The most important thing I learned in "Banned Books" was not only how to approach and understand the intimidation many people feel when it comes to controversial topics, especially when it comes to literature, but also how gratifying it can be to break down the wall that seems so daunting. In doing so, a person can gain a sensitivity that will never fail to bring compassion to another, and also a heart and mind that long to understand what it means to feel emotion from another's perspective.
This idea of people fearing discomfort ties into my thoughts after reading Bob Abernethy's "Profile: Madeleine L'Engle Religion & Ethics Newsweekly Profile," because the interview discusses the many rejections L'Engle faced when trying to publish "A Wrinkle in Time."
ABERNETHY: A WRINKLE IN TIME is a science-fiction fantasy that has sold more than six million copies and is now in its 66th printing. Readers still send Madeleine copies of that book and others to autograph, and she says she never tires of signing them.
MS. L'ENGLE: Never, because anyone who has received as many rejection slips as I have is not going to complain about autographs.
Why would people criticize and fear L'Engle's book? Largely because of it's controversial religious messages. Anything that might stir an uproar is typically feared by publishers, and L'Engles inclusion of witches and dark forces seem anti-Christian to many parents. L'Engle also includes religion and science together and views them as two juxtaposed and interrelated elements, which irks many extremists who believe it either has to be one way or the other.
David Hettinga's piece, "A Wrinkle in Faith," draws attention to the extremity to which L'Engle's book has been criticized. "Ministers preach sermons against her; books and articles denounce her and any Christians who evaluate her work favorably or even evenly; librarians in Christian schools and churches handle her books as though they carried dangerous
heresies, sometimes relegating them to back shelves where patrons must ask specifically for them, and sometimes banning them altogether," he explains. It is strange to me how widely L'Engle has been criticized for "A Wrinkle in Time," largely because, in my opinion, if a child were to read it, he or she most likely wouldn't understand the underlying religious meanings.
It seems that the main issue most Christian's have with L'Engle's faith is that she realizes that it is something that must be grappled with. She vascillates, leaving room for personal interpretation. She never tells anyone what to think, but she encourages us to ask our own questions. This makes her seem insecure in her faith, and so many strict Christians frown upon it--they would like things to be absolute, but L'Engle claims that things are never absolute.
Mary Gailbraith's "Hear My Cry: A Manifesto for an Emancipatory Childhood Studies Approach to Children’s Literature" emphasized that children should not be used as a mere device for parents to live vicariously. The recognition of children as a silenced group is a solid reason not to ban books in the first place. A child's creativity and wonder can be stifled by parents who try to protect them too much.
The articles on banning smoking, baggy pants, cursing, and tattoos also reinforced this idea of cutting off something that is controversial, but at the same time tied together the idea that stifling freedom of expression is also a product of fear. People want to believe that things should be one absolute way, and any questioning of authority challenges the way they see the world. Writers like L'Engle, however, make it known that the way the world is depends on what lense you use.