Review: Steeped in Stories by Mitali Perkins

ONE perfect Book.

There is only one perfect Book.

One perfect Author.

One perfect Hero.

Only one perfect book: The Bible

There are NO perfect readers.

All of us bring our own imperfect stories, families, culture, pain, sorrow, and sins to any reading experience. The Lord puts us in imperfect families, gives us imperfect friends, and pours out grace through His Holy Spirit to live in a fallen world.

How should Christians respond to flawed books we love? Should we feel guilty and reject the childhood favorites we read often in our innocence and revisit as beloved friends? Should we awkwardly try to excuse them like older relatives who don’t realize their casual comments might be offensive?

Mitali Perkins wrestles with these questions with grace and humility in her new book, Steeped in Stories, in which she encourages adults to revisit classic children’s literature. Choosing seven books she loved as a girl, she identifies seven virtues and seven vices that are represented in each, explaining why these old stories matter in the twenty-first century challenges we face.

Perkins recognizes that although she cannot have ask the authors why they made certain comments or assumptions that were acceptable at the time, she can still embrace the Truth in their Stories. This is an admirable posture for a Christian to take, reading with discernment instead of judgmentalism. There is an important distinction between critiquing and criticizing.

Perkins writing is hospitable, whether or not the reader agrees with her love for Christ. She models the beauty of literary criticism that is molded by Scripture in first loving her neighbors, and I hope that I and others will do likewise.

More thoughts on this topic:

The author of Something Better Coming is flawed (that’s me), but the Hero is perfect and the promise is sure!

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