Saturday, September 3, 2011

all the stars are fixed up in the sky

A Stylist article lists 50 important books that were once banned (Click here to see the list). Some of the reasons for banning are pretty hilarious. My personal favorites are The Canterbury Tales, banned for obscene language (if you can understand The Canterbury Tales enough to know that the language is obscene, my hat's off to you), Where's Waldo, for the possibly topless sunbather in one of the scenes (probably harder to find than Waldo himself), and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, banned for its anthropomorphic portrayal of police as pigs.
After reading this list I feel relieved to know that my educators were not fascist dictators, and I was required if not encouraged to read most of these titles. I don't know if there's anyone who reads this blog that doesn't already know that I attended Brigham Young University, or doesn't already know I'm a Mormon, Just in case, I did and I am. Before starting my college education, I was a little worried. BYU has a reputation. I was worried I might not learn everything that a fully educated person should learn. That censorhip might stand in the way of free thinking. But I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe the BYU English Department is special. Or maybe all of campus is more well-rounded than it's given credit for. All I know is that I never once thought "Why aren't we reading this book?" or "I wish we could take a more open-minded approach to this text."
In my short stories class we were assigned to read The Storm, a story about a woman having a brief affair. The next class my professor asked if anyone's sensibilities were offended by the reading. One poor soul, bless his heart, raised his hand and declared that he was not only appalled by The Storm, but also by The Edgar Allan Poe story we read the week before. My professor looked this student in the eyes and essentially said, "Dude, you picked the wrong major."
I don't know. Maybe that student was right. Maybe we should all be offended by the grotesque and the emotive. But I really don't think so. I think there is such thing as being too sheltered, and the world swallows those people whole.
I remember another class taught by another English professor. We were discussing a particularly racey text, and my professor conceded that if this text were translated directly to film, it would be rated R. Many Mormons do not watch R rated movies, so, my professor asked, where does that leave the reading? Should we not read any questionable material? Should we see all the R Rated movies? Is there a difference? Is there a middle ground? If so, where? My professor, being that wise man that he is, did not draw a conclusion, and I doubt any of us students really figured it out that day either. But I suspect most of my peers, like myself, gave a little more thought to not only what it means to be educated, but also what it means to be a Mormon. It's something that I think about every day. What does it mean to be the Mormon minority in a new place? What does it mean to raise a Mormon child? What does it mean if I watch a certain movie?
So thanks for the Education, educators.


  1. I didn't watch Rated R movies before going to BYU.

  2. i love the byu english department. and r-rated movies. just kidding. kind of.


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