Literarily Appalling

On Monday as I drove from Minneapolis to Cloquet for work, I passed a billboard for a Chippendale performance at one of the casinos.  I will not apologize for the fact that I do not support performances such as this.  Why does a pastor’s wife know what a Chippendale performance consists of?  It is not because I have attended one; it is because I do not live under a rock.  I was young once, and I had friends and relatives who flocked to these performances.  It is not something that I ever thought would be a good time, so I never went.  As I have aged (I cannot believe that I just wrote that), I have become more and more against these types of things.

I enjoy being married, and I even enjoy the physical side of that relationship.  I can say that; it is ok … in fact, it is good for me to say that.  Even the Bible says I should.  Click here to hear an entire sermon series from my huz about why.  But – it is because I hold the sanctity of marriage so high that I oppose performances like the one mentioned above.

I suppose that I could go on and on about this, but that is actually not the entire point of today’s post.  It may be hard to believe, but the teacher in me is actually more opposed to what else was on the billboard than the wife, woman, and pastor’s wife in me is.

The billboard also advertised an after party hosted by a DJ by the name of Hesta Prynn.


For those readers who skipped their high school English classes (or went to a school that did not assign it – shame on them [myself included as I taught at a seat-based school that did not permit me to assign it!]), Hester Prynne is the main character of my favorite American literature classic – The Scarlet Letter.  While many find this book tedious (it was written in 1850 but about Puritan life in the seventeenth century), I find it so full of hope.  The main character is a woman who bears a child out of wedlock.  Because she will not name the father, the Puritan leaders force her to wear a scarlet letter “A” so that all would know of her crime.

Spoiler alert: it turns out that the father of the child is the town’s minister who physically punishes himself daily for his unrevealed crime.

Hester, on the other hand, prospers in her life of one who has her sins revealed.  Although her life is one of humiliation, she lives in spiritual and emotional freedom because all know her sins.  While Dimmesdale, the minister, has to hide his crimes from the community, Hester is able to move beyond her “crime” and thrive.

I am pretty sure that dj Hesta is a smart cookie and knows exactly whose name she has taken as her own.  In fact, I applaud her knowledge – at least she knows what she is doing unlike many who drove past that billboard and had no idea who Hester Prynne is.

What makes me so upset is that it perverts what Nathanial Hawthorne intended in his book.  He did not intend for sexual promiscuity to become the norm; instead, he wanted to point out that Christianity had lost sight of what Christ had come to do on the cross – to set us free from our sins that, once confessed, are forgiven so that we can live free from guilt.

When someone combines a literarily strong name such as Hester Prynne – which should be one that invokes images of grace and freedom – with flagrantly inappropriate sexuality, it makes me sick. I find it personally and professionally appalling.  I am sure that there are those who read this who will disagree with me, but I will not apologize for this.

I am ok with readers disagreeing with me; it happens all the time.

As a Christ follower and a lover of literature, I find this disgusting.

No apologies.


Filed under Education, faith

12 responses to “Literarily Appalling

  1. Bex

    While I agree with your opinions on the Chippendales and marriage, I must protest on your thought regarding “those readers who skipped their high school English classes”. I never skipped my high school english classes and, in fact, was in an “advanced” class. I have never read The Scarlet Letter (although I know of the book and the “jist” of it) as it was not part of our curriculum.
    Had I seen the sign that you saw, I would have had no idea who Hester Prynn is. My guess is that there are lots of folks in the same boat as I am and while we may not know of Hester Prynn, I’m sure we’d like to think that we do know at least a little bit about more important stuff than classic literature.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading your daily blog posts and think you do a great job. Keep up the good work 🙂


    • Becky – I am so sorry! And shame on your high school English department!!!

      The sad part is that I believe you. In fact…I used to teach at a school that did not let their students read the book nor allowed me to teach it. And that is a really, really bad thing! The book is pretty important for so many reasons. I am going to alter my statement to reflect the very fact that some readers may not have had the CHANCE to read it because it was not assigned. Believe me, few would pick up the book on their own Until you said something, I had completely forgotten this!

      Funny thing is that we can’t even fully appreciate some episodes of “The Simpsons” if we haven’t read “The Scarlet Letter” or “The Raven.”

      Thanks for being bold!


  2. josiah

    I wondered why we never read that book. I’ve seen a lot of references made to it in pop culture, but just assumed it wasn’t an important enough book for us to read. I’ve never given it much of a second chance. I can however thank you for introducing us to the Odyssey.


  3. Music/songs fall along the same line for me as well.


  4. Tracy Q

    As an admin for the Wolf Creek Online High School I woulld like to note that our students do read the Scarlet Letter and also drive by the billboard quite often based on the location of the billboard


    • TQ – you are so right! I completely appreciated the amount of freedom I was given at Wolf Creek with curriculum development. Wolf Creek was not the school I was referring to…I will change that in the content so that there is not another misunderstanding! Thank you for pointing that out 🙂


  5. Tracy Q

    Thanks-for the clarification


  6. kmwalther

    Amen! Classic literature is being sidelined in many schools in favour (yes, that is a correct spelling of the word) of what I see as the “Oprah list” of books because it may resonate better with students. However, many of the themes in these popular books can be traced to the classics, and my fav, Shakespeare.


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