March 22, 2020 at 8:20 pm #109273Emma Huckabee (Emma Starr)@emma-starr
I’m conducting a survey, and I would appreciate it SO much if you answered these questions:
- Do you believe Christians should read secular literature (literature produced by non-believers)? Why or why not?
- How should a Christian approach reading secular and/or non secular) literature?
- Can (secular and/or non secular) literature be a source of truth? Why or why not?
- Do you personally read (or listen to) literature (secular and/or non secular)?
[as minimal or as detailed as you would like!]
- This topic was modified 1 year ago by Emma Huckabee (Emma Starr).
Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blogMarch 23, 2020 at 12:23 am #109276Anonymous
1. Yes, absolutely. I don’t see it as a “why” as much as a “why not.” Personally I don’t have convictions about anything anyway. But I think non Christians are still people obviously and they’ve got stories to share and it’s all art and art is great so why not
2. the same way you approach anything haha what’s the big deal
3. Yea because people inherently have morals and understand truth even if they don’t believe in God we all have that reflection of God in us that recognizes what’s good and what’s bad
4. I’ve literally never read Christian fiction in my life so that tells you plentyMarch 23, 2020 at 5:56 am #109293Taylor Clogston@taylorclogston
- Yes. The broader our artistic consumption, the better our perspective of art as a whole. Even Paul quoted a pagan poet in Acts 17.
- A Christian needs to be mindful of the strength of their conscience. If they feel guilty for reading a thing, they shouldn’t continue reading it, but they need to seek spiritual maturity so they don’t feel offended by everything in the world that doesn’t completely jive with the Christian worldview. Doing so gives them the freedom they need to interrogate the best art in the world without feeling guilty they’re getting too familiar with non-Christian art.
- Are you going to find the Gospel in non-Christian art? Probably not. In celebration of life and beauty, can you find ways to glorify God the Creator? I think so. Can you find the human condition and grow a little more in your understanding of humanity as a whole? Definitely. I guess at that point it depends to what extent you’re talking about “truth.”
- Yes. I don’t consume much Christian art, and consume mostly non-Christian art.
Also I don’t like using “secular” as “non-Christian.” It means “non-religious” or “not of the church organization.” Things relating to pagan religion are non-Christian, but non-secular, and from them comes a huge slice of valuable art.
"...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and MargaritaMarch 23, 2020 at 8:59 am #109295DeepRun@deeprun
1. Early on in college, a professor made a statement saying that he’d prefer a well painted picture of an apple to a badly painted portrait of Jesus. Coming out of a tight knit Holy Huddle environment this statement rattled me for some time. Now, I agree. For me, to read only literature produced by believers, would be turning a blind eye to the vast wealth of good literature out there AND also weighing the worth of those writings based solely on their subject matter, not on wether it’s actually a “good” story, or even well written. As an aside, I think there is a whole SE article series about what makes a story good.
I also believe it gives a dangerous pass to writers. Your work is immediately vaulted onto a higher plane, based on the credential that you are a Christian. Not wether your story is well crafted or the plot engaging or is it even worth reading. Nope, you’re a Christian writer, you’re safe. Within that “safety” lies a world of potential mediocrity.
I think to only read literature that is Holy Huddle sanctioned misses the point as well. Would we only interact with believers? None of this is to say go read smut! I strongly feel that we’re missing out on A LOT if we only read non-secular (I agree with @taylorclogston that the labels are problematic too) literature. I believe it’s to our detriment.
2. Approaching literature with higher standards means that I give myself the freedom to put something down if it’s just trash. Gore or filth only for shock value. Whereas if it’s an important thread of suffering that speaks of a broken heart. Example for me being, The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. Secular author, rougher material but a surprisingly redemptive story. The heartache had purpose.
3. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1: 20 Why wouldn’t truth be present in great writing?
4. I have a pretty wide intake of things ranging from secular to non-secular. I am great fan of hymns but also enjoy classic rock. Same for literature, I range from classic works (some written by Christians) to enjoying well crafted fiction by secular authors. My imagination is freakishly overactive so I have to be selective with what I intake.
Thank you for being willing to pose these questions. It was a delight to write about them. I’m a huge introvert but even I’m stagnating a little in these times.
You do not have a soul. You have a body.
You are a soul. - C.S. LewisMarch 23, 2020 at 9:20 am #109296Sir Leeds@sir-leeds
- Yes, I think it’s important to read literature outside of the recent development of the Christian subgenre. A lot of good literature doesn’t come with the label “Christian,” and if one does confine oneself to only those works that explicitly fit into that label, then I suppose even Tolkien’s works would be off the table since they’re not, nor were they intended to be, explicitly religious.
- I’m going to echo Taylor’s response here. Our consciences, maturity levels, and sensitivities toward portrayals of certain sins are all different. I believe you can find some little “t” truths in secular literature that may be beneficial to you, just keep a lookout for any lies that like to disguise themselves as half truths.
- Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with Taylor’s response here.
- Yes. I consume quite a bit of secular and non-Christian art, far more than the “Christian” art I consume, actually. Like I said earlier, the contemporary Christian subgenre has come about pretty recently (1960s at the earliest according to my research), and it excludes a lot of secular and non-Christian art, and even then, it’s kind of blurry as to how it chooses what to accept and reject. For example, many Christian bookstores will sell (and therefore welcome into the contemporary Christian subculture) Tolkien’s works even though they are secular by all accounts, but I’ve never seen John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl,” which is a non-Christian book that tells a similar story about the dangers of greed sold in Christian bookstores. I’ve also seen plenty of praise and worship songs sold at Christian bookstores, but I have yet to see a poetry book by T. S. Eliot, a famous Christian poet who wrote about Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, the sacrament of Communion, etc., as well as paganism and secular concepts like middle age crises and the horrors of war.
"We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. LewisMarch 23, 2020 at 2:57 pm #109315Kate Flournoy@kate
Great discussion, @emma-starr.
1. Do you believe Christians should read secular literature (literature produced by non-believers)? Why or why not?
Yes. As long as you read with discernment, pondering the worldviews being presented and comparing them against the Bible, there is much encouragement and beauty and excellence to be found in even secular works of art.
2. How should a Christian approach reading secular and/or non secular) literature?
All literature should be read with discernment. Learn to examine the philosophies presented by what is glorified. Examine what worldviews are promoted by the choices of the characters, and learn to tell the difference between a godly story, a godless story, and an ungodly story. There are different things to be learned from each.
3. Can (secular and/or non secular) literature be a source of truth? Why or why not?
Yes. The thing about good stories is if they’re written honestly from an open heart, they’re always going to hit some notes of truth. I find that secular literature never quite gets to the ultimate Truth, but there are many true things that can be understood and appreciated even if the standard of ultimate truth is lacking. God’s beautiful fingerprints are all over human history, and those fingerprints can be recognized even if the source of them is not. Anyone who writes honestly can’t fail to touch on those beautiful fragments.
4. Do you personally read (or listen to) literature (secular and/or non secular)?
Yep. That’s a pretty broad field. :’D
INFP-A. If you can't be brilliant, odd will do.March 25, 2020 at 11:00 am #109382Evelyn@evelyn
@emma-starr I’m afraid I’m gonna repeat a lot of the same answers these other peeps have said… sounds like you’re getting a lot of the same opinions, but oh well, here are mine and I’ll try to keep them short. 😛
1. “Should?” Not necessarily a required or needed thing, but I don’t think they straight up shouldn’t, and I think that it is a good thing to do. It’s important to understand other people and art. Christians should not avoid art produced or created by secular artists any more than they should avoid the secular people themselves. It’s not what we are commanded to do. And honestly if the question is more about the “cleanliness” of the work – there are many works by secular artists that are cleaner than works by some Christians. Obviously there are some things that are hard to give blanket statements over. I’m not going to give certain books to kids but I would suggest to older or more mature teenagers. And then there are some I wouldn’t give to anyone at all. So no to that blanket statement Christians should read secular work, but no blanket statement that they shouldn’t either.
2. Same way they should approach anything else haha.
3. ^ what Taylor said ^
4. Yes, I do.March 28, 2020 at 4:19 pm #109557Emma Huckabee (Emma Starr)@emma-starr
Thank you all so much!! Your answers are all thought-provoking. Here are some of my thoughts…
@taylorclogston I used secular literature as a very general term. I define Christian literature as a work that is by a professing Christian. So I defined anything other than Christian as “secular.”
Empathy is so important for Christians, and understanding the other people who all live in our world helps us reveal why God’s grace is life-changing.
In my experience, I find that people who read a wide variety of literature tend to be more empathetic towards other people. Reading fiction allows me to slip into someone else’s soul for a while and feel what they feel.
The common grace God gives us shows through in secular literature. There are quite a few secular authors who explore themes that the Bible condones. God’s law is written on all of our hearts. While Christian literature is more likely to condone biblical themes and messages, it is every bit as likely as secular literature to be poor quality writing.
Spreading God's love until I can see seven billion smiles. 🙂 https://sevenbillionsmiles.home.blog
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