Sunday, March 04, 2007

Blankets - a post by Joel

I recently spent the weekend at a snow camp with the youth group I am interning with, and on the 3 hour bus ride home, I had nothing to read. The youth pastor I am working for happened to have a graphic novel I had heard about recently from a friend.

Let us keep in mind that I am not known to enjoy graphic novels. I tend to consider them along the same lines as comic books, and that’s not for me. However, I truly enjoyed this “Illustrated Novel”.

Blankets is the author’s story, it is about a kid named Craig who is growing up in a conservative Christian home and is dealing with both his artistic talents and his faith while in a serious long term relationship.

Craig grew up sharing a bed with his brother, and enjoyed very few things in life because while at school he was constantly harassed and beat up, and in the summer he worked on the farm which was only a little better than school. The only true release he had was over Christmas break, which a week of was used by snow camp where the “Christian” kids were just as bad as the kids at school. All the while Craig is constantly being confronted in his last years of high school by his pastor telling him that he should “go into the ministry.”

While at camp in his high school years, Craig met a girl named Raina who he was able to relate to, and appreciated art as much as he did. Over time, after camp, a long distance relationship bloomed. They exchanged letters, and packages to share their affection for each other. One day Craig got a call from Raina during a snow storm telling him that her parents were getting a divorce and she had attempted to drive to his home in Michigan but the snow had stopped her 400 miles away.

The bulk of the story is based around Craig’s two week visit to Raina’s house and their interactions there, both with each other, Raina’s parents, Raina’s older married sister and her child, Raina’s mentally “retarded” sister, and Raina’s brother who has down syndrome. The latter were adopted by Raina’s parents to thank God for blessing them with two beautiful daughters.

This is a story about a Christian dealing with relationships and art and how he deals with not being supported in his passions because the people at church believe that at art school you become a homosexual because they make you draw naked people. It’s not a happy story, it’s filled with different narratives of both the past and the present and in the end you are left with almost nothing.

Overall this is a great read (or look, for that matter), it’s worth the few hours it will take you to go through it. “Blankets” is a provocative look at how the Christian community sees art. However, it is important to keep in mind that this book takes place more than ten years ago and it is uplifting to see how the church in general is embracing art today, however, there is still more to be done.

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