1. notleia says:

    I didn’t consider that comm section all that controversial, mostly people talking about how they define “propaganda.” I think it’s a useful question.

    What a lot of non-lit majors don’t realize is that plenty of books are capital-i Important without being, y’know, enjoyable. And often they are Important for scholarly reasons rather than popularity reasons.

    And what a lot of culture-warrior Christians don’t realize is that you can learn about a thing without necessarily believing in the thing. Burnett should put that on the statement of faith page.

    • There were comments elsewhere on social media and a few groups that pushed back on this piece more strongly than anyone in the comments here did!

      Both of your comments are quite true here. Faulkner for me in college definitely fell into the “Important but not enjoyable camp!”

  2. pariantur says:

    Josiah, I suppose I feel I’m still not sure what the suggested take away is–taking both articles and comments, into consideration. In the first article, the title and editorial suggested that if the sum of Christian literature has any propaganda itself, then “who are we to cast the first stone?”

    While it ended unfinished, the responses found in the comment section indicate the same questions I felt left with. Is the suggestion that we are not to criticize? Or that pulling away from secular culture is inappropriate?

    To Dreher’s quote, I thought to a better analogy, found in coffee. If you’ve ever cut out coffee, even for a single week, it can have a highly detoxifying effect. A single cup of coffee after quitting for a week will buzz you like mad. It makes you painfully aware of how much coffee affects you. The same is true when one makes the conscious choice to pull back from culturally “acceptable” media–You begin to realize just how much you had grown to tolerate, whether violence, vulgarity, sexuality, or wokeness. Your sight becomes clearer. In fact, you could argue that this detoxification allows you to better provide critique of those works that are in question here.

    This leads us to the second article, which lauds some of the benefits to a scholarly debate versus the problems of boycotting, and equating boycotting to waging war. Does not our choice to withdraw from that which may trigger us, or causes us issue, instead begin to wage war not with society, but with our own flesh? If one person has violent tendencies, isn’t avoiding media that incites violence the best way to avoid violent thoughts? To those that perhaps are feeling attacked, or wish to lash-out at the “woke” world we face–taking time away from social media, away from the feeling of being force-fed secular philosophies is one of the best ways to realign yourself to the Word, just as Jesus did, continually stepping away to spend time in fellowship with the Father. It may even lead to realizing that you are not personally being attacked or force-fed. Only numbed to it.

    Personally, I think the issue at hand is not how woke literature is becoming, but instead, how ham-fisted it is at times. A single forced scene can ruin a book. A single Straw Man argument derails the entire piece. A single bad “coming to faith moment” injects a lens of cringe in a poorly executed Christian Faith movie. Should we consume these ruined stories? There are plenty of examples of “propaganda” or satire done right, due to skill, nuance, or timely-ness (Animal Farm immediately comes to mind.)

    Is your suggestion is that we neither boycott, nor enter healthy criticism? Secular messaging has been implicit in all books printed since, well… the printing press. How do you suggest then, that we interact?

    -Andrew D Meredith

    • Hey Andrew!

      Thanks for commenting with these great thoughts. Sorry that I didn’t see this comment earlier! I am completely in favor of engaging in healthy criticism with works containing secular themes–and hopefully that came out in these articles. My intended takeaway is that readers would feel the freedom to engage thoughtfully (and at times critically!) with works instead of wondering if it’s more “spiritual” to boycott works of contrary material.

      I do agree that if someone has particular struggles with a specific sin, avoiding media that could encourage that would be a prudent approach. And I would also agree that it’s possible to get too wrapped up in the world of secular media–a balance between that and works that are more directly spiritually edifying is needed in this world.

      This article was originally written as a solo article, and when we split it in two due to space concerns, I think there were a few trains of thought that got a bit muddied in the process of splitting it. But hopefully that helps to explain what I’m arguing for here!

What say you?