Does What You Read Affect What You Believe?

If you’re the ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’ type, the answer is no. Only you change what you believe.

Several months ago, there was an explosion regarding a tool called ‘Clean Reader.’ This tool took an author’s work, applied filters and changed words, inciting the fury of authors around the world. The creators of Clean Reader were quick to assure writers their copyrights were intact, but the damage was done in so many ways. What this tool did bring to light was the fear that reading material–books–could affect someone’s basic beliefs. In short, the explosion was about how vocabulary could influence readers and turn them into bad people–or worse.

If reading a fantasy novel or a novel filled with fucks, shits, damns, or any other curse word, turns you into either a bad person or an individual prone to possession, the problem isn’t with the fantasy novel. The problem is with you. In short, what you read doesn’t affect what you believe. Only you affect what you believe. If a fantasy novel is at risk of causing possession, it isn’t because of the book. It is because your faith is weak. If a work of fiction can turn you into a (your choice) monster, you’re actually the problem, not the book. Your religion might also be the problem, if they’re teaching people their faith and will is so weak it can’t withstand any works of fiction.

Belief begins and ends with you, so please stop blaming others for the fault in your character.

What about parents with children who don’t want their children reading such things?! What about them?

What about them? A good parent will teach their children the difference between right and wrong. Let’s face it, your innocent sweetheart probably isn’t all that innocent if they have any exposure to adult television–or life outside of the house. They’ve heard the words before. It’s almost impossible to prevent them from hearing these ‘bad words.’ If you raise the children right, it really doesn’t matter if they’ve heard the words before. That’s your job as a parent.

I know a great many religious people who have absolutely no problems with picking up a copy of Lord of the Rings and enjoying the read. They enjoy it, and when they are done, they don’t magically transform into a man-eating orc or a prissy elf. They may develop a fondness for sitting around a table socializing with nice people while playing board games, however. What a scary thing!

It’s really not, by the way.

If you don’t enjoy reading curse words on a page, don’t read those types of books. If you don’t like reading sex on the page… don’t read those types of books. That’s your choice to make. Skip over the sex scenes or discretely skim over the curse words. But, here’s something to think about: the instant you try to take away an author’s right to write what they want, you take away your own right to say what you want as well.

Snake-headStop being so weak-minded and weak-hearted. If your beliefs are threatened by words on a page–or defined by them–you are the actual problem… not us writers.

Happy reading, book lovers!

  1. You’re right, weak faith constantly needs reinforcement, so they need to surround themselves with materials that prop up their beliefs. Also, I suspect people who use something like Clean Reader are just as interested in superimposing their beliefs onto the writer as they are in protecting their faith. You didn’t write this book in the way that I, the paragon of virtue, think you should? Pah, I’ll make it as if! It’s a form of asserting control they feel rightly belongs to them.

    • That’s an element I didn’t really discuss in my ranting and raving, but I think you’ve hit directly on the head: It’s a control issue. People enjoy controlling everything around them; it’s a part of human nature. It seems those traits and characteristics are strengthened when individuals group together in a religious setting–which is a sad thing, since so many people simply want left alone.

  2. We all want to belong to a tribe, I guess. Some tribes are just always focused outward.

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