Respectful Insolence

Wingnuts against Harry Potter–again

It seems to be the time of the year for this sort of thing.

Yes, I realize that the Harry Potter novels have come under attack from various fundamentalist Christians, who view them as somehow indoctrinating children into witchcraft, Wicca, demon worship, or whatever. I also realize that I may be a bit behind the times on this story. But, with Halloween coming up and all, I thought I’d mention it anyway, because this time one such parent, Laura Mallory, has taken her beef with Harry Potter all the way to her state Board of Education in Georgia, after having been slapped down before in her fight to have all Harry Potter books removed from the school libraries in her home county of Gwinnett County, Georgia:

ATLANTA — The Harry Potter books about children who attend a school of wizardry encourage young people to practice witchcraft, a Gwinnett County mother of four told a state hearing officer Tuesday.

But a lawyer representing the Gwinnett Board of Education said the series of best-sellers should not be removed from the school system’s libraries because the books foster a love of reading among students.

Laura Mallory of Loganville, whose children attend J.C. Magill Elementary School, is seeking to have the books by J.K. Rowling banned from school shelves.

She first brought her case before the Gwinnett board, which ruled unanimously in May that the books could stay.

Mallory then appealed to the state Board of Education. The officer who presided over Tuesday’s hearing will make a recommendation to the board, which is expected to issue its decision in December.

Presenting her arguments first on Tuesday, Mallory cited studies showing that some children who have read Harry Potter books or seen movie adaptations have become interested in witchcraft to the point of attempting to cast spells. She said an organization called The Pagan Federation has attributed an increase in interest in the group among young people to publication of the books.

“Witchcraft is being mainstreamed to our children today,” she said. “My children are the most precious thing in the world to me. I surely do not want them to be indoctrinated into a religion whose practices are evil.”

Mallory also referred to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics that found young children cannot readily distinguish fantasy from reality and try to imitate what they’ve read.


Oh, yeah. So that evil Harry Potter is an insidiously clever ploy to indoctrinate generations of children into taking up witchcraft. How could I have missed this? Perhaps it’s just that I’m not as ingenious as Mrs. Mallory, who further justifies her wanting to impose her religious beliefs (and not just in her own county but In fact, she wants to have the books removed statewide from all public school libraries statewide, as well) on what is supposed to be a secular school system thusly:

The mother of four said she was opposed to the messages of the books, which describe a young wizard’s adventures in a school of magic. She said she had done much of her research online, reading a variety of Christian message boards and Harry Potter fan sites.

“Their thinking has changed. They’re designed to think that witches and witchcraft and wizards and all this is just normal. And that it’s OK. And that it’s even good. I strongly disagree with that. I don’t think it’s OK, and I don’t think it’s good at all,” Mallory said.

And, trying clumsilly to invoke the separation of church and state:

Suburban Atlanta mother Laura Mallory has pleaded with a hearing officer for Georgia’s State Board of Education to remove the Harry Potter books by British author J.K. Rowling from school libraries statewide, calling the popular fiction series an attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion. In making her point, Mallory notes that teachers do not assign “other religious books,” such as the Bible, as student reading.

Yep, Harry Potter. Right up there with the Bible and the Koran, right? And finally:

Referring to the recent rash of deadly assaults at schools, Mallory said books that promote evil — as she claims the Potter ones do — help foster the kind of culture where school shootings happen. That would not happen if students instead read the Bible, she said.

Actually, there are some pretty nasty bits in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, far nastier than anything that happens in the Harry Potter books. As for the Harry Potter books “promoting” evil, Mrs. Mallory seems to think that the protagonist in these books is Valdemort, not Harry Potter and his friends fighting Valdemort’s evil. Of course, it’s no surprise that Mrs. Mallory hasn’t bothered to read even parts of books that she wants to remove from every school library in the state of Georgia. Her reason for her failure to read them would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic:

She admitted that she has not read the book series partially because “they’re really very long and I have four kids.”

“I’ve put a lot of work into what I’ve studied and read. I think it would be hypocritical for me to read all the books, honestly. I don’t agree with what’s in them. I don’t have to read an entire pornographic magazine to know it’s obscene,” Mallory said.

True, but I would counter that you would have to see at least a dirty picture or two to recognize pornography when you see it. As for her “not having the time,” I’d ask her how much time she’s spent in her campaign to ban these books (which has been going on for well over a year now), none of which she’s bothered to read. For one thing, if she had bothered to read them, she would have noticed that the kids at Hogwarts celebrate Christmas and Valentine’s Day in a big way.

This is clearly a case where, to me at least, it appears that 10-year-olds have a far better ability to differentiate fantasy from reality than Mrs. Mallory:

Jessica Grimes, a 10-year-old student at Duncan Creek Elementary School, faxed a letter to the school system in support of the books series.

“The books never at any time turned me into a wizard or witch,” Grimes said. “I go to church every Sunday, go to Sunday school and never at any time did I think the books are true.”

And, of course, you can bet that, if meddling idiots like Mrs. Mallory get their way, it won’t stop with Harry Potter:

But Victoria Sweeny, the Gwinnett school board’s lawyer, said the Potter books are clearly “fantasy fiction” and are kept in the fiction section of school libraries.

She said the books, some of which run longer than 700 pages, provide reading material rich in vocabulary with such wholesome themes as the triumph of good over evil and the power of a mother’s love.

Sweeny suggested that to ban Harry Potter from school media centers could lead to the removal of such classics as some of William Shakespeare’s plays, “The Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and the popular “Lord of the Rings” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series.

“When you start removing books and access to ideas, you’d pretty soon have no use for a media center,” she said.

Sure you will. You can stock it with nothing but the Bible and religious books and movies.

Actually, Mrs. Mallory doesn’t appear to object too much to the Narnia series, given its strong Christian themes. After all, it was one of the “alternatives” to Harry Potter that she suggested in her initial complaint. Apparently she isn’t as concerned as some fundamentalists who view Narnia as “paganism lite” and the portrayal of the Christ figure as a talking animal (a lion) as heretical. In any case, I’d be rather surprised if the school library doesn’t already have the Narnia books on its shelves–right in the same section as the Harry Potter books.

Naturally, I’m not surprised that Mrs. Mallory would also suggest one other replacement:

On her complaint form, she suggested they be replaced by C.S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” series or Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind: the Kids” series.

Ugh. I’d take Harry Potter any day over anything from the awful Left Behind series. Apparently Mrs. Mallory’s concern about religious indoctrination doesn’t extend away from her own beliefs. She’s blithely unconcerned about the disconnect between her wanting Harry Potter banned from school libraries because she views it as “promoting someone else’s religion” and her wanting to promote her own Christian views in school libraries by having them stock the odious Left Behind books. Apparently she has no concern about children whose parents may not share LaHaye’s warped, violent, apocalyptic, and “rapture-ready” take on Christianity. When I was in a Costco several months ago, I saw a copy of Glorious Appearing: The End of Days (I’m pretty sure that was the one; there are so many), the “last” book in the series (well, not quite, LaHaye, ever the entrepreneur, has now published several prequels). Curious about how it would portray the Second Coming of Jesus, I flipped to the appropriate chapter. I was shocked at the violence and mass death that was described in loving detail, nay, reveled in by the author! Jesus destroys whole armies with His power, killing thousands, if not millions, in the process! He even kills the horses the armies rode on when they assailed Him. And His followers, now immune from harm, slaughter unbelievers with gusto. Blood runs in rivers. And then it gets worse, although I didn’t have time to get to this part. As one disappointed devout Christian reviewer on Amazon describes it:

Jesus kidnaps every remaining human being on the planet and brings him or her to Jerusalem for judgment. They are judged, not for their sins, but for each person’s personal religious choice. The ground opens up and the followers of “aberrant” religions fall, screaming, into an eternal Lake of Fire. The earth closes over them. (The Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists, and I dare say the Unitarians, and possibly even the Quakers, Catholics and Greek Orthodox are all consigned to the flames.)

The remaining survivors, called “believers” (allegedly Fundamentalist Christians and Messianic Jews) cheer Jesus on and call his actions “righteous”. They now enjoy their Messianic Era eating free food; residing in a freshly scrubbed Jersualem; and praising Jesus.

So, in this book “Jesus” is portrayed as doing some pretty awful things, sometimes to some very decent people (and horses). And the “believers” are portrayed as beings without compassion, remorse, or love. They don’t even care about each other.

And another review:

The problems start showing up when the main characters (all ten of them) start going on about how Jesus is kind, loving, caring, how he’s here to save the world, save sinners, etc. But when Jesus actually shows up, he goes completely against everything that is said about him.

How so? Well, he loves butchering millions of non-believers by making them explode, ripping out eyes, organs, etc. At one point the book describes how the blood of millions of dead people congeals together to form a swamp (I really wish I was making that up!). Does that sound like the loving, caring Jesus that the majority of the Christians know and love?

And what is absolutely awful and unforgivable is that “Jesus” uses bible quotes as an excuse for his unforgivable actions of horror and terror. One part of the book basically goes like this:

(Jesus goes across a battlefield)

Jesus: And he who walks in love knows God. He who is love has been born of God

(As he talks, millions of people scream and die, blowing up from the inside and dying horrific deaths that only a sadist would do)

Jesus: He who knows love, knows my father. If you know love, you know me

(Millions more die. Blood gushes everywhere.)

Wow. Prince of Peace indeed.

Indeed.

I’d be far more worried about children reading this tripe than anything J. K. Rowling has ever written. Even so, I wouldn’t seek to keep others from having access to it in school libraries–unlike Mrs. Mallory.

Comments

  1. #1 MarkP
    October 29, 2006

    I guess the irony is lost on Ms. Mallory that she placed a clearly fictional book series, Harry Potter, in the same category (“other religious books”) as the Bible.

    The 800 pound gorilla in this issue is the fact that witchcraft itself is fiction. So I’d like to know just what exactly Ms. Mallory thinks she is protecting kids from? So a kid chants a magic spell trying to make his friend disappear. So what? His friend won’t disappear, so any delusion the kids had that magic was real will evaporate. In some ways, it is an interesting scientific exercise. Perhaps her real fear is that the kids will apply this to her precious Biblical teachings and come to similar conclusions.

    After all, the Bible stories have talking burning bushes, sheep being born certain colors because of what their parents looked at while mating, talking animals, virgin births, and dead people coming back to life. Compared to that, a few magic spells seem for more normal, Ok and good.

  2. #2 Skeptico
    October 29, 2006

    Time to link again to the old “Chaser” article: Harry Potter fans warn against dangerous effects of Bible

  3. #3 llewelly
    October 29, 2006

    It’s been some years since I read Revelations – but that all sounds very familiar.

  4. #4 Kevin
    October 29, 2006

    My favorite bit of irony in this relates to this:

    Mallory also referred to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics that found young children cannot readily distinguish fantasy from reality and try to imitate what they’ve read.

    I’d sure prefer kids imitate what they read in Harry Potter than imitate, say, the Left Behind tripe or Gibson’s ‘Rapture of the Christ’. Religion relies upon the fact that kids are easily indoctrinated, it would be impossible to perpetuate it without that vulnerability. To see her turn this around and say that anything the even remotely resembles a competing ideology should be banned- priceless.

  5. #5 Mrs. Coulter
    October 29, 2006

    The thing you have to remember about these nutjobs is that in their minds, witchcraft is real and that using magic, for any purpose is evil, because it is derived from a power that doesn’t come from God. Kids playing magic aren’t just playing make-believe, they are calling on the powers of Satan. Narnia is “different” because the magic comes either from the power of Aslan and his Father (and is not wielded by the Pevensie children except through their use of items that Aslan provides), or is clearly evil, like the White Witch.

    There is a whole chapter devoted to this phenomenon in Harry Potter and International Relations. (Forgive the flog, please, as well as the horridly dull title.)

  6. #6 skblllzzzz
    October 29, 2006

    > The remaining survivors, called “believers” (allegedly Fundamentalist Christians and Messianic Jews) cheer Jesus on and call his actions “righteous”. <

    Self-righteousness is the mother of all bloodbaths.

  7. #7 ebohlman
    October 29, 2006

    What’s even dumber is that if Ms. Mallory had taken the time to actually read the books, she’d have discovered that they contain only one reference to anything remotely resembling a belief system, namely the notion that people have souls. I think that that’s an awfully mainstream belief (though PZ would probably think of “awfully” in a different sense than I would). In Rowling’s world, magical powers are natural talents that exist in a small minority of the population; those without such talents cannot gain such powers through exposure to “hidden knowledge.” Thus there is nothing of the occult in the series (except some hints that the Bad Guys may be engaging in occult practices).

    What really riles the fundies about Rowling’s work is that the Hogwarts school rules are treated as administrative creations designed to preserve order and provide safety, rather than as moral absolutes graven on stone tablets. Gee, real-life school rules are the former, not the latter, but that’s really repulsive to the authoritarian mentality.

  8. #8 writerdd
    October 29, 2006

    The thing that most people don’t understand is that fundamentalist Christians don’t just believe in their own religion, they believe in just about every religion and superstition on the planet. The only difference is that Christianity is good while the other supernatural beings are “of the devil.” This woman does not realize that there are no witches who can cast spells and put curses on her and her children. This woman thinks her kids might actually find the witchcraft portrayed in Harry Potter more appealing than her religion and they might burn in hell for all eternity for becoming witches. The Bible, after all, does say, “Thous shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Of course, I doubt this woman would stone her own children to death if they were so gullible to believe that Harry Potter is true and want to become witches or wizards.)

    The sad truth is that most children stop being so gullible when they are, what 6 to 8 years old, 10 on the top of the range? I mean, how many 12 year olds do you know who still believe in Santa and the tooth fairy? Yet these poor people are living in a medieval world full of demons and spirits far past that age. Their religion has completely stunted their emotional development. Although some of them do go on to educate themselves and possibly even get degress, I would claim that they are also incredibly intellecutally stunted by this juvenile capacity for belief in make believe.

  9. #9 Aaron Baker
    October 29, 2006

    I once saw the notorious Pastor Hagee on television, outlining in minute detail why the Harry Potter books really do promote witchcraft (actual, live, effectual, Satanic witchcraft), despite avowals to the contrary by J.K. Rowling. There really is no arguing for such people, because, as the poster above pointed out, witchcraft is real for them. If there really were a supernatural “craft,” whose practitioners could and did work terrible evil, you would of course be crazy to approve of anything that promoted it. To us it’s obvious that it’s utterly crazy to believe witchcraft has this power. But this craziness is, for equally obvious reasons, not readily apparent to the crazy people who share the belief.

  10. #10 Aaron Baker
    October 29, 2006

    Above, I meant to write: “There really is no arguing WITH such people . . . .” Sorry.

  11. #11 Roger
    October 29, 2006

    I suspect Ms. Mallory would be surprised to find that some of us who are Christian, myself included, find the Harry Potter books more in tune with what Christ taught than the Left Behind series. Of course she can dismiss someone like myself as non-Christian since I happen to be gay, my mother was a feminist and my father supported civil rights.

  12. #12 Aaron Baker
    October 29, 2006

    I would largely endorse the comments of writerdd above. As a former charismatic Christian (now an atheist), I had a long, rich experience of evangelical opining about the supernatural. They do inhabit a demon haunted world, to steal a good phrase. I would add to writerdd’s comment that evangelicals ordinarily regard all other religions as demonic. You are quite simply serving Satan if you are a practicing Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, what have you. Their attitude toward Jews is slightly more complex: they pray to the same God after all, but have at the same time somehow turned their backs on Him by rejecting Jesus.

  13. #13 jeonjutarheel
    October 29, 2006

    Obviously young children can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but does that study really apply to kids old enough to read Harry Potter? I mean, my first grade students know the difference in their second language.

    As for not having time to read them, please. I got through the first three in one day.

  14. #14 Sandra Porter
    October 29, 2006

    Muggles!!

  15. #15 Man Called True
    October 29, 2006

    I have nothing to really add to this discussion except to wonder what the fundies think of Redwall.

  16. #16 Turcano
    October 29, 2006

    “I’ve put a lot of work into what I’ve studied and read. I think it would be hypocritical for me to read all the books, honestly. I don’t agree with what’s in them. I don’t have to read an entire pornographic magazine to know it’s obscene.”

    Whackjob-to-English translation: “I have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m talking about, but I’m going to air my opinions anyway, and I don’t want to be called to the mat for spouting a bunch of absolute nonsense.”

    I mean come on, if I insisted that,say, Reader’s Digest was a pornographic magazine, even though I freely admitted that I had never read it, they’d cart me away.

    Anyway, a person who did as little as 15 minutes of actual research would discover, among other things, that magic in Harry Potter’s world is analogous to magic in the rest of fantasy literature and bears little to no resemblance to magic in Wicca or anything of that sort, that the term “witch” is used simply to refer to a female wizard, and that J.K. Rowling is a Presbyterian and therefore most likely isn’t intending to lead children from the true path.

    But no. Rowling uses the words “witch” and “witchcraft,” and the Old Testament condemns witchcraft. That’s all you really need to know, apparently.

    To paraphrase R.K Millholand, “Do these people say these things because they’re worried that I might still have faith in humanity? Does the fact that I might think there are some good people left keep them up at night?”

  17. #17 Dianne
    October 29, 2006

    1. The only religion mentioned even implicitly in the Harry Potter books is Christianity: Christmas is celebrated at Hogwarts and (IIRC) the school has Easter holidays. Admittedly, Halloween is also a major party day, but it is clearly the post-Christian version, not the traditional Sanhaim that is being celebrated.

    2. Am I the only one who thinks that “Mallory” sounds like “Malfoy”, as in Draco Malfoy, obnoxious Hogwarts student and semi-villain of the 6th book? Just asking.

  18. #18 Justin Moretti
    October 29, 2006

    Somebody should film those apocalyptic books, if only so that the Fundies who take their kids along can see exactly what it is that they are asking to happen,i.e. have all these kids sitting in movie theatres watching images of children their own age exploding into rivers of blood and organs at the whim of their ‘loving’ God.

  19. #19 Dana Huff
    October 29, 2006

    I have been following this story closely. Gwinnett County is near me. In fact, had I continued to teach at the middle school where I used to teach, I might have taught her kids. Their elementary school feeds into that middle school. Wonder what she would have made of my Harry Potter fanship? Probably would have yanked her kids from my class so fast… Thanks for sharing your thoughts and submitting to the carnival.

  20. #20 Narc
    October 29, 2006

    Somebody should film those apocalyptic books, if only so that the Fundies who take their kids along can see exactly what it is that they are asking to happen

    Oh, but they have: Left Behind, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force, and Left Behind III: World at War. I feel so much better knowing Kirk Cameron is keeping the world safe from demons.

  21. #21 Zeno
    October 29, 2006

    A couple of years ago I was shopping in a department store for a gift for my nephew. As I was browsing the video game section, I heard a little boy (maybe 6 or 7) say to his mother, “Look! Harry Potter!” as he pointed to a DVD. His mother grabbed his arm and pulled him away, saying, “That’s not of God, sweetie. Harry Potter doesn’t know Jesus.”

    That’s telling him, crazy lady!

  22. #22 John Marley
    October 29, 2006

    “…and Harry Potter and all his friends went to hell for the sin of practising whitchcraft.” – Ned Flanders

    “Yea!” – Rod and Todd Flanders

  23. #23 Sammy
    October 29, 2006

    Well, giving her the benefit of the doubt (which I’m not sure she deserves, considering she hasn’t even read the Harry Potter books), there is a series of Left Behind books for kids. It’s called…get ready for it…Left Behind: The Kids…and I would hope it’s not as gory as the adult series is…

    I can’t really say much more than that about the series because I haven’t read it, and unlike Ms. Mallory, I won’t go criticizing something I know nothing about.

  24. #24 DragonScholar
    October 29, 2006

    Irony: Harry Potter is fictional. Even if people belive in magic, it’s fiction. Even some of the lowest characters are shown to be human.

    Left behind is BELIEVED by millions upon millions of people and includes mass slaughter done to bible quotes.

    Which is more likely to screw people up and make them slaughter others?

  25. #25 tim gueguen
    October 30, 2006

    But even the Left Behind family of materials may be tainted by witchcraft. Mel Odom, who wrote a military oriented spinoff set in the Left Behind “world,” has also written Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other fantasy oriented books. Given some of the stuff he’s got coming out whatever his personal beliefs might be Odom seems to be able to tell fantasy from fiction.

  26. #26 Joe
    October 30, 2006

    Many years ago PBS broadcast a debate about banning books. A “minister” said certain books should be banned in his town. Kurt Vonnegut asked if the minister’s children would avoid them if the minister told them to do so. The minister answered “yes,” to which Vonnegut replied “Then your concerns have been satisfied.”

    I worked in my public library for a while. The books that bother the wingnuts often pale in comparison with those that they don’t notice.

  27. #27 Prup aka Jim Benton
    October 30, 2006

    Does anyone want to bet that at least one of her four kids, BECAUSE of his/her mother’s action either has already or will read the books within the next six months?

  28. #28 Blake Stacey
    October 30, 2006

    I must confess I feel a little flush of joy every time I hear about lunatics wanting to ban and burn books. . . . It reaffirms that words still have power. Since newspapers won’t take the time to print stories about little kids loving books, the best we can do is expose ourselves to nasty incidents of grown-ups hating them.

    It is unfortunate that hatred is so much more visible than affection and curiosity, but given that it is, we can still make the best of the confusion.

  29. #29 Ruth
    October 30, 2006

    Lot’s daughters getting Lot drunk so he will sleep with them, Onan, David and Bathsheeba-MUCH more kid friendly literature.

  30. #30 David Harmon
    October 30, 2006

    Has it occurred to anyone that the promotion of literacy may actually be the real “crime” of these books? After all, once those kids learn to read, who knows what they might learn? Much better for them to let their ministers tell them what the Bible says, with no backtalk allowed!

    Remember, when the Gutenberg Bible was printed, some religious leaders argued that was dangerous, because mere laymen could then actually read the Bible for themselves — without the “holy guidance” of thir ministers, they might interpret what they found in some heretical fashion….

  31. #31 Kiwiwriter
    October 30, 2006

    It never ceases to amaze me how people will work so hard to impose their ignorance upon the world.

  32. #32 Joan
    October 30, 2006

    For one thing, if she had bothered to read them, she would have noticed that the kids at Hogwarts celebrate Christmas and Valentine’s Day in a big way.

    Yes, and Easter, too, as Dianne noted. However, it’s worth pointing out that the celebration of these holidays is completely secular, and nothing to do with Christianity. It’s bizarre, because Rowling’s universe is one of atheists. The only people who have faith in anything other than the concrete world are the witches and wizards; muggles have no concept of the supernatural in any way, shape, or form, which is why so many of them reject even the idea of magic.

    I love these books but the complete absence of religion, other than magic, has always bothered me. I think Rowling used Christmas and Easter, as well as Valentine’s and Halloween, because we are all familiar with them, a kind of cultural shorthand. But they make no sense in the context of the book’s universe. She would’ve been better off with just winter and spring breaks, but then she would’ve had to abandon the cultural trappings that are so much fun to manipulate: Christmas trees and presents, cupids and hearts and all that. If I ever had an opportunity to interview her, I would ask her about this topic: why Christmas, and especially Easter, if there was no Christ?

    As for the influence of these books on children and their attempting witchcraft themselves — after the second movie came out, I used to do petrificus totalis (however you spell it) on my kids (preschool to early elementary ages) when I wanted them to be still for a minute — they would always laugh but got the point. It was an easy way to tell them to be still without having to be grumpy about it. Magic isn’t real, but sometimes pretend magic does the trick as if it were.

  33. #33 Deacon Barry
    October 30, 2006

    I actually went to Hogwarts – no really! JK Rowling was a supply teacher for a short while at my old school, Leith Academy. The central staircase at Hogwarts is obviously based on the Lochend annexe – it too has stairs leading nowhere.
    What about ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Charmed’? Do they get complained about too when they’re run on TV?

  34. #34 jre
    October 30, 2006

    My very favorite episode of Harry Potter exorcism was when Christian columnist Ellen Makkai solemnly assured us that young Harry was the PR spearpoint for Satan:

    High Priest Egan of The First Church of Satan in Salem, Mass., celebrates Harry’s contribution, saying, “Harry is an absolute godsend … we’ve had more applicants than we can handle lately.”

    Her source for that quote was … wait for it … the Onion.

    Just in case anyone thought Makkai didn’t know how excruciatingly stupid that looked, the WorldNetDaily then proceeded to expunge the quote, but to no avail — stupid is forever.

    All hail the Wayback Machine!

  35. #35 Bazooka Joe
    October 30, 2006

    Mom is just jealous of Hermione keepin’ it real

  36. #36 Calli Arcale
    October 30, 2006

    “I love these books but the complete absence of religion, other than magic, has always bothered me. I think Rowling used Christmas and Easter, as well as Valentine’s and Halloween, because we are all familiar with them, a kind of cultural shorthand. But they make no sense in the context of the book’s universe. She would’ve been better off with just winter and spring breaks, but then she would’ve had to abandon the cultural trappings that are so much fun to manipulate: Christmas trees and presents, cupids and hearts and all that. If I ever had an opportunity to interview her, I would ask her about this topic: why Christmas, and especially Easter, if there was no Christ?”

    I don’t think the intent of the Harry Potter books is to create a painstakingly perfect world, a la Lord of the Rings or even Narnia. No, it doesn’t make sense. But then, if you think about it, there are other things in Harry Potter that don’t make sense internally if you really think about them. But that’s not the point. They are not meant for adults. They are meant for children, and so things make sense from a child’s perspective rather than an adult’s perspective. Kids tend not to think of the religious side of Christmas, but in Western society they have an intense love for the secular side of it. (Some fundies are smart enough to realize that this could pose a threat to them, since of course kids raised in a house of moral and ideological absolutes will wonder how there could be two kinds of Christmas, and why the other kids’ version seems to be so much more fun.) That’s what comes out in Harry Potter. The secular Christmas, because it’s also the children’s Christmas. Kids understand Christmas as Jesus’ birthday, but they understand Santa Claus a whole lot more.

    Interestingly, C. S. Lewis (definitely a man interested in preservation of the Christian faith) recognized this phenomenon and rather than be offended or threatened by it, realized that it was something that worked. Santa Claus appears in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, with nary a mention of Jesus, three Wise Men, or virgin births. Because there’s something in Christmas (the Christmas that doesn’t have roots in the Bible) that is very important to a lot of children, speaks volumes to them, and which can in fact teach them a lot about Christ.

    Of course, if this woman believes that the “Left Behind” series are great literature, then a) she’s hopeless in terms of taste, and b) she clearly would not appreciate learning much more about C. S. Lewis. She’d probably be quite shocked to learn some of the things he said. Like his assertion that one didn’t have to be Christian to follow Christ (and therefore be saved) — but it helps. And that one shouldn’t revile other faiths, because that is a totally useless way of trying to convince them that your way is best.

    Of course, anyone who thinks the witchcraft in the Harry Potter books to be an actual faith is probably beyond help as far as this goes. This is clearly a person who doesn’t just change the facts to fit her views; she saves the bother of collecting facts by just making assumptions about what they must be, given her views.

  37. #37 Catherina
    October 31, 2006

    Deacon Barry,

    isn’t every school in Edinburgh constructed that way? The two doors in my daughter’s classroom exit into entirely different stairwells (and I could swear that they move every once in a while). Oh – and my children’s house won the house cup last year – houses and points were there before JK :)

    Catherina

  38. #38 wintermute
    October 31, 2006

    Because no-one’s mentioned it yet: Left Behind: Deconstructed by Slacktivist. The site that coined the phrase “The Worst Books Ever Written”, and I don’t think anyone’s ever tried to nominate a contender for the title…

    For most fun, start at the bottom and work your way up.

  39. #39 Margaret
    October 31, 2006

    Once, years ago, channel surfing at the house of a friend who had cable TV, we tripped over a religious channel. To paraphrase as well as I can remember: “D&D is awful. They say it is just make-believe, but it isn’t. They use the REAL symbols & words in their magic!” At the time it was hilarious, but these days I find it rather scary that so-called adults could be so delusional.

  40. #40 Dianne
    October 31, 2006

    Added Halloween irony: The church-religious school near my workplace was having a Halloween party today. The minister was dressed as Dumbledore.

  41. #41 Thursday
    November 7, 2006

    What gets missed most is that the magic in Harry Potter isn’t just “make a wish and POOF” or any other kind of nonsense. In that world, it’s SCIENCE! The stuff actually works, can be researched, is studied, is used in countless practical applications, etc etc.

    All the uses of magic in the books can be tested and verified in repeated experiments, and is taught in schools. In Rowling’s world, the magic used is science.

    Now why would religious nutbags protest science? That just doesn’t make -

    Oh. Right.

    Never mind.

  42. #42 doctorgoo
    December 25, 2006

    The Washington Post just gave Laura Mallory the “Idiot of the Year” award for opposing Potter.

    source: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/offbeat/2006/12/idiot_of_the_year_awards_1.html

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