Two recent posts to encourage Christians, and men and women, to read fiction

This post at The Art of Manliness argues men need to read more fiction. “It’s through reading that we gain new perspectives and learn more about ourselves and the world around us.”

Jonathan Gottschall argues at Boston.com that fiction is good for us (and he cites research to support this claim) because “virtually all storytelling, regardless of genre, increases society’s fund of empathy and reinforces an ethic of decency that is deeper than politics.”

Even Evangelicals are encouraging believers to read fiction. The very conservative Calvinist blogger Tim Challies has this interview with the equally conservative Calvinist Russell Moore. Unsurprisingly, Moore tells us what we shouldn’t read – no Fifty Shades of Grey.

At The Gospel Coalition, Leland Ryken, the literature professor from Wheaton College, is leading readers through Albert Camus’ The Stranger. It significant that more conservative Evangelicals are saying the same things as more liberal ones about the value of reading fiction.

Do you agree with Moore, however, that certain books should be off-limits?

HT: Justin Taylor and Scot McKnight

Zeitoun

I’m beginning to read read Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun. I got it with book vouchers I received for my birthday last year.

I read two chapters over lunch and I think it’s going to one of those books I’m going to look forward to reading on the train to and from work.

One of my room-mates is doing her PhD in the area of literary journalism (beyond that, I find it hard to describe what she is doing and invariably get it wrong). She was excited to see that I bought the book and told me that Zeitoun is one of the most acclaimed and popular of the genre. My room-mate made sure she read it first!

Good Night, Chickie Review

Rachel Bomberger, a copywriter at the Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, has a post at the Eerdmans blog about the sweet little children’s book Good Night, Chickie by Émile Jadoul, along with a video of her being caught in the act of it reading it to her children.

I’ve always known Eerdmans as the publisher of heavy theological books. Only last year did I realise they had a line of books for young readers! I’ve read a few of these books since coming to this realisation, including Go0d Night, Chickie, in the Christian bookshops in town. Karen Lynn Willians’ Circles of Hope is my favourite from this line.

I’ve become interested children’s books because of needing to buy birthday presents for my nephew. This is the book I bought when he turned three that he still loves.

Interesting piece from the World Bank

 The link below is to a very interesting post on the World Bank’s Education for Global Development blog. It talks about how in “education, as well as in other areas of public policy, the pressure to show results (and to justify budgets) creates strong incentives to report on positive stories over and above those showing a lack of results.”

This is known as publication bias. The post explains the phenomenon as “studies with positive results are more likely to be published than those with negative results.”

http://blogs.worldbank.org/education/good-news-we-have-bad-news

Judge rules against UK Christian hoteliers who refused civil partners

This is an interesting story from the United Kingdom. Two Christian hoteliers have been ordered by a court to pay damages after discriminating against a gay couple.

The hoteliers, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, have a had a long-standing policy at their hotel of banning all unmarried couples from sharing a bed, founded on their Christian beliefs. So to Mr and Mrs Bull it was consistent with that policy to deny Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy a room with a shared bed one evening in 2008, since the men were an unmarried couple. At least, that’s what Mr and Mrs Bulls claimed.

The court disagreed. In UK law, the civil partnership of Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy has the same status as a marriage between a man and a woman. Therefore, despite the Bulls’ denial, the Judge Andrew Rutherford supported the claim of Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy that they were discriminated against because they were they gay. “The only conclusion which can be drawn,” the judge said, “is that the refusal to allow them to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation… and that this is direct discrimination.”

Another consideration in the judge’s verdict was that Peter and Hazelmary Bulls were offering a service to the public by providing hotel accommodation. Everyone who provides services to the public has to do so without discrimination under the law. The Bulls cannot legitimately claim exemption from equality laws that apply to everyone, even if they have a stated policy of only allowing heterosexual couples to share beds. If the court had ruled in the Bulls’ favour, it may have legitimized similar religiously-motivated claims for exemption from the equality laws.

Judge Andrew Rutherford, however, granted the Bulls leave to appeal, noting that his ruling “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”  The ruling certainly does seem to do so.

This is a challenging case.  The right to equal treatment under the law has to take precedence over someone’s right to hold beliefs and treat them unequally on the basis of those beliefs.

For different perspectives on this case, see the following:

The Independent

The Guardian

Christiantoday

Ekklesia

HT: Theological Editions

About

This is my blog for religion-, culture-, news-related items, or whatever takes my fancy.

I am public policy analyst and sociology graduate from New Zealand. As you will see, I am a reader of a wide-range of subjects – everything from theology and sociology to self-help.

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