Stories that Matter

Objectivity

Disclaimer – the thoughts expressed below are simply mine. Agree or disagree. And there are no spoilers here, incase you have not read the book.

It’s one of those big words that you cannot walk away from. Objectivity. To be objective. To think for oneself. To read or view something without prejudice, to form one’s own opinion on the matter.

I’m not terribly good at being objective. I don’t like to be the voice in the wilderness. I enjoy fitting in. Agreeing with people. Life’s so much easier that way, right? But I try to be objective. Try to draw my own conclusions despite knowing what others think. But sometimes I find it difficult to be objective when I’m reading something that has sparked a movement. Something that I know so many people across the globe are resonating with.

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This book, for example.

I hadn’t read it. Haven’t seen the movie. I knew what it was about and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that road. Because I knew I’d probably like it. And I didn’t want to.

But yesterday, I started the book. And finished it at around 11pm last night. So I’m mulling. As I was reading, I felt my objectivity slipping away. I was all like, yeah, I get this. I see why this is so popular…and I did. The writing is good. There were lines that I read over a few times and truly enjoyed and sort of wished I’d written myself…and then there were parts of the story that I read and just went, Huh.

I’d been told this was a book of hope. I didn’t get that. I’m not going to go all spiritual on you and start spouting Scripture, but…for me…if you’re dying and you have no idea what lies beyond this earthly realm…where is the hope in that? Whether your faith lies in God or a statue or the big oak tree in your backyard…you’ve got to believe in something. There was a gaping hole in the story in that regard. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously. Maybe I’m nitpicking. But the only mentions of God and Jesus were seemingly in jest. And that’s unfortunate.

While I enjoyed the book, I’m not quite sure what it’s purpose is. Other than to make the author an extremely wealthy man. Yes, it was a sad story. Yes, I admit to shedding tears. Yes, it was well written. But. Is it really shedding light on kids with cancer? Helping those families who have no idea if their child will live to see their next birthday? Or has the world already stomped over that grim reality in lieu of the Hollywood version of two star-crossed lovers who look good on the big screen?

Part of me thinks that sadly, this is exactly what has happened. There seems to be a sort of cult movement involved here, and I don’t like that. On the other hand, the fact that I’m sitting here this morning pondering these things, is perhaps the point Green intended to make. Any author worth their due wants to make their reader think. Feel. Reach beyond the known and dare to ask what comes next. If he did that, then good. I’m glad.

But I think, being married to a pediatrician, having seen children with cancer, knowing the sufferings and the agony and the finality of some of those situations…I’m wary. I don’t like the hype. The glamour. The fame and fortune being made off of the portrayal of a disease that takes lives too soon. I don’t know John Green personally. From what I’ve heard, he’s doing some good in the world with the money he makes. Yet, still…and I can’t put my finger on it exactly…something just doesn’t sit right with me.

I have to conclude that there is a fault in The Fault in Our Stars. Something is lacking here.

I’m afraid I am the voice in the wilderness this morning.

And I’m okay with that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read the novel or seen the movie. Am I missing something here? 

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12 Comments

  1. Nancy Brandt on June 28, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I have been aware of this book for a very long time due to having a Tumblr and, as my 24 year old daughter says, I’m a “16-year-old fangirl.” I haven’t wanted to read it for exactly the reasons you cite. This book seems to haunt me because everywhere I go I see it and now that it’s a movie, it’s even more in my face. I’ve seen the reaction of teens who are obsessed and that turned me off more. I’ve watched John Green on YouTube and there is something that bothers me a bit. Possibly it’s his liberal leanings but that’s another reason I didn’t want to read it. I was glad to read your post and see that maybe this isn’t a book that just sweeps everyone up and everyone loves it. Thank you.

    • Cathy West on June 28, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Nancy, I get that. I put off reading for that reason. I’m glad I read it. I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I’m not jumping on the John Green bandwagon. At first, I was all set to. I was getting sucked in. But now…no.

  2. Elaine Stock on June 28, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Cathy, I haven’t read this book, nor seen the movie, and do not plan to. I do not see the point of immersing myself in such a sad reality of children dying of a dreaded disease. When read your opinion just now, you’ve nailed it for me: I didn’t understand why I wasn’t quite reaching for the book from the “buy me” shelves in the stores–that it is a story without the hope of God’s love and mercy. I’m okay with darker topics, but need/want a thread of hope.

    • Cathy West on June 28, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Elaine, I know. And maybe others find their own hope somehow in this story. It certainly has plenty of reviews to back up that assumption. While I fully understand this to be a secular novel, knowing the author’s background, I was somewhat disappointed in the lack of a faith element. And there were things in the book that in my opinion were unnecessary, especially when one has the power to influence hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people struggling to make their way in the world. My kids are now adults, but if this book had come out when my daughter was still in school, depending on her age I might not have wanted her to read it. Or we would have at least had some serious discussions about it if she did. I hope that’s happening with the parents and kids who read this book. But…in most cases, I have to doubt it.

  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on June 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Objectivity is a chimera that leads us into impossible contradictions as we pursue it.

    We can only form opinions based on what we know, and how we interpret that knowledge. There’s a limit to our understanding, and to say that a position we take is anything but subjective doesn’t stand up under the most basic scrutiny.

    For what it’s worth, it’s not limited to ‘us’; Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which has a mathematical proof, states that we can know with absolute certainty an object’s position or its velocity, but never both.

    All we can really do is our best, with the hearts of compassion given us through faith and experience.

    • Cathy West on June 28, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      🙂 Whatever you just said…I agree. I think. Objectively speaking… 😉

      • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on June 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

        There ya go!

        It’s getting a bit tough for me to follow and comment on blogs these days…lost a bit of ground physically.

        I enjoy this one, and will be here when I can. You’re a blessing.

  4. Cathy West on June 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Ditto, dude. Praying. Rest and enjoy those around you. God is in the midst, even when you’re losing ground. He gives us something to hold fast to. And that, I think, is what I wish this book had said.

  5. Pamela Meyers on June 29, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for this, Cathy. I’d picked up on enough of the talk and movie trailer to know what this book is about and even the title have a hint. As though the reason for our suffering and trials is because the stars just happened to be aligned wrong for us. Well, as I always say to someone when they ask what my astrological sign is or want to know what my horoscope is for the day. I believe in God who made the stars and I believe He has all of my life in His hands.
    Maybe I’ll catch the movie when it’s on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Probably won’t be there for a long, long time though.

    • Cathy West on June 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks Pam! Yeah, wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but oh well. 🙂

  6. Shelli Littleton on July 1, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Cathy, thank you! I’ve seen teens lined up to see this movie. I have two teen girls … and the Spirit in my heart said, “Stay away.” I’ve picked it up twice in bookstores … but never bought it. I love what you said … my daughter is a cancer survivor. She had a Wilm’s tumor at 13 months old … chemo, the works. Without hope, we would have fallen apart.

  7. Jennifer Zarifeh Major on July 1, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I refuse to read it or see it. A child dies. Children are dying. For ME there’s enough of that in the world already, I don’t need that in my face. (Says the flaming hypocrite who does in 3 in her book. But…)

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