Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter Hangover

Someone get me a drink! I'm about sick to death of hearing about Harry Potter!

Rowling is the root of all evil and her characters are demonic, satanic, flatulent...you name it, they're it, and it isn't good.

Hit me again, please.

Here comes something really shocking. According to Michael O'Brien, author of a Harry Potter is the anti-Christ book:
“In the novels,” says O’Brien, “Harry is called ‘the Chosen One.’ He chooses to rise from the dead. He defeats evil with the instruments and gnostic powers of sorcery, wielding the ultimate instrument with which he saves the world because he has become ‘Master over Death.’ At the climax of the seven-volume Potter epic, having saved the world from evil, the resurrected Harry is treated with reverent awe, various characters pressing forward to touch him, ‘their leader and symbol, their saviour and their guide.’”
 Michael, ever hear of allegory?

This sounds like good triumphing over evil, possibly even a supreme good resurrecting and saving those who follow.  STOP! Go no further! This evil sounds oddly Christ-like and we would never want anyone (Tolkien, CS Lewis) to create characters that resemble the spiritual. Although the characters in Harry Potter never actually seem transcendent, they do have qualities that are vividly GOOD.

NO! Never! It couldn't be possible -- evil, I say!

Set me up another one, and make it neat!

I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "these books lead children astray" or "did you know the incantations are real?" I was of that camp once...before I read the books. Funny how your opinion changes when you actually have first hand knowledge! Tolkien had wizards, sorcery, creatures born of the mud and muck. Rowling has Harry with a wand, broom and some silly spells. Both authors have created fantasy stories that pit good against evil.

That said, I'd much rather read Tolkien. I think Rowling's writing leaves something to be desired. But, I have to admit, the kids have embraced the character, and so have many adults. Seven movies later and Harry is probably the most popular character from a novel portrayed on screen -- ever -- I mean ever! A multi-million dollar industry has risen up around him -- and none of my friend's children, at least to my knowledge, have stopped attending Mass or joined a cult.

One more on the rocks!

So, criticize, if you must, the review written in the Vatican newspaper praising Harry Potter. But, I would ask you first to take a deep breath, and recall that allegory is a quite useful literary tool. Perhaps there is something more to Harry than meets the eye. Stop following the fury of negative worry warts and read the books for yourself. You may just enjoy Hogwarts more than your realize.

Maybe everyone loves this last film because it's finally over? One can hope!

As for me, my head is pounding -- I've had too much -- of Harry Potter.

9 comments:

Peony Moss said...

*APPLAUSE*

Let me know if you ever want to borrow my copy of John Granger's books - in-depth analysis of the Christian symbolism in the books. I can't recommend his Seven Keys highly enough.

Kathy said...

Wondered what you would think of this. Glad to see *APPLAUSE*!

Peony Moss said...

Sorry, but I thought you would like this from one of Fr Barron's priestly pals:

...on my way home from work on Friday I heard a priest on the radio issue dire warnings in regards to the malevolent influences that he believes to be inherent in the books and films. I have heard such ruminations before. It seems that these criticisms remain inadequately answered by J.K. Rowling herself who went on the record to assert that is was actually two biblical quotations that appear in the final book of the series- 1 Corinthians 15:26 ("The last enemy to be destroyed is death.") and Matthew 6:19 ("Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.") that "sum up and epitomize the whole series." I am sure that it is not the author’s use of the Bible as a reference that alarms her critics, but the manner in which sorcery is portrayed as a power that can be controlled and harnessed for the sake of good. Even more than this, critics assert, is that wizardry and witchcraft might be perceived as something that young people should desire, and therefore, they might be tempted to try out the dark arts for themselves. Perhaps.

It seems to me that the supernatural elements of the series are meant rather obviously as metaphorical. Rowling employs them to re-enchant a world that has been dis-enchanted by the modern insistence that this world is limited to what the senses can immediately perceive. Further, the “powers” of magic can be understood as expressions of the energies that emerge in the process of maturation from childhood, through adolescence, to adulthood. If there is a message Rowling seems to impart in regards to these “powers, ” it is that they are meant for a purpose higher than self-gratification and find their fullest expression in our willingness to love others without having perfect understanding of why things in life are the way that they are. Unlike the avatars of modernity that insist that everything is ultimately explainable, Rowling seems to be presenting the idea that the explanation that might ultimately be the best one is that life is essentially mysterious, and it is precisely this quality that provokes us to wonder. I do not want to leave the impression that I do not take the cautions of Rowling’s critics seriously. But I would inquire of them (though Rowling’s works are not in the same category as Shakespeare) what her critics make of the supernatural elements that drive the plots of Macbeth, The Tempest or Midsummer Night’s Dream? Are these dangerous? I guess the answer would be that such literary offerings are not for children. What about Grimm’s Fairy Tales? The Odyssey? Beowulf?

Here's a link to the full article but you're not allowed to follow it because it's got more spoilers than a box of moldy strawberries: LINK

Catherine L said...

Way to go, Kathy! I'm soooo sick of the "Harry is going to open your children to Satanic cults and Wicca covens" silliness, often from people who are normally solid Christians. When Harry shows up, suddenly the Catholic insistence on faith+reason goes out the window and irrational paranoia emerges. Ugh. (That being said, if anyone reading this is a child whose parents don't want them to read HP, then by all means, obey your parents!)

Kathy said...

Peony -- He's right! The only thing I might add to what you have excerpted here is this: he's way over thinking this, too. Rowling wrote a really neat story. I'm not sure she even considered the metaphysical/psycho-social implications of her work. Do you? Two Biblical quotes sum up her story -- nice. But, I'm not going to say she's a Scripture scholar who wove a tale around the Word of God. Maybe I misunderstood, but even this comment is a bit much for me. Make mine a double!!

Catherine L said...

Way to go, Kathy! I'm soooo sick of the "Harry is going to open your children to Satanic cults and Wicca covens" silliness, often from people who are normally solid Christians. When Harry shows up, suddenly the Catholic insistence on faith+reason goes out the window and irrational paranoia emerges. Ugh. [That being said, if anyone reading this is a young person whose parents don't want them to read HP, then by all means, obey your parents.]

Kathy said...

Thanks, Catherine. I think there's room for the imagination to soar while the intellect and will stay firmly rooted in Christ.

Blessings,

Kathy

Anonymous said...

Kathy, Did you read this interview with Rowling from Christian Post magazine? http://www.christianpost.com/news/harry-potter-author-reveals-books-christian-allegory-her-struggling-faith-29749/
So, Harry is supposed to be a type of Christ?
My main problem with young children reading Harry Potter is that the characters grow up faster than the young readers. What age do you think the series is for?
I read the first one, but stopped reading the second one when I was warned they get darker and darker. My spirit is very sensitive to any kind of witchcraft, so I am not a Harry Potter fan. I'm not on the bandwagon of "these are evil" books, but I'm not on the "this is all a Christian allegory" wagon either. I agree with you that C.S. Lewis was a much better writer than Rowlings.
My kids have asked to read the books, but never followed through. I can't articulate it in words, but something about the Harry Potter series unsettles my spirit and pschye.

I tried to sign in with my google account, but it won't let me. Melissa G.

Kathy said...

Melissa,

Thanks for the comment, and you make an excellent point; a point that needs to be clarified. I believe that both camps are a bit extreme. I can see the allegory, for others it's not so evident, and since Rowling never claimed to be writing these books with allegory in mind, it may be that its all accidental. That being said, I would rather see the allegory in these stories, which I believe is much a much influence in the books than "it's all evil" argument -- because it is not. There is definitely a battle between good and evil present in the tale. Now, that being said, I don't like Harry Potter -- never have -- but, I simply chose to put the books down. Not trash them as evil. And, I have noticed that some of the many initial Catholic antagonists have changed their tune and stood outside of movie theaters at midnight to see the "next installments" of the movies. I think people can get carried away by the hype. I'm personally glad it's over.