue said...

well if they are trying to avoid evil in any literature I think that will be a pretty hard thing to do. Maybe some books by CS Lewis, Jane Austin, etc?

Kimberly said...

Evil by association? Seems a bit narrow-minded to me. Can't help reflecting on how very sad that is.

Perhaps Madeleine L'Engle? A Wind in the Door, is particularly thought provoking. I'd also suggest Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Those are pretty safe. Too bad the other members don't feel more adventurous.

Now, I know it's one of the typicals, but I recently read Little Women for the first time and...wow. What an amazingly inspiring book!

Maralise said...

Censorship of the Relief Society President variety makes me want to rebel against church sponsored book clubs. What started this trend anyway? Oprah? And since when have we listened to her (oh yes...since the 80s, got it).

All kidding aside, it's very difficult to please everyone and when you're reading things in a "church" setting, pleasing everyone is the standard. I would go with the classics. You'd be surprised how many lovely life lessons can be learned (and how much people blindly think the classics are "righteous") from a book that masks its "evil" behind social mores, supposedly black and white characters, and other culturally acceptable tropes. What about Frankenstein? Henry James' Portrait of a Lady? Willa Cather's My Antonia?

Good luck! And thanks for commenting on Segullah...love to see you there again.