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Ennobling the Monster

Joe Carter over at TGC recently wrote about the link between Fifty Shades of Grey and the normalization of abusive behavior toward women. Carter (along with the study he cites) observes that while the books are popular with older women, their target audience “is young women between the ages of 18 and 25. The effect of targeting this young audience can be that it conditions them to accept abusive relationships in the future or to justify abuse they’ve already suffered at the hands of older men.”

He goes on to say that Fifty Shades is “also the latest blockbuster series to celebrate the attraction of young women to older, abusive predators. In an earlier era of fantasy stories, the goal of a hero was to protect a woman from evil by slaying the dragon. In many of today’s fantasy stories, the hero is the dragon, whose mission is to seduce a woman by his evil.”

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Taken from this angle, it’s easier to grasp why the postmodern mind has such a turbulent relationship with older tales – and hence, with the virtuous bedrock they’re built on. We’ve reached a stage in our cultural rebellion that sees our popular stories vilifying St. George while ennobling the monster he was sent to slay. Candice Watters’ remark about turning the moral universe upside down is most fitting.  (For another example, look to the upcoming film Dracula Untold, which casts the famous literary villain in a sympathetic and even heroic light.)

Two thoughts.

First, it cannot come as a surprise that celebrations of sin – yes, even “imagined” sin – yield consequences as practical as dirt under your fingernails. It wasn’t for kicks and giggles that Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) Taking your soul on walks through pornographic wastelands and then raising your eyebrow at the physical and emotional fallout is like eating Taco Bell and acting surprised at the diarrhea.

In his book Fidelity, Doug Wilson points out that “if God doesn’t want us to do it, He doesn’t want us to get pleasure from thinking about doing it,” and this is just good sense. But there are some things in this life that cannot be overestimated: one of those is the deceitfulness of the human heart.

Second, nature does indeed abhor a vacuum. In the absence of the healthy, the mature, and the morally robust, the diseased and the dying rush in. So it isn’t enough to avoid Fifty Shades and its plague-ridden dishes. Abstinence is less than half the battle. The right kind of food is needed. In a culture that feasts on ashes and filthy rags, we have a ravenous obligation to get fat on the good stuff – and to fatten our children with it, too.

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On the Bookshelf XXVII

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Lessons in Music Form by Percy Goetschius
A fabulous little volume for music lovers of the thinking stripe: “There are two essentially different classes of music lovers. The one class takes delight in the mere sound and jingle of the music… The other class, more discriminating in its tastes, looks beneath this iridescent surface and strives to fathom the underlying purpose of it all.”
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
It’s been ages since I’ve read a story so consistently, hilariously, brilliantly entertaining. Think Wodehouse meets Ian Fleming, and you have a fairly decent idea of what Laurie is up to here. He’s good at it, too. Very good. A full length review is forthcoming.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
One of those classics I never got around to in high school. It was Neil Postman’s thesis that Huxley was closer to the mark than Orwell: “In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”
Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls by Scott Snyder
The cotton candy in my literary diet. Good writing, great artwork. And Batman. So much Batman. What’s not to like?
A Landscape With Dragons by Michael O’Brien
I can already tell this is going to be fascinating: “… a controversial, yet thoughtful study of what millions of young people are reading and the possible impact such reading may have on them. In this study of the pagan invasion of children’s culture, O’Brien, the father of six, describes his own coming to terms with the effect it has had on his family and on most families in Western society.”

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

Prodigal Purge

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What if one night out of every year, the authorities declared all criminal activity completely legal? What would you do? Steal the car you’ve always wanted but never could afford? Plot the death of your boss because he’s such a royal pain to work with?

In a futuristic America beleaguered by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government has sanctioned just such a night — an annual 12-hour period in which any person may commit any crime (including murder) without fear of retribution. Hospitals are shut down. Rule of law is suspended. This night of nights, you are allowed — nay, encouraged — to do literally anything you want.

Or not. Maybe you’d rather avoid the blood-soaked pandemonium outside. If so, feel free not to participate. It isn’t mandatory. Just bolt your doors and lock your windows… and hope to God you haven’t made any enemies in the past 364 days. Continue —>

A Profession, A Confession

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“Thanksgiving is the highest form of worship and praise for it simultaneously exalts the majesty, sufficiency, and graciousness of God’s providential provision and confesses our utter, complete, and abject dependence upon Him for our all-in-all. Thanksgiving is thus both a profession of who God is and what He has done and a confession of who we are and what we have not done, what we cannot do.” – Alexander Whyte