The Washington D.C. public library system has done a fabulous project this year for Banned Books Month.
They have constructed a scavenger hunt for banned books all around the city.
They’ve taken books banned by various jurisdictions over the years and put fake covers on them. These covers are plastered with labels that state the grounds for having banned them.
So for example, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye has a cover that says “ANTI-WHITE,” because that is why it was banned in Columbus, Ohio in 1963.
A Separate Peace by John Knowles has a cover that reads “FILTHY TRASHY SEX NOVEL.”
Who wouldn’t want to read that?
It’s a fun project that draws attention to a serious issue. Censorship is alive and well all around the world today.
For centuries regimes, governments and dominant majorities have tried to maintain oppressive statuses quo by controlling what people read and see and hear.
And if they control what we read and see and hear, they can control what we think and do.
It’s very comfortable to place all blame and responsibility for censorship on some far-off blank-faced Big Brother figure we call “The System.”
But a dear clergy friend of mine asked me a painfully insightful question as we talked about the gospel lesson this week.
“Aren’t we censoring our own worlds all the time? Isn’t that what the rich man in the story was doing his whole life?” Continue reading