Christian friendly book rating?

John C. Wright has an interesting post up that looks at the idea of a Christian friendly book rating, how suitable a book is for Christian kids, that sort of thing. I’m not really sure what I make of such an idea, especially as a formal rating system would probably not work particularly well. The suggested rating system looks something like the following

Let’s consider some possible point factors, beginning with those that would likely be more or less acceptable to most Christian parents, but are potentially indicative of religious or ideological problems:

  • contains no genuine and explicit Christian element +1
  • exhibits unconventional Christian theology +1
  • characters demonstrate disrespect for peers or parents +1
  • an animal or major character dies +1
  • contains suggestions of physical violence +1

Then there are the elements that will be objectionable to the more conservative families:

  • contains squishy Disney-style “moral” messages +2
  • contains direct descriptions of physical violence +2
  • features indirect sexual themes +2
  • contains egregious or saintly minority characters +2
  • features aggressively “pro-science” themes +2
  • contains euphemistic swearing +2

Followed by those elements to which most parents will not want to expose their children:

  • contains openly atheist characters +3
  • contains detailed and gleeful portrayals of physical violence +3
  • features PG-13 sex scenes +3
  • advocates left-liberal political or ideological positions +3
  • contains light and occasional swearing +3
  • Features emotionally devastating scene +3

And then the completely unacceptable:

  • contains openly atheist or anti-theist messages +5
  • mocks Christianity +5
  • sadistic horror and physical violence +5
  • features pornographic sex scenes or romanticizes adultery +5
  • features homosexual and other sexually deviant characters +5
  • contains a considerable quantity of vulgarities and obscenities +5

Now, it is important to keep in mind that a novel can contain absolutely every element here and still be a Christian novel. What makes a novel Christian or not depends upon its intrinsic recognition that Jesus Christ (or some fictional facsimile therein), is the Lord and Savior of Mankind.

I’m not sure this is a very good idea, and i’m surprised nobody has mocked it yet by going through the Old Testament and rating the various accounts in there. It isn’t really a good idea. I know they are trying to rate things for “kid friendliness” but it seems a somewhat bad idea to try to shield kids from everything. They will encounter this stuff eventually and better to read it with them, or read it and discuss it with them than let them read it on their own.

I’d also be interested to see how some of my favorite works by C.S Lewis stacked up on such a list like The Screwtape Letters with its correspondences between two devils and their tempting work, The Great Divorce, with its trip to hell and heaven and The Pilgrim’s Regress, with its mild sex and violence.