Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of the Immaculate Conception, 19th Day, Year of Our Lord 2022
Let me give you some examples of popular novels which I regret reading recently. and alternative novels easily compared with them:
|Priest speaks blasphemy and vulgarity before suffering a violent death
|Missionary prepares himself for martyrdom before facing a pagan leader
|Sexual advances repulsed for reasons of chastity
|Father encourages his daughter in fornication and concubinage
|Father arranges a marriage for a young woman who is impregnated by fornication and does not know the father and is destitute
|Humanity within a society ultimately evolves to be part bug
|Humanity within a society ultimately converts to the True Religion
|Leader creates army of women and encourages them in homosexual relations
|Leader condemns his own soldiers to death for engaging in rapacious excesses of war
|Woman commits suicide (this is depicted as a heroic act)
|Woman leaves public life to be a wife and mother
|Abortion results in ambitions being realized
|Abortion results in a broken woman and a broken society in need of baptism
There is a particular disposition in some people where they find their greatest amusement and intellectual development through literature. This is a small group of people who do not matter terribly to the world, not nearly as much as engage and reap fruit from non-fiction works, but they are souls which ultimately will go to heaven or hell. There are children with this disposition who may engage in no part of secular immoral culture, may resist all of its evil seductions in media and popular gimmicks, but who will read certain fictional works which penetrate their soul at a deep level and implant a paradigm or philosophy very thoroughly. Of these, many will have talents and skills which allow them to write poetry or prose in a beautiful manner that can persuade others in a similar way to embrace things at a very profound level.
Take for instance C.S. Lewis. He’s different than Tolkien, if you have read enough of him, because he likely would not be influenced by politics, popular speakers, current events, history, music, entertainment, or anything else which people base their whole lives on, instead of literature. There is something in him that loves the story as the story and because of this, he likely would never have become an Anglican if he had not read certain literature.
Now what if Catholic literature was all that was available? What if everything he touched, the deepest beauties available to him, and the most skillful tale-telling he could get his hands on, pointed to a visible church instead of an invisible church? Would he have written this passage from The Screwtape Letters:
“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do riot mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes I our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather in oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like “the body of Christ” and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous. At his present stage, you see, he has an idea of “Christians” in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial. His mind is full of togas and sandals and armour and bare legs and the mere fact that the other people in church wear modern clothes is a real-though of course an unconscious-difficulty to him. Never let it come to the surface; never let him ask what he expected them to look like. Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.”
Now, if you are a man who loves literature and has the misfortune of being planted in a mega-church, as I was at one point, what more seductive passage could you imagine reading to convince you to stay at that heretical congregation rather than seek out the True Church?
A lot of people forget that Lewis was not a Catholic and is in fact destructive to the faith. A lot of people forget to pray for the salvation of his soul, and to encourage others not to read his works, for everytime someone suffers in their pursuit of God because of the seductions which Lewis wrote, than his eternal position becomes more dire.
These sorts of things are the reason I started my publishing company. It is not a big deal that I started it, and it will never accomplish very much in the world, but I started it when I was an evangelical because I did not want my children to read things that would damn them. I did not want them to struggle along with the deep set fortifications of sin which I have in my own soul, and which even now tempt me in a way that could send me to Hell with one stray thought, and which have their origins in literature. I wanted them to have pure and clean literature, kids books included, and now that I am a Catholic with two children, I have become even more serious about it. That is why I have eliminated much of what I used to publish, and why I haven’t done much for the two years since my conversion, and am only now in earnest pursuing more publishing work.
Ultimately, there are barbs and evils in every walk of life, but literature is one of the more specialized and more insidious. It is a sin simply to read a blasphemous or lustful passage in a book. Guard your heart and your eyes from the evils of books, and do not let children read anything which you are not absolutely confident in. If you cannot find anything which perfectly follows Catholic teaching on morality, which does not insidiously suggest evil philosophies, then do not read anything at all. Far better to be illiterate than to go to hell, and all things are revealed at Judgment anyways. There is no knowledge worth damning yourself to acquire, and books are not sacred. The Apostles burnt books, and we should too.
May the Lord reward you,
Nathaniel Slattery TaurusNecrus.com