When I was in the sixth grade, a nun called Sister Maxine (Sister Max) - who had to be a hippy lesbian in disguise - read Madeleine L'Engle's iconic book A Wrinkle in Time
to us. I was totally blown away by that book. At the time I was sure she thought it was a secret take on Christianity. Nevertheless, it inspired me to go to the library and look for more ... science fiction.
I picked up a piece of preteen pulp by a guy named Robert Heinlein. It was about a kid who won a used spacesuit in a commercial essay competition. In a far-fetched series of events, he ends up going on an adventure in space. It was called Have Spacesuit Will Travel.
I proceeded to read everything RH ever wrote. He was, of course, a notorious atheist and poisoner of children's souls. Oh, and freer of children's minds. I owe him a great deal.
So, in reading A Wrinkle in Time to us, Sister Max inadvertently pushed me four square onto the path to atheism.
Last night, my fourteen year old daughter and I watched a film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time that was fairly well done. It had come that day from Netflix. The story is a kid's story for sure - even my daughter is a little too old now - but it was fun to watch it because I had read it to her when she was younger. It's basically about how love conquers all - or, more accurately, how love cannot be conquered, and about how everyone is different and has their own unique thing to add to the mix. It might have been a cold war book about American individualism vs. Communist sublimation of the individual. It might have been about Nazi Germany.
But, then it suddenly occurred to me that it might have been a cautionary tale about how dogmatic religion attempts to get us to believe only what we are told and do things only a certain way and, by doing this, we will achieve happiness.
And, now, I find that so many books and movies can be read and watched for this theme. I'm certain most people see the obvious references to 'Evil Empires' like The Third Reich, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, etc. But now I clearly see they can just as easily be warning us about The Pope, Jihad, or any other theocratic tyranny. I'm sure few see it. But it's there.
No wonder the fundies want to burn books. They did help save me from god, after all. Thank you, Sister Max.