Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor at Missouri State University, claims it is filthy and immoral and even claims it contains "soft pornography" because of two rape scenes. This man is a Christian and asks how the Christian men and women can expose their children to such filth. Ironically, the Bible contains stories of rape, incest, adultery, murder and the like, as well as being a story of redemption, yet I'm assuming Mr. Scroggins won't try to prevent children from reading it.
I'm horrified by this whole event. First of all, I'm a Christian. I have been for as long as I can remember. Growing up with a pastor for a dad, my life was inundated with faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. My faith boils down to this: We as humans screw up on a daily basis, sometimes worse than others. This is called sin. That sin separates us from God. To fix the problem that we originally created, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago to be punished for those sins. He died and because of his sacrifice, I can one day spend eternity with a God who loves me and sacrificed his own life for me.
I've screwed up countless times. I've hurt the people I love the most, and in doing so, I've separated myself from God. But you know what? He forgives me. Notice that's in present tense. He forgave, forgives and continues to forgive. It's not that I do horrible things on purpose, but living in the world we do, we often are influenced by the things we see around us. We are continually under attack by the enemy of our souls, Satan, and we have to stand guard in order to fight against this evil.
Christianity draws an even clearer picture of the depravity that we humans face every day. It's not right to shield our children from reality. If we do, they won't know how to deal with it when they experience it for themselves. Should we do this before they're ready? Of course not, but we can't pretend that sin isn't real either. If we downplay the sin in the world, we also downplay the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Personally, I want my children to understand that despite all the evil that surrounds us, our God has already defeated the enemy of sin and death. I want them to understand they can live in this world without fear because of Christ's death and resurrection. I want them to know that no matter what sin is committed and no matter how broken people are, there is still forgiveness and healing in Jesus.
Just one look around this world and we can see the sinfulness. Murder, hatred, incest, lust, affairs, and abuse are just a drop in the ocean of the horrible things humans have done to each other. And rape. Yes, rape, which brings me back to the controversy surrounding SPEAK.
If you haven't read it, do so!!! It's a necessary read for any teenager, despite what Mr. Scroggins says. Yes, it has rape in it. But why are we afraid to speak loudly about issues and sins in our own society? Are we instead just going to ignore the rapes that occur every day and hush young people when it happens to them? Are we going to tell them by our silence that their pain isn't important, or are we going to show them that there are people who have been through what they've been through? Are we going to show them that they can survive, live even, after something so horrible? Are we going to support them and encourage them to speak out or are we going to shush them into dealing with their pain alone? How do we expect to change any of the atrocities that happen in our world if we keep silent about them?
Do horrible things like rape happen every day? Yes. But there can be healing after. Our Lord Jesus Christ can bring healing and wholeness that the enemy and the rapist took away.
But sometimes it takes a little nudge. It takes someone like Laurie Halse Anderson to write a book like Speak that shows young people they don't have to remain silent. Speak gives them a point of contact, someone to resonate with, a spark of recognition that maybe, just maybe they can be all right. If we keep silent about these issues like rape, abortion, drugs, or abuse, kids will discover answers on their own. Why not give them a point of reference that may just help make their lives a little better?
So, Ms. Anderson, keep writing stories like Speak. We're still listening.