Hey there! Let's talk about something pretty amazing and terrifying: the way literature has turned our worldviews upside down and inside out.
You see, words aren't just black marks on paper or random sounds coming out of our mouths. They're the magic spells that can reshape our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. And one of the most enchanting spells they cast is through literature.
Imagine this: You're curled up with a book, and before you know it, you're whisked away to another time or place. You're strolling through the streets of 19th-century England with Jane Austen's characters or trekking through Tolkien's Middle-earth. Literature is like a magic carpet that transports us to worlds we could only dream of.
As we follow characters from different backgrounds and eras, our horizons start expanding like crazy. We start seeing things through their eyes, feeling what they feel, and understanding life from their unique perspective. This mind-expanding experience makes us more open-minded, compassionate, and aware of the beautiful diversity of our world.
Sometimes this is a beautiful and much needed widening of our scope. We are, after all, called to love and disciple people of all cultures. The best way we can do this is by knowing, empathizing, and being affected by the plight and destiny of others.
But what if seeing the world through our new literary friend's eyes means we take on their thoughts, emotions, and worldview?
Great literature doesn't just hand us a story on a silver platter; it challenges us. It pokes and prods at our assumptions, making us squirm in our comfy little belief bubbles. George Orwell's 1984 or Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are perfect examples. These books throw the spotlight on social injustices and the dangers of conformity. They make us second-guess the stuff we take for granted and lead us to take action in a corrupt and decaying world. Stories can force us to face uncomfortable truths and, in doing so, push us to become better, more socially conscious individuals.
But how can we be sure that our young people are not being swayed toward a godless worldview?
There once was a time where Christian principles stood unwinking in the volumes of literature, but slowly we have seen how literature has moved our culture toward new thoughts.
It began with the silent Rebellion in classic literature. Due to the societal norms of the time, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde could not be explicit, but it subtly touched on same-sex love and the dangers of suppressing your true self. It was a whisper of rebellion, hidden between the lines.
I will be the last person to advocate sheltering your teen from classic literature, but we need to keep our wits about us. In the same way that we vet and discuss modern books, we need to pay close attention to everything our children are reading, watching, listening to and participating in!
In fact... I advocate intentional exposure alongside training in critical thought and apologetics! It is by being aware of the messages we take in (because we cannot escape our culture!) and actively countering their arguments with logic and truth that our students can become stronger in their faith and more equipped to confidently explain and defend their faith in this quickly shifting and degenerating culture.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:15-17
So, here's the deal: Literature isn't just about words on a page. It's a game-changer, a world-shaker. It expands our minds, challenges our beliefs, and pushes us to take action.
We need to actively engage with powerful literature and use it to make our world a better place and to debunk its ungodly and often illogical arguments.
In a world where words are everywhere, let's not forget how they can reshape our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Let's keep reading, keep exploring different perspectives - intentionally choosing the good and dispatching the bad - and keep using the magic of literature to become more compassionate, empathetic, and more like Christ.
It's a journey worth taking, and the adventure is right there on your bookshelf.
Ready to read the article in the Summer 2023 edition of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine? Click Here!
Are you looking for a language arts class that will guide your student to read critically, examine the messages and compare it to the truth?