Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Reading - Meyer

What makes good reading?

Recently in numerous magazines, on list serves, in meetings and in conversations the topic has come up for discussion. Gauged on sales alone, it would seem that dramatically dysfunctional lives, lurid sex, child pornography and child abuse, evil-minded politics and the dark side of life are what make good reading. One could ask if it is because of the demand or if that kind of story that gets most publicity and promotion. Is it the money that goes into the effort that brings the sales, or that the kind of stories for which people are clamouring. It seems the old conundrum about what comes first­the chicken or the egg?

Stories about the positive side of life are often dismissed as being “fluff” or unrealistic. The trend is not new, but has been developing and becoming stronger over the years. The popular 1913 story Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter actually coined a new term- the Pollyanna principle or Pollyannaism. (How many authors can claim that one of their heroines has come into usage as a term for anything?) This young girl actually practiced Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking before he wrote the book. However, today the term is apt to be used almost in derision for people who look only for the bright side of any circumstance and cannot be “realistic” enough to acknowledge the dark or negative in life.

If people actually read the story about the young girl, they will find Pollyanna knows, all too well, the heart-rending and tough side of life. She has however, made the choice to cope with the hardship by concentrating on the positive side of the experience­in the midst of her hardships to still find something for which she can be thankful. It is a fact that most things in life do have a positive if we care to look hard enough to find it, and that fact is just as realistic as the negative.
It seems to me that finding a way to make something good from our difficulties, to balance the negative in our lives with a positive is not being unrealistic, but creative and constructive. As writers, who are Christian, does our writing inspire people to find the positive?

Do we pass on the stories of people who triumphed over the negative? Can we report the experiences of those who live the Pollyanna principle? Will we be allowed, even by our contemporaries to promote such reading? Will they be given a chance? Can we do less? Phillipians 4:8 Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right (honest). Granted, being honest will include acknowledging the mistakes, the sins and the wrong-doing. But. . . Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine good things in others.

1 comment:

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks Bonnie. You have said it well and I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I make a practice every day of filling one page of a journal with those things for which I can be thankful in order to cultivate this positive attitude.
ELeanor Shepherd

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