Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAKING LOUDLY in Defense of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

It's very ironic to experience a wonderful church service and "dinner on the grounds" as we say in the South, and then come home to find what I did about some religious fanatic trying to ban Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. I want to SPEAKLOUDLY today for Laurie Halse Anderson, for being against book banning, and for being a Christian who is not a "hater" or a "zealot"

If you follow me on twitter or go to message boards I'm on, you might be going, "Um, really Krista, you're a strong Christian? Hmm..." I'll be the first to admit I cuss like a sailor, crack sexual inuendo jokes, probably diss/gossip about people way more than I should, etc. Dude, those are my major vices and sins, lol, and I repent with the best of them! But when it comes down to it, I'm as Christian/spiritual/faith based as they come.

At the core of my being and in all facets of my life, I am a person of faith. Church was what I was brought up with--my grandfather was a Baptist minister, my mother and father's families all went to the same small, Baptist church. I've lost friends and boyfriends because of my moral choices, but hey, it's what I believed. As for my church, it is like a second home to me. The people that belong there have stood by me during the darkest times of my life.

You can't have experienced what I have in life and survive practically unscathed(aka not an alcoholic or drug abuser) if you're not a person of faith. I lost my dad to cancer just two weeks before I graduated high school. Five years later, my mom passed away also from cancer. They were 51 and 52 respectively. A month after my mom passed away, her sister who was like a 2nd mom to me, also died. As an only child and unmarried, I felt all alone in the world. But the truth is I was far from alone. Not only did I have my grandmother, my extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my church family, but I had much more--I had a personal relationship with God who brought me from extreme darkness to light.

Since speaking up is important, I want to speak up about the depression I experienced bc if my story can help anyone, then it all won't be in vain. I've been to the bottom most reaches of despair--so much so I contemplated taking my own life on two occasions. One of the occasions found me in the garage with the car running, praying for God to give me the strength to take my life. But he never did. Instead, he held me in his arms and saw me through the darkest moments. There are still low times in my life--I'm waiting for things I've been praying for and are waiting for them to come to fruition. But I know that God and my faith will see me through.

I felt the need to talk about my faith since the very talented and fabulous Myra McEntire also did in her post. I wanted to preface that I was a Christian, but I cannot imagine trying to ban books. While there are certainly books out there I wouldn't want my future kids reading, that's MY choice to tell them not to read it; it shouldn't be the choice of one parent or a school board to say what is right or wrong. I've always been horrified by Christians who hop on the book burning bandwagon like with harmless books like Harry Potter. Sheesh. It's like my mom used to say when some Christians wanted to make a big deal about dressing as witches or goblins. She was like, "Well, those people do not have very much religion or faith if that is what they have to worry about!" I think this goes along with book banning as well.

I'm also labeled as many things because I'm a Christian. Intolerance seems to be the biggest issue among Christians today. Unfortunately, the most intolerant of us are the most vocal. There's a large silent majority who live by the Bible's teachings, which is to leave judgement to God. I find it most appalling that a minister would advocate the burning of the Quran, or that Christians would go protest a fallen soldier's funeral or a homosexual's. Those are not principles of the Bible and certainly not WWJD aka What Would Jesus Do!

I taught Speak a year ago, and it was one of the best experiences I've had with a novel. Both my Freshman girls and boys loved it. We had great, thought provoking discussions. I'm not teaching 9th this year, but if I was, I would TOTALLY teach Speak again. I am planning on saying something with my Seniors tomorrow about Speak, about book burning etc, even though it is not on the curriculum.

At ALA in June, I got to meet Laurie, and she signed copies of Forge and Chains. I was able t0 tell her how much teaching Speak meant to me and how much I loved her work. She is one of the kindest, most giving authors I've ever met. With all her success, there are no airs about her. She seems as down to earth as anyone I know. But most of all, I know she's taken on tough issues so that teenagers can have a voice and perspective in the world. I admire her for that, and she and always will be a literary hero of mine.

So, I'm about to order several copies of Speak on Amazon. I suggest you do the same. Let's stand up for the rights of young women. I know I've had and do have students who have been victims of sexual abuse. I want them to have a voice. I want everyone who has been abused to have a voice. And I want people of faith to get on their knees and pray for guidance rather than spewing hate and intolerance.


Lindsey C said...

Preach it, sister! ;)

I rarely venture into the faith realm on my blog, either, but today I wrote an open letter to Prof. Scroggins.

Myra McEntire said...

(((hugs))) Love the way you spoke up, and I loved your "kinship of faith" comment on my blog.



YES!!! YES!!!!!

You go!!! Seriously, just you rock!

Anonymous said...

thank you.


Marieke said...

Beautiful post. Thank you :)

Amie Kaufman said...

Yes, this! Thanks for a beautiful post. I think it's so important that we all stand up and say that nobody can speak for all the people of any one faith.

Laurel said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story of faith in a God who holds us in dark times, one who isn't afraid of our mess.

I regret I was way too busy when all these amazing posts from my fellow believers first came up, carving out finally some ground for those of us who take our faith very seriously and believe it to be an instrument of hope and grace, not judgment and repression.