Author: Thomas White | Editorial Department, Living Church of God
Have you read a good book lately? In our latest Assembly, Dr. Douglas Winnail challenged the Living Education students to read. Read non-fiction. Read fiction. Just read good books.
But here’s a thought.
Even though we’re a small group of people who basically believe in the same fundamental truths and principles, we all probably have a slightly different idea of what constitutes a good book when it comes to fiction.
There are a lot of questions and no certain answers. Is it sinful to watch fiction of any kind? What about reading fiction? What if there are space aliens in the book we’re reading? What if there’s magic in it? What if a character fornicates or is a homosexual? What if a character is divorced, or says a bad word, or goes bowling on the Sabbath? Is the book evil if anybody kills anyone in it? Is a story fundamentally against God’s beautiful design of the universe if it contains a talking animal?
I’ll admit that I don’t know the answers. I mean, I have my ideas, my opinions, and so do you—but we could both be wrong, right? When it comes to this subject, we’re all learning. We all want to think like God, but we all have a long way to go. So, we’re not always sure.
Relaxed, yet ON
A few things, however, we can be certain of, and two of them go hand in hand—we all need to relax our brains sometimes, and we can never allow ourselves to turn our brains off. Let me put it this way: We all genuinely enjoy the company and conversation of at least one person outside the Church, right? Someone who doesn’t believe as we do. Maybe your dad is such a person for you, or your mom, or your brother or sister. If you’re close to this person, your brain is relaxed when you’re talking casually to them. You’re not obsessively analyzing everything this person is saying as they’re saying it, you’re just listening and enjoying.
But when this person you appreciate and enjoy says something like, “You know, gay couples should really just be allowed to live their lives as they want to,” something goes off in your brain, doesn’t it? Nope, says your brain. Not right. Not good. I disagree. Your overall opinion of this person’s mind doesn’t change, because you know there’s a lot of genuine value there, but you mentally slap a “’ Fraid not!” label on that particular part of their discourse and you move right along.
If our brains don’t do that when we’re relaxed—if, instead, we respond, even internally, with something like, “Say, that’s true! Gay couples really should be entitled to their lifestyle choices!”—then our brains aren’t just relaxed, they’re off. And when a brain is off, it’s just useless.
Low-power versus sleep mode
Like anything else, you can’t constantly run a brain at full blast—not if you want it to last, anyway—so we shouldn’t be afraid to relax it for a little bit. But while our brains are in low-power mode, we still have to resist the temptation to turn them off and stay alert to whatever Satan’s trying to slip in. When it comes to godly and ungodly fiction, there’s a lot that’s unclear, and a lot we don’t know, but I think we can all agree that just like anything else, fiction should never be consumed thoughtlessly.
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have it all right, or to read something that doesn’t either—but while you’re reading a good book, keep your brain on.