I’ve been wondering if there some books that I should avoid (and by extention writers I should avoid).It unsettles me a bit when there’s a writer who writes a lot of good stuff but there’s one thing that they write which seems unusual and/or disturbing.Take Jack London for instance.I like “The sea wolf” and “Before Adam” two books that he wrote.However “the iron heel” which very evidently shows his socialist beliefs and a disturbing amount of distorted ideological depth.I even remember that when I read like an intro to the book by the editor he kind of gave (it was a Penguin’s edition with a picture of man holding a child and a pistol and woman’s corpse nearby in what seems like a big fire) a warning about that book.If anyone is willingto correct me on that then by all means do so.Another example is .H.P. Lovecraft.I mean I know that he had a big effect on literature such as sci-fi and fantasy but (I hope I’m not being prudish) but arent his fictional works kind of offensive to religion?.I’m considering the prominent themes of misotheism (ex.consider one of Azathoth’s nicknames),prominent themes of fear of the unknown,the Nietchezan insignificance of mankind,his racism and the horror and/or madness people experience after seeing the true nature of another “more ultimate reality”.Does he happen to be like the kind of writer who’s works are so distrubing that it does’nt let you sleep easily?.Thanks for your time
Certainly you are free to avoid any books or authors you feel inclined to avoid for whatever reason you like.
But there’s no moral obligation – under penalty of sin – for all Catholics to stay away from specific titles or authors.
We should take care not to read things that endanger our faith. To do so deliberatley is a sin. But there are no universal laws in that regard. If I read some Nietsche, I am not going to smack my head and say “He’s right! There really is no God!” My faith (as small as it is) is a little stronger than that.
But if I picked up some book of that type 15 years ago when I was going through some periods of doubt, then it would be a different story – especially if I sought out and only read books that questioned my Catholic faith without ever investigating the Catholic response to such issues. That would be a problem and would have been sinful for me.
We cannot reasonably expect to only read authors who agree 100% with our Catholic worldview. If we have a solid footing in our faith and can identify the problems, then there should be no problem.
But if it reading those books raises our blood pressure and keeps us up at night and steals our peace, then we can certainly avoid those books in the interest of our personal sanity.
Honestly, a better defense against Lovecraft even than faith is a firm grounding in Catholic philosophy—Aquinas' description of God is a heck of a lot stranger than anything in Lovecraft. I mean, compared to how God's unity is so absolute that the concept of "subject and predicate" breaks down trying to describe him, Lovecraft's Azathoth (the "Seething Nuclear Chaos") is practically an anthropomorphism.
Still, I've had fun reading Lovecraft, and his proteges Fritz Leiber ("Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser") and Robert E. Howard ("Conan the Barbarian"), so if you don't take him too seriously, he's fine.