No, Time, It Isn’t About Book Banning

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Is Banning a Pro-pedophile book, the right answer?

This is the question posed by Time Magazine and it represents some fundamental flaws in some of the discussion regarding #BoycottAmazon.

First of all, is anyone trying to ban a book?

It is not antithetical to Free Speech for a company to be selective about what it promotes and sells. If I write a lengthy blog regarding my navel (I might!), the first amendment protects me from the government that might prevent me from publishing or possibly punish me for publishing. Further, being in a free country, I have a right to distribute my navel contemplation article however I am able. I assume, however, that should I submit such an article to Time Magazine, they would most likely reject it. Is that a free speech issue? No.

As a private company, Time has the right to publish whatever it wants. An author may write whatever he or she wants, a publisher may publish whatever it wants, a store may sell whatever it wants, and a consumer may purchase whatever he or she wants. Ah, freedom!

So, why, when consumers use a company’s expressed values as a deciding factor for where thy shop do we suddenly have a “Free Speech” issue?

The folly reminds me of the apostate minister in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. Having lived in hell, the man takes his chance to visit Heaven where he is invited to stay. The man is most concerned with philosophy and theology. In fact, he has a group that meets each week in hell and discusses all kinds of questions. He is appalled when he learns that Heaven offers truth for he has long dismissed truth as an ideal. For him, the question is more important than the answer.

For many, the idea is more important than the action. Time Magazine seems to think so

So while a guide to pro-pedophilia is horrifying, of course, Clark-Flory makes the good point that rather than continue to vilify those with this psychiatric disorder — or the books they write — it might do more good for both pedophiles and their victims if we focus on encouraging treatment rather than ignoring the existence of these ideas.

Pursue ideas rather than action. Respect ideas at the point of defending actions. The idea is the thing; the action suggested by the idea is secondary. This is why this discussion about Amazon’s pro-pedophilia values is being sidetracked by talk of book banning.

Of course, if Time really believed that rejection of a thought was tantamount to censorship, then they would publish every thought ever put to paper. They don’t. Consumers would buy every idea published. We don’t.

Publishers and distributors, like consumers, make value decisions all the time. And the controversy surrounding Amazon is about values. Remember, Amazon does restrict material all the time. Yet, of all the material that they deem “inappropriate,” The Pedophile’s Guide was defended as appropriate. So, no, I am not trying to ban a book. I am simply choosing to spend my money with companies that don’t defend reprehensible values. After all, values, like ideas, lead to actions, and actions are something we have to live with.


Book Review: The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns

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I get a little nervous when I begin to hear about Christians and social justice. No, it’s not because of Glenn Beck. I also get nervous when non-believing pundits try to tell Christians what to do. I get nervous because there is a very real effort to redefine the gospel to mean only social justice. This is a problem because it ultimately leads to a “Christianity” that is void of Christ and indistinguishable from just a system of ethics. So, when Thomas Nelson gave me a free copy of this book written by the CEO of World Vision, I was nervous.

Richard Stearns believes that Christians have a gaping hole in the Gospel. He advocates an embracing of the “whole gospel” which he defines as proclaiming the good news of salvation, a compassion for the sick and the sorrowful, and a commitment to justice. Stearns uses his own personal story as well as several statistics about poverty and American churches to call Christians to action.

Overall, this is a decent book. Yes, poverty is real and yes, too many Christians (particularly in the United States) are ignoring it. Stearns obviously has a real passion to fight poverty and has lead World Vision to do just that. The Hole in Our Gospel certainly conveys the problem and effectively calls the reader to action.

I am not without my concerns. First, I disagree that compassion and justice are components of the gospel. I believe that they are products of the gospel. I believe that when a person embraces the good news of Jesus Christ, they will become compassionate and will stand for justice. This may seem like a very subtle difference but I think it points to the core of the issue.

I cannot help but wonder if Stearns would be satisfied with any effort so long as poverty was addressed. Throughout the book, talk of evangelism and salvation seems tacked on as though he knows it’s required for inclusion in a Christian book. I recommend that readers of Stearns’ book also read K. P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions (especially chapter 12: A Bowl of Rice is No Substitute for the Gospel) and J. Mack Stiles’ The Marks of the Messenger (especially chapter 5). I recommend The Hole in Our Gospel with the caution that the gospel is not the “whole gospel” unless it contains the good news of Jesus Christ.