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[size=10pt]Rules for avoiding bad books, films, magazines, internet, etc [/size]


A priest at a catechism class last night gave us a handout that summarizes the general laws which guided the former (and much missed) Index of Forbidden Books.  The Index served as a guide or warning system to prevent Catholics from falling into error by reading a bad, dangerous book.  St. Alphonsus Liguori observed in his immensely fruitful life that one bad book could destroy an entire monastery.  For centuries, the Church, in her beneficent wisdom, kept a list of books that were dangerous to one’s Faith.  Of course, we pretend we are much too mature to need such a thing anymore, and so millions of Catholics have fallen into error or even apostasy.

The guidelines below were written with books or other written publications in mind but apply to films, TV shows, and especially the internet. Anything which possesses characteristics listed below is to be avoided:
•Books which designedly defend, propagate, or persuade people to accept heresy or schism. [This could be any book on religion written by protestants, new agers, etc]
•Books which undertake to destroy the truths which are fundamental to religion, e.g., the existence of God, the spirituality of the soul, the freedom of the will, the possibility of Divine Revelation or of miracles, etc. [Darwin, Dawkins, de Chardin, many other modernist writers]
•Books which assiduously attack either natural religion, or the Catholic Faith, or good morals.  This does not include books which may make some slurring remark or which may include some brief objectionable passage; rather it refers to books which set forth many arguments or which devote the equivalent of a chapter to such purposes.
•Books written by non-Catholics which professedly treat of religion, unless it is clear that they contain nothing of consequence contrary to the Catholic Faith. [Again, protestants, eastern religions, sexular pagans, etc]
•Books which attack any article of the Catholic Faith, which assiduously defend any error condemned by the Holy See; which deride Divine Worship, or which attack, repudiate, or demean the concept of the hierarchy of the clerical state or of the religious life. [the Distorter, pretty much any liberal katholyc publication, many ostensible catechetical sources like St. Anthony's Messenger Press. websites like US Catholic......this one would have a very extensive list today]
•Books which teach or propagate superstition and similar perversions of true religion [that movie Noah could fall under this one]
•Books which defend as moral the practices of dueling, suicide, or divorce  [Obviously a bit dated, you could extend this today, given how far we've fallen, to contraception, abortion, support for pretend marriage, etc]
•Books which present masonry and similar secret sects, not as pernicious, but as useful to the Church and civil society
•Books relating new miracles, prophesies, visions, etc., or promoting devotional novelties, when they are published in spite of canonical regulations. [cough.......Medg........cough cough]
•Books which publicize spurious indulgences, or those proscribed or revoked by the Holy See
•Any images of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, or the Angels and Saints which are not in keeping with the spirit and decrees of the Church.
•Editions and translations of the Sacred Scriptures which are published by non-Catholics
•Books which professedly discuss, describe, or teach impure topics [Geez....this could be a massive list today.  50 Shades of Grey, the whole romance novel genre, almost all movies, TV shows......]


With some prayer and extrapolation, I think the above list can serve as a helpful guide for navigating the very difficult task or determining what is acceptable to read, watch, listen to, etc.  Some basic rules of thumb: on religious matters, it had better be written by a Catholic. Stay totally away from atheists, anti-Christian types, leftists generally, perversion, Mark Shea, satanists, astrologers, new agers……I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.

Anyway, I hope you find this useful and beneficial.  I think for the most part my reading/viewing habits correspond but there is one show I got sucked into of late that I probably should have avoided (True Detective).  Pretty scary stuff.
My issue with these lists of Forbidden Books is that they assume that the reader is a vacuous sponge-brain that never questions what he is told.  I'm sure that people in my grandparents' generation were told to avoid lots of bad books (and later bad TV shows and other bad media) because in that generation it was not acceptable to question anything.  Back in the day, to become an author meant something... You had to have something to say, and some sort of qualification to say it.  In our time, it doesn't take much to be an author.  I'm sure if I wanted to, I could self-publish a book filled with whatever detritus my mind came up with.  Or I could fill a blog up with that same detritus in shorter increments--or perhaps I could be a Twitterer and churn out even smaller bursts of stream of consciousness "musings."  It doesn't take much to be an author and the internet affords you a certain closeness with your consumers.  You don't have to be an "expert" or even be a talented artist.  And so rather than an Index of Forbidden Books (and of course TV shows, movies, blogs, publications, YouTube feeds, podcasts, Twitter accounts, apps and websites), I think we need authentically Catholic education that stresses the pursuit of Truth--and a critical thinking style that can sift it out from all the lies. 


I have a big problem with a list of "Forbidden" books, too. It'd be one thing if they were described as books Catholics should be careful with (and even better, if instead if "forbidding" them, Catholic responses were made to accompany any official mention of the books in question!), but it's another thing to "forbid" it and act as if all Catholics are so weak in the Faith that reading something would shake them from it. It's very condescending to lay-people, IMO.

Further, our not knowing, for ex., what Darwin had to say keeps us IGNORANT (rather than innocent), makes us look stupid, leaves us unable to defend against much of what he came up with, and gives people the impression that the Holy Faith is sooooooooo weak and indefensible that just reading certain books is "anathema" lest Catholics become heretics. It's not at all a wise move.

Granted, any book (or anything else) that is, in FACT, an occasion of sin for a given individual is something that individual needs to cut out of his life, but where those lines are are different for everyone. Not every layman is "average" in intellect, weak in his understanding of the Faith, or too stupid to figure out where to get or come up with his own Catholic responses to bullcrap. How are Catholics supposed to get into the Sciences if they're not "allowed" to read Darwin, for crying out loud? It's nuts.

The institutional Church has, in some respects, revealed itself to be an abusive parent - to the extend that it protected abusers for decades. I know the rhetoric in defense of Church action too, but let's call a spade a spade at least amongst ourselves.

There is no way the institutional Church can presume to offer unilateral moral judgements anymore. And that seems to be what many people, and are disappointed not to find.

That paternalistic instinct twisted into something controlling and cold was aberrant, and the further we move away from it the better. Our conscience formed by correct teaching is the first port of call.
I am sure that most of you have heard Fr. Chad Ripperger's talks, but here are some wondreful things to hear.  I happen to think that Our Holy Mother Church knows much more than I.  In Her Wisdom and the wisdom of our priests.

http://www.sensustraditionis.org/multimedia.html

P.S. Pray for Our Priests!
Catholics should be trained in apologetics. In order to contradict and combat heretical points of view, it is first necessary to intimately know these points of view. Therefore, blocking access to "dangerous" books is counterproductive.

I have read Dawkins and Hitchens and various other atheist hatemongers, and if anything, it strengthened my faith.
It is true that the Church is in a horrible state right now and I can't imagine who in the clergy I'd even trust to make such a list of Forbidden Media.  The USCCB?  They already write movie reviews and they're terrible... I think Brokeback Mountain got a higher rating than the Passion of the Christ. 

When the Index of Forbidden Books was written, it was also during a time when you could look at a man with a Roman collar on and see a priest with the authority to preach the truth of the Catholic Faith.  As traditional Catholics in the modern era, we don't have that luxury--our trust in the priests is that wounded.  Even with traditional priests, I don't trust everything they say.... I trust my parish priest but I usually avoid listening to sedevacantist priests for example.  A sedevacantist would probably take the words of my parish priest or an FSSP priest with a grain of salt as well.