Looking at secular books
Today’s universal approval has not always been the case. Christians in the past have condemned novel reading. Charles Finney wrote: ‘I cannot believe that a person who has ever known the love of God can relish a secular novel’. And Spurgeon, his sounder contemporary, was only slightly more moderate, saying in a sermon: ‘The mass of popular books published under the name of light literature is to be eschewed and cut down.’
Novel reading is now regarded as a rather tame pursuit. When you can spend all night on a dance floor, gamble on the internet, buy pornography in your corner shop and watch 18 rated films at the local multiplex, what could be more harmless than opening the pages of a novel borrowed from the library? Fiction, we are told, develops empathy, provides relaxation, opens our minds; ‘the love of books requires neither justification, apology, nor defence’.