(This is the fifth installment of a series on How to Judge a Book by More than its Cover)
This title of this particular principle just cracks me up. Seriously, no tempting descriptions of sin?
But isn’t sin…tempting?
I guess that depends on the sin. And on the person. Some people aren’t tempted to overeat when a carton of premium ice cream is sitting in front of them. I am not one of those people. Others are tempted by sins that I don’t share an affinity for. Thank God. I’ve got enough problems with my own sins.
And I guess that’s the point here, right?
We do have enough problems with our own struggles and temptations of sin. So, even in the interest of conflict, let’s not portray sin in such a matter that it becomes a temptation!
Still, I’m not much further along in this argument that I was in the first sentence. Or at least the third.
And I’m afraid that’s where the argument stalls.
See, here’s the thing. Some people are more sensitive to some sins than others. So, a book title “My Affair with Ice Cream” which then goes on to describe the lusciousness of all the various flavors of organic, green (by production, not color!), simple, whole, healthy, tasty, old fashioned ice cream (is there even such a thing?) may not be a book for me. My affinity for ice cream may be so strong that reading this book will send me into a panic whereby I must MUST get to the local Wallyworld and hope beyond hope they sell such earthly delights there.
I shouldn’t read the book.
But I shouldn’t form your conscience either. I shouldn’t be telling you that eating ice cream is bad! Guilting you out of a simple, earthly pleasure is not what reviewers should be doing!
Probably, you aren’t affected by ice cream like I just described. Probably, you are balanced.
And me? I’d appreciate it if the reviewer of “My Affair with Ice Cream” mentioned the profundity of ice cream. I’d like a heads up (in all fairness to the reviewer, my “heads up” probably is found in the title in this case).
Anyway. When we say there shouldn’t be tempting descriptions of sins, that’s hard to quantify. It’s dependent on the reader’s weaknesses, the author’s descriptions, the reader’s age, the reader’s maturity, and the reader’s sensitivities.
Again, the Index is gone. We are our own Index now.
The reviewer, therefore, should report with an eye toward the average reader. We assume the reader to be fairly mature and balanced.
For my part, that’s why I have the “what you need to know section” on most of my reviews. To alert you to some of the moral qualms of the story – not that they make the story bad, but that they are there. It is for you to judge and decide whether such things will be a temptation to you or not. Or maybe it’s just something that warrants a discussion afterward.
We can all relax now. Take a deep breath.
Reading a book about ice cream, is not going to set us on a path towards hell.
It’s called freedom, my friends. No need to be afraid.
Christ came, remember? He lives, remember?
It’s okay for you to live, too.