George Bowers Sr. Some books can kill you

George Bowers Sr.

Last week, librarians in Denmark learned that three of their books from the 1500s and 1600s could easily kill them. While using x-rays to examine the composition of the inks used, they discovered instead that the covers of these books had very high levels of arsenic.

Best known, perhaps, for its use to poison innocent bachelors by the spinsters in Joseph Kesselring’s play, Arsenic and Old Lace, arsenic can cause numerous maladies from abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, to heart problems, delirium and death.

How it found its way into these book covers is still a mystery although speculation involves its presence to deter damage by mice and insects or to provide an attractive green color. Whatever the reason, it’s potential to cause serious illness and death should not be underestimated. I think it’s safe to say we wouldn’t want our children reading those books, nor should we.

Even less obvious but just as deadly is the possibility of the chemical becoming airborne by mixing with other components and causing similar symptoms for unsuspecting library patrons. Because of their potential to cause multiple problems, the poisonous books have been removed from the shelves and are now stored safely to prevent accidental contact and death.

As I read about this shocking discovery, it reminded me that many publications are toxic to us spiritually even though they may not contain dangerous chemicals. Instead of compounds being absorbed through the skin or breathed in through the lungs, lethal ideas and thoughts waft off the pages into our minds and create poisonous thought patterns. That would be bad enough, but much worse is the fact that our thoughts often lead to actions when we live out what we’ve been thinking.

Unfortunately, these dangers are not only present in written material such as books and magazines, but they become even more powerful when presented through dramas and disseminated as videos, clips, and programs via television, internet, social media, and the big screen. Unsuspecting observers may laugh or cry along with the characters little realizing that they are being infected with worldviews and philosophies that undermine and contradict those of Jesus Christ.

Gifted authors and producers have often helped audiences swallow the poison of sexual sin in movies such as Titanic, for example, by couching it in sympathetic and compassionate settings. Others enable viewers to gulp down dishonesty, theft, bigotry, blasphemy, and even murder with generous doses of humor and situational ethics. Such media, whether written or acted, is highly toxic and has infected our society to epidemic proportions.

Even many video games that may be innocent in and of themselves become deadly as they erode the human conscience’s resistance to bloodshed and hatred. News broadcasts, too, can incrementally poison the mind with cynicism or hopelessness as well as argumentation and antagonism.

Such dangers rarely show up under normal conditions. When examined in the light of God’s word, however, the venom becomes readily apparent, even glowingly obvious, just as the arsenic did under x-ray analysis.

Harmless at first, constant exposure to such toxins leads to symptoms of anger, promiscuity, unkindness, cruelty, and other evil. Eventually, if not treated with the forgiving blood of Jesus, all these sinful behaviors lead to a consequence even worse than the physical death caused by arsenic as they result in eternal spiritual death and separation from God.

As we handle the books, magazines, newspapers, movies, internet, and other media all so freely available to us today, let us beware of the potential for soul poisoning that exists with each one and be sure to examine them in the revealing light of scripture. Let us invite God to cleanse us of whatever dangers have already found their way into our minds and hearts and to purify us from all unrighteousness. Our spiritual vitality depends upon it. Blessings, George

George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 11 books in addition to contributing to Everyday Grace for Men by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.