1. Galadriel says:

    Oh, that’s great. I abosolutely love it. My paticular “beer goggles” are causing problems in class right now as we slog through modern realistic fiction. I can’t stand it. Maybe I need to borrow a different pair for fourth hour MWF.

  2. Sherwood Smith says:

    What a lovely, generous post!I am discovering a similar theme in Rodger Kamenetz’s book RABBI NACHMAN OF BRATSLAV AND FRANZ KAFKA. What do an atheist German of the 20th century have to do with a deeply faithful, visionary rabbi of the late 1700s? This book is not about Christianity at all, but it does speak to how humans can catch a glimpse of God in the unlikeliest places.

  3. Kessie says:

    Funny you say that … I struggle with my own beer goggles all the time. There are certain things that I can’t read that my hubby has no problem with. Or my friends and family can watch/read things that I can’t tolerate, and vice versa. I’ve been having to learn that just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean other people won’t.

  4. Jude A. says:

    Everyone has his or her own perception about something. So sometimes you can’t blame other for not liking what you like. What do you like the most that is perceived to be unattractive by other people?

    Good introduction there. It made me read til the end!


  5. I liked your example of the goggles from World of Warcraft: “They’re usually handed out by a girl gnome. “Guaranteed to make anyone look attractive!” When your character puts them on, everybody else in the game looks like a guy gnome. Everybody.”

    Makes me wonder about the goggles that authors are wearing, as they hand out their wares believing everyone should enjoy their story as much as they do. But when we read it we are seeing through our own goggles and not theirs. The goggles mentioned above only made everyone attractive to female gnomes- not to everyone else. And everyone sees their own distorted views instead of what really is. Our perceptions are colored by the life situations we were born into, our personalities, our choices and experiences. No one sees what is really there.

    One of my favorite story characters is a young witch named Tiffany Aching who stars in a few of Terry Pratchett’s books. One of her special abilities is the gift of “First Sight”. It’s the ability to see things as they really are. She usually has to make a conscious effort to do this. People have this awful habit of seeing what they expect to see or want to see. As much as I like that character and wish for that ability, I’m convinced that no person can see anything objectively through their own will power to do so. It is only by seeking Truth through the only one who sees all as it truly is, that He gives us glimpses into reality.  And I believe the day is coming when all the goggles will be removed, and all will be stunned with how blindly they lived their lives in this world.

    In psychology this phenomenon especially stands out as minds naturally interpret ambiguous stimuli into things that exist in our belief systems. A child who doesn’t believe in monsters will try to identify the real cause of the shadow moving across the room- from the tree limbs being blown in the wind. Ghosts tend to be experienced by people who believe in ghosts, images of Mary tend to be seen by Catholics… and others who do not hold their beliefs will see the very same things and scratch their heads wondering which of them is crazy.
    Stories tend to be like that. If the author is showing and not telling there is a lot of room for re-interpretations through the filters of the reader’s mind. I think authors need to accept this fact, and understand that once a story is published it is no longer theirs alone. It now belongs to all the minds that have taken it in and projected themselves all over it. 

  6. I once met a young woman who accepted Christ as Lord after she saw a painting of Jesus being baptized in her art history class. The painting mesmerized her; she could not stop thinking about it until she gave in to God. I wanted to see this powerful painting. When she showed it to me, I hardly knew what to say. The painting was unattractive to me, one I wouldn’t spend a second looking at. But whatever the classical painter meant by the painting, whatever it has meant through the ages, and despite my dislike, his painting became a bridge to God for her.

  7. Andrea says:

    The only book I ever read that I felt was “anti-Christian” was Pullman’s The Golden Compass, only ’cause I’m fairly certain he meant it. And you could still get good parallels out of it.
    It’s one reason why I like reading people’s analyses of stories. Sometimes they see things I didn’t, and sometimes things I ignored or didn’t like are shown to have whole new meanings. It’s nice to be able to say, “I don’t think it’s quite as good as you said, but I can see why you like it so much.”
    This happens in music, too. Some years ago, the choir I was in was practicing a mostly atonal piece called “The Lamb.” I hated it. But my friend Ben pointed out how the atonal parts made the tonal parts sound more beautiful by comparison. He had a point. It’ll never be my favorite piece, but I can appreciate it. 
    I still hate atonal music, but I’ve learned to enjoy cluster chords, and the works of Eric Whitacre, whose music is just this side of tonal. All because of Ben and his perspective.

    • Fred Warren says:

      In the discussion of A.T. Ross’ article a few days ago, Pullman came up quite a bit. Adam offered a perspective that I thought was very insightful:

      . . . while Pullman did his best to make the books anti-God, the core of the books still rotate around self-sacrifice by the characters – in other words, that while Pullman might have tried to get as far away as he can from God, he must ultimately build his rebellion with wood stolen from the Christian woodpile. Which is like trying to rebel against Beethoven by using motifs and ideas that Beethoven used in his symphonies.


  8. TheQuietPen says:

    Very clever analogy.  I had a long struggle over this idea with relatives who did not understand how I could enjoy any science fiction or fantasy and still be a believer.  As a young teen, I was trusting of their analysis, then more rebellious as I grew to realize that their issues had little to do with Scriptural discernment and much more to do with their “beer goggles.”  Of course, I would avoid any foolish mistakes!  
    And then I met my soul mate, who happens to be a Harry Potter fan, one series that I had disdained with a vaguely holier-than-thou attitude.  God convicted me of my own sin in this regard–I had become just  like those relatives!  Even now, after skimming through some of the books and exploring the Potter-world on a late-night info-binge, I still don’t get it.  However, I respect the right of adult readers to have their own ongoing relationship with God, in which books may speak to them even though those same books mean nothing to me.

  9. Steve Taylor says:

    I’ve been an avid reader for near 50 years and always keep the view that I still have so much to learn. I just read this great book that gave me a lot to chew on about the many ways, whys, hows, reasons and thoughts about reading books.  I didn’t think I’d learn much but it gave me really good insights. You may already be familiar with it but here’s the link just in case.

    Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke


  10. Maria Tatham says:

    Discussions about beer goggles usually bother me. This is because I feel that Christians grow in discernment as we do in other ways, and we’re growing toward the mutual goal of mature discernment. 

    I did enjoy the discussion, Fred. As always your remarks and humor are great. At one point though, I became anxious thinking, Oh, no, what are people reading into my work? It’s almost as scary to read into other people’s words, spoken or written, as it is to read into the Bible, instead of really perceiving what is intended. I guess, my point is that probably people’s mature perceptions won’t be all that different.


What do you think?