Is It Okay To Burn Books?
I have always answered that question with an emphatic NO.
However, I recently came across a book that so appalled me that I threw it in the trash (the equivalent, I suppose, of burning it). If this shocks you, let me explain.
When I finished writing “The Divining” (a novel inspired by Soul Flame), I began research on my next book, “The Serpent and the Staff,” which takes place in the Middle East in the year 1450 BCE. For better frame of historical reference, this is during the reign of the great Egyptian Pharaoh, Thutmose the Third (stepson of Queen Hatshepsut), or for Biblical reference, roughly between Joseph and Moses. Therefore, my research calls for sources on daily life in early Bible times. One book I picked up was titled “Daily Life In the Old Testament,” and it tells us how Moses and Miriam would have lived, how they got around, what they wore, what they ate. It is a book aimed at young people (actually, it is a text book for Sunday school and Sabbath school), but I chose it because it is beautifully illustrated and helps me to visualize the world I am going to create.
I was doing fine with it until I came to the chapter on clothing. The author tells us that early Israelites made their clothes mostly from wool. But rich people also wore Egyptian linen and --- robes made of silk. This gave me pause. Silk originated in China and did not reach the Western world until Alexander the great (approximately 300 years before Christ). Although this error annoyed me, I continued with the book.
I came to the chapter on food in which the author assures us that people in Israel and Canaan four thousand years ago ate pretty much the same thing they eat today, and the two examples given are rice and corn.
This shocked me. Like silk, rice originated in China and did not reach the West until around the time of the Caesars. I was willing, however, to let even that error slip by, but I balked at corn. What was this author – and her editors – thinking? Corn is indigenous to the Americas and it was not discovered by Europeans until 1492 and the arrival of Christopher Columbus!
Three glaring errors in a textbook for children. Factual mistakes in fiction is bad enough (even I have been known to make one or two) but a Sunday school text should be taken for, well, Gospel! I got mad and threw the book out since obviously nothing else in those pages could be trusted.
I shudder to think how many copies of that book are floating around out there, and how many children and Sabbath school teachers think that Moses wore silk while he dined on rice and corn.