Some years ago, I overheard a clerk in a religious bookstore say to a customer, “These ideas are dangerous!”
While I appreciate efforts to guide readers to helpful books, I don’t believe we as readers should live in fear of ideas. For instance, if I were gullible enough to agree with everything I read and see, I might be:
- Ingesting pills that supposedly contain vegetables and fruit so I don’t have to eat vegetables or fruit.
- Drinking an energy elixir.
- Using a specific brand of shampoo to improve my hair.
- Feeding a pet treats to lessen the animal’s anxiety.
- Ordering pizza at midnight. (See: Overeating.)
- Applying a miracle cream on my skin to enhance my appearance.
- Patronizing a restaurant serving too much food drizzled in melted cheese and dripping a trail of salt and oil. (See: Overeating.)
- Spraying wonder tape on every broken object in the house because it looks fun and cool.
I’m not saying that nothing we see or read has value or that none of these ideas and products work. I am saying that we, as adult readers and consumers, can exercise discernment.
Consider vegetable pills. I guess you’ll be hungry if you consume all your fruits and vegetables in pill form instead of eating five to six cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Then you just might be looking for potato or corn chips to eat. Not only is chip form not the best way to eat vegetables, but potatoes and corn are, at best, starchy vegetables to be consumed in moderation. How about buying squash (which is a fruit) and onions. Rinse and peel, then slice and dice. Boil in a pan until soft, then transfer to a frying pan to sauté in a small amount of butter. Serve.
Admittedly, cooking this way is an involved process, so I like to make what my mother called a” mess” of squash. But what a joy to eat over gulping a pill!
In a hurry? Buy plain frozen veggies in a bag you can microwave for five minutes and serve.
You might say, “What’s all this talk about vegetables?”
I share my thoughts to illustrate a process you already know: discernment. When you see information that doesn’t seem correct, you have the power to discard it as rubbish. Just because you read something doesn’t mean you agree with it. Or that you are obliged to agree.
To be an informed author, be a well-read reader. Read carefully and thoughtfully. Then take your knowledge and share it through introspective nonfiction and brilliant fiction. Your readers will thank you.
I really wanted to believe
in wizards, sages, magic,
but the gift that I received
was nothing short of tragic,
a well-spoke answer to the fears
that from my heart I’d hide,
but it all would end in tears
and emptiness inside.
As prodigal I’d wandered far
and found no meaning on that road,
no hope in ashram, temple, bar,
no one to share the load
‘cept He who followed where I went
and filled my faulty discernment.
A great message, Tamela! Thank you. I have never understood writers who say they don’t read. Reading far and wide is a must for me. Otherwise my writing might become one of those “miracle” veggies pills that leaves readers hungry for something real.
A great post. Good eating/cooking advise, as well as discernment! Thank you!
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D.
Thank you for sharing, Tamela. When I was doing research for my first novel, I consulted with a doctor regarding something that I wanted to include in a scene. She told me, “No, that would never happen.” I went home and rewrote two chapters, rather than take a chance that I might lead someone astray. It seems to me that we have that responsibility to our readers, even though the original chapters might have been a very interesting way to move the story forward.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It makes me stop and think. What am I taking for granted, not checking for accuracy, and just making wrong decisions about. I’ll slow down and try to think thanks to you.
Lester L. Stephenson
I’m one of those guys in bookstores who warn people about books with bad theology, cult heresies, and other non-biblical nonsense. Many people shopping for Christian books do not know enough to discern some of the unchristian heresy. Anytime I get an opportunity I will explain the dangers of some of the garbage available in bookstores. It is our duty according to Jude’s admonition to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).
Kristen Joy Wilks
Yep, yep, yep! My husband and I worked hard to help our sons become discerning readers … which meant letting them read some things we didn’t agree with at times so that they could exercise those brains! We now have delightful and snarky teens who question everything, especially their parents, ha! They really are the best. Love those boys.
Lisa Larsen Hill
Thank you Tamela. Great post to think about.
Discernment is something good to pray for, like Solomon did in asking for wisdom. Not always easy these days but certainly something we all need to contemplate.
I love my vegys and fruit, especially in summer. Peaches, cheeries…no pills please…
Blessings to all.
Compact veggie pills aren’t for me. I love the taste of fresh veggies and fruits. I love reading in all genres, especially romantic suspense. Sometimes I take notes on how others write. One can never learn enough.