Friday, March 18, 2011

Reading Filth

I started reading Water for Elephants. I didn't finish it. I couldn't. I was angry with myself for reading as much as I did, and I was angry with the illusion of literary grandeur that was hard to find amongst so much filth.

I'm pretty good at keeping away from things that will distort and destroy my mind. I tend to agree in what the 13th Article of Faith states. At the same time, I'm no prude. There are times and places for hard truths, and sometimes, reading about suffering, although disturbing and hard to read (The Holy Bible, anyone?), can place emphasis on things such as compassion, forgiveness, love, repentance.

But sometimes, disturbing things are just disturbing. They don't need to be read; they don't need to be written.

I spent most of the evening last night pondering why I chose to read what I did. Was it out of pride? Perhaps. I do, in fact, pride myself in my literary tastes (see above). Why else did I read it? Curiosity? Curiosity truly did kill the cat, though. Curiosity is also a breeding ground for addiction --especially pornography addiction. Maybe I read it because I wanted it to be better than I heard it was...or just as good as I heard it was? Maybe. Regardless, I felt awful.

I woke up this morning with repentance on my lips --I wanted the images I read to flee my mind. It's not going to be that easy, though, dear reader. Images tend to stay. And speaking of images, have any of you seen Room With A View? I watched it a few weeks ago. It was rated NR, which I assumed meant PBS or something. The movie was great --except, except, except... if you know what the exception was, then I'm sure you've seen the movie. There is a short scene in which nudity is prevalent. Non-sexual nudity, though. In fact, it's pretty modest, all things considered, and personally, I think our society is a little too modest when it comes to the human body. Just sayin'. However! It still shocked me. Enough that I double-checked the rating. But not enough to turn it off. I still can see those scenes in my mind, just as I can remember most of the other scenes in the movie.

I decided to get out my scriptures and work hard on my Gospel Doctrine Lesson this morning. The difference of feeling that entered my mind and soul as I read the words of Christ compared to those of a silly novel with filthy words is palpable, dear reader. I truly believe that when we fill our minds and hearts with lovely language, with words flowing with truth and beauty, it can --and will --change our hearts.

It makes me sad, though. Sad that books and movies so full of accepted and glorified sin are praised as genius, while books full of truth and light are touted as insanity. But where do I spend my money? How do I spend my time? What shows do I watch on TV? What books and movies to I buy?

Why should this surprise me, though? Men have, since the beginning of our journey on Earth, praised man. Even Jesus said, I receive not honour from men (John 5:41) --He knew that men would not accept Him or His counsel, His Atonement or His sacrifice. He knew it. And the only thing that bothered Him about it was His sadness over it --not because men didn't worship Him, but that men didn't understand what He brought for them.

So, I'm rethinking the way I view literature. I'm rethinking the way I view movies/TV/etc. There's not much else to say, because I'm truly not proud of myself.

P.S. I did buy and read a great historical fiction romance, though! It's called Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly. It's LDS, just fyi, but it was good. You know how some "fluff" books (and, unfortunately, a lot of LDS ones) you can gloss over the paragraphs and still get the jist of the story? Not this one! Every word is needed. I honestly loved it. And what a contrast to Water for Elephants!


flip flop mama said...

The ratings on Netflix can be deceiving! I started to watch something a few weeks ago that was NR too and had to turn it off within the first 10 minutes! It really bugs me that Netflix lumps the dirty NR's with the classic NR's and you can't get rid of the R movies without wiping out all the good classic movies too. Anyway...stepping down from my soap box.

Desi said...

That is good to know about Water for Elephants because I have been considering picking it up for some time now. I'm not a prude and I do tend to "overlook" a lot of things that I probably shouldn't, but now that I know that is has terrible stuff in it I'll stay away.

Thanks for the heads up...and I might just have to go check out that other one you mentioned.

The Jones Family said...

Thank you for your post. I have also been told that Water for Elephants was a "must read" but hadn't gotten around to it. Now I won't bother. There are so many other good things to read! I agree with your insight. I also enjoy looking in on your blog from time to time. Thanks.

Amanda D said...

I read Water for Elephants. I know exactly what you are talking about but I didn't put it down. I finished it because I had heard how good it was. I really enjoyed the ending, but I didn't like the book overall. The worst part? I gave it to my mother when it first came out because of all the rave reviews. Ick.

I tend to stay away from NR stuff too. Seems like lately they have an R rated movie and then the NR version which is even raunchier.

Keep us posted on what good books (and movies) you do find!

Alison Wonderland said...

I've never heard of Water for Elephants. I guess I won't seek it out.

I saw Room With a View when I was in high school and I don't remember the scene that you're talking about. Maybe I watched it on TV and it was edited or something because especially in HS I'm pretty sure I would have noticed. Love the movie though, I thought it was pretty boring until that last scene and then suddenly I was in love.

I watch a lot of crap that I shouldn't watch. I have nothing to say about that.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

As someone who accepts the "prude" badge and wears it proudly, I'm proud of you. :)

Judi said...

I heard Water With Elephants was a good book and almost got it on the Kindle app...thanks for the heads up!

Angela said...

Hello! I found your blog from Melissa Busse and just wanted to first say thank you for your great thoughts! Secondly, I wanted to agree with you about being disappointed about books, movies and tv so full of accepted and glorified sin. I totally hear you. Recently, I watched "Glee" for the first time after SO many of my friends and acquaintances swore by it and were addicted, but I found it to be so lewd and full of sex/evil looking good, etc. that I was shocked and turned it off. 13th Article of Faith just didn't match up with it. There are so many, many wonderful movies & shows (albeit older!) and lovely words, as you said, that the beauty and goodness of it will change our hearts:)

Laura@livingabigstory said...

Just found your blog via Women in Scriptures. What a great post! My old bookclub chose that book, and I couldn't finish it. What's really hard is that our club was all members, so I really didn't know how to approach the discussion because I didn't want to sound preachy. But there is SOO many good books/movies out there - it bothers me that authors/directors always want to push the envelope a little.

BTW, I really did "get" your last post. I hope you don't go away - you sound like you've got great ideas!

Cheryl said...

Laura, welcome! It's always fun to have new faces around here. :)