Sunday, January 20, 2008

More on the Seized Christian Children's Books

Some further thoughts on the seizing the other day of children's books written from a Christian perspective.

The books seized apparently include:

My First Study Bible by Paul J. Loth, 366 Bible Stories by Robert Brunelli, The Little Children's Bible Storybook by Anne De Graaf.

Several questions come to mind:

Why now? What has sparked this sudden and coordinated seizure when presumably these books, and books like them, have been on the shelves of MPH and other bookshops for many years.

What is fueling this present intolerance? Why is it only now that sensitivities might be offended and not at some point in the past?

Why did the gesture need to be made so public? (Seizing books is pretty gestapo-like and dramatic, don't you think?)

Might the same books be seized in other bookshops, and indeed in Christian bookshops? Otherwise, why has MPH been singled out?

Isn't this move unfair as there are children's books written in similar storybook style (though of course without cartoonish pictures of the prophets which seem to have so offended) aimed at Muslim kids freely available on the market which Christian parents probably would not want their kids to get their hands on? (I was browsing through some very nicely produced books at the Islamic Arts Museum the other day).

Surely in a country as diverse as this where racial and religious harmony needs to be a way of life, such heavy-handed tactics can only be harmful?

The questions won't be answered by any official source, of course. They never are.

Being of the Richard Dawkins school of religious education I have no vested interest ... except that any kind of book banning makes me very very angry.

Update (22/1/08) :

All's well that ends well, it seems.

In a small column on page N20 of the Star today:
Several Christian books confiscated by the Internal Security Ministry here for carrying pictures of Moses and Noah have been returned.

It is learnt that church groups were notified by the ministry that the books, taken away during a routine check by officials of the ministry’s publications unit, have been returned to the MPH bookshop.
This also invites a number of questions ... but I'm sure you are capable of formulating them on your own.


Anonymous said...

And all this is happening while Pak Lah Lah is off hectoring the west to be more open to islam...where got logic lah?
Institutionalised religion is SO wrong for the 21st century.

- Poppadumdum

Anonymous said...

Yes, if you ask me, if you want to raise your kids in a religious tradition you've bloody well got to deal with the problem that other religious traditions ALSO say they have the only correct answer. Find some answer, instead of hiding the question!

-- Preeta

Hassan said...

It's very curious that the government bans lots of books on Islam by sincere Muslims and these harmless Christian books, but does not ban "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens "God is not Great" as these directly attack all religion. So if the idea is to keep people religious and prevent them from imbibing corrosive ideas, then why not these books?

Anonymous said...

Why those two books? Because the government people can't understand them mah...too deep... they can only look at the pictures in the kiddie books and have hysterical fits.

What's wrong with attacking religion anyway? Is one's faith so weak that it is corroded by other people's attacks or comments?

Anonymous said...

The government can't even understand the titles ah?!? I actually agree with Dawkins's and Hitchens's arguments in those books, but I have to say that I'm just as puzzled as Hassan about why they aren't banned in our great nation. Surely the title of the Hitchens, at least, should tip them off?

-- Preeta

Anonymous said...

Disappointing that your normally very vocal group of visitors are so distinctly silent on this serious issue...

bookseller said...

How much more vocal can you get when somehow all this vocalization just doesn't get anywhere, esp not when dealing with issues deemed as sensitive. sure it's serious matter but one wonders if making enough of noise will put a stop to all these confiscation, banning and returning-to-store-with-no-explanation.

And with the current state of affairs, unless the issue has political weight, don't bother about making any headlines or headway.

bibliobibuli said...

well something happened between the books being taken and them being returned. i do wonder if the malaysiakini article might have had an affect? in which case there was enough "vocalisation" and it did get somewhere.

Anonymous said...

If enough people of the moderate persuasion make enough noise when illogical acts are done 'on their behalf' and 'for their protection and mental safety' then I think there will be an effect. But so often there's a deafening silence when these things happen.
- Poppadumdum