Sometimes we are spared from our own ignorance.

When I first taught in China I was assigned a class called Selected Reading. To keep me on my toes, there was no textbook and in the pre-internet era I had to find short stories in our small English library and weekly make copies; cutting and taping and learning the difference between what fit on paper that was sized A-4 (bigger) or B-5. It was fun, yes, but also exhausting for this non-English major who doesn’t really enjoy short stories.

(Hey, we can’t all like everything.)

In the spring I decided to choose a Newberry awarding winning book as my “selected reading” and chose The Giver. 


If you just gasped recalling WHERE I was teaching and WHEN I was teaching and WHO I was teaching and WHAT the themes of the book are, you are ahead of the game. Unfortunately I didn’t connect the dots until several weeks into teaching it. I longed to teach something of content that built on itself and lead to deeper conversations, not push buttons. Buttons I didn’t know a hoot about at that time. (Here’s a summary of the book)

Amy, do you think this book is anything like here?

Oh. My. Word.

The memories flooded last week as I watched the recently released movie The Giver based on the book by Lois Lowry. I recommend it (and truthfully cannot figure out why it’s rated PG-13).

The Giver refers to a person whose job it is to keep all of the memories for their community and when the next “Receiver” is chosen, the Giver shares things like color, emotions, even sledding. Ultimately the Receiver uses the memories to help the leaders as they make decisions.

Why would an entire community be wiling choose sameness?

The leader of the community explained, “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

To protect from people choosing wrong,  the community was willing to forgo all that is good and fun and right. It made me appreciate afresh the risk God take by trusting us with choice. And for trust to truly require trust, it must have risk. If you know the outcome, if there is no choice, it’s not trust.

Those students I taught are now in their late 30s and 40s. Much has changed in the ensuing years. I wonder how many of them will see The Giver title in DVD stores or on-line movie places. I wonder if they will remember the English class and reading a book that we probably had no business touching. But when trust is present, all kinds of foolish and naive mistakes of an earnest foreign teacher can be overlooked.

Trust is risky. The Giver gave back to me afresh  last week, and I am grateful.

When have you been spared from your own ignorance? Have you read the Giver? Did you like it?

Here is the preview:

Photo credit ttarasiuk via flickr


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Leave A Comment

  1. Lisa notes August 19, 2014 at 6:23 am - Reply

    I’m glad to hear you recommend the movie. I loved the book, but wanted to hear about the movie before I invested my money and time. ha.

    “Trust is risky.” Definitely. So is love. I’ve been thinking about that lately. But always worth the risks….

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      Amy August 19, 2014 at 10:41 am - Reply

      I enjoyed it! Enough to maybe see again :)

  2. Jen August 19, 2014 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I think the movie rating is related to the “releasing” of the infants and the implied releasing of the elderly.

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      Amy August 19, 2014 at 10:40 am - Reply

      OH!!! That makes sense. Thank you for scratching that itch :)

  3. Amy L. (formerly F.) ^_^ August 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Oh. My. I immediately caught the connection. My dear, Amy. :) I read The Giver with a bunch of middle school girls during summer school two summers ago. I have not seen the movie, but I’m sure I will now. I liked the book (and want to read the sequel) as it made me think/question/appreciate, to try to capture a lot in a few words. Lois Lowry has put out quite a few books.

    Anyway, did someone send you a copy? I know how you’d get copies made in the country you alluded to (what other choice is there, there?), so I’m just curious. :)

    Ah, the stories…

    • Amy Young August 21, 2014 at 6:39 am - Reply

      Amy …. :). Yes, you know how I got copies (probably). If you pictured me standing out at a photo copy little hole in the wall with a pair of scissors and scotch tape as I copied the whole book and then cut the pages and shoved as many words on one page as I could :). I’m not sure how we got the book. Did I bring it? Did one of the summer teachers and they left it? One of life’s great mysteries!!!

      • Amy L. August 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm - Reply

        Ah, sweet memories and mysteries! ^_^

  4. Emily Thomas August 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Your course title “Selected Reading” made me laugh out loud as I remembered my very first course I taught in China called “Audio Visual.” This is all I had to go on and one weekend to throw together an entire semester. No book, no equipment of any kind. And to top it all off- no electricity in the classroom on most days! I myself became both the audio and the visual…sheesh. :)

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      Amy August 21, 2014 at 6:40 am - Reply

      Got to love those nondescript titles!!! Audio Visual with just …. your audio and visual. Love it! Doubt the students ever saw the inconsistency :). Which is good!

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