Saturday, September 23, 2006

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

In the process of creating this blog, I was "googling" (interjection: what an interesting verb) banned books and organizations related to it, and I came across an article on a "Christian" web-site about book-burning. As I read it, I was surprised to discover that it wasn't speaking about the dangers of destroying knowledge by fire, but it was advocating it! I sat in rehearsal with my sister's laptop in front of me, and I couldn't take my eyes off of the words on the screen. It was like a graphic, bloody movie that you can't stop watching. It displayed the most ignorant, self-righteous, frightening closed-mindedness, that I sat like an idiot in the Arena Theatre with tears in my eyes.
I felt so angered and saddened and terrified, I didn't even know what to do! I felt so helpless. I thought about e-mailing the webmaster with my comments, with examples of scripture on how the glory of God is intelligence, but on principle I don't participate in Bible-bashing and furthermore, it's impossible to have an intelligent conversation with someone(s) so closed-minded and I doubt they would listen to my ideas anyway. I suppose that in a way I'm as guilty as those who run this ridiculous web-site, by assuming that my own ideas are completely right. But I can't bring myself to the conclusion that all of the things that I KNOW must be true actually aren't. The ideas and truths that I've come to know and accept and use to guide my life I've come to by a long, intellectual and spiritual process. They are truths that have withstood the tests of time and history and prayer. How can those things be false after all?
My intention for this blog was to inform my readers of National Banned Book Week. That is still my intention, but my motivation has been tripled and changed in nature. In my deep-rooted belief that humanity is inherently good at heart, I don't often think about how corrupt we are also capable of being. Opposition in all things, eh? Those things and peoples capable of the greatest good are also capable of the greatest evil. Although Banned Book Week still has a "Bohemian Rebellion" appeal to me, it now carries an even greater importance. Since I can't Bible-bash, since I can't present arguments that closed-minded people will listen to, since I can't extinguish all of the fires that destroyed the pages of books over all the centuries, I'll have to fight this intellectual battle by doing the very thing that has been condemned by fanatic Christians and power-hungry governments for years upon years. I'll have to read forbidden books.
This is a list of the Top 100 Most Banned Books, from the American Library Association. I'm proud to say that I own or have read at least half of them. If you'd like to participate in Banned Book Week, it's NEXT WEEK, and all you have to do is read a book or two from the list. You can also check out what your local public library or school is doing to participate, make a T-shirt or button saying that you read banned books, write an essay on freedom of speech and press, join a group on Facebook. I'm basing this on the assumption that most of you who read this blog are fairly open-minded, but I urge you to participate. It seems like such a stupid, pointless thing to do, but I'm going to do it because it's important enough to me, and I feel like I've got to do SOMETHING.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Ulysses, James Joyce
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1984, George Orwell
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Lolita, Vladmir Nabokov
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Charlotte's Web, EB White
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Animal Farm, George Orwell
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne
Their Eyes were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin
The World According to Garp, John Irving
All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
A Room with a View , EM Forster
The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Schindler's List, Thomas Keneally
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Frank L. Baum
Lady Chatterley's Lover, DH Lawrence
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
My Antonia, Willa Cather
Howard's End, EM Forster
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger
Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Jazz, Toni Morrison
Sophie's Choice, William Styron
Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner
Passage to India, EM Forster
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor
Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Orlando, Virginia Woolf
Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence
Bonfire of the Vanities, Thomas Wolfe
Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
Light in August, William Faulkner
The Wings of the Dove, Henry James
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
A Hithchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Women in Love, DH Lawrence
Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe
In Our Time, Ernest Hemingway
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
The Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
White Noise, Don DeLillo
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
The War of the Worlds, HG Wells
Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
The Bostonians, Henry James
An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
This Side of Paradise, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Where Angels Fear to Tread, EM Forster
Main Street, Sinclair Lewis
Midnight's Children , Salman Rushdie

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hi Liz,
Jen's sister here, I don't believe we've ever met (nice to meet you!) - I came across your blog via hers.

I followed the link in your post to the "Landover Baptist" site, where I did a little minor detective work.

The good news: Well, the site is actually completely satirical and meant to be a parody of some of the more hard-core conservative Christian churches out there (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "terms of service").

The bad news: yeah, there's probably still people who really do think like that.

Anyway, I hope this won't decrease your motivation to speak out against book-banning/burning and censorship. It's a worthwhile goal, and I may just go read a banned book myself tonight. :)