“A Cover is Not the Book”

 

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How often I have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” over the course of my lifetime. I wish I could say I have always heeded that admonition, but unfortunately that is not true. If we are talking about actual books, the color, the font, the size of the book, the quality and color of the paper impact me, and more beyond cost. But the saying is not really pointing to books so much as the importance of not making judgments based on first impressions.

 

I was reminded of that old saying when I recently went to see the marvelous new movie, “Mary Poppins Returns.  One of the delightful songs is entitled “A Cover is Not the Book.” If you have seen the movie, you may already be humming the jaunty tune. (If you haven’t seen it, don’t miss it.)

 

Tucked inside this delightful scene, the lyrics of the song bring home the point:

 

“He said a 

Cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
Cause under the cover one discovers
That the king may be a crook
Chapter titles are like signs
And if you read between the lines
You’ll find your first impression was mistook
For a cover is nice
But a cover is not the book”

 

book-bindings-book-series-books-1560093I may have been more impacted as I recalled the time spent to determine the cover of the book I published this past July. But even with that I am aware what is inside is what is most important.

 

The lyrics gave me pause as I considered whether or not I have missed some books that are real treasures because of how unappealing the cover was to me.

 

The lyrics challenged me to consider how much I might be prone to judgment of people and things based on “the cover” even though I purpose not to. We would all like to say that “the cover” doesn’t matter, but if we give the matter much thought most of us must admit that influences us.

 

As I read in the Bible I see a great many evidences of it happening there, so perhaps it is endemic to humanity. Israel’s first king, Saul, comes to mind. 1 Samuel 9:2 (ESV) reads this way:

 

“And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”

 

Everything about Saul’s “cover” appears to be very attractive, but as the story unfolds blur-books-close-up-159866and we look into his character and deeds we see there is a lot more to know.

 

When God rejects Saul and Samuel is sent to anoint another king, he goes to the house of Jesse to look over his sons. Many are quite handsome it appears, but they are not God’s choice. When Jesse is asked if he has no other sons, look at his initial description of “the cover” of David in 1 Samuel 16:11 (NIV):

 

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

 

Sounds like he is seen as “just a boy” without much credit to his skill set.

 

Of course when Samuel sees David, the description changes and Samuel noted David was “glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.”  Samuel is describing “the cover” again.

 

daria-nepriakhina-474558-unsplashFew of us can forget how Jacob got tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel. Leah is described as lacking any loveliness and “weak eyes.”

 

It’s little wonder we might struggle with the value of appearance or “the cover” of ourselves or anyone else. Everything that is visible is subject to judgment as though what is visible is an accurate representation of who we truly are.  Women spend a great deal of money and time on potions and lotions to make “the cover” as attractive as possible. We know every seen aspect of us can make a difference: how tall or short, how thin or heavy, skin tones, hair color and style, pitch of our voice, young or old, and so on.

 

There is more than a little chatter among women on this topic, but men are not immune. There is concern about height, musculature, weight, how much hair, young, old, deep voice or higher voice, and so on.

 

Maybe it is time for each of us and all of us to remember once again “a cover is not the book.”  We may miss some pretty amazing people, places, and things (as well as books) and also be guilty of judging others in ways we would never want to be judged.

 

“He said a

Cover is not the book
So open it up and take a look
Cause under the cover one discovers
That the king may be a crook
Chapter titles are like signs
And if you read between the lines
You’ll find your first impression was mistook
For a cover is nice
But a cover is not the book”

 

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39 thoughts on ““A Cover is Not the Book”

  1. Such great insight! I am hoping to see Mary Poppins Returns especially after hearing how many people loved this movie. And you provided a wonderful analogy as we look at first impressions of people al the time. Thank you for teaching us so well.

    1. Thanks, Mary! I think you will find a number of powerful themes in the movie that kids will miss, but are significant. They will show up in another post or two from me over the next week or so. Have a blessed weekend and stay safe in the potential storms.💕

  2. Thank you for reminding us of this. Not “judging a book by its cover” is a great lesson that applies to a lot of things in our lives.
    And thank you for joining The Really Crafty Link Party this week!

    1. I will need to go out and look at yours. I don’t think it showed up in my Inbox. Your website has been trickier to leave responses as well. Many times mine are not accepted….not sure why.😘

      1. Oh, I’m so sorry, Pam. Please comment via email and I’ll post them for you. You and your thought-provoking insights have been deeply missed …

      2. Will do. You mentioned that once before when there were glitches, but sometimes I got interrupted and then forgot to get back to it. Will seek to do better…❤️

  3. I enjoyed this post and agree that we must be mindful of our inclinations to be judgmental. However, I’m inclined, just a smidgen, to play devil’s advocate. A “book” would be wise”not to go to publication before taking a good look at its cover. While me must take care not to judge, we must also take care in how we present ourselves to others, which is a self respecting thing to do.

    1. Ah, Linda, you are not getting an argument from me in your “devil’s advocate” role as an author who spent a lot of time on the book cover before it went to print in July. I also agree with how we present ourselves, but those things we often attend to more than the unseen matters of the heart so hence the emphasis. ❤️

  4. Pam, I love this post and the photos are perfect. 🙂 I wonder how many times I judge by the cover. I pray that I will not do that, but like you said we sometimes find ourselves doing it anyway. May God help us to dig deeper and not be turned away by the “cover”. By the way, I have not seen the movie yet but I sure hope to soon. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TeaAndWord.

  5. What a great reminder that we need to stop judging people by their ‘covers’! I fail all too often and get all Judgey McJudgerton on people. It’s time for the judge to retire!

  6. Thank you for the timely reminder, Pam. I am guilty of “judging a book by its cover” sometimes without digging beneath the surface. Snap judgements are often incorrect. Love the poem!

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