What Happens when Morality and Books Collide (and you couldn’t see it coming)

shock-and-awe_2666361I’ve always loved reading, and I’ve tried to be discerning with what I read. I grew up largely on Christian fiction, the occasional bestseller and my high school reading list. When I became a teacher six years ago, I set out to become ‘well read’ in secular fiction, so that I knew what to recommend to my students. I began devouring popular books, and, last year, read a book a week for the entire year.

My endeavor, however, had a frequent downside. Too often, I’d find myself gripped by a novel only to discover an increasing amount of content that I didn’t feel comfortable reading. I felt a conviction that this content was not something that I, as a Christian, should be reading; but I was loving the book! On occasion this battle ended with me tearing the book to pieces; making a bold personal stand within myself.

I was sick of the battle between my moral standards and my love of reading. I scoured the internet for a source that would help me discern what sort of content was in a novel before I started reading it. There was nothing to be found.

Now there is.

My new website, www.bookclassifications.com , exists to assist the discerning reader in discovering what level of content may be in a book before they start reading it, or pass it on to their child.

I’d love for you to check it out, share it with friends and family and like us on Facebook!

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9 comments on “What Happens when Morality and Books Collide (and you couldn’t see it coming)

  1. So… I am curious… who reads the books and writes the reviews?

    I ask, as I just visited the website, and it seemed that the majority of the books listed were rated M+ or worse.

    So I was wondering if you were the one doing the reading and reviewing – that way justifying reading what you said you felt you shouldn’t be reading (as a Christian).

    Again, just curious. 🙂

    • sarsrose says:

      Hi Karl,

      You have certainly highlighted a dilemma that I am fully aware of and wrestle with often.

      I really believe that there needs to be a source out there such as the one I’ve created, however the dilemma comes when we ask, ‘who is to create it?’ In order to create a guide for discerning readers, do you have to be a non-discerning reader? I find it difficult having put my name to books that I would not consider appropriate for most people to read.

      To answer your question, I am reading a lot of the books at this stage, and I also have a team of people from different walks of life who are reading too.
      I try to maintain my own boundaries and follow the prompting of the Spirit as I read. There are many authors and series that I won’t read, and many of those that I have read with questionable content, were not ones that I was really aware would have questionable content before i read them.

      I certainly do not want to be using this project as a means of justifying doing something that God would not have me do, and at this stage I do not feel before God that that is what I am doing, but I know I must proceed with caution.

      I want each person on my team to only read material that they are morally comfortable with, but not all reviewers will be Christians, which does also enable us to provide a broader range without causing people to overstep their personal boundaries.

      Finally, in relation to the books that we have already classified, you mentioned that the majority seemed to be M+ or worse, which prompted me to do a bit of an ‘audit’ of all the books on our site. You may have gotten that impression from our front page, but that is actually not the case. Our highest number of classified books are rated M, followed by PG, followed by G. M+ and R rated books actually make up the LEAST number of books that we have classified.

      Please be in prayer for us as we continue this project, that our consciences will not be dulled and that we will not become desensitized to material that brings no glory to God.

      • Hello again! Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Yes, you are correct that I arrived at my conclusion from a cursory review of the landing page.

        I asked you the question as your book review website made me think of ‘movie review’ websites for Christians, that have been set up and maintained by Christians. I have found it interesting that these people would go see movies and rate them as either appropriate or inappropriate for godly people. It seemed strange to me that someone following Christ would feel compelled to watch and review movies (regardless of MPAA rating) so they could warn off their brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t make sense to me.

        My wife used to read a lot of secular fiction. She really likes the mystery and espionage genre. However, once she came to Christ I asked her why she was still reading that type of material. She prayed about it and started using the CBD (Christian Book Distributors) magazines as a source-guide to Christian authors. It took her a couple of years to figure out what Christian authors she liked the best, but she is now able to read fiction that is not godless. I really admire her willingness to make that change and doing so in such a wise manner and I praise God for giving her such a wonderful solution. 🙂

  2. Some people think that if reading helps you read then it’s gotta be good, no matter what you read. Well if may help you in reading but that’s about all. I’d rather be a poor reader and considered dumb, and holy, than a good reader, smart, able to get a good job, but with a corrupt mind.

    • sarsrose says:

      I agree Stephen. Thank you for your words. It always amazed me to discover the types of things my students are reading, though it is difficult to be discerning without anything to guide you

  3. I love your new site and it will be very helpful. I know you struggle with reading the books in order to give us your views about it not being appropriate…helping us, yet subjecting you to reading those books. But there are several Christian sites that do that with movies and the tell you the bad words, the sex in the movies, violence….it’s SO helpful to me. I think they are doing a wonderful job of helping us keep away from movies that are not appropriate. But our prayers should be with them too, that by watching these movies they will not be drawn away from God.

    I’m glad you are doing this and I support you and pray for you!
    Debbie

    • sarsrose says:

      Hi Debbie,
      Thank you so much for your encouragement. I really needed that on the day you wrote it and I hope you and your church are able to be blessed through the site.
      Bless you sister.

      Sarah

      • Sarah,

        Isn’t it amazing how God brings us encouragement when we need it? I to have been encouraged just within the past day, and now in the middle do the night reading some comments on my blog.
        So many times I feel like throwing in the towel, yet everyone I’ve met through this blog, including you have been such an encouragement to me. I know The Lord brought me here and some how, with lots of prayer I will find the balance in my life to do all that needs doing and make it work. The Lord doesn’t bring discouragement, He brings encouragement and direction. But He doesn’t do all the work, He let’s us do our part.
        I’m a slow learner most times and I can be selfish and stubborn, but thankfully God’s mercy and grace are more powerfully.

        You have encouraged me in an down time in my life with this comment, it’s God, isn’t it?
        God bless!
        Debbie

      • sarsrose says:

        So glad I was able to encourage you back! Bless you sister.

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