We’ve all experienced that allure of something forbidden; after all, temptation is the subject of the first human story in the Bible. “Here’s something cool. Don’t touch it,” God tells Eve and Adam.
A lot of good that did.
As an extension of the never-ending-and-just-getting-worse culture wars, we’re seeing an outbreak of people who want to make certain books forbidden in libraries and certain topics taboo in classrooms. Over three months this fall, the American Library Association received reports of more than 330 unique cases of “book challenges,” doubling the number of reports from 2020 and on pace to outdo 2019. Even worse, legislators and prosecutors continue attempts to punish librarians who stock books on sexual orientation and identity, to outlaw Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project in public schools, and generally make it impossible to find books in public spaces that don’t align with their personal political or religious views. That’s censorship, plain and simple.
Attempting to pull books from a library is, at best, ridiculously naïve — do these folks realize their kids have access to the internet on their smartphones and iPads? — and at worse, paranoid and tyrannical.
Want a child to read something? Forbid them from reading it. They’ll find a way. Kids are smarter and far more curious than we give them credit for, and they’ll find ways to read things adults don’t want them to read. They’ll work around the filters, real and imagined, we set up for them.
Juvenile resourcefulness aside, why do people want to keep kids from reading about certain topics? Because they’re ashamed to talk about how white Americans enslaved Africans, first literally then culturally? Because they’re embarrassed to talk about sex? Because they’re scared their children will asks a questions they can’t answer?
To raise children that are compassionate towards those we share the world with, we need an emotional maturity and moral imperative to have honest conversations with our kids about life’s pleasures and pains. Seeing the world for what it really is, beautiful and ugly, isn’t like a baby grappling with object impermanence: Evil still exists whether we see it or not. If a kid doesn’t read a book, that doesn’t mean the subject of the book no longer exists.
This is about more than being embarrassed to talk to our kids. It’s about fear. We may be humans, but we still have animal instincts, and we perceive danger in behaviors that are different than ours. This is the root of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, classism, all the phobias and -isms we experience as humans. How we choose to deal with those fears — either tackling them head-on and working through our issues or donning a mental blindfold and trying to ignore their existence — shapes our worldview.
Chalice Press readers accept the challenge of learning about things we don’t understand, of being open and vulnerable to having our certainties challenged or our feelings bruised, so that we may be freed from our biases and ignorance as we build a better world. We recognize that for everything we understand about the world, there is far, far more we’ll never comprehend.
Chalice Press proudly publishes bannable books. Our books affirm the breadth of God’s diversity, however you define that. That will scare folks who don’t want to see faith-based resources on sexuality, gender identity, and race. I feel sorry for those who uncritically believe dogma rather than thinking through a particular dilemma. There’s nothing I can do to convince people they should read our books, and I get that.
If you don’t like one of our books, don’t read it. But don’t you dare keep it from someone else.
President and Publisher