Authors we can no longer read...

Some authors grow on you, others wear on you. I was reading a top-ten list of books on sanctification moments ago and I realized that among the ten were several authors I'm no longer willing to read. So, in a rather different vein, here are ten authors I can no longer bear to read....

  • Leo Tolstoy. Several years ago Tim's and my mother finished reading Anna Karenina. She'd never read it before, so I asked her opinion. "It was beautiful," she said, "but evil. He made evil so attractive that you were cheering Anna's adultery at the end." Others I've told this story to dislike Mud's assessment, I agree with Mud.
  • Knut Hamsun. I loved this Norwegian author (Pan, Mysteries, Hunger) in my teens and early 20s. Now the thought of him curdles my blood. Florid emotion run amok.
  • A.W. Pink. He was grimly palatable until I learned of his failure to attend church for decades. Now I line gerbil cages with pages from his books. (Just joking about the gerbils, dead serious about the rest.)
  • Thomas Hardy. Though I liked the name Tess enough to name my daughter Tessa, my affection is reserved for the name these days, not the book or the author. I hope my children never turn a single page of his drivel. If you don't understand, don't bother reading Hardy to see what you're missing. Simply read the recent New Yorker profile of Hardy. A more godless and depraved Victorian would be hard to find.
  • Tom Clancy. Talk about a one-hit wonder. The Hunt for Red October was fun, the rest were verbose, jingoistic, immoral, over-the-top, macho cornballs.
  • C.S. Lewis. Too much lionizing by the Evangelical and Reformed world for me to be able to enjoy him any more. No denying his brilliance or wisdom, I'm simply tired of the marketing and Anglophilia of it all.
  • Patrick O'Brian. Not only did his books grow increasingly mannered as his fame increased, devolving into plotless collections of character twitches and tics, the Guardian/Observer revealed him to be the worst sort of father at his death.
  • Hunter S. Thompson. I loved his books when I was young and had no fear of God. But what a tragic man he always was. I still laugh at memories from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but I'd never read anything by Thompson again.
  • Scott Foresman. Yes, I know it's not the name of an author. It's a publisher, the textbook company that published the Dick and Jane reading books of baby-boomer childhoods. The idea of such stupid, plotless, senseless, vapid writing employed to teach children to read is beyond credibility, except it really happened. No wonder America is a television nation....

Comments

I'm glad to see Thompson made your list. I read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" last fall, at the urgent suggestion of a good friend. It was fun for about two chapters; after that, the sheer wickedness of the story became simply nauseating, and I found myself wondering that, not only was Thompson shameless of such juvenile carousings, he was proud enough to flaunt them and inspire others to follow! Half way through the book, the chore of reading it became spiritually oppresive; had I been wiser, I would have put it aside forever. I kept thinking "People love Thompson's style," and maybe I could learn something about it by reading his stuff. Nope. There's nothing remarkable about his style. Thompson's boozed-up, drug-addled brain had a hangover and vomited all over a typewriter; he mopped up the mess with a few sheets of paper, then he sent the vomitus-soaked papers to a publisher; and that became "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." It is the most deplorable book I've ever read.

1-9, absolutely (especially Hardy).

10. NO! NO! NO! NO! The Dick and Jane series (and others like it) were perfect ways for children to learn to read. They certainly didn't give the children gripping plot lines or absorbing narratives (which they were getting from the books Mom and Dad read to them before bed: Treasure Island, Tales from King Arthur's Court, Little Women, etc.). But they did give children enduring images of humble and happy Mother, wearing her apron, of dependable and solid Father, coming home just before dinner, of sweet and innocent Sis, running happily to meet him or to help Mother in the kitchen. These are the very books my children have learned to read with and the books my 2-year-old will learn to read with. They visually present a whole and real world. The words "Run! Spot! Run!" might bore those of us who can read them quickly, but they delight a three- or four-year old who has just learned to recognize them.

(and just so I don't get into a phonics vs. sight-reading brawl, I do teach my children phonics as well...)

I have to say I agree with Barbara on #10. I learned to read with Dick and Jane and I'm a voracious reader (admittedly I don't read Dick and Jane anymore). They were a great introduction to the world of reading. A few months later I was reading Treasure Island. Too much time with Dick and Jane wouldn't be useful but as a starting point they did the job for me.

C.S. Lewis... really? That's too bad.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the complete neutering of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for the purpose of entertainment; it’s not likely to happen again. There is just too much wonderful truth and scriptural allegory crammed into The Chronicles of Narnia to go on making movies for the masses out of them. Once you cut out all of the good stuff to make it palatable for the secularists, it’s just no good anymore. One benefit of it though is that it has made the books a bit easier to get a hold of.

As for Disney, I could do no better than to borrow a line from The Magician’s Nephew (sorry if it isn’t verbatim, I don’t have it in front of me): “The trouble with trying to make yourself even more stupid than you actually are is that you quite often succeed”.

Fred,

I agree with you. Lewis and Tokien are probably the only fiction writers of our time who will be read a half a millenium from now. As for the evangelical hype, I really hadn't noticed. It's been decades since I have been in a christian book store or read a popular journal.

Don's approach is best.Scripture itself is hyped (for example, http://www.tyndale.com/products/details.asp?isbn=1-4143-1315-2), but that seems a lousy reason to tire of it.

Awww...com'on guys. It's cute! If it were with an NASB, I'd think about getting one.

That's a really odd reason for finding Lewis unbearable.

Pink: this one's hard too. I haven't seen a better commentary on the book of Hebrews. I've got Owen's seven volume set, but it's Greek, Hebrew, and Latin (much of it without translation) make it a bit hard to follow.

If I'm not mistaken, he refused to attend because of the corruptions he saw in the church. He was wrong. But to refuse to read him because of the corruptions we see in him, seems a bit like calling the kettle black.

I have difficulty reading Lewis because he's a heretic. He's written some wonderful literature, and he's got a remarkable mind, but (based on what I've read) he seems to have believed that you could go to heaven simply by sincere belief in any faith.

Americans love him, but the British don't seem to care much about him one way or the other. When there's so much great stuff out there that the American church doesn't know/read, why should we read so much Lewis?

Lewis was a heretic? Dan, I don't know you, but I'd encourage you to use sources when saying making an accusation so weighty.

I'd be very surprised if Lewis wouldn't harshly disagree with your assessment of his beliefs.

Respectfully...

Hi Mark,

Perhaps you're right, 'heretic' is a rather heavy word for me to throw around. And I definitely should have given sources before. Consider these and let me know what you think:

"The Glorious one bent down his golden head... and said Son, thou are welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true... that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name. Then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But i said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”

- The Last Battle, Chapter 15

"There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position."

- Mere Christianity, Part IV, Chapter 10: Nice People or New Men

I'd say the exclusivity of Jesus Christ is a pretty core doctrine. Thoughts?

Grace to you,

Funny post. I am glad you don't comment on science! I suppose the foundations of chemistry would be safe because Boyle was orthodox, but between Newton's heretical beliefs and Einstein's love life physics would still be waiting for systematic description by someone you accept as orthodox and not overly popular. (Of course, popularity is never a problem for scientists unless the make up their own "deep"science and sell videos.)

I teach "Screwtape," "The Great Divorce," "The Death of Ivan Illych," "Master and Man" and other things you don't like in Sunday School at a Presbyterian Church in Lancaster. I guess if my pastor finds your blog, I'll be out of work.

@Dan

Thank you for your humble reply and for taking the time to post that.

To be honest I didn't follow the first quote because I'm not familiar with all the characters, but the second one was quite alarming to say the least. By his logic, the gentiles that Paul preached to on Mars Hill were already saved because they worshiped an unknown god. Further, it sounds like Lewis was saying that belief in something good was somehow saving faith... the Jewish leaders in the NT believed in LOTS of good stuff and yet they were complete unbelievers. Yeah, Lewis was way off base there. But like Augustine, I'm not yet willing to cast him off for his sometimes errant views. I'd have to be convinced that his life was marked by this sort of bad teaching rather than the foibles of an otherwise faithful Christian. Thanks for posting this Dan - it's helped me to be more aware. :)

I've never posted here before, but will no one defend poor Tolstoy?

I've disagreed with few things as vehemently as with this assessment of Anna Karenina. Tolstoy shows the enticements of sin certainly, but he never glorifies them. Anna's adultery leads inexorably and tragically to disillusionment and death. And it's not as if the novel is one of those glorious love affairs with a cheesy moralistic ending tacked on to appease the prudes. Tolstoy spends a good chunk of the book on the what makes the sin attractive sure, but he spends a much larger part of it (hundreds and hundreds of pages) showing how the sin destroys not just Anna but everyone around her.I don't know of a better literary representation of the Proverbs 7 exhortation that the adulteress's house is a highway to the grave.

Tolstoy may have been more a mystic than a true Christian, but he doesn't deserve to be in the same list with Knut Hamsun and Hunter Thompson.

I can only speak from my own experience, but Anna Karenina has been one of the noble and good books in my life. I remember its warning when tempted by my own sexual sin.

It's my favorite novel. I must have been reading a different translation than everyone else . . .

Nathan,

I think it is significant that Tolstoy is banned but Robert James Waller is not!!!

Neil

My list would include N.T. Wright, Rob Bell, and Dallas Willard all for the same reasons; I find their followers to be exceedingly obnoxious.

Cute? Cuuuute? CYUTE!?

My head's spinning. Where am I? Oh yeah, I'm in Wheaton...

Neil,

Thanks for mentioning Waller. Madison County is the perfect example of the kind of tripe that Anna Karenina is not.

-Nathan

http://www.tyndale.com/products/details.asp?isbn=1-4143-1315-2 (Jack's Pipe)

Awww...com'on guys. It's cute! If it were with an NASB, I'd think about getting one. (Barbara)

Yah, but the buckle is defiinitly too overwhelming. Give me the NIV in a nice tapestry and I'll be content, then.

BTW: I appreciate Nathan's contribution. I think some Christians know how to think deeply.

Many, however, listen to those few (and a few others) and do not learn to think for themselves.

It is good to discern, and to do it often. To read with discernment, to listen to music with discernment, to watch the news and movies with discernment. Most of all it is good work to rub shoulders with sinners with discernment. (for such were some of you)

(Don't anyone think that I think myself superior in this regard. No-no. I speak from experience.)

That Lewis quote is on every fundamentalist web site under the sun. What they don't note is how he held to Christ's deity in the same series of radio messages. He believed in orthodox trinitarianism.

Is what he says in that passage false? Yes. Was he denying Christ's deity and exclusivity as a cultist would? I don't believe so. Lewis was trying - as Arminians tend to do - to reconcile God's love with the plight of those who've never heard the Word.

Lewis was iffy on other things too (denying the historicity of Job, for example). But he may still be helpfully read with discernment.

Tim,

Sorry about your head. The English have a better word than cute - twee.

Nathan,

Much as I am loathe to disagree with both David and his Mud, I have to say I think you are spot on about Tolstoy and Anna Karenina. I can't see how anyone could think Anna's obsession (surely not anything resembling love) for Vronsky anything but the ugliest and most degrading sort of emotion. (But then, I couldn't find anything redeeming about that piece of dreck that is supposedly related, somehow, to P.D. James's wonderful novel, Children of Men) And let's not forget, Anna's isn't the only story presented in the novel. Oddly, I have felt this way about Anna since my first encounter with the novel - when I was an impressionable 18-year-old doing my own best impression of Camille (suffering from bronchitis) and read Anna over the course of 3-4 days in bed.

David, I'll see your Hunter S. Thompson and raise you a Jack Kerouac. Although I readily admit the best graffitti I have ever seen was allegedly signed by Ken Kesey. Considering where I saw it, it wouldn't surprise me if it really had been him.

I can't comment on Hardy because he's one of the few Vitorians I've never read - George Eliot is still my favorite even though her personal life was a bit of a mess, too. Anyone not believing how far we've fallen in a little over a century should sample some of that peculiarly Vitorian genre, "sensation fiction", particularly Lady Audley's Secret. That such a tale could scandalize a nation when today it would be greeted with yawns. . . .

Kamilla

P.S. By the way, I used to know Dick and Jane.

Concerning C.S. Lewis, I seem to recall that the good Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones questioned the state of his soul, perhaps based on the passage Dan cites to.

"Americans love him, but the British don't seem to care much about him one way or the other. "

Dan and Mark,

This may not represent all British folk, but those at the English L'Abri (workers and students alike) were accused by other students of quoting Lewis more than the Bible. It was probably too close to being true.

However, the defense I heard there for his "heresy" was Romans 2:12-16. Which would exclude the folks on Mars Hill if their worship was only appeasement. Emeth, the Tash worshipper in Aslan's country, acted righteously in a false god's name and was rewarded by Aslan. Shift, the treacherous ape in the same story, acted wickedly in the true king's name and was consumed by Tash.

Keith

Barbara/Rachel, or anyone else looking at the Bible/purse....

What a terrible choice of colors! What about black and pink? or aquamarine and black? I just never wear "neutral" or "earthy" colors, so that Bible would never match anything I wore.

(I'm kind of joking about and whatnot. Not to mention the fact that I carry a purse large enough to carry many Bibles, plus a Greek Lexicon or two, so I don't need a purse bible, bible purse, whatever it's called.)

Let's not forget Richard Scarry. How can he be read now that all the characters have been egalatarianized?

It's not a good idea to talk about how people shouldn't read a book after you've read the book. Coming into contact with myriad influences is how you learn and get to where you can discern up from down. This is moralism at its blue nose worst.

> Leo Tolstoy.

What? ...poor Leo being singled out like this? Well, it certainly intrigued me. I took a Russian Lit class in college, and I don't think we read any Tolstoy. Much of what we read was Soviet-era and very sick/strange. About time I read some Tolstoy!

> Several years ago Tim's and my mother finished reading Anna Karenina.

Maybe she should stick to Jane Austen? I'm on my third one in as many months, due to the Public Library having a reading club going on right now. Almost done with "Mansfield Park." If Fanny doesn't end up with Edmund, I'm going to be upset and boycott Jane henceforth! The worst thing that's happened in all three is that (in "Pride and Prejudice") the uniform-crazy girl Lydia Bennet eloped with the less-than honorable Mr. Wickam, foolishly assuming he would marry her. He had to be bribed to do so by Mr. Darcy, not only for Lydia's sake, but to keep the whole Bennet family from ruin, and to give the other, older daughters a chance at decent husbands.

> She'd never read it before, so I asked her opinion. "It was beautiful," she said, "but evil.

Well, this is too serious a charge to un-verified, with all the evil and decadent classic literature out there, Russian or otherwise. (Shakespeare would have to go, wouldn't he?) I'd never heard of Anna Karenina being that terrible. At my earliest convenience, I had to see if our small town library had an audio version. They did -- the only Tolstoy novel in that form. Thirty CDs!

> He made evil so attractive that you were cheering Anna's adultery at the end."

Really? That's the big problem with sin, it looks very attractive. That doesn't mean Tolstoy is approving of sin, or wanting us to, does it? Because we are sinners, it is possible to identify with sin, even if the author's intent was different. Speaking of sin being so attractive, and people approving of sinners, there's Laura and Yuri in Dr. Zhivago "Somewhere My Love!", Lance and Qwen in Camelot. "If Ever I Would Leave You!" I have a hard time believing Tolstoy is worse than Pasternak, but we'll see...

> Others I've told this story to dislike Mud's assessment, I agree with Mud.

Not taking anyone's word for it, I'm checking it out personally. I'm up to Chapter 18, I think -- Anna first appears in the story. So far, immorality has been described as immoral and damaging to relationships. One husband has asked his wife's forgiveness. There's a lot of talk about people strugging with their sins and their past. Morality seems to be upheld as good so far. I fully expect it will be upheld more than current "Desperate Housewives" culture upholds it.

--Michael

>It's not a good idea to talk about how people shouldn't read a book after you've read the book.

So you should limit yourself to decrying books you haven't read? That makes a lot of sense...

Micheal,

Please before posting such as below, would you warn your readers about "SPOILERS AHEAD."

"...the uniform-crazy girl Lydia Bennet eloped with the less-than honorable Mr. Wickam, foolishly assuming he would marry her. He had to be bribed to do so by Mr. Darcy, not only for Lydia's sake, but to keep the whole Bennet family from ruin, and to give the other, older daughters a chance at decent husbands."

Just looking out for any of my students reading your response; they rush to read Austen each night because of the unexpected plot twists and turns and the page-turning suspense.

That was supposed to be "Michael," and I hope irony conveys in posts 1/2 as well as it does in Austen novels!

> Just looking out for any of my students reading your response; they rush to read Austen each night because of the unexpected plot twists and turns and the page-turning suspense.

Hi Barbara,

Sorry! -- students hang out here? I figured they would have already seen the recent "Pride and Prejudice" movie, and the story would have been common knowledge.

I hope they do not try to get even by telling me what happens to Fanny Price of Mansfield Park!

--Michael

Barbara, I used to love Pride and Prejudice. When I was a kid I read it many times, mostly hunkered down in the bus seat just over the wheel well on my way home from school. I still love it for all the reasons you mentioned and it's rich use of language.

However after the recent film production, I picked it up again, and find that I see too much of myself, I guess, in Austin's constant criticism of the supporting charactors. I finally had to put it down. (sigh)

Rachel

> it's rich use of language.

Rachel,

Yes, listening to them talk is fascinating, even when I can't keep track of who's who.

> I see too much of myself, I guess, in Austin's constant criticism of the supporting charactors.

Part of that is to influence our thinking about a person, so she can surprise us later. But mostly, she seems to have had a good grasp of human nature, our tendancy to make others look bad so we appear superior. There's the irony of not tolerating faults in others that we ourselves are guilty of.

Since they didn't have the hi-tech entertainment we have today, I guess they entertained themselves by gossip. No, it was more than that, it was a form of competition.

While waiting for Mansfield Park to come back in, I checked out a Jane Austen biography, which was interesting, learning what her life was really like. I noticed some criticalness there, too, in her personal correspondence.

--Michael

Dick and Jane:

> The idea of such stupid, plotless, senseless, vapid writing employed to teach children to read is beyond credibility, except it really happened.

Forget the lack of plot -- what about the cool pictures!

> [Barbara:] But they did give children enduring images of humble and happy Mother, wearing her apron, of dependable and solid Father, coming home just before dinner...

Yep, exactly, Barbara! No 'PC' feminism there! ...an apron and a *dress* -- in the kitchen. MOdesty. Males dressed like men and females dressed like women. There were roles. Dick and Jane were during the days of father-rule. I've got a few Dick and Jane books on the shelf, sort of a time-capsule, preserving something good that has been purposely cast off as having been bad. When I get tired of low rider cargo pants and 100 other things, I can always whip one out and get my sanity back.

At least Dick and Jane didn't have two mommies, like Heather does.

--Michael

"It's not a good idea to talk about how people shouldn't read a book after you've read the book. Coming into contact with myriad influences is how you learn and get to where you can discern up from down. This is moralism at its blue nose worst."

When it comes to books like "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," I have no compuction in strongly recommending against anyone every reading that book; however, there is something to be said for "Coming into contact with myriad influences..."

Neil Postman (a secular author everyone in TV-loving America should read) noted that the nature of the print media is that they deliver information propositionally; that is, a reader reading has the capacity to accept or reject whatever is read. Postman contrasts this with the visual media, where every piece of information is delivered along with its interpretation; that is, the image you see tells you how to interpret the image you are seeing (as you see it). Even if Anna Karenina is a desperately wicked book, it is still a book, and a good reader will recognize that it is desperately wicked; whereas the nature of film and television is that you will see desperately wicked things without the prick of conscience that tells you what you've seen is wicked.

The print media encourage discernment; the visual media discourage discernment. Wisdom will recognize that some books should not be read (Hunter S. Thompson); but a wise reader can have his discernment honed by reading Tolstoy.

That said, Pastor Bayly wrote that he'll no longer read Tolstoy; I haven't yet noted him disuading others from reading Tolstoy.

***Full disclosure: I've never read anything by Tolstoy, but "Anna Karenina" has been on my reading list for a long time.***

ANNA KARENINA

> [Nathan:] "I've disagreed with few things as vehemently as with this assessment of Anna Karenina. Tolstoy shows the enticements of sin certainly, but he never glorifies them. Anna's adultery leads inexorably and tragically to disillusionment and death."

Thanks, Nathan. The opening of the book was: Romans 12:19 "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. (At least on the audio CD, complete with reference.) That strongly contradicts the "adultery is cool" idea from the outset.

--Michael

DICK AND JANE

> "Scott Foresman. Yes, I know it's not the name of an author."

That's Scott, [comma] Foresman.

> The idea of such stupid, plotless, senseless, vapid writing employed to teach children to read is beyond credibility, except it really happened.

Again, I think this is way off. I can't help but defend Dick and Jane, and thank Scott, Foresman and Company! I owe so much of my worldview to them. It was much more than "See Spot Run! Run, Spot, run!"

It was also:

See innocent boys and girls play wholesome games! Play, children, play!

See Mother cook, wash and sew! Mend, Mother, clean!

See Grandmother bake cookies and cakes! Mix, Grandmother, bake!

See Mother greet Father coming home from work. Be keepers at home, ladies, keep house!

See women look feminine and dignified! Be modest, women, be chaste!

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_3.jpg

"More Fun with Our Friends" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1962, p.69

See Grandfather drive the tractor! Drive, Grandfather, farm!

See Father fix the car and mow the lawn! Be masculine, men, be strong!

See Father look and act like a gentleman. Be respectable, men, be responsible!

See men wear long trousers! Grow up guys, grow up!

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_4.jpg

"The new Fun with Dick and Jane" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1956, p.90

Back then, even the animals knew how to dress right:

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_6.jpg

"More Fun with Our Friends" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1962, p.128

There was a wholesome serenity to it all that looking back at it from the Simpsons' generation makes it look almost holy in comparison. No innovative families. No sick humor. No social engineering and promotion of tolerance, diversity and feminism. No slease and imitation of celebrity sluts. No slamming religious faith.

Dick and Jane and Saint Paul

See women wear hats! Cover your heads, ladies, cover!

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_1.jpg

"The new Fun with Dick and Jane" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1956, p.21

Check out this "signs of spring" story... a sign of spring is when the ladies get *new* hats. [Easter bonnets. Easter-- that's a Christian thing.]

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_2.jpg

"More Fun with Our Friends" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1962, p.58-9

This one's interesting in hindsight -- a boy's ball cap blows off onto a girl's head and she's shocked/surprised. Now those are unisex.

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/DickJane_5.jpg

"More Fun with Our Friends" Scott, Foresman and Company, 1962, cover (inset) and title page

--Michael

Michael,

Thank you for posting the beautiful pictures in defense of our friends, Dick and Jane. You wrote in a previous post about the books you have on your shelves:

"When I get tired of low rider cargo pants and 100 other things, I can always whip one out and get my sanity back."

I wanted to say that to call such times represented in these books as sane is, in my opinion, a perfect assessment, and more appropriate than calling them holy (as you do in this more recent post). There were sinners in previous eras just as now, but they lived in a sane and whole world, a world where wives wore aprons in the home and hats in public to symbolize function and humility. What we live in now is more of a trash pile than a genuine civilization, in part because individuality and uniformity have replaced all considerations of heirarchy and essential qualitative distinctions.

All this to say that our delight in such images is more than mere nostalgic whimsy. It is a genuine grieving for a true civilization that has gone the way of low-rider cargo pants.

You must excuse me now, as I tie my apron around my waist and stand at my kitchen sink, washing our family's lunch dishes.

> ...they lived in a sane and whole world, a world where wives wore aprons in the home and hats in public to symbolize function and humility.

Barbara,

A couple years back, I was impressed to see the Women's Museum in Dallas [http://www.thewomensmuseum.org/] -- a promoter of feminism-- host a traveling exhibit of old aprons, "Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections" -- someone's personal collection of old aprons. There were probably over a hundred of them hanging from clothes pins on a line overhead.

http://www.apronchronicles.com/aprons/index.html

The other ironic thing was all the nice hats for sale in their gift shop...

http://www.geocities.com/yello_armadillo/CCC/HatsForSale.JPG

Visitors were able to write notes on 3x5 cards and hang them on a close line. It was interesting seeing the comments by feminists, such as the aprons were oppressive, and they were glad to have broken free from that mold, become a colonel in military, or whatever.

Being the age of diversity, a photographer's modern portraits and stories accompanying the old apron exhibit had a few which were on the perverse side, unfortunately. They just can't leave decent things alone. And here are all the little school children filing through the inspiring Women's Museum...

--Michael

[ugh!] ..."clothes line"...

Michael,

I adore aprons, and now you've caused me to covet several that are on display in some museum rather than tied around a sweet housewife's waist. Aprons are beautiful and functional, and remind me while I am hanging out my wash that I am not some idiosyncratic, individualistic cynical modern-aged "womoon," but instead a gloriously contented God-created, home-building, kid-and-husband-loving Woman, Wife, and Mother. A pretty and practical apron keeps me mindful of such deeply significant metaphysical truths every day.

One of my friends at school was in full agreement on C.S. Lewis. She started complaining about how much everybody talked about and quoted him and then she reminded us of the following:

"He hasn't been canonized...yet." (Andrea Curry, I believe.)

Brilliant, if you ask me.

Well, so far I've enjoyed Anna Karenina --the book, not the character!-- especially upon discovering that women wore veils (and men didn't -- I wonder where that peculiar idea came from?) Below is one of several matter-of-fact instances I have run across in this book mentioning wealthy, influential women in a Christian society commonly wearing veils, even over their faces.

I refer you to this spot because veiling is mentioned twice in one paragraph, once as a general thing the child observes women doing (he expects to find his mother, Anna, so attired on any given sighting), and the second time regarding a particular random woman he saw on the street whom he thought was his mother.

[First paragraph of Book 5, Chapter 27, here:]

http://www.literature.org/authors/tolstoy-leo/anna-karenina/part-05/chap...

By the way, the adulteress Anna Karenina is no saint, dressing in an out-of-the-ordinary or ultra-conservative fashion, in case you were wondering.

At this rate, I will have to read more Tolstoy!

--Michael

Anna Karenina

> Leo Tolstoy. Several years ago Tim's and my mother finished reading Anna Karenina. She'd never read it before, so I asked her opinion. "It was beautiful," she said, "but evil. He made evil so attractive that you were cheering Anna's adultery at the end."

Well, I finished today, and I still don't know where this idea comes from. Besides, Anna is not even anywhere around at the end.

**SPOILER?**

I do not know what there is to "cheer" about when she gets exactly what she wants, yet has to regularly take morphine and opium to cope with her choices. She turns into a bitter, hateful, jealous woman, though her life was quite good with the man she left her husband for.

"Anna Karenina" is not primarily about Anna, but about the circle of inter-related people around her, and how what she does affects them all. The main character is really Levin with his wife Kitty. The main thrust of the story is Levin's coming to embrace the Christian faith. There are many chapters before Anna first appears, and many more after she is gone. The focus of the last section is the crisis of Levin's inner struggle with belief in God and the teachings of the church.

The analysis of fickle human nature is quite good. Very interesting. I'm surprised the book is even named after "Anna Karenina" at all, but I guess she is the glue that holds all the characters together. There are probably a couple dozen chapters after she ceases to be part of the story.

Here is the very last paragraph of the lengthy book, Levin thinking about his new faith:

"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it."

--Michael

It's kind of old news, but I thought of y'all when my friend Ashley (http://aggregatefascinate.wordpress.com) posted this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kokogiak/sets/1425737/

Thanks for the link, Keith. I am reminded of why in my home 95% of our hundreds of illustrated children's books were written before 1965. How sad all of those changes are. Firemen are no longer our brave heroes. Women are no longer pretty or beautiful. Boat owners no longer are inspired to name their boats after pretty and beautiful women. No wonder the whole world is on medications for depression...

Add new comment