“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” Madeleine L’Engle

Today a college-aged Facebook friend posted a plea for people to fill out a survey in order to provide her information for an assigned paper. Of course, I felt I should help if I could, but I tend to be intrigued by surveys anyway.

She’s an English major, like I was, so I was quickly drawn into her topic: book banning. I know I stand firmly planted on the liberal side of the issue, both as a writer and as a reader, despite the fact I am Christian.

Because I don’t want anyone telling me what I can think, it’s my duty to extend that courtesy to others. That’s just one way I apply the Golden Rule to living my life. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean I have to abstain from sharing my beliefs nor hide when I disagree with the beliefs presented in various works of art.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a liberal arts education. When I attended Wittenberg University, the curriculum required all students to take one religion course in order to earn a degree. I ended up in a class called “Portraits of Jesus” that was taught by a professor named Herbert Wolf. Professor Wolf didn’t teach this course from just one viewpoint, although I would see him on Sunday at the same Lutheran church I attended.

Throughout the course, Dr. Wolf was working hard to get us to come up with our own visions of what Jesus looked like. Of course, we read from the Gospels, but we also read literature and watched movies that were very secular. We were asked to ponder things like how Steinbeck’s Tom Joad could be a Christ figure in the same way as Jesus in “Godspell.”

Thanks to Dr. Wolf and my literature background, I find tales of redemption in various works, regardless of the author’s intent. As the Madeleine L’Engle quote states, it is sometimes possible to find God in the most unlikely of sources.

However, since all my reading is formed by my belief system, sometimes I reject those tales that many see as perfectly acceptable. Don’t worry—I’m always going to review any sort of media through the lens of my faith.

I just don’t want someone else to decide up front what my decision should be. That’s between me and God.