Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Keeping the faith

It's been a while, but I'm back. And as the French say, pas de excuses. I have a few :) In any case, I hope I can consistently blog again this year about the things, books, experiences and ideas that matter to me. Again, I have a few :)

Today as I started another day at the bookshop (we are under new management) I reflected on a conversation I had last night with a brilliant writer friend about moral compasses and reading books that bug me well after the final page is turned. Being in an environment where people are filling their minds so readily with all kinds of stuff (read: rubbish) is actually a concern to me. Much of what can be found in a book is good, but much of it is... well... not. I wonder sometimes about my purpose of being in the shop, and asked God to make it clear. Today I began to realise He knows what He is doing.

A lady came in and asked me about a book by title for her daughter, so I did our store computer search so I'd know where to find it on the shelf. As she followed me from the counter she told me her daughter was 12 and was quite into this series. Alarm bells rang in my head. We were headed for the adult erotic section. As I listened to the mother talking about her daughter and her love for the series, questions were firing off in my brain, and as she chatted I pulled two of the requested titles from the shelves and opened one at random. With an "ERO" (as they are known in our store) you're pretty much guaranteed that no matter where you open a page, you'll find something of interest to ERO readers. This book was no different and I held my finger in the page as the mother chatted.

I asked if she had ever read any of what her daughter was reading. She said no, but if she was reading and taking an interest in books, then surely this was a good thing to be encouraged. It was on my mind to tell her there are OTHER (more appropriate) things she could be reading, but instead I asked if she'd ever read an ERO (because ERO is not your general Mills&Boon or Harlequin Romance). No, she had not. I said, "This is what she's reading," and turned the open page to the mother, which she promptly began to read aloud in a somewhat lusty voice. Funnily, her gaze set upon the exact same part where I had started to read moments earlier as she'd been chatting, and you can imagine how her voice changed when she hit the ERO bit.

She stopped, and the realisation of what her daughter was opening herself up to hit home. Quietly I told her that if this is what she is allowing her daughter to read (and she is allowing her), then she needs to chat with her about what she's reading, because although she might be physically as tall as her Mum and going on 13, she's still only 12 in her head. And though she might be savvy, she might not be equipped enough to handle her own curiosity. She needs to explain to her daughter precisely what's going on, and reconsider the options.

As the mother realised what I was trying to tell her, and we spoke a little more, she began to tear up (which made me tear up, too). Reading between the lines, in her own words she saw that a way had been made for her to bond with her daughter - not because of the smut (let's be honest), but because of the conversations they could have about what it's like being 12 and growing and all that it entails.

Dear God. Only He could have brought something beautiful out of dust, and I felt a strong purpose and privilege of being there in that moment. That has been just one of the opportunities I've had these past two days, and it amazes me how only God can work something out like that. It's absolutely special to me to connect with people, and I will long treasure this encounter.

She bought the book, frowned as she said she would read it herself, and more to herself than me said she would be doing some serious quizzing about how Miss 12 found out about this series.

Parents, KNOW what your kids are reading, and know that whatever YA fiction they are into is likely to lead into other things, and that this WILL affect their mindsets. One ERO author in our shop is writing YA as well, and I did explain to this mother that this is how younger readers' attentions are being snared and bought for years to come. This other author is writing for Young Adults, capturing their interests for the harder porn she'll be feeding them before you know it. She is raising and influencing other people's children - children she doesn't even know - for as long as they're reading her work.

Is this what parents want going through their kids' minds?


People sometimes look at me like I've got my head screwed on backwards when I say I'm looking for something better. If I was meant to be living in the 1950's, God would have put me there. But He didn't. I'm here, and that for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, one reason is to gently remind people of what true vales really are and that they don't need to settle for what the world readily sells them. Whatever the case, I'm not the only one who thinks like this, and that is encouraging.

Q: Are you reading something you shouldn't be reading? You might think it isn't affecting you, but maybe it is and the changes are so subtle that they are almost invisible... Why should you settle for less than you should?

Sometimes it's the places you don't go that enrich your life the most.

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