Thursday, March 7, 2013

Literature's House

Literature lives in an old Gothic mansion,
surrounded by gables and spirits and moors.

Only the valiant may enter its lair,
discover its secrets -- escape through the door.

Many are frightened by literature's mask,
made up of words from centuries past.

Only the cunning come through the maze,
pull off the mask and see Literature's face.

Now, when the creature's unmasked and disarmed,
its tangle of words is well-filled with charms.

He fills up his house with rooms made of words,
endlessly building and dreaming up more.

Waiting for readers to come and explore.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Books! The best weapons in the world!"

Everyone loves a good story. But why are stories so important to us as human beings? They always have been. We need stories to help define who we are, to help teach us what we should do and what we shouldn't. Stories help us learn. They're extremely powerful and must be handled with caution. That's why people (especially dictators) often start burning books. Burning a book is a crime against humanity. We need books and we need the freedom to read and write what we choose. The stories books contain help maintain our identity as human beings.

Think of the Bible. Full of stories. Some stories end happily, others not so much. But they teach us about life and what we should do. A single story can contain many lessons. Take David and Goliath, for example. That story teaches us about courage and cowardice; faith and doubt; humility and pride; we learn that all things are possible with God's help and that weak things can be made strong. Someone could write a pamphlet teaching those principals, but without a story to illustrate the point, it would be really hard for anyone to know how to put these things into practice.

Stories help us decide who we are. This can be good and bad. Stories can inspire, but can also be used to deceive. I mentioned book-burning earlier. This has happened too many times throughout history, but one book-burning took place during Hitler's reign in Germany. Hitler was recreating his country's culture and he had to destroy the books that disagreed with him because they could make people think. People who could think would have asked too many questions. This was how Hitler was able to create an extremely convincing story to justify his actions. His story had everything that human beings want: villains, heroes, glorious deeds... but it wasn't true. And it hurt a lot of people. (I know that's an understatement.) Hitler, as an artist, understood the power of art to shape a country's perspective of truth. He used architecture, literature and film (what you might call propaganda), not just military power, to win over his country. We must be careful to recognize when we're being told a story and we should study it out for ourselves, then decide how much of the story to believe.