Monday, August 30, 2010

morally ambiguous

There seems to be a trend among book challenges that seek to ban or challenge texts which deal with religion.  This is not to say that a Christian character who remains a Christian is a bad thing, but that a Christian character who may decide they are no longer Christian is a bad thing.  The idea that a person needs to have a religion in order to have a sense of morality is one that is catching in the book world over the last few decades.  Books like Are You There God?  It's Me Margaret (Judy Blume), and His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), are being criticized for their challenges to institutional religion.  Are You There God tells of a little girl who can't decide what religion, if any, that she wants to be, and because she can't decide, the book ends with her simply having a relationship with God, but not through any particular institution.  Somehow this is unacceptable?  Oh, because without a religion, her morality is questionable.  The same goes for anyone reading Pullman's books.  Because there is a suggestion that a religious institution is not actually all-knowing and right, there is an uproar.  And not only because certain elements of the institution in his novel reflect certain religious institutions in the real world, but because of the moral ambiguity in the novel!

How did we end up at this place where ambiguity is such an awful thing?  If anything, ambiguity allows the readers (and the characters even) to explore and discover personal ways of understanding God, spirituality, the afterlife, etc.  These books aren't simply propaganda or ways of proselytizing to turn readers to a specific religious way of thought.  I say, bring on the ambiguity, 'cause otherwise, life's just not as interesting.

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