(Translation of headline to my non-South African readers: to “hap” means to snap at something, like a goldfish would snap at a small flake of fish food.)
I never thought I’d give an inch – or more than an indulgent smile – to the atheists who so logically, scientifically and vehemently defend their viewpoint of there not being a god. Today I am thankful you guys are so vocal. Keep it up and don’t back down: We need you for balance!
(Ok you’ve got it by now, this is one of these posts designed to get up everybody’s nose.)
Here’s what brought this on:
Ran into a lady today whom I know from one of the bookshops. They stocked our books in the past and of course she recognized me first (I never remember a face, but I always forget a name). More or less this is how the conversation went, after we established that she is the one who markets the children’s books, and we have after all just released Andrea Kaczmarek’s “Pink Wish Ice Cream” and are working away on the “Immy” series: (This is not verbatim, I didn’t have my dictaphone ready, I only recall the content of the conversation, which left me reeling.)
gipsika: Great, we’ve just launched two new books and one is a really cute children’s book. The illustrations are to die for! Should I bring it around?
Bookshop Lady: what is it about?
g: It’s about a pink witch who sells ice cream to kids and the polite ones get a free wish granted with it.
BL: (looking doubtful) : A witch, you say?
g: Yes, one of those casual ones that grant wishes.
BL: You know, I found that people don’t really want to buy that kind of book…
g: Really? Along the lines of “Liewe Heksie”?
BL: Yes, they don’t go for that anymore…
g: You mean, Verna Vels (Afrikaans bestselling author of previous generation) would have a tough time being read today?
BL: They are scared of things such as magic, witches, dragons… when it comes to vampires, you can forget it.
g: And fairies?
BL: Even fairies, it’s the magic. There have been programs – the Church puts out warnings against books and TV programs that have subliminal evil messages. Even Harry Potter.
g: So, even “Eragon”…
BL: Yes. You see, because of the onslaught on Christianity (*I’ll enlighten you in a moment, dear reader, stay with me) the Church is tightening its message and people have become more aware of these influences… they are now scared to buy such children’s books, even fantasy novels. The children too. They are scared to pick such books.
g: Wow! That would include the entire European mythological and fairytale heritage?
BL: Yes. People even complain about those Percy Jackson movies.
g: Because it is about the Greek mythology. Right. This worries me, when we were kids we knew precisely what was fantasy and what was reality. It tells me that people are getting a lot more superstitious.
BL: It’s what they are being told to watch out for. They have become very scared.
g: (knowing that this is a lady trying to sell books and it is clearly her predicament too if people avoid her products) : But then what do the kids read these days?
BL: Stories based in reality.
g: What kind of stories?
BL: Horse stories…
(aside from gipsika: Federi would say: sheka! – I’m not translating that. The last time I saw a young boy of ten read a horse story was … never. My two daughters, my young almost-teen and my mature teen, both tell me that girls also don’t really read them anymore. Unless they actually own a horse.)
g: Well I don’t know too many who do that. What else can they read?
BL: Adventure stories.
g: You mean, like, pirate stories?
BL: People are scared of the violence…
So, I’m very glad that you can be happing bubbles along with me, dear reader.
Superheroes? Talking animals? You could guess.
Gutenberg’s printing press and his bibles were the “catastrophe” that kicked Europe’s intellectual development into high gear. Guess he didn’t suit the Church even back when he was printing bibles.
Oh, I promised to explain the “onslaught” on Christianity.
Unlike Europe, here in South Africa nobody burns down churches. Christianity is the largest religion in South Africa, with an overwhelming African contingent, and nearly 100% of Afrikaans-speaking people. Of course this is historical.
The “onslaught” relates to the government having de-religionized the state, and divided state and church. (I think the Kaisers in Germany tried that forever throughout the middle ages.) Public schools that were distinctly Christian schools before, have had to open their doors to non-Christians (still the minority), and have had to swallow such regulations as that they cannot force a child to pray along or read the bible if that child is not Christian. That “bible studies” has been demoted from a school subject to an optional interest group. That a child who is not Christian may not be discriminated against.
What private schools do, is still very much their own choice, and we have a wealth of convent schools, St this and St that, all over the place. They are allowed to discriminate and turn down children based on religion. As private companies, it is their right. And they do, too. So… what onslaught?