Scoop of the e-e-evening: Penny Dreadful

Laurel Snyder's Any Which Wall was one of my very most favorite stories last year. With each passing page of Penny Dreadful, I fell more in love with an author who writes friendly stories--in a way that daisies are friendly flowers. "Chock full" (via the author's own slyly depreciating words) "of excitement and mystery and thrills on every page, though not exactly great literature."

My family will vouch for the fact that as I read Penny Dreadful, I exclaimed, "Oh, yes! I love this book!" about twenty times. There is delightful prose. There are characters who read, with plenty of allusions for book lovers to spot, like "Then one day after her finger stopped on a book called Magic or Not? Penelope wandered out into the perfectly manicured lawn of her backyard, holding a folded scrap of paper. There was a decorated wishing well of sorts in the middle of the Grey's backyard..."

Everything was going swimmingly toward a canonization of Snyder in my favorite authors of the 21st century, when Bam! She hit me on the head with a little boy named Twent, his long-haired, pregnant mother Willa, and his other mother, Jenny.

For a moment, Penny shared my dazed confusion. "Your wife?" "Sure," Willa smiled happily. "Twent's other mother. She's at work now, but you'll meet her one day soon..." Penny looked over at Twent, who seemed not to be paying any attention. She'd never known anyone with two mothers, but then, she'd also never known anyone with hair to her knees. Or anyone with a pet skunk."

On her website, Snyder recently posted about this topic: "I didn’t write Willa and Jenny into the book to make it a gay book. I wrote them to make it a real book, an honest book. A book about the world, which is full of all kinds of people."

I can totally agree with those motivations. The world is full of all kinds of people. But what I cannot accept is the way Snyder wrote Willa and Jenny into the book. Notice her words choices:

Sure = Of course, silly! Being a lesbian isn't out of the ordinary, not one bit.

Willa smiled happily = Look at me. Lesbian relationships are satisfying and joyful.

She'd never known anyone with two mothers, but then, she'd also never known anyone with hair to her knees. Or anyone with a pet skunk = People just happen to be a lot of things. White, black, timid, brave, rich, poor, old, young...

As Snyder writes on her blog, "if more books represented diversity this way, simply, without it being a big issue all the time, more kids would understand that it isn‘t always a big issue. I’d like to think that children’s books are a wonderful way to begin the process of educating people about how varied human experience is, and about how all of it, all of it, is normal." (emphasis mine)

The only problem is, being a lesbian is not normal. It's not something that "just happens" to people, like being poor or brave. In fact, when you look through Biblical glasses, homosexuality is, well, an abomination.

Characters like Willa and Jenny, however, with their happy little family, show elementary-age readers that Christian beliefs are hateful and silly. Add these characters to the full-blown assault of politically-correct propaganda that is molding America's children.


Sherry said...

Yes, this issue is starting to become more and more annoying in middle grade literature: homosexual characters, usually women, pretending to be married inserted not the story to make a point. And I do think these characters and the others I've noticed lately are there to make a point: Homosexual behavior and homosexual families are normative, happy, and fulfilling.

It used to be confined to YA fiction, but it's seeping down into the middle grade ficton and soon it will become mandatory for picture books and easy readers to show "diversity" by including two mommies or two daddies. And if you say anything you will be branded "homophobic." I expect your comments on this post to reflect that last statement soon.

Heidi said...

Well said. I guess the best thing to do is to start writing books ourselves!

kay said...

Funny, through MY Biblical glasses, there is nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. And how in the world do you make the leap that because there is a LOVING and HAPPY family with two moms that the author thinks "Christian beliefs are hateful and silly." What an odd and illogical leap to make. I wasn't gonna go there but I'm gonna go there: you're the kind of Christian that gives the rest a bad name. Try opening your heart and mind--the world isn't as scary as you think it is. (Oh, and I fully expect you not to post this reply. Just felt good to tell you what I think of your small-mindedness.)

Steve Brezenoff said...

This review has physically nauseated me. Yes, if your Christian beliefs hold that a family of love, that has two women as its parents, is an abomination, then they are indeed hateful and silly beliefs. I weep for us as a nation, once again.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you that being a lesbian is not normal. There is no "normal". It is no less "normal" in our community, which happens to be in the same city as Ms. Snyder's, than the two parent stay at home mom and dad goes to work. I am sorry you feel the way you do. That is your choice, but I do hope your view point is shared by a small minority and not by most people who seek to have their children grow up to be moral, respectful, happy citizens, who can accept that "normal" comes in a wide variety and do not rely on the bible to justify their discrimination.

Noël De Vries said...

Please note, Kay, that I wrote "characters like Willa and Jenny... show elementary-age readers that Christian beliefs are hateful and silly." It is no leap in logic to suppose that repeated, positive exposure to an ideology encourages acceptance of that ideology, eventually leading readers to belittle opposing ideologies.

Thanks for dropping by!

Jonathan said...

In what sense is it not "hateful and silly" to hate Lesbians? I guess your logic is impeccable then.

Anthony said...

I'm sad for you.

It's no use arguing, but I am quite confident that your way of thinking about this issue will soon be widely seen to be every bit as vile as all other once-widely-held bigotries. It never fails, and I do hope you live long enough to see it, and to make amends.

mechelle said...

It seems to me that what is vile and an abomination is what you are saying here in this blog....whether you agree with it or not these things mentioned in Penny Dreadful are a part of every day life. It is the way our world is today. It doesn't say anywhere in that book that Christian beliefs are hateful and silly. As a matter of fact REAL Christian beliefs are based on love and acceptance...hate the sin not the sinner. I do not share your same view but I do know a thing or two about Christian beliefs....
your ignorance is shining through and I really feel sorry for must be hard carrying around such a burden of hate and bigotry in your heart....Laurel Snyder happens to be a wonderfully talented writer whom I adore. Her books are crafted in such a way to bring her young readers into such a wonderful place. My hat is off to Miss Snyder for a wonderfully entertaining story.

Kurtis said...

How disappointed you must be that this Jewish author did not adequately conform to your particular brand of Christianity.

Noël De Vries said...

Thank you for the civility in your comment, Anonymous. Truly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Your Christian beliefs are not my Christian beliefs. But you are certainly entitled to your beliefs, whether you think of them as Christian or . . . whatever.

When my (dear departed) mother heard people say things such as "...being a lesbian is not normal," or a choice gays make, she told them what her nephew, my favorite boy cousin, once said to her back in the early 80's: "Do you think we would CHOOSE to live this way, where so many hate us?"

Whether you approve of it or not, there are many happy little, and happy large families with gay parents. I'm delighted to see them depicted in middle-grade books. It's normal.

Noël De Vries said...

Please note, Jonathan, I don't hate lesbians, and a careful reading of my review will show that I never implied such a belief. Rather, I addressed the widespread approval of the homosexual lifestyle in children's literature, and voiced my disagreement with that worldview; not an arbitrary disagreement, but one based on the position that God's word takes on the controversy.

Jay said...

I'm curious to know if you would have felt this way had the author nonchalantly included characters who participated in other biblical abominations. These are clichéd references, but what would your response have been to a family eating shellfish (Leviticus 11:10-12)? Or wearing poly-cotton blends (Deuteronomy 22:11, Leviticus 19:19)? Would those have struck a chord? How about a Muslim family? Or a Jewish one? Or parents who were divorced? You sound smart, insightful, well-read, and committed to thinking for yourself. So I'm curious whether you have ever stopped to ask why, with all the differences in this world and all the abominations in the bible, you think homosexuality is the enemy.

Kerry C. said...

See, here's the thing: I don't think *you're* normal. I don't wear glasses, but when I look at the world, I think ideas like yours are an abomination. Which goes to show that these pronouciations are all a bit relative, aren't they?

Helena said...

Wow, I don't agree with you at all. Maybe it's because I live in a community with several same-sex parent couples who are raising their children just fine.
I think you need to get out more.

lkmadigan said...

Hello -

This is your blog and you have a right to your opinion.

This is my comment, respectfully offered: I suggest that you not bother to pick up my newest YA novel, which includes a wide variety of family scenarios ... including a family of two mothers raising an adopted daughter. If your notion of family is rigidly defined, you will not enjoy my perspective.

L.K. Madigan

Anonymous said...

You think I didn't enjoy that little peck on the cheek from Judas jus' a little bit? Come on. I got my tendencies. We all do. Judas a crazy bitch, but I love him. Hell, I love everybody. Gurl pleeeeze spray some Febreze on your hating.



Julianna Baggott said...

Snyder is writing about the real world and there are happy kids being raised by two moms in the real world. I'm Christian and straight and have four kids, and am delighted by Snyder as a writer. And I'm sorry that you find abominations in others. What a sad way to go through life. (And remember the Bible condoned slavery -- you for that too?)

Noël De Vries said...

Thank you for your civility, Jay. But to clarify one thing, I don’t think homosexuality is the enemy. Rather, it’s an enslavement of the enemy, as noted by debbieduncan above.

As far as the Old Testament examples go, they would not have struck such a chord, because they are Old Testament law that is not repeated under the new covenant, although the principle behind the commands that God was emphasizing certainly carries over into the New Testament, and into our lives today: I am Jehovah. Romans 1:25-32 is one example of a pretty straightforward passage; “serving the creature rather than the Creator,” “refusing to have God in their knowledge”... The principle remains and applies. It’s exchanging the truth of God for a lie, whether the family practices homosexuality, worships Allah and Mohamed, or declines to believe that the historical Jesus is God’s Son. Thanks again for your civility.

Catherine Ryan Hyde said...

Actually, God never said anything against gays. Leviticus did. He said homosexuality was an abomination. He also said eating shellfish was an abomination. And that men are forbidden to trim the hair at their temples. If you believe that Leviticus is dictating God's words, then why aren't you against sideburns and shrimp? I really don't see any justification foe picking and choosing among God's words. You either believe it because it's in the Bible or you don't.

Have you stopped to think that maybe he felt that way because the world desperately needed to be more populated in Biblical times?

In closing, I'd like to sat that God is love. And that your review did not feel loving. If we are all entitled to our opinions, that's mine.

Amy said...

I'm not sure I fully understand your problem with the book, other than you prefer that same sex couples not be depicted in children's literature in a way that seeks to show their lives as is?

I'm a Christian and I used to think as you do, but I've pretty much changed my entire thinking on this subject. The sad truth is a lot of Christian response and belief regarding people who anything other than heterosexual IS hateful. It took me awhile to reconcile the many things I'd been taught with the Bible and a whole other way of thinking. I've come to the conclusion that homosexual sex is a cultural sin and not an absolute sin. And I think that's changing in that our culture is affirming same sex relationships more and more.
I know I probably won't change your mind, but please know that there are Christians--people who love God, take His word very seriously and seek to understand its complexity that affirm same-sex relationships. This body of Christ is diverse in practice and belief. And I do think increased exposure to people who are different is one of the things we so desperately need.

Anonymous said...

When the world realizes that the Bible was written by man and not by God, perhaps we will finally have peace, tolerance and acceptance.

david elzey said...

as we all seem to be entitled to our opinions, i offer mine:

please, do not write for children or young adults. there's already enough intolerance in the world hiding behind the skirts of moral and religious indignation.

Jonathan said...

My dictionary defines "abomination" as "a thing that causes disgust or hatred." That's why I concluded that you hated Lesbians. You think your God hates them.

Jay said...

Thanks for clarifying and thank you for answering - they were genuine questions.

If all three exchange the truth of your God for a lie, would a nonchalant reference to a Muslim or Jewish family have then garnered the same response? How about the same fear? Do you believe that the public visibility of these widely practiced faiths also teaches children that Christian beliefs are hateful and silly?

LaurieA-B said...

Sherry wrote, "It used to be confined to YA fiction, but it's seeping down into the middle grade ficton and soon it will become mandatory for picture books."

As the mother of a young child and a school librarian, I certainly hope this is true. It will mean some children will get to see families like theirs depicted in books, while other children will learn about families different from theirs. Both good.

Minsfero said...

It's always sad to see a young person expressing such a bigoted, hateful and narrow view, but we have to remember that she is likely just parroting what she hears the adults around her saying.

Most of the teens I talk to are broadminded, thoughtful, loving people who are comfortable with differences. They give me hope for the future, and hope for impressionable kids like Noel.

My message for Noel is this: it gets better.

Noël De Vries said...

In children’s literature of the past five years, there have not been a large number of nonchalant references to Muslim or Jewish families, just as nonchalant references to homosexuality have only recently begun to crop up, in novels like Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor and Keeper by Kathi Appelt. The concern in my response is for the growing trend of repeated, positive exposure to these groups in children’s books, and yes, sweetly-portrayed Muslim families would garner the same response from me because such work would also train children to dismiss Christian objections to Islam as silly and hateful. Both homosexuals and Muslims are publicly visible groups, as you said, who openly deny the Christian God and his word by the way they live. Jewish families, at least, acknowledge the God of the Bible for who he is.

But my concern is the “writing in” of publicly visible “diverse” characters, when it is done, not because the characters are necessary to the story, but because an author likes “to think that children’s books are a wonderful way to begin the process of educating people….” If I, as a Christian, were to do such a thing in my fiction, I would certainly hear a lot of pleading like david elzey’s above. But, I imagine, rather more in the spirit of my other friendly visitors than your own civil remarks.

Anonymous said...

It gets worse! Now you object to other religions as well. I'm sorry that your life view is so narrow and I hope that will come to understand that what children need to read in books, beyond great stories, is depictions of life as it is, reflections of themselves and of the world around them. I have a child with a disability and if it wasn't for the hard work of people who came before me that believe that it's ok to be different he would still be labelled in the hateful ways you choose for these characters.

Charlotte said...


I am appalled by your words.

I'm working hard on "training" my own children not to demonize others who might not have the same beliefs. There's one exception--I'm doing my best to teach them to condemn people who are so blinded by religious fundamentalism that they think anyone who doesn't share their beliefs should be portrayed with horns and a pointed tail.

Roger Sutton said...

The trouble is that you have moved from an arguable premise (the Bible says homosexuality is an abomination) to a solipsism that is completely untenable. If I took every book that celebrated or approved of something that I don't as an attack on me there would be little to read beyond my own diary. Like all homosexuals, I am bombarded by people celebrating their heterosexuality everywhere I turn, but I don't think they're doing it to spite me. ;-)

Jay said...

The complications with any statistic notwithstanding, there are around 1.5 billion practicing Muslims in the world, the overwhelming majority of whom do not share violent or radical beliefs. And there are over 2 billion Christians, the overwhelming majority of whom also practice peaceful, personal faith. There are Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, Jews, and an infinite number of individuals practicing interpretations of faith that remind them to be compassionate, to forgive, and to respect one another. This incredible constellation of difference has existed as long as faith itself due in no small part to the inherently personal quality of faith. Faith is not, by definition, competitive. Faith is personal. No two people who are even of the same religious identity share the same relationship with God, and those relationships have no bearing on one another. That a Christian God exists would mean that whether a Muslim believes in him or not, he has a relationship with him. That relationship is no one's to judge. Every perspective, every belief, is valid. Every person has a right to explore his or her own beliefs. Every child has a right to know that there are differences and to live in a world where the difference itself is valued because faith is not meaningful without questions. Faith that has never been challenged is easy. If we want our children to grow up with a strong sense of faith, we have to let them see every definition of what that means and choose what it will be for them.

What the author has done here is depict a world where that is possible. Where no judgment was made and no political agenda was focal. Many lesbian couples and families do live satisfying and joyful lives. This may not be possible from within may faiths, and your particular interpretation may be one of them, but it is undeniably the world that we live in. And that world is ok. It is a world where we can agree to disagree but compassionately respect one another's right to do so. That world has taken a long time to build and has a long way to go (as evidenced in many of these posts). But there is no need to fear that your religion will be construed as silly and hateful simply because a different perspective exists. If that were true it would have happened a very long time ago. And if you're scared of how your religion is depicted, then depict it differently. Depict your faith as thoughtful and compassionate by practicing thoughtfulness and compassion. Ask questions about that world. Try to understand it, especially when you don't agree. When we focus on others, when we read the Bible for where they do wrong and not how we can do right, we move ourselves further away from our God, not closer.

So I guess the questions are these: what it is about your interpretation of Christianity, your faith, and your relationship with God that could be threatened by someone else's? If your concern is about the consequences of public opinion, how do you explain the rising numbers of Muslims despite a far more pervasive and arguably misguided depiction of Islam? And what is so wrong with plainly, simply showing children the world they live in and letting them form their own beliefs?

Lindsey Roth Culli said...

Question: Where can I get a pair of "Biblical glasses?"

In all seriousness, if you want to read about Christian characters doing Christian things, there is a whole arm of publishing for you (start with Zondervan). If you read "secular" works, then you're going to get secular characters who may or may not view the world through your special glasses.

Anonymous said...

you keep thanking people for their civility while spouting the most hateful ignorance. The devil quotes scripture. I hope one of your children or grandchildren comes out to you one day.

marie e. said...

Let's just let the Word of God speak: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." It doesn't get any plainer than that. In which case, I would certainly not want my children to read such books that sway them into thinking that this sin is acceptable.

Here is another verse for you to ponder: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
You all have admonished Noel for being a close-minded bigot... however, you haven't been very open to her views. Many of you claim to be Christians, yet you have no tolerance for her TRUE Christian beliefs. Jesus was not tolerant of sin. Yes, we Christians should love the sinner and hate the sin. But we should also help those who are in sin to know the truth("Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." Galations 6:1)

"Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." -Hebrews 13:4

1 Corinthians 3:18-19a says, "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness" We should not be wise in the way the world says we should.

@Noel - "These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you." -Titus 2:15

@Everyone - "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know that Jesus Christ lives in you? - 1 Cor. 13:5

Lisala said...

If you're going to cite Biblical texts in defense of your homophobia, then you need to learn to read the actual Bible, in Koine and in Hebrew.

Because you're wrong, sweetie.

The Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality; it condemns anal sex. In fact, it condemns anal sex only for the Levites, the priests, and doesn't say squat about it for anyone else.

And there's only one possible reference to lesbians in the entire bible--in Romans, and that passage is only in one mss.

Go take a look at this:

You might wanna re-read about David and Jonathan, and their "love that surpasseth the love of women," and Ruth and Naiomi, who actually use the words of the Jewish marriage ceremony to each other.

And for pity's sake, stop wearing clothing of mixed fibers, and stay far away from men during your period.

Anonymous said...

Excellent citations, Marie E. But why stop there?

Exodus 21:7
"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do." I wonder if Noel's father could get a good price for her.

Exodus 35:2
"On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death." Can we assume, Marie E., that you'll be at the head of the death squad that goes marching into stores this Sunday to put to death all who are employed and working?

Leviticus 11: 7-8
"...and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.
Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you." Just who will be providing the soap for all the unclean who've eaten a hot dog or picked up a football?

Are you pondering the "Word of God" Marie E.? It seems to be speaking for itself. Bible says a lot of nutty things. People who pick and choose what to believe in, merely for the sake of convenience and fomenting hate, are more abhorrent than that which they choose to hate.

Howard Sherman said...

Sorry, Lisala, but you're mistaken.

In the Old Testament it is forbidden for ANY man to lie with a man. Period. Full Stop. End of sentence. Regardless of his tribe, a man is forbidden from being with another man.

This isn't a Torah class so I shall go no further.

As to the concept of sex overall I say let kids stay innocent for as long as they can without inculcating carnal knowledge of ANY sort.

I may seem to be spouting "pie in the sky" stuff here but I find a certain pure inspiration in innocence.

Unknown said...

The most intolerant people,I've found are those that scream for tolerance.
True tolerance is accepting that ALL people ,including Christians, have a right to their beliefs.

Sue Ford said...

Wow! Why is it okay for those commenting to bash this gal about her beliefs about homosexuality? Is that any better than bashing homosexuals?

I'm guessing what she's referring to in her Biblical world view is this verse:
Romans 1:27
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Was she right in saying this book attacked Christians? I don't know. I haven't read the book and I wonder how many commentors have.

I know and like people who are gay, and don't intend to bash them or anyone else. But I do have this question: if it is totally normal, then why do we see statistics such as these from the Center for Disease Control? "While CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4 percent of the US male population 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the United States is more than 44 times that of other men..." Yikes, that's risky behavior that I don't want children emulating. There are other risky sex practices I don't want kids emulating either. ;-)

Somehow in our society it seems its okay to bash Jews and Christians for their beliefs, but that's pretty intolerant, too.

Anonymous said...

"The concern in my response is for the growing trend of repeated, positive exposure to these groups in children’s books, and yes, sweetly-portrayed Muslim families would garner the same response from me because such work would also train children to dismiss Christian objections to Islam as silly and hateful. Both homosexuals and Muslims are publicly visible groups, as you said, who openly deny the Christian God and his word by the way they live."

Your concern is positive exposure and tolerance? Does that truly make sense in a world where God exists? Would He want you to be concerned that people aren't being judgmental enough?

Anonymous said...

Until there is a serious movement and legislation to prevent Christians from getting married, teaching, serving in the military, having a family, you have no idea what intolerance means. Until Christian children are bullied to the point of suicide, you have no idea what intolerance means. Until politicians get power by promising to oppress you, you have no idea what intolerance means.

Lindsey Roth Culli said...

Okay here's the thing. My bible didn't come with any special glasses but I'll tell you what it did come with: approximately 8 references to homosexuality. Know what else? It has 140 mentions of "money." The poor are mentioned 178 times. And love? Well, it's mentioned 350-500 times (depending on the translation and the type).
So let's see where God's focus is.

Further, the OT is rife with all sorts of scandal- of humans CONSTANTLY screwing up (see: Eden, for starters) and somehow it never diminishes God's glory and power and dominion. On the contrary, our weakness only serves to magnify his strength.

So take a second and get off the seat of judgment because it was never meant for you to sit upon. You haven't earned (and frankly, you can't.) There is only ONE who's righteous enough and, interestingly, his righteousness never tipped toward self-righteousness. Ever.

Like I said before: if you want to read "safe" literature that focuses on Christians doing Christian things, there is a whole arm of publishing just waiting for you (with very strict "family safe" standards). In my opinion, you'd be missing out on a whole lot of secular fiction which also points to our God's handiwork, but it's your call.

Just stopping expecting people who are not Christian to act like they are. Further, stop expecting everyone's relationship with and understanding of God to mirror your own.

Noël De Vries said...

After 24 hours of air time, and repeated clarification of my views, this will be my last comment. Let me simply reiterate the main point of my post, in case any of you have lost track:

The fact that Ms. Snyder is such a talented writer is precisely why I reacted so strongly to this particular passage. If I had been reading a didactic Mary Sue story, I would have tossed the book aside without comment. When, however, I read a great novel, and encounter an exchange worded so as to encourage tolerance and acceptance of a certain hot-topic lifestyle which the Bible clearly does not tolerate or accept, and which would logically encourage a dismissal of the Bible’s view on the subject, I speak up. It was the atmosphere created by Snyder’s wording that I objected to.

My comments are not about my opinion. They come straight from the Bible, the only standard of truth and morality that has ever existed. Attack me personally if you like, but I find your words difficult to reconcile with the values you claim to champion. The theme of these comments has been a demand for love and tolerance, yet the malice and intolerance directed toward the expression of my beliefs has been quite forceful.

I’m not dismissing the two-cents of anyone who chooses to comment after I’ve posted my final reply, but neither should you take my silence for submission. I stand by my words, not because they are my own, but because they rest on a foundation that will not change with shifting public opinion. Call it bigoted and vile, call it hateful and silly, I can not and will not do otherwise.


J. L. Bell said...

If your comments “come straight from the Bible,” please quote the Biblical passage that would condemn the lesbian couple in Snyder’s book. Thank you.

Sad Sad Sad said...

@Sue Ford - No, no, and no. It is not required to tolerate the intolerance of others. Being tolerant doesn't mean you accept the intolerance of others. This is a common argument, and it's terrible. "Bashing" someone for being intolerant of homosexuals is NOTHING LIKE bashing homosexuals. Would you say that black people should "tolerate" racists? When the dominant idea was that they should be denied countless rights, should they have simply accepted this in the name of tolerating the intolerant?

You don't get to ask for tolerance for your desire to hold other people down, sorry.

Sarita said...

Wow. I just never can understand this line of thinking. Surrounded by bursting love in this house -- my new grandbaby is chosen by his two moms in a way many children aren't (as was his big brother). No hint of a mistake: a deeply wanted and planned for child -- not to mention $$ and time and energy spent -- not to mention the slings and arrows of people like this who think THEIR brand of love is somehow superior. As if Jesus ranks love, sorts it like the Hogwarts' hat, into 'normal love' and 'abnormal, abominating love'. Just an observation here: children/youth books who include gay/lesbian families DO NOT DESCRIBE THE SEXUAL PART OF THE RELATIONSHIP -- only the fact that they love each other. Similar to the way opposite gender couples' sexual acts are NOT described to young children. Children actually have no problem grasping the idea that people who love each other can raise children together. My daughter and her WIFE are raising compassionate, creative, bright, active, fun-loving boys, and I am extremely proud of them.

Collin Kelley said...

And people wonder why children bully other children for their sexuality -- real or perceived. It's hateful, intolerant, bigoted language from adults like this that instills fear and makes it okay.

Two women raising a child in no way infringes on your beliefs, Christian or otherwise. Children should learn from an early age that there all types of people, relationships, religions and beliefs so that they have a wider picture of the world they live in. There's no assault and molding of children -- that's typical right wing rhetoric and fearmongering.

Your intolerance is shameful. Not to mention un-Christian.

Sonia said...

I was directed here from another blog and came prepared to say a lot of things. Then I clicked through the rest of your site and noticed how you felt about Twilight— It's interesting that you don't mention, and therefore don't seem to have a big problem with, all of the sex in those novels or the fact that Bella is so pathetic that she can't live without Edward, yet you believe that the loving parents in Penny Dreadful who happen to be homosexuals are a source of outrage.

I wonder what your thoughts are on Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I am with Sonia. I am wondering what your beliefs are around magic and the inclusion of such in children's books? Seems like there are some Biblical teaching about that too...

You sound young, dear. Guard your tongue and grow into wisdom before you take a soapbox.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Wow. Your review left me quite sad. I'm sorry you feel the need to judge others.

Brent Taylor said...

I feel so sorry for you--you're one of the most hateful, judgmenental, ignorant bloggers I've ever encountered.

Jen Bigheart said...

"Everything was going swimmingly toward a canonization of Snyder in my favorite authors of the 21st century, when Bam! She hit me on the head with a little boy named Twent, his long-haired, pregnant mother Willa, and his other mother, Jenny."

Huh? Now things aren't going so well? My review of this review: sad.

Anonymous said...

I can't even be angry reading this. I'm too busy pitying you. I have to agree with Brent - hateful, judgmental, and ignorant.

Charlotte said...

"...sweetly-portrayed Muslim families would garner the same response from me because such work would also train children to dismiss Christian objections to Islam as silly and hateful"

It was this part of your opinion that really upset me, and that you don't address in your final comment.

What would you do if you had a kid one day who wanted to make friends with a child from a different religion? Would you say no, to shield your kid from the pernicious influence (sarcasm) of seeing that people of other religions can, in fact, have happy and peaceful lives?

Anonymous said...

The places where the Bible quotes come from about homosexuality being an abomination also say that reading horoscopes or "following the stars" is an equal abomination. So I guess all your horoscope-reading followers should get ready to be equally condemned!
The point is, not hating people cannot ever be considered a sin. Can you honestly say that your children will never run into happy gay people, so they shouldn't be portrayed? That, perhaps, all gay people are evil with slavering fangs? I can tell you that my gay friends are filled with all kinds of light. They are neither more or less sinful than anyone else on the planet.
-From a Christian reader

Arianna said...

I think you are disgusting.

It's really sad that you think this. People with views like this pollute our world, not lesbians or gays.

Eric M. Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric M. Edwards said...

Your review goes a long way to show the paucity of your world view; a vista in this case severely circumscribed by your religious bias and eclisped by the limitations inherent in what are a collection of stone age superstitions handed down by a bunch of nomadic, desert dwelling shepherds. It's not surprising, when put in context, but it is sad.

Like slavery, like segregation, like aparthied - acceptance of homophobia will one day be a shameful thing, no longer part of the accepted social norm. It will be the sort of regressive social trait generally only practiced by the sort of people who still creep off to some secret forest clearing to wear hoods, display confederate flags, and burn crosses.

Homosexuality is an established aspect of biology - not just for humans but well documented across numerous species. Next, you'll be telling us that teaching science, which of course includes evolutionary biology, to children is an abomination. But I know you wouldn't say that, not here in the Western World of the 21st century, how silly of me.

As for saying that a gentle acceptance of a two-wife, lesbian family is teaching young people that Christian beliefs, which we should clarify here that not all Christians feel this way, so let us say a certain percentage of a certain type of literal minded religious followers of a number of Christian sects' beliefs - are silly and hateful, especially when followed up by some of the gosh-oh-my vitriol you display in your replies to many less than positive comments, well, Q.E.D.

Thank you for clearing that up for us.

Time, will not be kind to your beliefs; but you can take consolation in the belief which promises you that your reward for long suffering will be forthcoming in your magical afterlife. Again, no one would mind this if it didn't make you a bigoted, blinkered, zealot during the period we're forced to spend with you and your fellow members, here on Earth.

In conclusion and in the spirit of *not* keeping fear alive: I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Torquemada.

Best wishes,


Justin Evans said...

"My comments are not about my opinion. They come straight from the Bible, the only standard of truth and morality that has ever existed."

The only standard? Here is a short list off the top of my head. Maybe as a writer, you might want to look around just a bit more.

The fact is that it may be YOUR only standard, but that does not make it everyone's standard.



Bhagavad gita

Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals

Critique of Practical Reason

Fear & Trembling

April (BooksandWine) said...

If people like you were the only ones who could get into heaven, the sanctimonious, then well, as the great Billy Joel once said, 'I'd rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun.'

Also, I'm pretty sure the Bible isn't the 'only' form of truth, seeing as how the truth is highly subjective.

As Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Rebecca said...

Wow. I don't agree with you at all.

I don't even really know what to say...

Just wow...

Jackie Dolamore said...

I have some very devout Christian friends that I love dearly, even though we might disagree about a lot of things. Mostly, we don't talk about those things, but when they come up, it is understood that while they might think homosexuality is wrong, they also understand that not everyone does. Their faith is not threatened by the fact that my faith is different. I love them because even though I don't agree with their belief, I respect it, and vice versa. What a world it would be if everyone could feel this way!

My books reflect the world around me. I only have one book published so I can't say there is a HUGE amount of diversity there, but I know wonderful people who are gay, I know wonderful people who are devoutly religious. I know lots of different people in life, so when I write, if I didn't reflect that, it wouldn't feel real to me. I don't think all writers who include gay characters are trying to push a pet agenda, many of us are just reflecting the world we live in, just as if I write about a devoutly religious character I'm not pushing a religion because I don't belong to one, I am reflecting my world which includes many wonderful devoutly religious people.

Also, when reading books, I come across things I don't really agree with all the time. If it really bothers you, you can stop reading the book. And even for a child...if you believe homosexuality is wrong, and you raise your child to believe that too, well, your child is probably going to encounter some happy, committed homosexual couples in real life. If you're so threatened that children are going to go against the beliefs they were raised with, then they must not have been very strong to begin with. My new age-y mom believed a lot of unconventional things and I still believe a lot of them to this day, despite the fact that they aren't conventional, and some of them I no longer agree with, because I grew up and have my own mind. That's just kind of how it goes. Parents can always choose to discuss these things they disagree with with their children if they're concerned.

Kaethe said...

yes, sweetly-portrayed Muslim families would garner the same response from me because such work would also train children to dismiss Christian objections to Islam as silly and hateful. Both homosexuals and Muslims are publicly visible groups, as you said, who openly deny the Christian God and his word by the way they live. Jewish families, at least, acknowledge the God of the Bible for who he is.

Christians who object to Islam are silly and hateful. Because Muslims worship the same God. Just as Christians use the Old Testament and add to it teachings of Jesus, Muslims added the teachings of Mohammad on. But it is all the same God (Allah is "the God" in Arabic). Who, I hope, will forgive you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that people in this comments are being so mean :(

Anonymous said...

It's not mean to point out her hateful behaviour and to call her on this when she tries to hide behind the shield of her religion, as an excuse for hating and fearing homosexuals and muslims.

A great number of Christians are not this way, nor so narrow minded. It is the duty of those of us with faith as well as those without, to speak up and not to let such hate and blind ignorance go unchallenged.

She's a young girl, so there is hope, but mostly people I think feel pity for her.

I do. She and people who feel this way tarnish the good name of all Christians. And for that matter, all people, be they Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or Jews, gay or straight.

What a sad young woman.

Anonymous said...

"What a sad young woman."

"I think you are disgusting."

"You're one of the most hateful, judgmenental, ignorant bloggers I have ever encountered."

"Your intolerance is shameful."

"You have no idea what intolerance means"

"I'm sorry your life view is so narrow"

"Always sad to see a young person expressing such a bigoted, hateful, and narrow view."

"Just felt good to tell you what I think of your small-mindedness."

Having worked for internet safety campaigns I know kids who have nearly committed suicide over opinions and trolling tamer than this. Please remember to be kind, no matter the circumstances. She may be 17 but you are adults.

Anonymous said...

Yes, children ARE vulnerable:

"Fifth Gay Teen Suicide in Three Weeks Sparks Debate
As Mourners Were Honoring Tyler Clementi, News Came of a Fifth Suicide"

"Gay Bullying and Suicides Hit Black Community
MONDAY, 01 NOVEMBER 2010 06:55

By Cyril Josh Barker, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –"

"The Surge in Gay Teen Suicide

By Michelle Burford Oct 12th 2010 5:00PM

The recent spate of gay teen suicides has captured the attention of the entire nation and forced parents and schools to confront the issue of anti-gay bullying and the vulnerability of gay adolescents."

"U.S. gay community reeling from 'epidemic' of suicides among teenagers taunted over sexuality
Last updated at 5:25 PM on 1st October 20"

"Schools Battle Suicide Surge, Anti-Gay Bullying
Posted by Neil Katz 54 comments"

Which is why people need to take a stand against bullies - even if they're only 17.

Let's not even look at the depressing statistics for violence against Muslims. Iraq anyone?

Justin said...

There seem to be quite a few people that think that one has to hate another to disagree with them or their lifestyle. I don't hate homosexual people. Not one of them.

However, I do not agree with that lifestyle, as a Christian, and do not want it being taught as "okay"... smuggled into children's books, or into the schools. Some things simply need to be left to the parents to teach.

When homosexuals want to force someone or a group of people to give their blessing on that behavior, and then call them hateful when they do not, it is dishonest.

I don't hate gays. I do get angry when the issue is pushed on me, however, and for that I cannot apologize. And for people in this yelling match to confuse the difference here is disrespectful, dishonest, and cheap.

LJ said...

Reading the comments, I think I've found the truly hateful people. The funny thing is that I imagine that Noel is a very sweet and kind lady who would befriend anyone. But you folks are busy spitting bile in her face.

I'm assuming there is some site or group out there directing people to say mean things to Noel in response to her "intolerant" blog. I wonder if you think you advance your cause by being so hateful and cruel toward someone who has simply put forth their sincerely held belief. The mere fact that she wrote this in a public sphere (a blog) does not grant the moral high ground to spew such venom at her.

You've really proven how the gay community is tolerant and loving through your actions here. Kudos. *slow clap*

Noel, if you see this, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 is all I have to say to you.

Collin Kelley said...

Homosexuality is not a "lifestyle." Is being straight a lifestyle? No, it's who you are.

Noel decided to write the bigoted, homophobic comments on her blog, so she must face the consequences. She is free to say whatever she like, no matter how stupid and hateful, but she should also be prepared for dissent.

As I said before, with the rash of suicides and bullying of LGBT teens, Noel's comments only add fuel to the fire that LGBT people are somehow lesser human beings. Those defending her should be ashamed of themselves, too.

Renske V said...

Noël also wrote about the a 'homosexual lifestyle' and now Jo Jo as well. It makes me really curious. What is that? Flossing really well? Reading Russian literature? Watching House m.d.?
I guess there is also a heterosexual lifestyle? So, what kind of style of life is that? I guess there are heterosexual people that own guns, protest at abortionclinics, ly about homosexuals 'forcing people to give their blessing on that behaviour'. Those are people that don't practice my lifestyle, yet I would call myself a heterosexual person as well (I won't mention my occasional glances at really really beautiful breasts or asses owned by women). So, what is the heterosexual lifestyle, because if there is one certain lifestyle there should always be a counter-lifestyle, in my view. Or is it just the sex that makes the lifestyle? And let's just disregard the love and understanding that are most important in a relationship, certainly when raising children. Because, you know, love, is only mentioned 400 times in the bible. Ja, let's just disregard the love, and focus on the bad, bad 'lifestyle' they lead. Bad.
Because no matter how much love and respect they'll teach their children (and homosexuals are often quite conscious with having children since, you know, it's hard to 'suddenly' have a child together as them heterosexuals so often do), the just knowing that, at night, in bed, they might, you know, do something, is just really worth mentioning that we should protect our children from.

And Jo Jo, what is being pushed in your face? The 'homosexual lifestyle'? Gay marriage? Same sex people walking hand in hand? Or are you also referring the book? That the fact that there are two mums in one family, is pushed in your face?
You know, my neighbours play their music really loud. It's annoying to me. Sometimes, when they play their music at night, I even climb out of my bed, walk outside and ask them (well, actually I demand it) to stop it. But if I had to read about it, in a book, I would be okay with it. At least in fiction the music isn't so loud. It's not my lifestyle, such loud music, but it's a way of life that exists, and if I had children I might exclaim while reading to them “O my! I hate loud music! At night, that is!”. And then when they grow up, or maybe even immediately, they might decide if they would lead my quiet lifestyle or their loud one (I guess I already know what they choose). But in a book it does no harm. I can tell you that homosexual couples an sich do no harm either, but in a book even less! Just a bunch of harmless yet loving homosexuals!

And please don't mix up love, respect and tolerance with propaganda. They are different worlds.
Of course there is propaganda in America. For instance what some tea-partiers are trying to do: trying to mix church and state. Or trying to force creationismology into the schools. Or to sum it up in one word: Fox.

People don't choose their sexual preferences, but people do choose how to live: with love and respect, or without. And we should be careful forcing our prejudices on our children.

Renske V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"If Jesus came back and saw all the things that are being done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."--Max Von Sydow's character in Woody Allen's *Hannah and Her Sisters.*

I don't actually agree with this. Jesus has (still) excellent digestion and is totally forgiving of EVERYONE including certainly people who are intolerant and unloving in his name. Dude (i.e. Jesus) does have an awesome sense of humor so he probably enjoyed the movie anyway. Okay, back to being a JOYFUL, fun-having bisexual!!! By the way, I'm so grateful that children, teens and adults will feel self-hate and despair less and less because of writers and artists like the author of Penny Dreadful.

BTW, congratulations on being so accomplished at such a young age, Noell. Enjoy every moment and see where that takes you, my dear. Like the part of the Bible you are particularly fond of (i.e. the Christian Bible) states: "Fear not," and "Rejoice!"

BG in Atlanta said...

"Being a lesbian isn't out of the ordinary, not one bit."

Nor, sadly, is being an intensely puckered hard right wing asshat.

I guess it's all in the balance, because I feel a similar revulsion in the pit of my stomach whenever the bile begins spewing from the faux "christ-like" hate-mongers. Jesus 2010 would so be hanging at burning man, covered in tats and slinging barbs at the self-righteous.

But he's not around just at the moment, so he sent me to tell you.

l said...

Thank you for standing up for your beliefs, Noel. I think it's great seeing a young Christian girl posting what she believes and not backing down from it.
(PS--I'm with you 100 percent)

Anonymous said...

Like Heather, I agree with you 100 percent Noel! The Bible is the true word of God. It's really sad to see so many "proclaiming" Christians saying homosexuality is alright when God's view of the matter is so crystal clear.

Keep your head up and keep standing strong for Christ, sister!