I’ve been thinking about it lately because the references are everywhere and then someone ask me if I was going to read it. I hadn’t taken the time to process my thoughts correctly about the book. I had heard the premise and then read a bunch of reviews.
I knew right away that it wasn’t for me.
Now, to formulate a coherent, well-informed reason why not and then effectively communicate it to someone else—–that’s not exactly as easy as it sounds.
This weekend, at the Circe Conference, as I was frantically jotting down quotes from the church fathers and from the brightest minds of the past two millennia, it dawned on me that the main reason I won’t be reading the book is because there are too many wonderful things to read that I already know I’ll never get to in my life. Despite the fact that I have full-to-the-brim bookshelves already, I came away from the conference with a list of twenty-five books that I MUST read and I’d like to read ten of them before school starts in 3 weeks. I’m considering putting myself on a rigorous reading schedule that involves waking up in the wee hours of the morning so that I can take in as much of the classical tradition and wisdom as is possible for a mom who still needs to cook and do laundry and sleep.
So, why would I waste some of those precious few reading hours on what many reviewers have described as horrific writing in a genre that is barely passable as literature?
There are so many wonderful works of art, music, literature, and film with which to fill our minds. We’ll never exhaust the wealth of what is available to us from brilliant, capable artists and writers.
The beauty of living in a free society is that you’re free to choose what works of art you will engage. But how we use our freedoms is another thing all together.
And I’m not moralizing here. I’m not a prude or a legalist. I don’t think it’s an accident that even in scripture, we’re not given a how-to book. We are instead given stories and poetry and parables, all of which contain truth that God gives to us through stories. And the Creator himself writes some racy and violent things. But we have, in our porn/erotica addicted society, exchanged the truth for a lie. We have stripped away the mysteries of love and reduced them to violence and objectification and dominance. And why? I can only surmise that it’s because we’re so desperate for the real thing and we just don’t believe that we can have it without the sensationalized, scandalous forms of sexuality that dominate our culture.
Here’s my idea of sexy…….
A man whose strong arms cradle a tender newborn.
A grandfather who painstakingly takes the time to teach his grandson to fish.
A husband who works two jobs to put food on the table.
And of course, the beautiful, even wild, consummation of young lovers who vow to live together forever within the bonds of marriage.
It surprises me, really, that this kind of literature is what woman want, or at least what they think they want.
I fear we’ve lost our center point. All of us.
And, ironically, it’s often art that draws us back. Beauty woos us and invites us to something better, a nobler love, a higher calling. I’m thankful for artists whose works are the very incarnation of truth.
Contrast the debased world of BDSM to this commentary of David Hicks in his book, Norms and Nobility, on the beautiful description the lover makes toward his beloved in Song of Solomon. He’s commenting on the passage where Song of Solomon describes his lover in detail—her cheeks, her neck, her belly, her navel, her breasts.
“The poet’s admiration for his beloved is without perversion or sentimentality, and his imagery suggests an ennobling and self-transcending sexuality—nothing tawdry, nothing vain. For the love the poet expresses, although intensely personal, is also universal and divine. His myth raises human sexuality out of the technical mire of the modern sex manual and imbues it with the significance and loveliness characterizing Dante’s ‘Love that moves the sun and the other stars.’ ”
Love and sex are beautiful gifts from God. Gifts that we will always be prone to pervert, like we pervert all His gifts. I don’t really need any help—in the form of perverted sex acts— to make a mess of love or of life.
To summarize Andrew Kern’s talk, in its truest form, art is the medium by which the artist embodies a truth.
From what I can tell, the premise of Fifty Shades of Grey is built on lies. Lies told in an effort to sell books and undermine the wonderful mysteries of love thats exist between a man and a woman.
At best, it seems a waste of precious time and at worst, it tears at the fabric of what has always made societies great—lovers whose passions are finally tamed and whose selfish desires are put aside to leave a legacy of fidelity and love for their children and grandchildren.
Life is too short for bad books, especially given all the good ones I’ve yet to read.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve added to my reading list instead:
Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers
The Last Gentleman: A Novel by Walker Percy
Standing by Words: Essays by Wendell Berry
The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth by David Bentley Hart
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
I was on my very hot and difficult run this morning when Intervention by Arcade Fire began playing on my iPod. There is a truth in that song that pierces my self-righteousness. It nails me right between my hypocritical eyes. Listen to it and ponder your own tendency to look for the problem ‘out there’ somewhere—in a culture gone wrong. Perhaps the culture has gone wrong because I have gone wrong—-we have gone wrong. We have failed to love truth and beauty and we hear the echoes of this generation as they cry, “We’ll go it alone.” In the end, it is my own need to repent that rings loudest in my ears.
“working for the church, while you’re family dies.
you take what they give you, and keep it inside.
every spark of friendship and love will die without a home.
hear the soldier groan, ‘we’ll go it alone.’ ”
Visit our workroom/schoolroom/artroom. It’s a pretty fantastic multifunctional room!