Charlotte’s Web, that children’s story of friendship, respect and devotion, published in 1952 and a favorite of waves of generations of children since then, was banned in 2006 in a school district – on religious grounds. Some parents felt that only humans should have the ability to speak. It was not proper for animals to speak. Did they also ban the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood? What horrible influences, to portray all those animals as being able to talk! Would those stories confuse the children? No, wrong objection. God didn’t make animals to talk, so the stories are an affront to God Almighty.
But, didn’t they forget one little detail? Under those objection, the Bible should also be banned. In the very first book of the Bible (gasp) a serpent speaks. It speaks to Eve, encouraging her to eat the forbidden fruit.
Then, in the second book in the Bible, it goes even further and says that a bush speaks: the Burning Bush spoke to Moses. At least the serpent had a mouth, how does a bush speak? But, this is not really the bush speaking, it is Almighty God speaking through the bush – no mouth necessary.
Did the whale speak to Jonah before swallowing him?
Did the demons who inhabited the swine speak when Christ drove them out?
I don’t know. I can’t think any further. Some people don’t understand the use of allegory, metaphor and parables in conveying spiritual truth which is essentially beyond the physical limitations of our words. When people forget, or ignore that, they can end up in some very strange places.
The banned status of Charlotte’s Web did not last very long. Maybe someone showed them what’s in the Bible.
For those who do not know, or have not read Charlotte’s Web (is there anyone who hasn’t?), written by E.B. White, it was 78th on the best-selling hardcover list of children’s literature, selling more than 45 million copies, translated into twenty-three languages and adapted several times to film, as well as winning many awards along the way.
In fairy tales anything can happen, so why don’t we just call it a fairy tale? But, children understand the truth of it, no matter how it’s labeled.