The Economics of Magic

by Jimmy Akin

in Fiction

I am not a fan of the Harry Potter novels. I know lots of people who are, including people who are serious Catholics, but I’m uncomfortable with them for a variety of reasons.

While they’re not going to turn every kid who reads them into a practitioner of Wicca, at least some kids will be influenced by the novels into exploring the occult. That’s a risk that is taken whenever magic is explored in fiction. Lord of the Rings did the same thing.

The thing about literature (fiction or non-fiction) is that somebody in the audience is always going to go off in some crazy direction based on what they read.

Want proof?

Let’s take a very well-known piece of literature . . . the best-selling book in human history, in fact: The Bible.

Has anybody gone off in a crazy direction after reading that?

Well, let’s see . . . Marcion, Sabellius, Montanus, Tertullian, Arius, . . . uh, the list might get a little long, so let’s move on.

Authors can’t let the fact that somebody in the audience is going to go nuts based on what they write stop them from writing. If they did, we wouldn’t have the Bible. But authors can craft their work in a way that tries to minimize potential harmful effects, and I have sympathy for those who think that J.K. Rowling didn’t do as good a job of this in writing the Harry Potter series as J.R.R. Tolkien did in the Lord of the Rings.

And the fact is that the vast majority of kids who read Harry Potter are not going to turn into neopagans, so I can’t tell people that it’s morally impermissible for any child to read them.

There is another reason I’m uncomfortable with them: I just don’t like the way they’re written.

Now, you know what they say about disputing about tastes, and if Harry Potter is something that you really enjoy and that doesn’t challenge your faith then good for you. But I think that Rowling did not do a good job in several respects literarily, and here’s why.

I read the first novel back when there was a huge controversy about it and whether it was healthy for children, and from the opening pages I found myself not liking it. The reason is that Rowling is just too ham fisted in how she sets the plot in motion.

Harry Potter–the character, not the book series–is the most important boy in the magical world, yet he doesn’t know it.

Until chapter two. (Or whatever.)

Then, as soon as he’s introduced into the magical world, he’s suddently the center of attention, people are fawning all over him, privilege is lavished upon him, and a glorious new future is handed to him on a silver platter.

Too. Much. Wish. Fulfillment.

This is bad plotting. Harry Potter is catapulted out of ordinary life to the apex of magical society virtually instantaneously. There may be lots of interesting concepts that Rowling uses as tinsel to sparkle up her world–and this is what I think people really find attractive about the books (the tinsel, not the substance)–but you don’t slather on the wish fulfillment in this way.

Not unless you’re writing fan fic.

If you really want to have somebody be the most important boy in the world, you let this fact emerge piecemeal, a bit at a time, with the character paying his dues as his true identity becomes clear.

If you want to see that plot done right,

CHECK OUT THIS BOOK.

BTW, I recently gave this book to Steve and Janet Ray and they loved it.

Others have also commented on the ham fisted way Rowling writes–in fact the piece I’m about to link even uses the term "ham fisted."

It’s a piece by an economics reporter who looks at the bad economics in the book–and she doesn’t mean money. She means the magical economy:

If magic is too powerful then the characters will be omnipotent gods, and there won’t be a plot. Magic must have rules and limits in order to leave the author enough room to tell a story. In economic terms, there must be scarcity: magical power must be a finite resource.

GET THE STORY.

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{ 449 comments }

Scott W July 22, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Thanks. I thought I was some kind of pop-culture leper as the only one who didn’t care to read Harry Potter. And only because I tried reading the book and watching the movie and was unable to whip up interest in either. Morally, I have no real issue with it. I do have major moral reservations about the books from other authors that followed in the HP wake.

Tim J. July 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Yeah, the last time I watched a Harry Potter movie (one I had seen a few times) I began to really be bothered by a number of things that just don’t make sense. I had noticed them before, but my main appreciation for the movie series has always been the interaction of the main characters (Harry, Ron and Hermione, and their circle), and I overlooked a lot of other faults in order to enjoy that aspect of the films (I have only read the first book in the HP series).
But on this last viewing (The Chamber of Secrets), the foibles became a bit much and started to really interfere with my enjoyment of the movie. For instance, how is it that Dobby (the house elf) is able to out-magic Lucius Malfoy – an ostensibly VERY powerful wizard – knocking him on his can with a blast of magic, and Lucius, well, just slinks off with his tail between his legs? Wha?? He was about to KILL Harry (which makes no sense, either – logically or dramatically), but is apparently satisfied a few seconds later to just go off in a snit.
“Killing” Tom Riddle turns out to be WAY too easy (golly, what if Ginny had accidentally thrown that diary into the furnace? The whole story would never have happened! A little careless of The Most Diabolical Wizard In The World).
Fawkes brings Harry the Sorting Hat for some extremely important unknown reason, which Tom totally ignores (Durrr… All Dumbledore sent you was an old hat! HAW-HAW!). He KNOWS the sorting hat is an ancient magical device, but – somehow – totally misses the implications.
And on and on.
Such things make it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief, and there are many of them.

Adam D July 22, 2007 at 12:26 pm

I agree with these criticisms, though I enjoy the Harry Potter books and films (as does the economist linked to). They’ve got decent suspense and mystery elements and they are great on clever details.
What bugs me at least as much as the allure of occultism and the contradictions of the overall plot is the inexplicable transformation, over the course of the books, from a children’s tale to an adult’s. The last few books just aren’t appropriate for kids by any stretch of my imagination. And the movies too are getting disturbingly dark.
The contrast with the first book/movie is strange. The first book didn’t take itself terribly seriously, and read to me more like a Roald Dahl book. The contradictions weren’t that big a deal even as I noticed them, cuz it was a silly book anyway. For fun. But the later books, though with fun elements, definitely take themselves extremely seriously. While the kids who read book one have grown up with the series, so it makes some sense for the later ones to be more adult, since the readers themselves are more adult, what are we to do with kids who just discover Harry Potter today? Tell them they need to stagger their reading of these books over a period of five/ten years?

Steve Ray July 22, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Jimmy:
You mentioned Janet and I in this blog so I thought I would comment. First, we love your blog and refer to and recommend it regularly.
Second, after you sent us Starswarm we got a slow start reading it — not for lack of interest but for lack of time. But once we got started, we couldn’t stop.
This story unfolds in an interesting way. You are at times inside Kip’s head and discovering everything along with him, including who he is and why he is special.
Once we started reading we found ourselves staying up later each night to fit in “just one more chapter!”
Then Sunday arrived and Janet said, “Steve, hope you’re not too busy today because we are going to lock ourselves away and finish this story.” I agreed completely and I read until my voice was sore and then she took over. We took turns until the sun set over the horizon and the story was done. We were sad it was over.
We wished there was a part two. That, by the way, is one of the few things Janet liked better about Harry Potter than about starswarm. With Harry Potter you have many books and the story develops slower and draws you in over multiple volumes.
But Starswarm is a more wholesome story and the character is noble without the troubling questions of magic and sorcery. In any case, Janet and I highly recommend Starswarm and we are greatful to Jimmy for introducing us to this fascinating story. Let us know if a part two ever appears!

AnnonyMouse July 22, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Well, with all the attention HP is receiving in OSV you would think that it was accepted by a LOT of Catholics. I have problems with it, most are the ones mentioned above. But does it bother anyone, that the children are fed constantly, that “they” are the smart ones and the adults are the dweebs and stupid ones? Do you know how many cartoons cateer to this thinking? I tried to read Harry Potter but couldn’t. I tried to watch it but lost interest.
I also have reservations about kids viewing the Simpsons too. And since we do not have much adult TV time, it just doesn’t happen in this home.

Leo July 22, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Personally, I like these books.
I think it is helpful to distinguish criticism of the moral and literary aspects
I don’t think Rowling’s Catholic upbringing is a coincidence. I was struck by the repeated references to the powerful effects of Harry’s mother’s self-sacrificing love.
I think the risk of this series causing an unhealthy interest in the occult is slight – most of us are just poor Muggles and the spells are obviously pseudo-Latin and so more clearly fantasy than say the magic in Buffy or Sabrina. My main moral reservation is the use of God’s name in casual conversation – probably descriptive of contemporary speech. Which is considered acceptable in a childrens book in a way that swear words are not.
I got into philosophical tangles trying to work out what is magic and where does magical technology fit into my schema of
Technology – based on natural laws which are blind and indifferent to the agent.
Grace – reliant upon the undeserved agency of a loving and rational God who cannot be bribed or threatened.
At one level, magic is presented as a “natural technology” based on laws(spells/potions), but which only some people can use. Or perhaps it depends on the agency of seemingly inanimate objects which have to be persuaded/bribed. I came to the conclusion that magic, of the sort described, cannot exist, and that I had to suspend some of my critical faculties to enjoy this magical story.

DarwinCatholic July 22, 2007 at 2:14 pm

I’ve enjoyed the HP books quite a bit, though I certainly wouldn’t classify them as top notch Fantasy. (Of course, so very little is…)
I don’t know that I’d see the HP plot as being a wish fulfillment type of plot, any more than the Pevensies entering Narnia is wish fulfillment or Arthur being the one person who can pull the sword, or David being annointed despite being the youngest. He certainly is notable from the get go, but aside from having more spending money than the Weasley kids, that doesn’t seem to actually do him any good — and it lets him in for a lot of trouble. Maybe I’m inclined to let it off in that he inherets a doom along with his fame.
Though I enjoy the books, it strikes me that, though she spins a good and highly imaginative yarn, Rowling writes a narrative with all sorts of background details that don’t make sense. It’s basically something you have to agree to ignore — like the fact Lewis consistently mixes up descriptive details about his characters, and throws together mythologies that make NO sense together. (What the heck was Fr. Christmas doing showing up in a world with Christ?)
I tend to strongly agree with the dictum that magic without sufficient cost makes for bad story telling. Le Guin wrote about the principle pretty well, as I recall, in some of her essays on writing fantasy. For whatever reason, it’s never really bothered me about the HP books, maybe because I don’t see them as “real fantasy” in the genre sense.
As for the neo-pagan thing, though, I’ve just never been able to see it. I read a ton of fantasy and SF growing up, and some of it definately had a distinctly new age or pagan tone to it. But I don’t find that in the Potter books at all. On the dangerous to the faith scale, I’d rate them as less harmful than Star Trek.

JoAnna July 22, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Too much wish fulfillment? One of the central themes of the book is that Harry doesn’t like the fame, glory, etc. and would gladly give it all up if he could, especially if it meant he could get his parents back.
I love the series and I think it has a lot of Christian themes — the power of love, how there is no greater love than to sacrifice your life for that of your brother, why it’s important to choose to do what is right over what is easy, etc.

JoAnna July 22, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Oh, and Tim J. — if Ginny threw the book into the furnance, it wouldn’t have been destroyed for reasons given in book 7. ;) Just FYI.

Foxfier July 22, 2007 at 3:13 pm

“Killing” Tom Riddle turns out to be WAY too easy (golly, what if Ginny had accidentally thrown that diary into the furnace?
Bad example. That’s all I can say until the Statue of Readatations wears out. ;^)

AnotherCoward July 22, 2007 at 4:18 pm

I’m with Darwin and JoAnna on this one. What Jimmy is calling Harry’s wish fulfillment is the furthest thing from.
As to the economics of magics, I think it’d be one thing if the magic played a central theme to the story. It really doesn’t. It’s pretty much peripheral to the real plot and themes of the book. The presence of magic is, I think, largely used as a literary device to deliberately pull us from an otherwise ordinary world into a fantasy world – such that we know we’re talking with otherwise normal people, but they act and think a little differently … and that’s okay because that’s what they’re like.
Some people like to say HP is full of Christian themes and what not. If so, cool. If not, oh well. Certainly, this isn’t any overt metaphor of a C.S. Lewis variety. But the setting of Narnia and the setting of a world of magic hidden within our very real world aren’t too different when you sit down and think about it.

Abigail July 22, 2007 at 4:28 pm

I read the first HP book and wasn’t impressed, for just those reasons: I thought the magic in it was the most unmagical magic I’d ever encountered in literature.
My husband, curious, read one and loved it immediately, because he had the same experience as HP (well, minus the part where you find out you’re the most important person in the world and all that): he left a world where he Didn’t Fit In and joined a boarding school that was home.
So, he reads the books out loud to the family, and I have to say, either they’ve grown on me or JKR is way better than she used to be. I’m really enjoying the characters. I don’t think I’ve come across such real teenagers in any other children’s books.
As for the movies, well, they’re good if you watch them as “scenes from Harry Potter” instead of an attempt to tell the whole story. I thought the same thing about the LOTR movies.
Re: wish fulfillment: Harry Potter immediately discovers that his notoriety is a curse, and spends the rest of the seven books resenting it.

speedmaster July 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm

I’m a devout Catholic and the HP books don’t bother me in the least. Pure escapism imho, nothing dangerous.

Skygor July 22, 2007 at 5:06 pm

I agree that a lot of the magic in the series are catered to children in a fairy-tale approach. E.g. why does Cinderella have to get home before 12? A: Becuase. Lots of things exist because they are entertaining, especially in the earlier stories. I’d say that with existing series that take a more developed approach to magic, some people will pick it out more easily than others.
As for the neo-pagan thing. It’s true that there is nothing subversive in HP to convert children as much as Pokemon or D&D. The problem occurs in that HP gets kids interested in magic, naturally. So they may go to the book store or library and look up say something of simple non-stage magical like fortune telling or astrology. Now while these are harmless superstitious that may be useful for Halloween, right next to them are the New Age, (non philosophical) metaphysics, and occult books. Most of which (especially Wicca) are how-to books, because no body knows about them and they are trying to establish themselves as ligament. This however is just more reason for parents to be involved with their children at all levels of their life.

Tim J. July 22, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Have to say that I don’t think there is much, if any, real occult draw in the HP books. While there is some lack of respect for adults, there is also great veneration of adults. There is some abuse of “the rules”, but there is general respect for law and order. I don’t see any huge moral problems with the books or movies.
Perhaps my example of the Horcrux (already tersely explained by my wife in the car this evening) was not the best choice of magic elements to criticize, but it was not explained in the movies AT ALL. Not to mention that Harry catches Tom Riddle “monologueing” (see The Incredibles).
I stand by my other critiques. Events need to make at least SOME kind of logical sense, as well as being dramatically satisfying. Easy magic is not satisfying.

Suzanne from Okla. July 22, 2007 at 5:27 pm

“But does it bother anyone, that the children are fed constantly, that “they” are the smart ones and the adults are the dweebs and stupid ones? Do you know how many cartoons cateer to this thinking.”
No one who has commented on how much they like HP has mentioned this problem of kids defying authority. It is the main reason we don’t read them.

Tim J. July 22, 2007 at 6:02 pm

“…the children are fed constantly, that “they” are the smart ones and the adults are the dweebs and stupid ones”
Sorry, I just don’t see that. The HP series is populated with a number of wise, smart, powerful, compassionate adults. There are also a number of vain, manipulative, stupid or cowardly kids. There are the Dursleys, of course, but their problem isn’t that they’re adults. They’re problem is that they’re just… awful… Dudley (the kid) especially.
I just don’t see a great deal of kid-centered chauvinism in the series, and I am very sensitive to it. You do see it in a LOT of television and movies, but I don’t think the charge holds against J.K. Rowling’s books.

Shane July 22, 2007 at 6:08 pm

After reading the comments and Jimmy’s post, I have to say that I think that both Jimmy and several of the posters suffer from having not read beyond the first book. Many of the criticisms that have been posted are actually proven to be erroneous. For example, Jimmy says that Harry has instant wish fulfillment. I was going to say that this is true to a point, but upon trying out a few sentences, I actually think that this is largely not true. Harry’s wish is to have his parents, not to have fame. Even in the first book, this is demonstrated a bit, but it becomes much clearer in subsequent volumes. In fact, whatever instant wish fulfillment really does take place – that is, the limited fullfillment he does get from his fame – is met quickly with the realization that its not all its cracked up to be. As I said, he doesn’t seem that interested in the fame in volume one, and as the other books go on he grows to downright hate it, wishing simply to be normal. He experiences all the problems that come with fame.
And this echoes a larger point. I would really encourage Jimmy and others who share opinions similar to his to go through and read the entire series, because the criticisms he raised are essentially mistaken.
I want to address specifically the statement that the kids are told that they’re the smart ones, because this is demonstrably false. As Nancy Brown points out in her Catholic Family Guide to the series, one of the best things about the books is that the kids are constantly finding that they don’t have all the answers and that they need adults to help them and offer them guidance. She points out that it is the antithesis of the problem she finds throughout the vast majority of children’s literature: that parents, adults, and other authority figures are uncessesary.
Before having read the 7th volume, I was convinced that the series is a Christian morality tale much like Narnia or the Lord of the Rings, and after reading this last volume it is inarguable. I don’t believe that Ms. Rowling has done as good a job as Lewis did, but I think that is more than made up for by the fact that her books are reaching literally millions upon millions – far more than Lewis’ ever did.
One last point – if you’re basing what you believe on the films, don’t. They miss much of the important material which gives the Christian heart to these stories (for instance, they create much more of an atmosphere that Harry and his friends’ actions have no consequences than do the books, which often do emphasize the consequences of disobedience).

A Simple Sinner July 22, 2007 at 6:46 pm

I have only seen the films and appreciate them as a form of a 2-3 hour escape. The effects are fun, and the acting is very decent.
When it comes to analyzing the writing difficulties JA points out, I can readily concede (at least as adapted to the films) how imbalanced they can be… But I guess I find the HP films to be in line with the other forms of secular entertainment I avail myself of from time to time…
Something that must be looked at in the light of our post-Christian, fallen world. IOW, it has to be viewed through a filter…

Mary Kay July 22, 2007 at 6:59 pm

at least some kids will be influenced by the novels into exploring the occult. That’s a risk that is taken whenever magic is explored in fiction. Lord of the Rings did the same thing.
Jimmy, I don’t buy this. When did LOTR prompt anyone to explore the occult?

Lacy July 22, 2007 at 7:05 pm

The books and films have been a wonderful escape into an interesting world. I haven’t taken up witchcraft because of reading them, just as I didn’t take up murder or cannibalism because I enjoyed Silence of the Lambs. I honestly have never heard of anyone pursuing serious wizardry from reading the books. That’s ridiculous, imho.
Perhaps the writing isn’t a masterpiece of fiction. It doesn’t have to be. The good characters have a particularly endearing quality, and the movies have been an excellent accompaniment to the written series. It’s just a fine entertaining escape.
My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie yesterday and we were thrilled to become reacquainted with our old “friends”. Yes, the movie was dark, but it wasn’t anything that anyone in the theater didn’t enjoy, as evidenced by the cheers and applause at various points.
I am currently reading “Deathly Hallows” and am enjoying it.
I’m with you, Speedmaster.

StubbleSpark July 22, 2007 at 7:30 pm

I love escapist fun stories, but I will not read the Harry Potter books because they clearly cater to immature minds (monster boogers and what not). My adult coworkers call me a snob because I would rather read something edifying and bright and they discount my criticisms out of hand because I have not read any of the books or watched a whole movie.
The standing rule in our office is you cannot criticize something unless you read it all the way through which is a really dumb rule that I am convinced is being secretly backed by an international cadre of bad writers trying to increase their revenues.
There are times when it becomes necessary to read horrible and dumb work by hacks like Dan Brown, Tim LaHaye, and Karl Marx but by and large I have a duty to my fellow countrymen not to encourage substandard or even harmful work.
I suppose it is reasonable to be too tired to read the Summa in one’s spare time. Certainly most of the works by the modernist and post-modernist “artsy” literary types are also worth avoiding for light reading. But why shy away from the Silmarilion, or Dante’s Inferno?
Harry Potter certainly is not the best there is on the market at what it does. It certainly does not sell itself as being inspiring or monumental or even mildly worth while. Why then the vitriol for not liking it enough to read it?
At least now I have some ammunition to support my claim that it is thoroughly not worth the time or money.

Shane July 22, 2007 at 7:45 pm

I think the rule that one must read something before criticizing it is absolutely fair and warranted. How can a person possibly criticize something which he has not come to understand in some way? Non-Christians constantly criticize the Bible without having read it. Non-Catholics criticize the Church without reading what She has to say. When this happens, we jump all over these people… how can we then do the same things ourselves?
I’m not saying a person needs to participate in a seance to criticize the practice of them or taking the point to other extremes that would require people to engage in all sorts of evil behavior to be able to properly criticize them, but certainly one ought to be familiar with seances, for instance, and have at least some working knowledge before one makes a criticism.

Esau July 22, 2007 at 7:50 pm

Actually, there’s a Christian version of Harry Potter out now called: “Fablehaven”!
I guess they want to take a bite out of the 2.4 billion Harry Potter market.

Shane July 22, 2007 at 7:53 pm

The beauty of Harry Potter is that its got blatantly Christian themes in it and is still reaching millions upon millions. It isn’t the sort of overt stuff that will come across as Christian to them now, but it is the sort of stuff that will be there when they are confronted with the Gospel in a more overt way and will make them think back to a time when they found these ideas wonderful and inspiring. On the whole, I think that there are tens of millions of people that are a lot more open to the Gospel message now then there were 10 years ago.

StubbleSpark July 22, 2007 at 8:08 pm

Shane exactly how many passages of boogers and farts must my adult dignity suffer before I have proper authority to criticize Harry Potter as unworthy?
Yes, people who want to do a detailed analysis of a given text must first read it.
I did this very thing by reading that awful Dan Brown book for a parish presentation I gave on the topic.
That experience has really jaded me about the supposed inherently edifying quality of all printed material. I think I would rather swim in cat pee covered in sores than read that insipid trash again.
Still I read Mormon, Scientology, Islamic, Buddhist, and Protestant literature. I do this because these are important to me as an amatuer apologist.
But Harry is not important. Therefore, I get to discount it out of hand. It is immature at best and a dangerous enchantment at worst. I do not read crap if I can help it. Therefore I will not read Harry Potter.

Francis Ocoma July 22, 2007 at 8:57 pm

I’d probably be called a Harry Potter geek, mainly because I know more about the books than many of my HP-fan friends, but I agree with many here that Rowling isn’t exactly the most intellectually or spiritually stimulating of fantasy authors. Nonetheless, as an “HP geek” I can’t help but to join others in nitpicking your critique, sorry. Anyone who read the latter books (4-7) would realize that the series is meant to “grow” with the main character, from the childish Philosopher’s Stone to the really dark Deathly Hallows. Harry practically stopped liking being “The Boy Who Lived” by Book 2, and the only time he was treated exceptionally well (after Book 1) by the majority of his schoolmates was near the end of Book 7. Harry has been forced from one torturous situation to another. Clearly “wish-fulfillment” this is not.
There is also this weird double-standard, where the books are accused of being too much into the occult, and then at the same time they are criticized for being too vague, silly, and contradictory about magical rules. It’s damned for mentioning magic, and damned for not obsessing about magic. People have completely forgotten that magic in Harry Potter is only used by the author as a tool to develop a story that she thought was pretty nice. And to think that this woman is now being demonized for supposedly turning thousands of kids into pagans is just plain ridiculous. It is the overall environment of kids that determines whether they will turn bad or not. Some books might influence them greatly into paganism, but I maintain, as someone who has read the books many times, and as a Catholic, that Harry Potter is not one of them.

Foxfier July 22, 2007 at 9:08 pm

Stubble, depending on what you’re accusing the book of, you may or may not have to read it.
For the D’VC book, you can rather easily find a list of historical flaws– simply because the guy claimed it was historically accurate. Harry Potter hasn’t done that.
It’s a simple story… oh… about the quickest way someone can make me stop listening is to launch into the “Dungeons and Dragons is Satanic!” thing. It has spell components, yes– because that makes it so that the magic isn’t over-powered. It’s a game mechanic. If someone is going to get 10k gold pieces worth of powdered diamond to try to get someone brought back to life…. Well, it won’t be a simple, automatic thing.

Esau July 22, 2007 at 9:17 pm

I agree with many here that Rowling isn’t exactly the most intellectually or spiritually stimulating of fantasy authors.
If that’s the case, why had many who were interviewed by CBS News on Friday actually placed the Harry Potter novels on the same level as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings?
That’s almost like comparing a grocery store bargain book with that of a Pulitzer Award Winning book!
While they’re not going to turn every kid who reads them into a practitioner of Wicca, at least some kids will be influenced by the novels into exploring the occult. That’s a risk that is taken whenever magic is explored in fiction. Lord of the Rings did the same thing.
Harry Potter, yes. But Lord of the Rings?
I doubt Lord of the Rings actually influenced certain people to practice magic.
For example, how about the Ivanhoe or King Arthur novels? They may not have had Gandalf, but they did have Merlin. Did we find in the past those who were actually influenced by the Merlin character in those novels to practice magic?
Also, with respect to Lord of the Rings, Catholicism was a major allegorical theme in these Tolkien novels and those well-versed in the Faith would recognize their Catholic elements.

Esau July 22, 2007 at 9:20 pm

To be clear, my latter comment relating to Lord of the Rings was dealing with Jimmy Akin’s comments and not Mr. Ocoma’s.

misspeaches July 22, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Thank you, thank you, Stubblespark, for so clearly explaining why we don’t all have to read all the Harry Potter books to know that we don’t want to read them! I have never read these books nor seen these movies, and I am going to continue to avoid them forever. Maybe Scott W. and I can take put away our leper warning bells and quit yelling “unclean, unclean” whenever Harry Potter fans approach us.
To answer Mary Kay, I will point out that I am someone who was influenced to explore the occult as a teenager by, among other things, the Lord of the Rings tales. Oh how I longed to see a bit of grey in my eye color so I could believe I was descended from Elves. I remember finding plenty of occult books at the school and public libraries, and buying a how-to manual from those Scholastic Book Club order form that the teachers used to hand out. I learned how to conduct seances, read palms, and obey superstitions in a very short time.
I was attempting to learn to tell fortunes with playing cards, wondering how to get my hands on a real Tarot deck, and yet starting to be afraid of the power I was tapping into, when my mother, God Bless her, asked me, “How can you say you believe in all that supernatural stuff but claim you don’t believe in the Bible?” Well, that got me thinking that if I was serious about believing in the supernatural then I needed to consider very carefully whether I was on the Right side. I knew even then that there were two sides and they couldn’t both be right.
The occult practices were a horrible, terrifying trap, and Thank God He gave me a way out. I guess I would call the rewards I was getting from the occult activities (weird things at seances, premonitions coming true, knowing things about people that I shouldn’t have known, the thrill of having a power that others did not) the diabolical opposite of signal graces, and they were like tasty little crumbs leading me further down a dark path. It took me over a decade to get over the nightmares that robbed me of sleep most nights.
To this day I must be very careful when selecting my now rare sci-fi/fantasy reading. I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then would I look upon…a book about the occult, to paraphrase Job. I always remember Luke 11: 14 – 26, where Jesus teaches about the devil, and warns about an evil spirit. To quote from the New International Version, 24″When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” It was not enough for me to throw out the twelve sided dice and the cards and the how-to books, just making a clean sweep. I have had to take care to fill the void with spiritually uplifing practices, like reading the lives of the saints, praying the Rosary, acts of mercy, et cetera.
So the Harry Potter books will never enter my home, for me or anyone else to read. What I have a hard time believing is how quick so many people are to dismiss these books as harmless to their faith. Are they really, really that harmless? I know from what others have said that they would not help equip me as a soldier of Christ (and are thus a waste of my time), and they would harm me (given my background). I have a hard time believing they are truly harmless to most other people.
But hey, if one Day I find y’all standing around the Throne having a great conversation about “those Harry Potter books we used to read,” then I guess I will have plenty of time then to catch up on the story.

Esau July 22, 2007 at 10:55 pm

To answer Mary Kay, I will point out that I am someone who was influenced to explore the occult as a teenager by, among other things, the Lord of the Rings tales. Oh how I longed to see a bit of grey in my eye color so I could believe I was descended from Elves. I remember finding plenty of occult books at the school and public libraries, and buying a how-to manual from those Scholastic Book Club order form that the teachers used to hand out. I learned how to conduct seances, read palms, and obey superstitions in a very short time.
Garris!?
Nos non possumus volare, et vos non potestis elephantum vorare!

justin July 22, 2007 at 11:12 pm

Would Jimmy, by any stretch of the imagination, be going to Comic Con in San Diego? Something in me hopes for some good Catholic presence in the nigh-pagan geekery when I’m there. Because being a comic fan can still be part of being Catholic.

justin July 22, 2007 at 11:12 pm

Would Jimmy, by any stretch of the imagination, be going to Comic Con in San Diego? Something in me hopes for some good Catholic presence in the nigh-pagan geekery when I’m there. Because being a comic fan can still be part of being Catholic.

A Non July 23, 2007 at 12:00 am

Actually, there developed a neo-pagan cult around The Lord of the Rings as well.
You can find an example here: http://www.elflore.org/ But there are many others. Just actually go through the critical writing on the series, especially about its reception in 60s America, and things will be made clear.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 1:39 am

Stubblespark, what I am saying is simply that you have no right to criticize something if you haven’t read enough of it to know that you are criticizing it fairly. You needn’t read enough for a detailed analysis, but if you’re criticizing something for being something it is not, there is a real problem there. In some cases, this requires more reading than others. For example, a person who has only read a few chapters of the Old Testament might criticize it for being all about violence and racial purity. This would be a very understandable a viewpoint for someone who’s only read a few chapters, but the reality is that it is objectively a badly mistaken viewpoint. In this case, more reading is necessary to offer even the most minor of opinions. I would respectfully suggest that Harry Potter also requires a bit more than a cursory glance for someone to be able to criticize it for what it really is.
But that aside, I think we can all agree that if a person is criticizing something for being X when the thing is not really X at all, then that person’s not read enough and ought to either read it or refrain from speaking on the matter.
And I… I really have to say, Stubblespark, that your statements about “boogers and farts” makes me very tempted to put you in the category of someone who is criticizing these books for being something that really aren’t at all. There is a bit of this stuff in the books – at a ratio of about once per every 2 chapters or so. It’s hardly got a strong presence. I really wonder if you’ve even opened one.

Emily Snyder July 23, 2007 at 2:26 am

Jimmy,
I appreciate your comments and, were they written for the first three – possibly even the first four books – I think I should agree with you. However, from books 4-7, especially from 5 onward (as has been mentioned elsewhere in the comments) the books took a definite turn towards not only the good, but the really good. (I won’t say excellent, but it borders with HP7.)
Likewise, I’m right there with you on the ham-fistedness of her writing and her unfortunate use of CAPSLOCK for whenever Harry is angry (which, if you haven’t seen this, you should! :) . However, I found that books six and particularly seven were very well written, with good insights, good turns of phrase – pieces of solid literature.
I also found, as others have hinted at here…but NO SPOILERS…that several loose ends which I was wont to criticise from other books were neatly and even poignantly and significantly wrapped up here. All in all, it was like finding a satisfactory ending to Lost!
I do urge you to read the books if you would like to continue criticism. The first three (or four or five) are not wholly indicative of the overarching plot which is beautiful in its delivery and in its philosophy (read: tentative theology). My guess is that Rowling has made a spiritual journey over these past 17 years (she began writing in 1990) as much as any woman may.
I’ll have a review up (fingers crossed!) this week at the CGF. But thank you, as always, for starting good conversations!

Emily Snyder July 23, 2007 at 2:32 am

Note: Hrm…upon reviewing the “Puppet Pals and Wizard Angst” (YouTube link above) there are two places that might throw someone who’s rather sensitive – minor, minor things – but the crucial funny bit is at 1:21.

Francis Ocoma July 23, 2007 at 4:13 am

One disadvantage of writing serial novels, as shown in the Harry Potter books, is that the first few books in the series tend to be criticized for having plot-holes. This leads to the author being suspected of “not having thought it through”. (Golly, to think that Rowling planned the books for many years before writing the first one, she must be pretty daft not to have thought things through, eh?) But when a series is meant to be read as a whole, it’s obvious that some things will have to be discovered later on. We don’t know everything yet at the start, because the reader shares the journey of discovery with the main character. And what are we to do while the knowledge is incomplete? Why, we make theories, of course! And this is what keeps the fans happy. The fandom flourishes from all the theory-discussions and fan-fiction writing, while the high-browed critics complain of “flawed economics” and “crappy writing”.

'thann July 23, 2007 at 4:53 am

Ah, finally something about which Jimmy and I disagree! I was beginning to get worried that he had me mesmerized or something.
I hate fantasy literature, but I love the Potter books.
For years I refused to read them because they were “fantasy literature,” but as a Christmas gift this past year, I agreed to allow my son (an actor) to read them to me. I was hooked after the first chapter. He has already read book 7 himself, and is well into reading it aloud to me. It’s definitely a page turner. The seven books mature along with Harry in both plot development and writing style. Rowling did this by design.
An 11-year-old can pick up book 1 and enjoy it at his or her own level, and a more mature 17-year-old can delve into book 7 and not perceive it as childish.
And to support what others have said here, I personally know dozens of people who are practicing neo-pagans who are geatly devoted to and influenced by LOTR.
‘thann

Mike Melendez July 23, 2007 at 5:35 am

I’m not sure where it fits into this conversation, but I am enjoying the Potter books and reading the seventh currently.
I agree they are are not in the same category as Tolkien’s trilogy, but maybe more along the lines of “The Hobbit”, which was also written for older children, or, at least, one child, Tolkien’s son. That said I would agree “The Hobbit” holds together better than the Potter books, but that’s because it takes the viewpoint of a lowly character who gets involved in events much larger than himself. Neither he nor the reader needs to understand the larger events. Rowling tries to write at both levels which results in a breakdown in the upper level. All that said, the Potter series easily bests some of the other fantasy fiction out there.
The Potter books are an easy read that move at a reasonable pace without violating and, in fact, reinforcing some of the ideas that help create human civilization in all of its flaws. Put simply, they are fun to read without leaving a bitter taste in the mind. They are escapist literature, not teaching literature.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 5:52 am

Authors can’t let the fact that somebody in the audience is going to go nuts based on what they write stop them from writing. If they did, we wouldn’t have the Bible. But authors can craft their work in a way that tries to minimize potential harmful effects, and I have sympathy for those who think that J.K. Rowling didn’t do as good a job of this in writing the Harry Potter series as J.R.R. Tolkien did in the Lord of the Rings.

My very long essay on just this subject.

Cajun Nick July 23, 2007 at 6:20 am

I just wanted to encourage anyone who might have put off reading SDG’s very long essay on this subject.
Don’t be put off by the “very long” part: it’s worth the read. Print it out and read it off-line if you don’t have the time to read it all at one sitting. (Plus, it’s not really all that long.)
I gave it to my pastor (a big Tolkien – Lewis fan) a year or so ago, and he really appreciated it too.

Greg July 23, 2007 at 6:27 am

The main thing I don’t like about the Harry Potter series is the blurring of good and evil. Good and evil are never clear cut.
Snape is dark and brooding, appears evil, but is good (so far). Harry’s aunt and uncle who took him in when he was a baby, and raised him and appears kept him somewhat educated although they were a bit strict on him, are portrayed as evil people. If they were into keeping Harry for simply some type of inheritance, they would have done what was minimally required, and that would have been it, but we see Harry with prescription glasses, decent clean clothing, and not suffering from malnutrition. Are they really evil or was Harry just a brat? And finally Harry Himself, here is a boy that is supposedly good, who must go around breaking rules and these are rules that have been in place at Hogwarts for many years and are in place to protect the students, but yet Harry ignores the rules to save his own skin but in the end is never reprimanded for breaking the rules in the first place.
Finally, the portrayal of adults as bumbling buffoons who are oblivious to the goings on around them is another issue I have with the book. Children think they know it all, but a GOOD book should support the idea that you can turn to adults and those in authority to help you out of trouble. I mean please, Harry, who is just learning magic is somehow more powerful than the adults who are teaching it to him? But discussing the portrayal of adults and authority figures in the Harry Potter series should probably wait for another day.
God Bless
A

SDG July 23, 2007 at 6:37 am

The main thing I don’t like about the Harry Potter series is the blurring of good and evil. Good and evil are never clear cut.

Well, to begin with, this surely is an overstatement. For example, the evil of Voldemort and the Death Eaters is pretty “clear cut,” as is the goodness of Dumbledore.
But beyond that, while “clear-cut” good and evil is a well-established convention in high fantasy and European fairy-tale tradition, in much literature — including the Bible — as well as the real world, good and evil are often not so clear-cut. E.g., King David has his moral failings; King Saul has his moments of decency.
Likewise in the real world, individuals from presidents and bishops to our relatives and neighbors are often neither “good” nor “evil” in a simple, binary way, but a daunting mixture of both.
I absolutely agree with the merits of clear-cut good and evil in mythical literature, and I have my own reservations about some stories in which good and evil merge and shift. But the critique of Harry Potter needs to go deeper than this to be persuasive.

Megan Elizabeth July 23, 2007 at 6:57 am

In defense of LOTR, I think that Tolkien took precautions to actually warn people away from the occult.
The main magical object in the series is the One Ring. The One Ring is obviously bad–it was created by a dark lord so that he could control the world. What happens to characters who use the One Ring? Bilbo picks it up and at first he thinks it’s fun. (kind of like Ouija boards are “just a game”?) Yet almost immediately it begins to work on him. He lies about how he got it. Many years later, when he tries to bequeath it to Frodo he finds it nearly impossible to leave the ring behind. Frodo is warned not to use the ring, yet he does anyway, and there are negative consequences to that. Then, of course, there is Gollum. He killed in order to get the ring and in the end it destroyed him.
I do think there is a strong message in LOTR that those who use magic are playing with fire. I haven’t read Harry Potter so I can’t comment on that.

Darwin July 23, 2007 at 6:58 am

I don’t buy this. When did LOTR prompt anyone to explore the occult?
I certainly don’t think that exploring the occult is a reasonable response to reading LotR, or Narnia, or even Harry Potter. However, having ventured once or twice into the peculiar world of science fiction and fantasy conventions, I can assure you that a number of LotR fans to indeed get into all sorts of weird New Age stuff.
No good thing is so good that no one ever managed to use it as an excuse to go bad.

paul zummo July 23, 2007 at 7:01 am

Well, no accounting for taste then.
Just kidding. I had a conversation with a co-worker last week about the books, and when I asked if his daughter read them, he told me that she didn’t read past the first. “They aren’t classics.” Well then.
The Christian themes in this book are obvious. I don’t want to give away the end, but I’ll just say it’s C.S. Lewis-esque.
By the way, if people want to bash the books, fine. There are enough pop culture phenomenons that I find distasteful that I won’t accuse others of snobbery. But if you’re going to criticize the books, using the movies as a means to do so is pretty weak, especially considering how much the movies chop off.

Kevin Cary July 23, 2007 at 8:35 am

On the comment from Esau that the LOTR is allegorical, read some of what Tolkien himself has to say in interviews and especially in the forwards to the books. He categorically denies that any part of any of the novels are intentionally allegorical. He felt that a story that was intentionally allegorical limited the readers freedom in using his imagination.

AnnonyMouse July 23, 2007 at 8:57 am

Thank you SDG for your essay and pointing out the differences between the magic in the classics, and the magic pursued in these books.
It seems to me that some that support the book so vehemently, OSV has two weeks worth of how HP can be good for you, are overlooking the obvious or trying to make those who have strong reservations seem like old fuddy duddys.
Thanks.

TeresaHT July 23, 2007 at 9:01 am

Certainly, this isn’t any overt metaphor of a C.S. Lewis variety. But the setting of Narnia and the setting of a world of magic hidden within our very real world aren’t too different when you sit down and think about it.
See, this why it’s a very bad idea to make judgements/ statements about an entire series without reading it. Yes, there is overt theological metaphor in the Potter books. But it’s in book 7, along with the scripture quotations. I think Rowling just established herself as the best Christian fantasy author of the turn of the century. (Personally, I think she is a better novelist than Lewis. I’m sorry if that’s blasphemy.)

Esau July 23, 2007 at 9:03 am

This Harry Potter MANIA is going TOO FAR!
I just heard over the radio that they’re now offering children GRIEF COUNSELING!
People, what has become of our society when fictional characters are treated as actual, real things?!
I thought only those in the sanitarium suffered from these psychotic episodes — but a supposedly rational society in general?!

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 9:04 am

I’m a big Harry Potter fan, but right now I’m typing without a clue what to type next. I suppose the people who have actually read the series have done a good job of defending it here, and I don’t have much to add.
For some time my literary tastes have been changing – “maturing,” I guess you could say – and now I don’t think as highly of most of the books in my bookcase as I used to, but Harry Potter I still love. I’m still planning to shove the first book down my hypothetical children’s throat when they turn 11, and then the second when they turn 12, and on. Not sure how I’m going to keep them from devouring the series at once when they’re still tweens, but it’ll have to be done, because book 6 and 7 are definitely for older teens only.
Having finished reading the series, the only moral problem I see with it is what seems to be a justification for euthanasia, but I’m not even sure if that killing counts as euthanasia. It was more of a vital strategical move. Maybe you will all have to read and decide…
The other flaw I see with the series is – the romance, which is so horrible and badly done that it completely ruined book 6 for me, and was the sour note of book 7. The worst thing is that the love story written most badly was Harry Potter’s himself. Rowling is a Jane Austen fan, and Jane Austen being such a good romance writer, well, I just don’t get it. There’s a difference between writing a romance novel and writing a romance arc into a larger story, yes, but it’s like Rowling didn’t even try.
Oh, right, there’s some suggestions that the protagonist got rather intimate with his future wife while she still was “future wife”, but it’s all so bad I don’t think that’s going to inspire any child to go and secretly snog his little crush. Not that a child should read books 6 and 7 (or any one beyond the second, for that matter).
Still love the books. The characters are all very solid, and it always fills me with wonder to reread the earlier books and notice things I didn’t notice before, such as an important-for-book-6 piece of broken furniture breaking in book 2. Planning seven books’ worth of plot in such a detailed way before doing any writing… at least that must be appreciated.
For people who read the last book, did the location where he had his conversation with Dumbledore strike them? King’s Cross. Think about it.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 9:10 am

He categorically denies that any part of any of the novels are intentionally allegorical.

I think this is overstatement; at least, I’ve read quotes from Tolkien saying that while the work is not itself allegory, there is allegory in it. And, in a widely reported quote, Tolkien acknowledged that LOTR is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.” Since LOTR is not religious in an overt way, I would venture to suggest that this “fundamentally religious” dimension (which, again, was “conscious in the revision”) probably involves a significant allegorical dimension.

TeresaHT July 23, 2007 at 9:14 am

Certainly, this isn’t any overt metaphor of a C.S. Lewis variety. But the setting of Narnia and the setting of a world of magic hidden within our very real world aren’t too different when you sit down and think about it.
See, this why it’s a very bad idea to make judgements/ statements about an entire series without reading it. Yes, there is overt theological metaphor in the Potter books. But it’s in book 7, along with the scripture quotations. I think Rowling just established herself as the best Christian fantasy author of the turn of the century. (Personally, I think she is a better novelist than Lewis. I’m sorry if that’s blasphemy.)

TeresaHT July 23, 2007 at 9:15 am

Certainly, this isn’t any overt metaphor of a C.S. Lewis variety. But the setting of Narnia and the setting of a world of magic hidden within our very real world aren’t too different when you sit down and think about it.
See, this why it’s a very bad idea to make judgements/ statements about an entire series without reading it. Yes, there is overt theological metaphor in the Potter books. But it’s in book 7, along with the scripture quotations. I think Rowling just established herself as the best Christian fantasy author of the turn of the century. (Personally, I think she is a better novelist than Lewis. I’m sorry if that’s blasphemy.)

Esau July 23, 2007 at 9:17 am

To Those Who Deny the Catholic Allegorical Theme of Lord of the Rings:
“…But, at the end of the day, we may, with Tolkien’s approval, speak of the saga as a Catholic masterpiece. A postscript to this might be the observation that no Protestant could conceivably have written this saga, since it is profoundly “sacramental.” That is, redemption is achieved wholly via physical means–cf The Incarnation, Golgotha, the Resurrection, and the Ascension–and the tale is sprinkled with “sacramentals,” such as lembas, athelas, Galadriel’s phial of light, mithril, etc.
Link:
Does it make sense to speak of The Lord of the Rings as a “Catholic masterpiece”?

Martin Tohill July 23, 2007 at 9:33 am

Oh, right, there’s some suggestions that the protagonist got rather intimate with his future wife while she still was “future wife”,
. I think Rowling just established herself as the best Christian fantasy author of the turn of the century
Two different posters but I can’t reconcile these two views. If it were some character other than HP then I could give it a pass. To me this shows the low moral tone of the book.

Darwin July 23, 2007 at 9:34 am

Oh, right, there’s some suggestions that the protagonist got rather intimate with his future wife while she still was “future wife”
Eh? I just finished book seven, and I’m not sure at all where one would have got that idea… I mean, unless one considers serious kissing to be “rather intimate” in an unacceptible way…

TeresaHT July 23, 2007 at 9:35 am

Ooops- sorry about the multiple posting!
I should also add that I don’t think anyone should have to make excuses for not reading Harry Potter. Read what you want. There are so many books, but so little time. I understand that not everyone enjoys (or benefits from) fantasy, and not all fantasy lovers like Harry Potter. Non-Potter fans shouldn’t have to feel apologetic or defensive about not liking the series.
But all that aside, it isn’t fair try to offer serious criticism of works you’ve not read, or have only read in part.

Francis Ocoma July 23, 2007 at 10:15 am

especially considering how much the movies chop off.

…and blatantly change. A lot of glaring stupidities in the movies are ridiculed even by HP-fans, since those usually aren’t in the books.
Look, there are a lot of bad things that can be said about the books, especially if seen as children’s books. I personally think that little kids should not read beyond Book 2, because some of the disturbing images will damage their minds. Yes, there’s the crude jokes and the questionable puppy-love themes. But allow me to give you the gist of Book 7, just to prove a point.
SPOILERS DELETED.
I hope I didn’t spoil anyone, but my point is that this is at least a nice if imperfect attempt at a moral story; this is a Christian theme, not a pagan one.
Jimmy, I know you’re not saying the books are morally unacceptable, so let me just explain why even your literary complaints might not be fair: Ham-fisted? Harry never had a hint of why he was even targeted as an infant until Book 5, and never fully realized its significance until the end of Book 7. He never even showed any extraordinary magical skill until Book 3!
His future was not given to him on a silver platter because the next six years of his life could never realistically be called envious. Often he wished he never had the scar and that he wasn’t famous, and he resented other wizards being jealous of him due to their false image of his life. What’s the good of occasionally getting a few of life’s pleasures if you live with your unpleasant aunt’s family every summer, you’re often not trusted by anybody, you have to escape almost-certain death more times than anyone would like, and you’re trapped in a prophesied destiny of being murderer or murder-victim? Honestly, I’d rather be a Muggle.

Seamus July 23, 2007 at 10:23 am

I just heard over the radio that they’re now offering children GRIEF COUNSELING!
I trust it takes the form of saying, “They’re just fictional characters, kid. I counsel you to get over it and go play ball.”

rose July 23, 2007 at 10:41 am

Well, I don’t think that the HP books are great literature, but they are fun. Rowling is not a very good writer, but she is (IMHO) a crackerjack storyteller, especially in the later books. In the later books, some of her characters acquire a lot more subtlety: by the end of Deathly Hallows, for instance, twinkling-eyed Dumbledore has become a much more flawed and interesting character than the relatively generic Wise Old Mentor he was in the first book. And while Harry gets a lot of stuff handed to him on a plate in the first book, things get a lot harder for him. In Book Five, he faces some apalling consequences for his habit of charging off to the rescue without telling any adults; and in Book Seven, he is faced with the need to literally lay down his life that others may live. In fact, the entire theme of Book Seven is the renunciation of power and the acceptance of death, as opposed to Voldemort’s willingness to commit any crime to gain power and immortality.
There are certainly some moral problems with the HP series. (For instance, modifying people’s memories is supposed to be perfectly okay–what the heck?!) But I think they’re perfectly fine for teenagers (they *do* get “older” as the series goes along), and for those of us whose taste runs that way, they are *awesome* fun.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 10:43 am

Jimmy, thanks for deleting the SPOILERS in the post above. I certainly didn’t want to learn the climax of Book 7 this way. Posters, please be considerate and avoid revealing major plot points!

Esau July 23, 2007 at 10:58 am

I trust it takes the form of saying, “They’re just fictional characters, kid. I counsel you to get over it and go play ball.”
Seamus,
If only that.
There are actually Grief Counselors being made available to children!
If that’s the case, in light of the fact how some adults are behaving in a similar manner, perhaps they should extend the services of these professional grief counselors to the adults as well!
Also, where were all these ‘professional grief counselors’ back then for those children who experienced similar ‘fictional’ disappointments???
For example, how about that snappy scene in ‘Bambi’???
It almost seems that the offering of these grief counseling services to children is merely part of a PR ploy to promote further publicity and sales for the final Harry Pothead book!

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 11:05 am

and I’m not sure at all where one would have got that idea…

Harry kept remembering “moments” in secluded corners at Hogwarts. One can only guess at what they were doing. In book 6, the girl gets asked if it was true that Harry had a tattoo in his chest or in his back, I forget where, but it was a question that presumed that she must’ve seen him without a shirt, while they were alone. Which is a presumption that is never denied.
I’m not saying they had sex. I highly doubt they did. But they did “things” which are never described for the reader, which leaves one thinking of the worst. The one decent conversation between Harry and his girl the reader witnesses is back in book 5, in the library, and they get together in book 6. One gets the impression it’s a pretty physical relationship. I’m sure this wasn’t Rowling’s intention, but that’s what bad writing does.
Oh, and the girl wears a dress that is described as “too low cut” by one of the characters, “Auntie Muriel”. Auntie Muriel absurdly criticized everyone in the party, but her criticism towards Harry’s future wife didn’t help the general bad impression of the girl I had, specially since she dragged Harry into her room the day of his birthday to give him something to remember him by. Which the reader does see. Good thing they were interrupted.

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 11:09 am

Also, where were all these ‘professional grief counselors’ back then for those children who experienced similar ‘fictional’ disappointments???
For example, how about that snappy scene in ‘Bambi’???

We didn’t have Grief Counselors for Bambi because we weren’t so stupid back then.

Adolfo July 23, 2007 at 11:12 am

While I disagree, I did enjoy your criticism. But an economist’s literary opinion? Talk about draining the life out of anything…

Esau July 23, 2007 at 11:16 am

We didn’t have Grief Counselors for Bambi because we weren’t so stupid back then.
Exactly!
Thanks, nutcrazical! ;^)
Although I didn’t actually watch Bambi back then, my classmates who did didn’t actually become traumatized due to a fictional character having met their demise!
I would love to see who in the world is actually paying for these professional grief counselors for these avid HP readers who are supposedly suffering such trauma.
Again, I suspect it’s the Harry Pothead PR folks.

Jordan Potter July 23, 2007 at 11:21 am

like the fact Lewis consistently mixes up descriptive details about his characters, and throws together mythologies that make NO sense together. (What the heck was Fr. Christmas doing showing up in a world with Christ?)
Why wouldn’t Father “Christ”-mas show up in a world with Christ? Aslan, of course, is the Narnian Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity — he’s not just an allegory for Jesus Christ, he really is Christ, redeeming Narnia in their parallel universe as He redeemed us in our universe. So, if you want to tell a “What if there were parallel worlds that God created and redeemed as He did ours” sort of story, why couldn’t God decide to create one in which mythology and folklore from our world could frolick and play together?

GregK July 23, 2007 at 11:27 am

Criticizing J.K. Rowling’s writing style seems about as sensible as criticizing Tiger Woods’ golf game.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 11:28 am

Jordan Potter:
FYI, Tolkien also criticized C.S. Lewis for his having mixed various mythologies together.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 11:30 am

Criticizing J.K. Rowling’s writing style seems about as sensible as criticizing Tiger Woods’ golf game.
Great, first I heard over the weekend J.K Rowling being considered as great a writer as Tolkien on CBS News.
Now, it seems her ‘greatness’ is being on the same level as Tiger Woods!
What next???
J.K. Rowling is more popular than Jesus Christ???

Darwin July 23, 2007 at 11:38 am

Why wouldn’t Father “Christ”-mas show up in a world with Christ?
The danger of typos…
I meant to say “without” not “with”. Yes, Aslan is meant to be the incarnation of Christ in Narnia, but Aslan’s story is not the same as that of Christ in our world. It makes no sense for their to be a “Christmas” in Narnia. Aslan was never born of a woman in Narnia, nor does Christianity exist in Narnia, so why would there be a Christmas?
The showing up of Fr. Christmas and the “always winter and never Christmas” strike me as, instead, being rather ham-fisted attempts at play off concepts which Lewis figured would be familiar and important to children.
I enjoy the Narnia books a lot, but one has to accept that (especially in the first few) Lewis is downright sloppy in the way he throws things together. But then, this is the fellow who lifted Numenor out of Tolkien’s (as yet unpublished) work and used it in his own novels — not only getting Tolkien’s mythology wrong, but even spelling it wrong.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 11:45 am

…Rowling is just too ham fisted…
…rather ham-fisted attempts…
All this talk of ham-fists is making me hungry!
Does anybody know where and how this term originated?

SDG July 23, 2007 at 11:51 am

I meant to say “without” not “with”. Yes, Aslan is meant to be the incarnation of Christ in Narnia, but Aslan’s story is not the same as that of Christ in our world. It makes no sense for their to be a “Christmas” in Narnia. Aslan was never born of a woman in Narnia, nor does Christianity exist in Narnia, so why would there be a Christmas?

Because, clearly, the Narnian world is not and never has been hermetically sealed from God’s doings in our world, including the creation of Adam and Eve (and their Sons and Daughters) in God’s image, as well as the assumption of human nature in the Incarnation.
As Lewis later established, the heritage of terrestrial sacred and redemptive history was brought intto Narnia from the very beginning by King Frank and Queen Helen, the first King and Queen of Narnia. It is of incarnational significance that Lewis has Aslan put a Son of Adam and a Daughter of Eve on the thrones in Narnia from the very beginning, though they had been a mere cab driver and his wife in London, should reign as King and Queen in Narnia, for those who share Christ’s humanity and redemption will reign with him.
Besides, “always winter and never Christmas” is excellent poetry.

But then, this is the fellow who lifted Numenor out of Tolkien’s (as yet unpublished) work and used it in his own novels — not only getting Tolkien’s mythology wrong, but even spelling it wrong.

Sheeeesh. You’re putting down Lewis for an homage to a friend’s work? And quibbling about a phonetic spelling of a word Lewis had only heard spoken, never seen written? Again I say sheeeesh.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 11:54 am

Criticizing J.K. Rowling’s writing style seems about as sensible as criticizing Tiger Woods’ golf game.

Super-successful doesn’t necessarily equal super-talented. One might counter that it’s more like criticizing McDonalds’ culinary accomplishment.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 12:00 pm

FYI, Tolkien also criticized C.S. Lewis for his having mixed various mythologies together.

Yes, Tolkien was a bit cranky on that subject. He was the kind of person who didn’t like to have his peas and mashed potatoes touching, you know what I mean?
But I’m not persuaded there’s an in-principle argument to be made against the kind of mythological mish-mash Lewis did in Narnia — or for that matter J. M. Barrie did in Peter Pan, what with mermaids, pirates, Indians, fairies, talking animals and a boy named Pan all hugger-mugger, just as they are in a child’s mind, which is of course what the Neverland is.
Incidentally, Lewis defended Narnia on precisely this ground, arguing that all the different characters of all different mythologies do quite happily coexist — in our minds. Tolkien’s cranky reply: “Not in mine, they don’t — or at least not at the same time!”
Point: Lewis (in my book).

freddy July 23, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Jimmy,
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I’ve enjoyed the Harry Potter books with my children, but not for their literary value. While Rowling has a great creative genius and her characters are enjoyable and complicated, the world she creates just doesn’t work. It’s fun, mind you, and not nearly as much of a mess as the “Star Wars” universe, but ultimately what we call in our family “popcorn books.”
In addition, I’ve found the experiment (whether intentional or not I don’t know) of writing each book geared toward older and older readers: (Not explaining myself well, sorry! It seems that the first book is more geared toward 11 year olds, the next to 12 year olds, and so on, to keep up with Harry & his friends’ ages.) Anyway! that experiment isn’t going to do the books well in the long run as younger readers will be frustrated by the later books, and older readers will be bored by the earlier books.
Just my take!

Darwin July 23, 2007 at 12:08 pm

SDG,
I guess we’ll just have to differ. I hated Peter Pan as well… :-)

SDG July 23, 2007 at 12:15 pm

I hated Peter Pan as well… :-)

The actual Barrie novel/play, or one or more adaptations?
In any case, I’m something of a Panatic myself. :-) (See all Peter Pan related reviews at Decent Films, including Finding Neverland, the silent 1922 version, and Return to Never Land… only the 1960s Mary Martin kinescope is missing, though mentioned in the 2000 Cathy Rigby version.)
And, of course, I am a Narnian to my bones (without in any way relinquishing my ties to Middle-earth, or to Prydain for that matter.

I guess we’ll just have to differ.

Hence de gustibus and all that.

Darwin July 23, 2007 at 12:25 pm

The original novel. (I disliked all movies I’ve seen as well, but I figured that followed since I didn’t like the original.)
I guess I’m just more of a Tolkien-ian, at root. I enjoyed all the Narnia books to one extent or another (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe definately the least) but really only liked Silver Chair and Last Battle unreservedly.

Bill Q July 23, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Darwin writes:
It makes no sense for their to be a “Christmas” in Narnia.
In “The Magician’s Nephew,” the novel the precedes “TLTWATW” in the Narnia time line, the first king and queen of Narnia come from our world — England, actually. So, they could have easily brought their Christian traditions with them into Narnia.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Yes, Tolkien was a bit cranky on that subject. He was the kind of person who didn’t like to have his peas and mashed potatoes touching, you know what I mean?
SDG:
Even if that were the case, I’d still have to concur with Tolkien.
You’re talking to somebody who doesn’t particularly like KFC’s STOMACH BOWLS! ;^)

me from England July 23, 2007 at 12:45 pm

meh. I’m a devout Catholic and I enjoyed all 7 books.
Also, I think it’s a bit odd that you consider yourself knowledgeable enough about the books to comment in such a way on them, when you have only read the first one.

SDG July 23, 2007 at 12:52 pm

You’re talking to somebody who doesn’t particularly like KFC’s STOMACH BOWLS! ;^)

So there are extremes at both ends of the spectrum. I like to scoop up mashed potatoes with my meat, which puts me somewhere in the middle, I think.
As one who has taken great pleasure reading Barrie’s Peter Pan aloud to his kids at least twice — and Narnia any number of times — I just can’t buy into Tollers’ epicurean fastidiousness on this point.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 1:14 pm

What are the morals of the books?
What is the source of “magic”?
Is there any benefits for the world or is magic in the end for the individual?
How strangely similar to the masonic influences of the real world with important characters in the books society belonging to secret societies as voldemorts or that order of the phonix?
This is the same as any of these pseudo-wondorous stories.
It is deliberately made to fill that hole man has because we were created for God, and we can see God in the wonderful temporal things of the middle ages like castles and cathedrals, all bought by the Precious Blood of Our Lord on the Cross, yet 500 years of decadence has brought us to this worlds ugliness, yet our desire for those things do not disappear. So what do those who control and work for Satan do?
They give you Disneyworlds, with castles and princes and princesses. Not real of course, as they destroyed that already, but they can’t destroy the ardor for beauty in our lives. They give you wondorous scenes of castles with satanists- I mean wizards and such.
All to fill the hole of what the Devil has destroyed.
But the Church is invincible…
And the ruins of Christianity will rise again!

SDG July 23, 2007 at 1:30 pm

What are the morals of the books?
What is the source of “magic”?
Is there any benefits for the world or is magic in the end for the individual?

Do you always ask questions like that when it comes to, say, Cinderella or The Wizard of Oz? Just wondering.

How strangely similar to the masonic influences of the real world with important characters in the books society belonging to secret societies as voldemorts or that order of the phonix?

You shouldn’t wave sharp objects around like that, man. You could poke an eye out.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 1:51 pm

meh. I’m a devout Catholic and I enjoyed all 7 books.
Also, I think it’s a bit odd that you consider yourself knowledgeable enough about the books to comment in such a way on them, when you have only read the first one.
Posted by: me from England | Jul 23, 2007 12:45:58 PM

me from England:
Were you talking to me???
For your information, as Kasia, Mary Kay, and the rest of the others who have seen my past comments can attest concerning C.S. Lewis & his Chronicles, I happen to LOVE the series!
The only thing that I wanted to point out was that Tolkien was critical of the mixing of mythologies in Lewis’ work; that’s all, which I can concur with.
By the way, I read the entire series in my youth and even now still consider the books amongst my favourites.

Tim J. July 23, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Esau, I think “me from England” was probably responding to Jimmy.
I hope to read the book, but I just can’t imagine finding the time, especially since it is in line behind a daunting number of other books.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 1:59 pm

My bad, Tim J.
His comment came right after mine and so I thought he was responding to what I said in my preceding comment about Lewis’ work.
About being “behind a daunting number of other books”, I hear you brother!
I almost wish I was the guy in that Twilight Zone episode where he finally got all the time in the world to read all the books he ever wanted — with my glasses yet intact, of course!
(Thank God for contacts!)

Tim J. July 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm

By the way, Jimmy… I bet I’m not the only one who would be interested to see you take a stab at some fiction writing.
Any chance we’ll see something like that sneaking out anytime soon… like in the next couple of decades?

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Esau – I doubt it, Harry Potter doesn’t need publicity. That’s even more absurd than saying the pope is trying to drum up some attention for himself. I doubt there was a more anticipated book in history. And with good reason, I might add. They must be the best young adult books released in recent history.
It really saddens me that Jimmy decided to judge the entire series based on the first book. I say you can’t make a proper judgment until at least reading up until the third. And that’s pushing it – I’d recommend to go all the way to the fifth, but then, that’s my favorite one.

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Oh, and the whole idea of Grief Counselors is what proves that society is getting more stupid with every day. Get yourself a Bible, go to church, and pray.

Jimmy Akin July 23, 2007 at 3:10 pm

By the way, Jimmy… I bet I’m not the only one who would be interested to see you take a stab at some fiction writing.
Any chance we’ll see something like that sneaking out anytime soon… like in the next couple of decades?

Fiction? I don’t have enough time to get my non-fiction projects done!
My blog also is (or until recently has been) approximatley equal to a novel a month in word count in terms of the part of it that I compose.
Fiction is also a very different skill set. Doing non-fiction, I just have to say what the facts are. I don’t have to make up entertaining non-facts. I may have thoughts about what fiction I like, but producing it is an entirely different animal.

labrialumn July 23, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Jerry Pournelle, the author you recommended, is a Catholic.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Oh, and the whole idea of Grief Counselors is what proves that society is getting more stupid with every day.
nutcrazical,
That’s the reason I remarked: “Exactly!”
Esau – I doubt it, Harry Potter doesn’t need publicity. That’s even more absurd than saying the pope is trying to drum up some attention for himself. I doubt there was a more anticipated book in history.
I was simply exagerrating to make fun of the whole Grief Counselors bit.

labrialumn July 23, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Susanne,
Alles in Ordnung, eh? Yes, the children must always obey, and not be nasty rebels like that Joe Ratsinger and his brother running away from Hitler Youth.
You just don’t get it, do you? Right and wrong are more important than alles in ordnung. I’m sorry, but I’ve run into that argument before, and I still find it untrue to the books – and to Christianity.
ok, I am stopping reading now, as I see that someone is talking about the 7th book. Straight to Azkaban with you and your ilk. Do not pass ‘go’, do not collect 200 galleons!

Maureen July 23, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Some people have a hammer and see the whole world as nails. And then some people follow this up by trying to stick nails up their noses.
There really isn’t any form of art, or material object, or facial expression, that can’t be turned into an occasion of sin by _somebody_. We are all occasions of sin for each other.
And yet, startlingly enough, God doesn’t counsel us to go into hiding, shrivel up, and die.

Kasia July 23, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Amen, Maureen!
I was going to leave commenting to the more learned among us, but I just HAD to jump in when I saw Nut’s comments. I’m going to try really hard not to spoil anything here, but feel free to censor me if you think I do:
Re: the dress being low-cut, we are never TOLD how low it is cut, and considering that Fleur’s 11-year-old sister is also a bridesmaid, there’s no reason to suspect it’s indecent. Also note that she’s a bridesmaid: hard to believe she chose the dress. And the way I read the whole thing was that Auntie Muriel was clearly one of those nasty, gossipy old ladies whose judgment should almost never be trusted, especially as she is an avid Rita Skeeter reader. I doubt the dress conformed to Marylike standards of modesty, but there’s no reason to think it was showing off her business.
Re: the intimacy issue, all we know at any point is that they kissed. Maybe more happened, maybe it didn’t, but seems to me that charity is supposed to assume the best, in the absence of evidence to the contrary?
Re: how well they knew each other and whether their relationship was “pretty physical”, they knew each other for years before they got together, and I suggest you go back and re-read the fifth and sixth books (especially the sixth).
I would say more, but I really don’t want to put out an inadvertent spoiler – I’m trying so hard not to!

Esau July 23, 2007 at 4:30 pm

By the way, Jimmy… I bet I’m not the only one who would be interested to see you take a stab at some fiction writing.
Any chance we’ll see something like that sneaking out anytime soon… like in the next couple of decades?
Posted by: Tim J. | Jul 23, 2007 2:03:07 PM

Tim J.,
I hate to break it to you, but J.K. Rowling is really Jimmy Akin!
Sorry, Jimmy, I had to let the cat out of the bag.
That lady pretending to be J.K. Rowling, your nom de plume as it were, is doing a rather poor job at pretending to be you, or, at least, J.K. Rowling. =^)

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 4:52 pm

POSSIBLE OLDER POTTER BOOK SPOILER INSIDE, NOTHING FOR THE NEW ONE
Greg-
Harry’s aunt and uncle who took him in when he was a baby, and raised him and appears kept him somewhat educated although they were a bit strict on him, are portrayed as evil people.
… They locked him in a closet as his room, randomly starved him and mentally/emotionally abused him– while praising and spoiling their own pig of a son, right beside him. (Emotional abuse is something that really gets to me, since it comes before physical abuse and my aunt had to deal with it.) “A bit strict”? My MOM is a bit strict– we had an 8pm curfew, and if we did something really bad, we got swatted and sent to our room! What do they have to do to be not good people– pull out red-hot irons? (This story is set in Great Brittan– which has national health care. That he has glasses isn’t saying much.)
They are also not portrayed as evil– they are show as *ignorant,* and willfully so. They do everything they can to seem normal, and stamp out anything that seems odd, or pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s a tolerance theme– they hate the different, the magic, to a level that is deranged.
The reason they keep Harry is because Dumbledore showed up and told Petunia that she *would* protect her own blood from the murderous SOBs that were coming after them. It took a threat from one of the most powerful wizards around to make them take in their own nephew– golly, what great folks, hm?
And finally Harry Himself, here is a boy that is supposedly good, who must go around breaking rules and these are rules that have been in place at Hogwarts for many years and are in place to protect the students, but yet Harry ignores the rules to save his own skin but in the end is never reprimanded for breaking the rules in the first place.
Apparently, you didn’t read the books much, or you’d know that he gets in trouble quite often. The first example of not doing as your told and getting in trouble for it is when they’re nearly killed by the troll in the first book. Them getting in trouble is vital to the plot, in fact– how else would they always end up with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest?
Now, the characters aren’t black and white–this isn’t a fairy tale, this is a child/young adult series. Everyone over the age of reason knows that good people do bad things, and sometimes bad folks do good things. You’re complaining about the books not being something they were never ment to be– a flat morality tale. There’s a *reason* that those boring-to-tears “Christian” stories aren’t very popular. (I still have no idea how someone can make “David and Goliath” boring, but I’ve seen it done.)

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Kasia– Re: the dress– did you by chance have one of those “aunts” that thought a collar bone was as bad as flashing? That’s how I’m figuring that nasty woman.
And re: hiding– considering the lady’s brother, OF COURSE they’re going to be hiding!

Kasia July 23, 2007 at 5:39 pm

Foxfier,
I have known many an “aunt” like that, put it that way. :-)
Also, re: your response to Greg, I would also add that the Dursleys permitted their son to violently abuse Harry, and that at one point, when they have been scared enough (by the prospect of wizards knowing what they’ve been doing) to stop making him sleep in the cupboard under the stairs (where he slept for ten years) and have generously allowed him to start sleeping in their son’s SECOND BEDROOM (they had four bedrooms: their room, a guest room, a room for their son, and a room for all the junk their son broke/didn’t want but wouldn’t get rid of), when they realized he wasn’t permitted to do magic outside of school they locked him in, fitted bars on the window, and fed him one small meal a day through a cat-flap in the door. His friends had to come break him out.
That’s not “a bit strict” in my book. “A bit strict” to describe the Dursleys is like using “assertive” to describe Attila the Hun.
And his glasses are held together by Spellotape – remember Hermione repairs them on the train when they first meet? My guess is he got them because a teacher noticed he couldn’t read the blackboard and called the Dursleys’ attention to it.
They are alternately negligent and cruel. Not “a bit strict.” Sheesh…
And re: The main thing I don’t like about the Harry Potter series is the blurring of good and evil. Good and evil are never clear cut.
They often aren’t in the real world, either. That’s why one is not supposed to judge a book by its cover, right? The fact that there IS evil, and IS good, does not mean that one can always readily discern where someone falls in terms of good and evil.
Re: Harry running amok. There are plenty of times when Harry does turn to adults, and plenty of times when he realizes he should have. There are also plenty of consequences when he doesn’t.
However, I suspect most teenagers are not going to relate readily to a character who’s always saying “Let’s go talk to Mom about this” or “Shouldn’t we ask Teacher for help?” They are more apt to relate to the teenager who tries to do it him/herself and suffers consequences, thus (one hopes) learning that sometimes it IS best to ask a more knowledgeable person for help.

Kasia July 23, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Oh – and there are limits to magic in the books. It doesn’t solve everyone’s problems – Harry can’t just wave his wand and say “Let Voldemort be magically dead!” and tra-la-la, problem solved. There’s a definite internal logic to the world Rowling created.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:11 pm

The sad part is that the epigraphs in this book are direct from the Bible and neither Harry nor Hermione get them:
“where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
and
“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 7:12 pm

Kasia: that’s why I said that “it doesn’t help things”. I know… the lady… wasn’t showing the girls to the world, that Auntie Muriel was being exaggerated; I would’ve just smirked it off if it weren’t for what the lady had done earlier and what she did next (winking!). She started rubbing me off the wrong way ever since her rant to her brother when he ran into her and her boyfriend on book 6, I suppose, and, oh, there just never was anything to redeem her in that area.
All they did was kiss for all we know for sure, but do you think that’s what will be in the mind of most readers?
I chalk it up, again, to bad romance writing. We never really see them forming a close relationship. The lady never becomes a true main character – she’s never very prominent, and she’s the protagonist’s love interest! We never see him express much affection towards her – he just remembers those “moments” and wants to see her again. And we have no clue what happened in those “moments”. Him remembering something she said, or perhaps her smile, would’ve been so much more effective than saying he remembered unspecified “moments”. I just can’t get over how badly written it was.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:18 pm

There are actually Grief Counselors being made available to children!
The insanity there lies in the very existence of grief counselors. Certainly children have long been put into tears by the death of Charlotte.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Snape is dark and brooding, appears evil, but is good (so far).
This is objectional?

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 7:34 pm

I keep double posting, sorry…
Esau: Dude, I just can’t get your sense of humor =\
Mary: By “getting them”, you mean being able to tell they’re from the Bible? I’m quite sure there was no way Harry would’ve been able to tell because of who he was raised by. It’s very doubtful the Dursleys would’ve him, or themselves to church. Hermione may have been able to tell, but since the tombs were in a churchyard, it really was nothing worth mentioning that the quotes where from the Bible.
The real reason for the Bible quotes being there without it being pointed out that they were from the Bible is that people aren’t explicitly religious in the Potterverse. (Before anyone who hasn’t read the books gets alarmed, there’s not a word against religion uttered in the whole series.) It’s really strange, because there’s godparents, and apparently they’re expected to take their job seriously – to do things like taking the godchild in after the parent’s death – and we see a church in a village, and… oops, I was just about to give away something. Still, though, never anything really religious. Which is really a positive point: anything too religious could’ve been a potential turn-off. And it’s a positive argument for the series: it would’ve been so easy to, say, have a priest Death Eater. He would already have the black robes, and everything!
Also, a writer by the last name of Granger noted that “Death Eaters” was a fine, Christian name for a group of villains – “Death Eaters” as opposed to “Life Eaters”, those who eat the bread of life.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Criticizing J.K. Rowling’s writing style seems about as sensible as criticizing Tiger Woods’ golf game.
Actually, her writing style is nothing to write home about.
All aspiring writers note: a good story told plainly, even flatly, will sell better than a poor story told exquisitely.

TeresaHT July 23, 2007 at 7:37 pm

All they did was kiss for all we know for sure, but do you think that’s what will be in the mind of most readers?
“To the pure all things are pure.” That may not be true as a general principle, perhaps, but in this case I think it applies. If readers imagine Harry and his girlfriend sinning, that says much more about readers’ minds than about Rowling’s morality, or the narrative itself.
As far as I can tell, NONE of the main characters engage in premarital sex. Yes, true chastity means more than just that, but I’m not sure what you expected: a lecture on chastity dropped into the middle of the sixth or seventh book? (Actually, I thought that was part of the point of Ron’s relationship in Book Six: it was a critique of physicality for the sake of physicality.) Did you think Rowling should have created characters who didn’t enjoy kissing, holding hands, and gazing into each others’ eyes? Did you expect Harry to pick up a copy of I Kissed Dating Good-bye and decide to postpone dating until he was ready to marry?

Eric July 23, 2007 at 7:39 pm

I tried to read HP but found it boring..I don’t read that much fantasy but i guess Sword of Shannara and the Lord of the Rings spoiled me :)

nutcrazical July 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm

It seems I’m not the only one who can’t quite get Esau’s humor =)
I’ll add to Mary’s advice that a story with the most interesting plot ever can be ruined by badly written characters. Good characters and good characterization are key (I actually think this is the strongest point of the Harry Potter series).

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:41 pm

But I’m not persuaded there’s an in-principle argument to be made against the kind of mythological mish-mash Lewis did in Narnia — or for that matter J. M. Barrie did in Peter Pan, what with mermaids, pirates, Indians, fairies, talking animals and a boy named Pan all hugger-mugger, just as they are in a child’s mind, which is of course what the Neverland is.
It has been my experience that fantasy novels that use a medley of sources tend to be thinner than those that use a consistent sources. Not always, sometimes the author’s imagination fuses all the sources into a new imaginative synthesis. And sometimes the happy jumble can be great fun. But the unification that a common source gives a source of power to the story.
(And there are fantasy novels where the monsters have you mutter “I can hear dice rolling.”)

Francis Ocoma July 23, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Gah! I’m so sorry for the spoiler (which Jimmy deleted). I was sleepy and didn’t think very clearly, but for those who saw it, be assured that the climax of the story is really much more complicated than that.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 7:44 pm


Apparently, you didn’t read the books much, or you’d know that he gets in trouble quite often.

For instance:
At Hogwarts, the four houses compete with points. In the first book, Harry and his friends lose their house a whole slew of points by breaking rules, and get quite unpopular because of it.
In the second book, Harry and Ron break rules getting to Hogwarts, and Harry’s plea is not to be let off but not to take points from their house on the grounds that the school year hadn’t actually started yet.

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Snape is dark and brooding, appears evil, but is good (so far).
This is objectional?

Of course– we’re supposed to teach kids to judge folks by how they look, and that anyone they don’t like is evil.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 7:59 pm

I believe that the reason they don’t get the quotes from the Bible is because the quotes aren’t… how do I put this… in the world of Harry, the quotes “aren’t from the Bible.” If this really is, as it seems to be, an attempt to tell a Christian story without mentioning God – to get past the watchful dragons of the anti-Christian society, as CS Lewis put it – then the quotes would be understood to be quotes that don’t really exist in Harry’s world.
In other words, it is a story meant to teach about God by describing a world where “God” as we know Him doesn’t exist. If the wizarding world were simply a parallel to our real world, well it really would be rather evil, because in their world Christ would have come, died and risen, and He would have prohibited sorcery, and they’d be breaking that commandment. It’s similar to the Lord of the Rings, in my opinion. In the Lord of the Rings, God isn’t a real being in the story who created the world and came and died and rose and such. Nevertheless, Tolkien said that God was essentially the main character of the story. It’s a story that teaches about God through symbolism using a world where God doesn’t exist. It’s telling stories, as Jimmy once put it, about the way things aren’t – with the added intention of helping to illustrate the way things are. In the same way, one would have to assume that Harry Potter takes place in a fictional world where Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary and so forth are not historical people. I would suggest that the Bible doesn’t even exist in the Harry Potter world. Certainly Hermione would recognize the quotes if it did, and the question of why the Potters and Dumbledore would have chosen quotations for their gravestones from a source which condemned them makes little sense.
If anything, I might speculate that these quotations – in addition to being given to us to show the Christian core of the story – were put in here to show us this very point: this is not the world we live in. This is not the world in which there is a book called the Bible which was inspired by God. This is a fictional world where that does not exist – but a world in which those principles of Christianity are present and central to the world, a world which shows them to us.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Esau: Dude, I just can’t get your sense of humor =\
It seems I’m not the only one who can’t quite get Esau’s humor =)

Dude,
It wasn’t a joke; it was a dig at ‘Professional Grief Counselors’; thus, the ‘scare quotes’.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 8:02 pm

For instance:
At Hogwarts, the four houses compete with points. In the first book, Harry and his friends lose their house a whole slew of points by breaking rules, and get quite unpopular because of it.
In the second book, Harry and Ron break rules getting to Hogwarts, and Harry’s plea is not to be let off but not to take points from their house on the grounds that the school year hadn’t actually started yet.

Actually, I believe that the point system of the houses illustrates a key aspect of the Communion of the Saints – our choices do not affect only us, but they affect everyone. The damage caused by our sis – even our private ones – does not stop at the boundary of ourselves. They hurt everyone – whereas our merits help everyone.

Jordan Potter July 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Esau said: FYI, Tolkien also criticized C.S. Lewis for his having mixed various mythologies together.
Yes, he did — and I, Tolkien Geek, owner of every volume in the History of Middle Earth series and now of the new publication, The Children of Hurin, was aware that Tolkien didn’t like how Lewis mixed and matched mythologies. Still, both Lewis and Tolkien were influenced by medieval romance, and there is ample precedent in medieval romance for the sort of mixing and matching that Lewis did. Also, while Tolkien didn’t mix and match like Lewis did, he did create a mythology that drew inspiration from, and heavily borrowed from, English, Norse, Welsh, Irish, and other legendary cycles. The Norse element is especially obvious in The Hobbit.
Darwin said: I meant to say “without” not “with”.
Thanks for clearing that up.
As for the rest of your comments and objections, SDG has more than adequately responded to them. There is a reasonable explanation for how the custom of Christmas got started in Narnia, and as for the “Numinor” borrowing, you can’t blame Lewis for getting the Numenorean mythology wrong when he didn’t know and didn’t particularly care what his friend’s mythology was — it was just a nice homage to a friend, and he happened to like the sound of the word “Numenor” (who doesn’t?). Tolkien and Lewis were doing quite different, though related, things when they wrote their books. Lewis was in the realm of children’s stories and fairy tales, imagining a world in which a lot of mythical and legendary creatures really existed and dwelt together, so as to delve into the question of what if God created and redeemed parallel universes. Tolkien for his part wanted to construct a plausible or realistic-feeling ancient history that would account for the development of Anglo-Saxon mythology and legend and folklore, as well as the origins of European languages. He mainly created Middle-earth so his languages and myths would have a place to evolve. I think Tolkien’s works are better literature than Lewis’, and I like Tolkien better than Lewis, but I don’t think Lewis’ are bad — I think they’re both good, but just different.

Jordan Potter July 23, 2007 at 8:16 pm

In the Lord of the Rings, God isn’t a real being in the story who created the world and came and died and rose and such. Nevertheless, Tolkien said that God was essentially the main character of the story.
The story of LOTR is pre-incarnational, happening after the Fall of Man but before the Incarnation. And while God (Eru, Iluvatar) is not directly mentioned in LOTR the way He is in The Silmarillion, He does peep through, He’s there indirectly and the heroes do know of Him in some dim way and do believe in Him.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 8:18 pm

I understand Illuvatar and such. My comments were… perhaps more subtle than how some may read them. I know what I wanted to say, but I struggled to put it into words.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm

One point I do not like is that Rowling uses the common fantasy trope of magic elitism: some people got it, some people don’t.
In Tolkien, this elite is those of the non-human. Much less offensive.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 8:23 pm

I’ll add to Mary’s advice that a story with the most interesting plot ever can be ruined by badly written characters. Good characters and good characterization are key (I actually think this is the strongest point of the Harry Potter series).
A lot of good and popular stories have been written with cardboard characters.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 8:29 pm

I don’t think Rowling uses magical elitism at all. The people with magic aren’t better – they’re just different. The character of Arthuer Weasley was possibly even created to illustrate this, with his always calling Muggles brilliant and such. One theme that runs throughout the whole series is that its the evil persons who believe in magical elitism, whereas the good person don’t.

Mary July 23, 2007 at 8:39 pm

“Better” need not be “morally better.” A person who is not wheelchair-bound is better than a person who is, regardless of their moral calibers.
There is no doubt in the book that those who can do magic are special. Rowling, in fact, deals with this trope in the mildest of forms; in more severe cases, you get books about magicians that embody persecution complexes.
However, there is no doubt in the book that those who use magic have the right to cut themselves off from the Muggles and even erase memories to hide themselves.

Esau July 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Jordan Potter,
I like what you said here:
“The story of LOTR is pre-incarnational, happening after the Fall of Man but before the Incarnation. And while God (Eru, Iluvatar) is not directly mentioned in LOTR the way He is in The Silmarillion, He does peep through, He’s there indirectly and the heroes do know of Him in some dim way and do believe in Him.”
It reminds me of what St. Justin Martyr said of folks like Socrates in his first apology; how you have some philosophers who he refers to as Christians: that they’re seeking the Logos even though they’ve never heard of Christ.
Also, what St. Paul said in 1st Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Those with magic aren’t better – they’re better off. This is just the way things work in the world. Those with computer skills aren’t better than those without – but they’re certainly better off and have an easier time getting things done. One could say the same about those with math skills or any other sort of talent. Of course those with magic are “special,” in the same way that those who have any talent are “special.” God gives some people the gift of tongues and some He doesn’t – that doesn’t mean those with the gift are better. Maybe better off, but I don’t even know if we could go that far.
If you want to criticize JKR for creating a world in which some folks have abilities that others don’t that render them a bit better off, then you might as well criticize Jesus Christ because He did the same thing. :)

EMS July 23, 2007 at 9:00 pm

My first ever post, and it’s about HP! I didn’t read the series until long after HP4 showed up. The first 2 books are children’s books in style and story. Just barely interesting enough for me to pick up HP3 when I saw it on sale, not to mention that HP3 was hundreds of pages longer than the first two, hardly reading material for most 11-year-olds. HP3 interested me enough to get HP4 when I saw it on sale. At the end of HP4 when Voldemart is back and the Ministry is denying it, and Dumbledore is starting what amounts to a resistance group, I was hooked. IMO, HP5 was even better. HP6 was more a prequel to HP7 than an advancement, but what a prequel! Then there is HP7. Yes, there is a lot of it, and yes, I think she could have tightened it up in the first 20 or so chapters. But then there is #33 where Harry finds out exactly what he has to do to defeat Voldemort, and exactly what Dumbledore has been leading him to for 7 years. JK has said that she’s a believing Christian and Harry’s choice in the next chapter proves it. And I was awed by her courage in writing that chapter, so far removed from what I and probably millions of other readers thought it would be, and in tears at Harry’s choice. The title of the next chapter, King’s Cross, says it all.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Now Narnia seems different.
I have still not commented much with theologans and pious men on it too much…
But analyze this.
The Lion. His sacrifice. The monarchical sentiments.
The parallels to Catholic Theology.
This man seems like Handel. Either this book is somehow more masonic than the others and it escapes me, or this man had a spirit of the marvelous, splendor and majesty, yet as we know did not make the jump to the Church.
Handel was a protestant, but his spirit was elevated.
Lewis seems to be of this same nature.
I can only hope God had mercy on them because their works are marvelous.
Now these other books…HP, ES and LR.
They all are doctrinaly and morally amiss.
And like all these things…
Highly masonic, very carefully aimed at perverting man’s tendencies and passions. My other posts elaborate on that.

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Some Day– actually, you didn’t elaborate anything. You accused unspecified wizards and witches of being satanic.
Are you just going to accuse folks or are you actually going to elaborate?

Esau July 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Some Day,
The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are NOT SATANIC!!!
Dude,
What have you been smokin’?????

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Esau– Dimes to navy beans he pulls out the “suffer not a witch to live” line, and ignores the “answer a fool according to his folly” one– all the while insisting that he’s just trying to teach.
Please, Some Day, prove me wrong?

Esau July 23, 2007 at 10:15 pm

Nor is St. Thomas More’s Utopia!

Esau July 23, 2007 at 10:19 pm

Foxfire,
The day that Aslan is (mis-)interpreted as being Lucifer is the day that the world has really gone crazy!
Man, Some Day, you remind me of that guy in that idiotic Tenacious D movie my friends and I recently watched!
Be careful!
You might end up playing with Big Foot and eating some wild mushrooms!

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 10:37 pm

I just defende Narnia.
Now the others are amiss.
Where is the sacrifice and suffering in HP?
He conquers the world and has the prestige of the world, but no cross?
How does this story elevate us to God in anyway?
Now don’t say everything can’t be related to God because the most prosaic things are related to Him because if they so it is because of His Justice.
Harry Potter does this how?
It doesen’t.
You accused unspecified wizards and witches of being satanic.
Well gee I did not now there were Catholic witches.
Harry Potter is for the reasons I said before.
The forces that be’s way of mantaining a control they need to continue to do Satan’s work. If there is nothing to fill that hole were beauty should be people will die.
Other novels?
Earthsea?
It ends with a respectable “wizard”end up having relationships with a younger woman after he was supposed to be celibate.
Lord of the Rings?
Do you know what devils often looked like when saints described them. Little elvish creatures. Just like the creatures of Middle Earth.
How is the Good depicted. Frodo has a great vocation, yet he is not preserverant and radical against his temptations.
That fat one is “innocent”and the good one, yet he is not a warrior. He is not radical in his determination and spirit. And he is not enviable at all. Fat and mediocre, wants his tranquil little life.
Sure if he had his good qualities. But “good” people don’t get into Heaven. Saints do.
How is the psychological impression of good left after this? Heroes are mythical and even in myth they are weak in spirit. The good ones are soft little umpalupas.
NOTHING OF THE SORT!
True saints are pious like Jacob but fiery like Esau.
These all deform us. You may not come out thinking Wicca is the thing for you, but the damage was done, those who work for the Devil had their intentions carried out.

Shane July 23, 2007 at 10:41 pm

Some day – you have shown your ignorance of Harry Potter. Any conquering that occurs in that series comes with tremendous crosses. The entire series is literally based around the idea that self-sacrificial love conquers evil and death. That’s the story, the very core of the story. I will leave Lord of the Rings to others.

Eileen R July 23, 2007 at 10:44 pm

Some Day, you obviously don’t know that Tolkien is the greatest Catholic fiction writer of the 20th century, in the minds of the most of the people on this blog.
Just warning you. You’re treading on very thin ice.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Listen forget about it.
There are somethings that you understand by vocation, not because of your own merits.
There is a whole greater problem with these books.
It all has to do with tendencies and passions, and how for 500 years of decadence these small things have been exploited by evil in so that you have today’s world. Ideas are not imposed by great orations and writings. It is through the influence of temporal and spiritual things in the most minimal way, that souls are weakened to the point where today it is a crime to be a Catholic in the eyes of the world. Virginality, Chastity, Combativity, Holy Hate of Evil, Spritual Life, Love of the Cross are all hated by the world.
A world so close to that limit that Sodom passed.
Exurge Deus! Quare obdormis? Noli tardare tempus faciendi!
But as I said before, Our Lady triumphs overall.
Residium Revervetur!

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 10:53 pm

Where is the sacrifice and suffering in HP?
His mother sacrifices herself for him, and that’s just in the first book. “Greater love has no man than this, that he gives his life for his friends”– a steady theme through the whole series.
He conquers the world and has the prestige of the world, but no cross?
Eh, whot? He doesn’t conquer the world– and he gets a lot of attention he didn’t want, including from the evil not-dead-yet guy who wants to kill him– and his muggle-loving friends, too.
Again, and again, and again and again, LOVE is echoed through the series– not physical love, since the only thing that is shown is kissing or marriage– but deep, soul-level love. Protective love, honorable love, great-making love. How can you NOT see God in that?
I haven’t read Earthsea, so I’ll leave that to the fans.
Do you know what devils often looked like when saints described them. Little elvish creatures. Just like the creatures of Middle Earth.
I was under the impression that devils tended to look like angels, given that they *are* fallen angels. Can you give a good example of a demon looking like an elf, outside of cartoons?
For that matter– “Little elvish creatures”? The hobbits *might* fit that, if you look to the English sprites, but the Elves of LoTR are *not* little. They may look like demons, but only because demons can look like angels, and angels are wonderful to behold. As for the dwarves, my *uncles* look like the Dwarves. Best not call them demonic.
How is the Good depicted. Frodo has a great vocation, yet he is not preserverant and radical against his temptations.
*snort* A teen-age kid who’s never left town before makes it clear across a world, with a horrible cross to bear, and you are complaining that he stumbles? Frodo is NOT Christ– he’s not perfect, and he’s not supposed to be.
I am going to ignore your slander of Samwise the Brave. He is what a Christian should be, in many ways– loyal to his friends, never leaving even when they turn against him but still need him, fighting when he must, supporting as he can; he doesn’t seek glory, and he loves beauty with all of his heart. (Please note his joy in seeing the elves– embodiments of beauty, knowledge and wisdom.)
These all deform us. You may not come out thinking Wicca is the thing for you, but the damage was done, those who work for the Devil had their intentions carried out.
I think perhaps you are seeking demons in every shadow– perhaps the instruction you should look to is the one where it’s mentioned that folks shouldn’t mock those who must avoid some things to keep their faith, but neither should those who do something extra to help their faith look down on those who do not?

Esau July 23, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Some Day,
As a brother in Christ, I urger you:
Please See a Spiritual Counselor.
I think somebody might be confusing you concerning some traditional elements of the Faith.
You’re fundamentally good in your intentions; but you’re kinda lost in the wilderness that you have set foot in on your quest to find your vocation and the Lord.
Please seek the guidance of a spiritual counselor — preferably somebody who is grounded well in both the Faith and in British Literature.
God Bless!

Shane July 23, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Some Day, I understand your concerns, but the books that you are attacking are trying to promote things like love of the cross, that’s the thing. Let’s not forget that evil has spent 2,000 years attacking those small things by misreading what the Inspired Scriptures have been telling us about them.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 11:11 pm

How could Saint Thomas More write a barbarity that:
(please realize that this book holds all the following as ideal, architypical and perfect.)
I. Says a republic is more perfect than a monarchy
(Against Catholic doctrine)
II. Forgets about the Original Sin and its consequences and considers it good and perfect
-1.No more suffering, despising the Cross (Suffering is an indispensable way to salvation. Our Lord embraced it as we should to.)
-2. It is naturalistic outlook, where homeostasis seems to be the most important thing, and not fighting and suffering for God, as our state after OS requires.
III.Private property is non-existent( Again against Catholic teachings.)
III. Doctrinal problems and immorality
1.Priests are not celibate
2.Euthanasia encouraged.
3.Religious tolerance (not compatible with Church teachings)
4.Divorce
5.Women priests.
You have to be pretty dumb to believe a saint would write the doctrine of the Revolutions of History and exalt it.
Saint Thomas More is an excellent saint. I love him, in fact can play the songs from the movie in trumpet and organ. I am trying to get a relic.
He did not write a book that the French Revolution and Communist Revolutions would hail and find blatant similarities.
That my friends is as stupid as saying the Pope is imposing Latin again.
The Devil is pretty old. Enough to mess around with history books.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 11:13 pm

Wrong thread.
Go read the life of saint and stop wasting your times with the latest trick of the Devil.

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Some Day, when you put out random, condescending instructions, could you please state the name(s) of those you’re trying to alienate from the faith?

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 11:34 pm

Random?
Please I even used organizational skills.

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Wrong thread.
Go read the life of saint and stop wasting your times with the latest trick of the Devil.

Random, unlabled, and not likely to bring someone to the truth– unless you’re not trying to bring folks to the truth, and just like to cause trouble?

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 11:42 pm

Like I said, I’ll wait for a grace.
Doctrine can only convice so much.
With a grace there is nothing.
I precisely do not want to do what you just said, cause trouble.
This is a discussion though, in which I hope our aims are mutual in elevating ourselves to God, in which I am denouncing one thing to that purpose, and you the same, yet disagreeing.

Foxfier July 23, 2007 at 11:45 pm

This is a discussion though
Actually, thus far, it’s several folks trying to discuss with you, and you ignoring the discussion to post random things. Please reply to the replies folks have made to your accusations, or there is no discussion.

Some Day July 23, 2007 at 11:57 pm

It is not random. You ask for what is negative, I tell you.
Your responses simply state the contrary, however they don’t back it up. I stated the reasons why they deform.
You simply say they don’t. Now you must also analyze yourself and make sure you argue with objectivity.
Your sincere prefrence for them does not help in an arguement. Ignore it and present your argument.
Saying something is not so does not make it so.
Unless your the Pope.

Foxfier July 24, 2007 at 12:00 am

Your responses simply state the contrary, however they don’t back it up. I stated the reasons why they deform.
Then refute them. I doubt you can, since I give examples.

LJ July 24, 2007 at 12:05 am

I live in a ‘Harry Potter’-free zone.

Some Day July 24, 2007 at 12:16 am

The mother thing is comendable.
Only in this century is the motherly instict doubtful.
Anything else truly comendable?
Gee I think anyone would stop a wizard from killing them.
And again even if there was a total devotion.
To what?
Narnia differs, as they actually fight for that which is greater than themselves, which St.Thomas would say is sufficient to baptize a person…
Now Harry Potter can go all out on Voldemorty.
But it could mean nothing.
Let me give you an example.
A Roman officer was once captured by an army that was about to utterly destroy the city.
So they interogate the officer. They will wipe the city, but they still want some info.
So the officers shows him what his people are like.
He goes to a fire and sticks his whole hand and lets it burn.
It scarred the enemy generals, because if one man does this, what will the whole nation be like.
They left the people in peace.
Now what merits does that have in the eyes of God.
Absoulutly none. That is a pagan valor. Standing up for whatever does not mean it is dignant of glory.
Harry Potter can wave his wand and “suffer” the prestige and power of his life.
How is that different from a college football player who has some hate by envious ones, yet has a “jet-set”life at the cost of some banging up.
Please, they are not heroes nor examples.
…do not even the Gentiles the same…

Foxfier July 24, 2007 at 12:23 am

Gee I think anyone would stop a wizard from killing them.
In case you forgot, that was a response to your notion that Harry was somehow Master of the Universe. (Sorry, wrong series.)
If storytime is over… are you *sure* God doesn’t see glory in someone taking pain to save the lives of his own? What is the basis of that sureness?
How is that different from a college football player who has some hate by envious ones, yet has a “jet-set”life at the cost of some banging up.
Harry is *not* a “jet-set” character who suffers minor problems– he has an undead Nazi-knockoff trying to kill him, he lost his parents, and none of it is by his choice. Your Football star example is flawed.
Everyone, even the pagans you seem to so despise, has a calling to God– we all have a yearning, and can do great things for Him, even if we don’t know Him yet. If it’s simple ignorance, there is no wrong in that– a lack, but not a sin.
The wand really gets to you, doesn’t it? Would it make you happier if they were all amazing painters, and the school was set up around that? A bit harder to get drama, but the same theory– natural talent that others don’t have, but even these elite are people, with human flaws.

Foxfier July 24, 2007 at 12:24 am

Foxfier July 24, 2007 at 12:24 am

And Italics off again….

Some Day July 24, 2007 at 12:30 am

Listen.
One drop of poison in a clear glass of water still poisons the whole glass.
One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.
The thing is that since almost everything is poisoned these days, you have to go for the one that won’t kill you and still get rid of your thirst.
But then, that accomplishes the purpose of those books.
Give your thirst for true beauty and splendor a glass of poisoned water.
(I am busy, I don’t stay up this late on a computer unless I am working on something, so I am not going to respond much anymore. It isn’t good anyhow for anyone to be on the Internet at this time. I have some responsabilities, yet this is not one of them.
Good night and Our Lady protect you.

Josh Miller July 24, 2007 at 12:58 am

All the bizarre comments above aside:
You’re missing something about the plotting, Jimmy. Sure, Harry gets thrust into a world where he’s the most famous person alive. However, that happens all the time in the fantasy genre.
Two examples that immediately spring to mind:
1. Richard Rahl – simple, good-natured woodsman of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels – learns early on that he’s an heir to an entire kingdom and the first “war wizard” in many an age.
2. Robert Jordan’s Rand al’Thor, from The Wheel of Time. Just another simple guy who realizes he’s, well, the Chosen One, the Dragon Reborn, the one who will make everything right.
The tension comes from the fact that these are good-hearted characters, just like Harry Potter. They quite simply want to be normal. They don’t want anything on a silver platter. Rand and Richard just want to go home. Harry dreams about not having the scar, enjoying a normal life with his parents, simple moments of affection with his uncle.
The tension comes because there is absolutely no wish fulfillment. The individual gets exactly what they don’t want, but what has been thrust upon them.
In essence, they get the Cross.
I’d strongly encourage Jimmy and everyone else to go the distance with the series. One, two, or three of the books simply isn’t enough to draw any conclusion about the series.

A Non July 24, 2007 at 2:15 am

I’m surprised Jimmy likes the Bible.
Atheists usually tell us Christians that it’s major problem is : too much wish fulfillment.
Of course, if you understand what a fairy story is about, the eucastrophe (of Christ, the ultimate fairy story, but also of Potter, and Tolkien’s own works) makes sense….

SDG July 24, 2007 at 3:39 am

One drop of poison in a clear glass of water still poisons the whole glass.
One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.

Wrong, and if you really lived that way you would die of dehydration, because guess what, your drinking water is not 100 percent pure. There are trace amounts of compounds, e.g., arsenic, that in sufficient quantity would kill you. Yet as trace amounts they are not harmful (and might even be beneficial).
The preaching in your church is not 100 percent pure every week. You know your pastor has at least on occasion uttered a drop or two from the lectern that aren’t true, yet you don’t jump up screaming from the church about being poisoned, because (a) you recognize that the homily can still be basically good even if it contains a dubious opinion, and (b) unlike a glass of water with some admixture in it, you are capable of critically judging what you hear, accepting some, and leaving the rest. It’s more like eating a steak with some inedible gristle that you cut off and leave on your plate, or eating an omelet with bits of eggshell in one side that you don’t eat.
If all culture had to be 100 percent perfect before we could imbibe it, we would die uncultured. You defend Narnia, and I love Narnia, but it’s not necessarily 100 percent perfect. That is an impossible standard to apply to anything human in this life.
The standard is not what is perfect, but what is basically wholesome. Something can be basically wholesome without being 100 percent perfect.

SDG July 24, 2007 at 3:51 am

I’m surprised Jimmy likes the Bible.
Atheists usually tell us Christians that it’s major problem is : too much wish fulfillment.

C’mon, the answer to this is just too easy. By the standard Jimmy cites, the Bible is good dramaturgy. The revelation of Jesus doesn’t follow the Fall immediately in Genesis 4 — that would be too much wish fulfillment. But instead it builds slowly over centuries, with little hints dropped here and there. Even when Jesus is born, it isn’t entirely clear right away Who He is; the devil doesn’t seem to have figured it out until the baptism, and during his preaching His divinity was a secret He revealed slowly to His disciples. Etc.

TeresaHT July 24, 2007 at 5:43 am

How does this story elevate us to God in anyway?
By teaching us about redemption and mercy. By teaching the necessity of repentance (“remorse”). In Rowling’s world, “being a good guy” is a lot like the sacrament of Reconciliation: all you need is a tiny bit of remorse to be turned from Voldy’s side to the right side.
But I don’t think you really wanted an answer, did you?

Kasia July 24, 2007 at 7:11 am

However, there is no doubt in the book that those who use magic have the right to cut themselves off from the Muggles and even erase memories to hide themselves.
Um, this is spoken to in the series. There’s the Statute of Secrecy, passed in the late 1600s, that REQUIRES that wizards conceal their existence from the Muggles. Hagrid explains why in the first book: because everyone would want magical solutions to their problems.

Leigh July 24, 2007 at 8:48 am

Re: the issue of imaginative fiction as a “gateway drug” to the occult, it seems like it’s as much a quality of the person as the book. Some people can read stories of magic as a momentary mental vacation and put them back on the shelf, but others seem to be attracted to the occult through even the most innocuous fairy tales, or even completely rationalistic science fiction. Some people can live happily within the boundaries appointed for them, and thus can happily enjoy stories of things Beyond the Fields We Know as mere entertainment, while others seem to be forever yearing for more than life can give, such that any glimpse of wonder arouses an insatiable hunger to Really Have It, to the point they’ll pursue forbidden avenues — frex, even Mr. Spock’s Vulcan abilities in the completely rationalistic world of Star Trek have been cited as leading a person into “human potential development” stuff that involved the paranormal, and ultimately the occult.
The problem then becomes knowing whether one’s children are able to read a story of wonder and imagination and accept the boundary between fiction and life, or if they will become so immeshed in it that they want to really live it.

Tim J. July 24, 2007 at 9:00 am

“But then, that accomplishes the purpose of those books…”
There is no hidden “purpose” to these books, other than the obvious aim of creating some entertainment for readers and profit for the publishers.
Rowling, I’m sure, has her own reasons for writing them that have absolutely NOTHING to do with gaining little converts for Satan.
What are the odds that she just wanted to write stories and hoped (one day) to get paid to do so?
Good grief.

Mary July 24, 2007 at 9:05 am

Um, this is spoken to in the series. There’s the Statute of Secrecy, passed in the late 1600s, that REQUIRES that wizards conceal their existence from the Muggles.
A law passed by wizards, which wizards could repeal.
Hagrid explains why in the first book: because everyone would want magical solutions to their problems.
Let’s not build a medical clinic in Africa. Otherwise the Africans will want modern medicine for their illnesses.

Tim J. July 24, 2007 at 9:06 am

I DO believe in Satan.
I think one of his favorite games is to get people all worked up over conspiracy theories in order to keep their mind off the state of their own souls.
Kinda slick, really.

Tim J. July 24, 2007 at 9:13 am

“Let’s not build a medical clinic in Africa.”
It might be more comparable to building a 12-screen cinema in Africa. Nice, but not really something that will solve your problems.
Maybe they knew that magic would be bad for people who did not know how to handle it. Maybe they had experienced that to some extent. As the series suggests, magic is neither here nor there in the battle against original sin.

Jeffery W. Moore July 24, 2007 at 9:29 am

I know this won’t make even a ripple in the ocean of comments that this post has generated but I feel that I must state it nonetheless. In this post Jimmy starts out with a comment of the magic in the Harry Potter world possibly leading children into a world of the occult. This is true – it could happen but not necessarily – as he has stated. My problem with this post, at least the first few paragraphs, has to do with his comparison of magic in Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.
As someone who has read the LOTR several times and has almost completed The Silmarillion I would like to point out some problems with just lumping these two very different sets of books together. First of all, both series do in fact contain magic but I believe the authors to have vastly different views of magic and how it works. In the Potter series, Rowling seems to portray magic as done in the way that people would imagine that it happens: a seemingly normal human boy grabs a ‘magic wand’ and starts to do all sorts of amazing things and is able to do so because he has some inexplicable control over nature. (Note: I have not read the books but have seen the movies and I cannot remember an explanation for Harry’s powers other than just dumb luck.) On the other hand, this is not how magic is conceived of within the LOTR universe. The difference comes in the fact that Gandalf and the other wizards in the series are not humans.
If you read Tolkien’s creation story at the beginning of the Silmarillion you see that Eru, which is one of the names for God in the series, creates all that exists (sound familiar?) and the first of His creation happens to be spiritual beings called the Ainur. Just as in Christian beliefs there are various degrees for these spiritual beings – some being more powerful than others. Gandalf, Saruman and the other wizards belonged to a lesser order of the Ainur called the Maiar and they had chosen to take on human form in order to help protect God’s creation and especially mankind from Melkor, who along with the lesser being Sauron are the Satan figures of the series. By knowing that the wizards are not ordinary humans, like Harry Potter, we can see that there is nothing really inherently sinister about the powers that they possess (although the power can be used for evil). The powers that they use are a part of how Eru (God) created them just as the angelic spirits God created in this world have powers that we cannot comprehend and that we would have to call ‘magic’ because it doesn’t make sense to us. And the reason it doesn’t make sense is because God did not give us those powers – they are not ours to possess or use. So, whereas Harry Potter does seem to convey that normal humans, with the right stick and a few strange words, can have an inhuman control over nature this is not at all what is conveyed in the LOTR. And therefore I think it is unfair to lump Tolkien in with Rowling in this regard.

Kasia July 24, 2007 at 10:00 am

Mary,
I don’t think that’s a very strong analogy, for the reasons Tim J. gave. Also, while you can build a medical clinic in Africa to bring modern medicine to the residents, you can also train the residents to be doctors. In Rowling’s universe, you either are born with magical ability or you aren’t. It’s not like Harry could go and infuse the Dursleys with a whopping dose of magic.
Second, and I probably should have brought this up the first time I posted about it, but part of the reason for the Statute of Secrecy is that Muggles feared and persecuted wizards. So it was probably as much for self-protection as anything else.
Third, I find it interesting that the only characters in the books who don’t seem to think the basic aims of the Statute of Secrecy are good (even if they don’t necessarily like all the details) are the Death Eaters and their sympathizers, who think that their power should be used to subjugate and rule the non-magical population. It sounds to me like Rowling is suggesting – even if she doesn’t explicitly discuss – that there’s good reason for the wizards to quietly live and let live.
Finally, the wizards who enforce the Statute tend to have the best wishes of the Muggles at heart. Not all do, of course, but nearly any law can be used for good or for evil. That’s not the fault of the law; it’s the fault of those who enforce it.
I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to put out any spoilers…errrrrgh! Hurry up and read the seventh book, anyone who’s going to! ;-)

Mary July 24, 2007 at 10:06 am

“Let’s not build a medical clinic in Africa.”
It might be more comparable to building a 12-screen cinema in Africa. Nice, but not really something that will solve your problems.

Either magic can do things for Muggles that they can’t do on their own — if only to make their lives more pleasant — or it can’t. If so, the wizards have willfully decided to deprive them of those things, on their own judgment, and they’re not exactly neutral in the matter. If not, there is no reason to separate.
Maybe they knew that magic would be bad for people who did not know how to handle it. Maybe they had experienced that to some extent. As the series suggests, magic is neither here nor there in the battle against original sin.
Since the series also shows that Muggledom is far from required to ensure that you can’t handle magic, this would also require removing all the magic from the world. Make everyone Muggles.
Otherwise, of course, we’re back to the elitism: we can handle it, you can’t. We can tell what’s good for you, and you can’t. And the dividing line is the ability to do magic — which, in this argument, is also a moral difference, in that wizards are regarded as having the virtue of prudence when Muggles don’t.

Mary July 24, 2007 at 10:10 am

Third, I find it interesting that the only characters in the books who don’t seem to think the basic aims of the Statute of Secrecy are good (even if they don’t necessarily like all the details) are the Death Eaters and their sympathizers, who think that their power should be used to subjugate and rule the non-magical population. It sounds to me like Rowling is suggesting – even if she doesn’t explicitly discuss – that there’s good reason for the wizards to quietly live and let live.
Finally, the wizards who enforce the Statute tend to have the best wishes of the Muggles at heart. Not all do, of course, but nearly any law can be used for good or for evil. That’s not the fault of the law; it’s the fault of those who enforce it.

That’s the problem.
It is presented as a right and proper thing for wizards to separate themselves from the rest of humanity. They even encourage wizards’ children without wizardry to go and live with the Muggles. That’s the elitism.

labrialumn July 24, 2007 at 10:11 am

Stubblespark (did you get that name from Lewis’ Screwtape?), C. S. Lewis’ arguments in favor of reading children’s stories and faery stories ought to be read by you. It does require the maturity to not have the obsession to seem mature to others.
Shane, quite so. Rowling has very effectively “slipped past watching dragons” as C. S. Lewis put it. Scholastic even published them! They are even being read in the government schools! I recall that the Narnia Chronicles and Lord of the Rings were similarly slandered a couple of decades ago by Christians who were ignorant about liturature, and the different between animistic religions and what is in those books.
Francis Ocoma, the books simply aren’t pagan. There are no deities mentioned, except for references to Chrstianity, because unlike American schools, Hogwarts celebrates and closes for Christmas and Easter. The whole attitude towards death, self-sacrifice, and good versus evil have nothing to do with neo-paganism nor the occult. They are definitely influenced by Christianity. And the phrase “as long as you visit the place where the blood that was shed to save you, yet lives, often enough that you can still call it home, you will be kept safe from the Dark Lord” is very Catholic.
A. Non, and I have no doubt that that breaks Tolkien’s heart.
Emily, good to hear from you again. I’ll have to visit your site and see. It has been a long time.
The Silmarillion brought me to Christ. LoTR did to a guy I knew at (protestant) seminary.
There are neo-pagans who love LoTR, but they don’t understand it, or are on their way to becoming Christians. There were others when the books first came out, who, unlike most people, discerned that they were Christian, and hated them for that reason (MIchael Moorcock, for instance)
Greg, on the contrary, the HP books have good and evil very clear cut. But the characters aren’t all cardboard characters. In them, good and evil is blurred. Just as it is in what Tolkien called “the primary world” Just as it is in the Narnia Chronicles, or The Lord of the Rings. Or the Bible, for that matter. As to Harry breaking rules. Funny thing, real kids do that. Do you think that a cartoonish character that was pure good like a resurrected saint would have been good writing, or compelling? When Harry breaks the rules, he sufferes for it -*even when breaking those rules was necessary, as it was for B16 in Nazi Germany*.
Paul, “C. S. Lewisesque” yes, Rowling in fact planned 7 novels precisely to give homage to C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles. And she is or was a member of a Chesterton fan club.
Esau, just because some are trying to profit off of HP, does not reflect on HP. Dan Brown tries to profit off of Catholicism. Rowling does quite well in the novels with the ‘grief counseling’, thank you very much. Indeed, it is one of the major themes.
Nutcrazical, you gave away spoilers. Shame on you! To Azkaban with you! And you defniitely are reading things into the romance, which I thought was well done, considering we are talking 16 and 17 year olds here, and the romances are not the theme of the story, but backstory. Perhaps you are one of those who think that a kiss is to intimate to have outside of marriage.
SDG, Tolkien strove hard to explain the difference between allegory, which LoTR is not, and ‘applicable’, which it is.
Rose, you also revealed spoilers. . . . As to the changing of memories and so forth, surely it is clear from the later books that the Ministry of Magic and its practices are not morally good, though there might be ‘decent folks’ involved, – who aren’t committed to the good, but just being ‘decent folks’ – not a distinction you see in many books.
Umm, the kids go swimming during late spring and summer, of course the gal had seen Harry without his shirt on. This is written in Great Britain, not Saudi Arabia!
Esau, calm down, make sure you’ve taken your medicine. Go do something peaceful for a while, ok? You are hyperventilating and hallucinating.
Nutcrazical, your comments regarding Harry and Ginny remind me of the critics who accused Tolkien of writing characters that “didn’t know about women”
Shane,
HP and his friends do not practice sorcery. The Dark Arts include sorcery, and they are forbidden, and made very unattractive. What HP and friends do is on the order of the speech recognition of a 1990′s era Macintosh computer.
Mary, have you read the books? They are very much opposed to magic elitism. Magic elitism is what the Death Eaters believe in.
As to the Secrecy rule dating to the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary, the Ministry of Magic is not portrayed as Good or Righteous. Not in the least.
Jeffry Moore, your complaint against the magic at Hogwards parallels Ellul’s (and the Greens for that matter), complaint against technology.

Mary July 24, 2007 at 10:22 am

Mary, have you read the books? They are very much opposed to magic elitism. Magic elitism is what the Death Eaters believe in.
Then why are the wizards special people who live separately from the rest of humanity?
It’s not as bad as many fantasy novels I have read — she’s caught between a rock and a hard place to depict magic as part of the modern world — but it’s there.

JoAnna July 24, 2007 at 10:41 am

Something else I want to add — if ANY fantasty story or game leads a child to the occult, that’s the fault of the parents/guardians, not the child.
When my children are old enough to read Harry Potter, we will read the books together. We’ll discussed Harry’s “magical” word and how it (and the magic inside it) is only make-believe, not reality.
As long as the parents are there to “raise up the child in the way he should go” instead of leaving him/her to fend for themselves in terms of their moral upbringing, there is no danger from these particular books.
And they’re a far sight better than Pullman’s “The Golden Compass,” which is a fantasty tale that essentially teaches children to be atheists. (Yuck!)

Kasia July 24, 2007 at 11:17 am

Then why are the wizards special people who live separately from the rest of humanity?
That’s the thing – they’re not “special people who live separately from the rest of humanity.” They’re people, flawed like any others, who happen to have a particular characteristic that makes them different.
You’re right that Rowling is sort of between a rock and a hard place in terms of fitting magic into the world as we know it, but I think she does a very good job of showing us that the wizards are neither better nor worse than humanity at large. They’re just different.
I always thought that, if anything, they were more like the Amish than like doctors who refuse to go build a clinic in Africa…
I don’t see that there’s a “we can handle it and you can’t” element to magic in Rowling’s world. Like you pointed out, some wizards in the books can’t seem to handle magic responsibly. It’s more to the point of “some people can DO it and some can’t” – which is a fact of life in the real world as well. I can’t turn a cartwheel or calculate the trajectory of a missile, but I can do other things. Is it elitist that I’m not allowed to be on the Olympic gymnastics team or work at a missile silo?
I hope I’m just misunderstanding you, because your anti-elitist arguments are beginning to remind me of Harrison Bergeron: no one should display talents that are superior to anyone else’s. (Please tell me if I’m mischaracterizing them, because that’s not my intention.)

Emily Snyder July 24, 2007 at 11:28 am

Then why are the wizards special people who live separately from the rest of humanity?
I think there are several reasons for this. In no particular order:
1) Practically, Rowling is writing an Alternate Reality Fantasy book. This means that she needs to find an excuse for why her world is different from the one we know.

  • Frequently in children’s novels that employ Alternate Reality (v. common!), if it’s a series no reason is given in the first few novels because the author, frankly, is trying to find out what sort of books they’re writing.
  • In some series, the reason for the Alternate Reality is never given (think Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – no magic, but clearly not quite this Earth).
  • In others it’s integral to the plot (like Diana Wynn Jones’ excellent Chrestomanci novels – which, overall, I really really recommend…although the very latest one “The Golden Egg” has some anti-Catholic imagery at the end…boo unexpected room of evil!).
  • However in most, including Lewis’ Narnia series and I would hazard Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, it seems apparent that the author didn’t entirely think through all the social, political, moral ramifications etc. of the reason for the disparate realities and so worked something out that more or less works. Actually, Rowling worked out her reason better than Lewis, I think – although, I agree, she could have examined the political, social, moral, etc. etc. ramifications for the Wizard Law better. But let’s cut her some slack. She’s supposed to be writing for kids (thus quoth her publishing label), but is really writing (esp. in her later books) for adults and so is caught between boring the kids with Magical Law and frustrating the adults without it. (My hope is she’ll write a series of “behind the scenes” novels for adults about what the adults were doing!)
    So, let’s go with the tidbit we have that Wizards for their own reasons decided to live separately from Muggles. As is pointed out elsewhere, the heroes are against this separation – it’s the one consistent theme. Sort of a fantasy version of “We’re all in this together” from High School Musical.
    2) As for why they’re “special,” well aren’t superheroes, too? If it’s easier, think of the Wizarding world as Superheroes, who need separate identities and who now, Incredibles-style, have families who need the same. Who have built up communities of Superheroes. In Rowling’s world, as in many fantasy novels, when a human has magical (or super) power, it is viewed as an ability as much as one person can sing Coluratura Opera and another can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
    Did Rowling fully examine the responsibilities of Wizards to Muggles? No. Could she? Sure. Did she have a deadline? Yeah. (Never underestimate the negative result of fully imbuing philosophy into a novel in the face of an impending deadline! The author is frequently glad she got any philosophy in when there is plot to be written and minutes slipping away!) Do I think she’s grown as an author? Absoposilutely. That’s why we’re holding her to a higher standard, non? Did she cram an awful lot of thought-provoking and morally beautiful points into HP6&7 – cha! I actually got my pen out to underline a few points she made!
    But elitist? No. I think we Americans especially are caught in this strange place when reading Harry Potter or any British or non-American literature. We’re raised in a world steeped in democracy, in the “rights of man” and the (to me) laughable Hobbsian idea of “all men being created equal.” I say laughable because we are not all equal. We are all equally loved by God, we are all equally called by God to a certain vocation, but we are not all the same. “Male and female, He created them.” Even from our very basic beginnings, we are not the same. And that’s OK. In fact, that’s better than OK – that is true beauty.
    I’ll bring in everyone’s favorite Tolkien. What is ultimate evil represented like in LOTR? It’s a single eye, yeah? It’s uniformity and the uglification of beauty. It’s singularity not harmony. Think even of his Simarillion, the evil one there tries to dominate with a single, awful note to ruin the cosmic harmony.
    What then is goodness? Well, Christ Himself said that “In My Father’s house are many rooms.” He created a vast array of things both “seen and unseen.” We believe that we are each created unique to Him, with a unique purpose He has given to us, which we alone are called to carry out. (Beautifully recognized in the Purgatorio when Dante, at the end of his journey, just before he enters Heaven, is crowned King of himself – not out of arrogance, but out of true humility – that is St. Therese of Lisieux’ understsanding of who we are before God.) Goodness allows not for faceless “equality” (read: conformity or entitlement), but for glorious individuality in harmony with God’s will.
    Goodness is special.
    So in HP, some people have the ability to control objects in a way that we don’t have. (Like people who can figure out how to use a PS2 joystick – don’t ask me, can’t do it.) Does this make them special in that way? Yup. Does it make them automatically elitist? No. It makes them responsible for their actions – both those in common with all men and those unique to themselves.
    3) Back to practicalities: I think Rowling had enough plots on her hands to deal with without also adding in how her Alternate Reality world dealt or did not deal with our actual reality. She put out a few nods to dealing with it, but it simply wasn’t really part of Harry’s plot. So, if you’re really upset and want to know what the Wizards who have dealings with the actual Prime Minister were doing to help the Muggle world, go write some fanfic!
    …right…that was really long…mea culpe….
  • Emily Snyder July 24, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Ooops – the latest Chrestomanci novel is “The Pinhoe Egg” *not* “The Golden Egg”! Sorry! :)

    labrialumn July 24, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Mary, it is not a good parallel, but are contemplative orders elite compared to the rest of humanity, because they live apart from the rest of humanity?
    The reason that they did that, in the story, was to avoid conflict with “muggles” Partly to keep the ‘magically’ gifted from abusing and using muggles, and partly to avoid the pogroms against witches that had begun. The good guys, the one in the Order of the Phoenix (think Knights of Mary, not Masons), are opposed to any mistreatment or discrimination against muggles. At all.
    I don’t think that the books are perfect. They aren’t classics like Tolkien. They -might- be classics like Tom Brown’s Schooldays. They have much more of the genre of Bildungsroman about them than they do the “heroic elegaic” of Tolkien’s corpus. Neither are standard fantasy pulp, which I tend to actively dislike.

    Darwin July 24, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Otherwise, of course, we’re back to the elitism: we can handle it, you can’t. We can tell what’s good for you, and you can’t. And the dividing line is the ability to do magic — which, in this argument, is also a moral difference, in that wizards are regarded as having the virtue of prudence when Muggles don’t.
    From some of the references in the books about wizard children (muggle born or otherwise) who don’t even have wands yet performing magic, it sounds like doing magic is not necessarily optional for those who have the ability.
    I agree that there are occasional disturbing elements in the wizard/muggle secrecy (such as changing the memories of those who’ve “seen too much”) and frankly there’s also some pretty inconsistent writing. On the one hand, the wizarding world is supposed to be secret, on the other hand, at least relatives of muggle-born wizards know all about it — as with Hermione’s parents and Harry’s aunt and uncle.
    As to whether the wizards are depriving others of much by staying separate, it seems to me that, however much “fun” the wizarding world may seem to be at times, the wizards don’t necessarily achieve things by magic that muggles don’t achieve in other similar (if not necessarily equal) ways.
    Thus, wizards have brooms and other magical means of travel, but seem like they wouldn’t understand airplanes at all. Wizards have some healing magic for basic injuries, but they also suffer from their own range of magical injuries and ailements that muggles don’t. (And I don’t think there’s any indication that a wizard could summon up a cure for cancer or any such thing.)
    So aside from fun special effects, I’m not really clear that the muggles are missing out on much from the wizards keeping secret. The wizarding world doesn’t seem better, just different.

    SDG July 24, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    Thus, wizards have brooms and other magical means of travel, but seem like they wouldn’t understand airplanes at all… The wizarding world doesn’t seem better, just different.

    There is something to this. For instance, Ron’s wizard father Arthur Weaseley, who makes a private study of Muggle artifacts, is fascinated by Muggle technology and the like, as much as a Muggle would be by magic wands and flying broomsticks. There is something of a “magic is different but not better” dynamic here.
    Having said that, the HP stories do seem to me to be open to a charge of elitism in one respect, and I can best make the point by citing the contrasting case of The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien himself (not just Gandalf) is in love with the humble, non-magical folk of Middle-earth and with their non-magical world — with the Hobbits and the Shire — and these, not just the Wizards and other exotic kindreds of Middle-earth, play a central role in his drama.
    By contrast, while Rowling’s stories strike the requisite tone in condemning magical chauvanism and bigotry against Muggles, the stories themselves (as distinct from Arthur Weaseley) seem to me to have no positive interest whatsoever in Muggles or their world. Muggles are entirely excluded from any integral involvement with the main plot. (The Dursleys matter only insofar as they serve as a point of contrast to the characters and the world with which the stories are really concerned, and never enter into or interact with that world or with the main story in any meaningful way. There is not one positive Muggle character that really matters (I think Hermione has a Muggle parent, but only as a talking point, not as a real character in the story.) In a word, Muggles are irrelevant, dramaturgically speaking; only people with magical powers matter dramatically.
    Having said that, I don’t think that makes the books bad. But they lack a virtue they might otherwise have if Rowling had found a way to bring important, appealing characters wholly lacking in any magical heritage or ability whatsoever into the fabric of her story.
    As a point of comparison, some critics have considered The Lord of the Rings somewhat male-chauvanistic in part because the cast is overwhelmingly male. Yet such figures as Galadriel, Eowyn and Arwen matter more in Tolkien’s story than any Muggle in Rowling’s story.

    Mary July 24, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Practically, Rowling is writing an Alternate Reality Fantasy book. This means that she needs to find an excuse for why her world is different from the one we know.
    Oh, this sort of treatment is much worse in a fantasy world, where there is no need for the separation. It is very common, too. Those of you who have read some of Barbara Hambley’s fantasy may know what I mean (with anti-religious sentiments thrown in to boot). In Rowling’s work, she does have to explain why you and I can’t see magic when we look out the window. And unlike other fantasies set in the modern world, she neither makes the Muggles hateful persecutors, nor makes the wizards responsible for really running the Muggle world, in secret.
    It is, in fact, the very commonness of this trope that worries me and makes me look askance at such an instance.

    Mary July 24, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    As for why they’re “special,” well aren’t superheroes, too? If it’s easier, think of the Wizarding world as Superheroes, who need separate identities and who now, Incredibles-style, have families who need the same.
    That’s exactly what wizards don’t have. Superheroes have secret identities so that, because “No man is an island, entire of itself;”, each one can be “a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
    Who have built up communities of Superheroes.
    Superheroes who do this produce much the same problem.
    Actually, the same problem much worse. Much as I enjoyed both the comic and the movie X-men, it’s not about persecution, it’s about persecution complexes. The special elite, superior to those about them and persecuted because of it — a rather adoloscent fantasy.

    Foxfier July 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    a rather adoloscent fantasy.
    They are kid’s books.

    Emily Snyder July 24, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Oh, this sort of treatment is much worse in a fantasy world, where there is no need for the separation.
    True, true. So much fantasy written has sloppy worldbuilding. (Booo.)
    And unlike other fantasies set in the modern world, she neither makes the Muggles hateful persecutors, nor makes the wizards responsible for really running the Muggle world, in secret.
    Also very true. I think the problem again, though, is that she set it up to be third person extremely personal. If Harry doesn’t see it or experience it (the first chapers of books 4-7 notwithstanding), we don’t see it. Honestly, I think she just doesn’t care about the Wizard/Muggle interrelationship. (I mean as a main plot/world point.) She had a story to tell about the Boy Who Lived and his archnemesis and everything else is so much window-dressing.
    Also, she wrote herself into a deadline corner by examining more and more of her world as the books went on…but much later in the series. I get the sense (esp. in HP6) that she could feel she was running out of space to put everything in that she’d just discovered (like what we’re discussing). It’s like Unfortunate Events again – he almost didn’t know what his plot was until book 5 and then spent a LOT of time backtracking. Rowling at least knew the major basics of her plot – enough to put in clues early on which she more than drew upon in this last book – but she didn’t know the corners of her world.
    She built her plot great. Her world – eh. We want more. But, yeah, at least it’s better than some by-the-Tolkien-rip-off fantasies out there!
    The special elite, superior to those about them and persecuted because of it
    Huh – I never get the sense that the Wizards feel particularly persecuted by the Muggles at all. But maybe I’m reading it wrong? Of course, this is precisely why I much prefer worldbuilding with almost no reference to THIS earth – so much more freedom. *shrug*

    Mary July 24, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    The special elite, superior to those about them and persecuted because of it
    Huh – I never get the sense that the Wizards feel particularly persecuted by the Muggles at all. But maybe I’m reading it wrong? Of course, this is precisely why I much prefer worldbuilding with almost no reference to THIS earth – so much more freedom. *shrug*

    No, you’re reading it right. I was citing X-Men as a more aggravated example of a tendency common in fantasy. Harry Potter certainly benefits by lacking the persecution complex that is common to many fantasy works where the ability to work magic is a special, innate, and very limited gifts.

    Jarnor23 July 24, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    I was keeping off the Internet until finishing the final book to avoid spoilers, and am back.
    Since I’m so far behind in this thread, I’ll make two comments that I hope are still relevant to the discussion, only having read the last 25 or so.
    *MINOR HINT TOWARDS NATURE OF 7TH BOOK PLOT FOLLOWS IF YOU ARE AVOIDING SPOILERS*
    First of all, anyone who cannot see any Christ parallels in this series either hasn’t read the final book
    *END MINOR HINT*
    Second:
    “Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

    Jarnor23 July 24, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Sorry, so busy putting plot hint warning that, like a blockhead, I forgot to finish the sentence. I’ll leave it stand as it is, as I think the gist of it comes across. If I really need to clarify, perhaps I will.

    Esau July 24, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Labialumn,
    Impudentia atque audacia fretus.

    Eileen R July 24, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Emily Snyder does a perfect job of running down why the wizards aren’t out there helping Muggles. It’s always a bit tricky to take a fictional society with huge obvious gaps, flaws, contradictions, and oversights, and try to deduce attitudes from the fraying around the edges. The truth is that most fictional worlds aren’t very realistic in many ways. The realism is centred around a few aspects, but decreases as you leave the author’s sphere of influence.
    Even Tolkien, who knew practically everything about his well-thought-out universe, had technological disparities in Middle Earth that boggle the imagination to explain away. Pocket watches in the Shire suggest some rather complex industry *somewhere*.
    You can’t make a perfect world, because you’re not God. And it’s not really necessary to *try* sometimes, if you’re only telling a fun kid’s story.
    However, this particular problem bugs me sufficiently that for my own scribblings about an alternate reality, I’ve carefully worked out why magic can’t help most people in our world. But I’m sure someone could find the flaws in my model too, and deduce from this that no one in my story cares about suffering of people.
    To make a long story short, often these apparent problems are imperfect worldbuilding, not the fictional character’s expressed views.

    Some Day July 24, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Impidemtia?
    Ego dixit qui est imprudentia.

    Some Day July 24, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    Ego dixit qui mentatium HP est.

    Eileen R July 24, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Mary:
    Oh, this sort of treatment is much worse in a fantasy world, where there is no need for the separation. It is very common, too.
    Yes! So much so that I’d felt for a while now that a fantasy story in which a young person is seduced by a magical caste who think of themselves as better than non-magicians, but at last comes to see their magic is wrong, would be a good story.
    And lately, I’ve found that someone wrote it, and it’s one of the best fantasy works I’ve ever read. Check out the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. I read it all at one gulp a few months ago, and ended the trilogy crying my eyes out. One of the most cathartic endings ever, filled with self-sacrifice and redemption. But oh what a ride!
    I like Harry Potter. No, I love Harry Potter. But I absolutely adore the Bartimaeus Trilogy. It’s got the most amazing romance arc in a YA book I’ve ever seen. Mostly the romance is just for the laughs or sickly sweet, but I’ve never seen a YA novel take on fledgling eros transformed into agape before.
    There’s this one spectacular moment where the hero sees his crush suddenly deprived of physical beauty but with her virtue suddenly radiant from her (in fantasy novels, that sort of thing can be made manifest). He goes from a crush to loving the beloved for what she truly is.
    But I don’t want to spoil the ending here, so I’ll say no more. Only it really is against the trend you noticed. (For one thing, the heroine is a commoner.) It’s also a raw emotional read.

    Esau July 24, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Some Day,
    Omnibus argumentis utendum est.

    Anon July 24, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    You guys adore this so much you aren’t willing to see the things that make it so bad.
    Justification. Even Satan has to do it.

    Eileen R July 24, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Esau, semper ubi sub ubi.

    Esau July 24, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    ROFL!

    Aliqui Die July 24, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    Ego non loquare latinus.
    Hisapanice, Anglice et ego sum Renatus Miamiensis et bona nocta.

    Jarnor23 July 24, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Is posting in Latin the thing all the cool kids do now that Summorum Pontificum is out? I couldn’t even read more than a few words of French after two years of classes, I’m afraid it’s beyond me. ;)

    Jarnor23 July 24, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    So, Anon, what’s your justification for breaking Jimmy’s rule against anonymous posting?

    Some Day July 24, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    That Latin is horrible.
    I better get studying.

    Some Day July 24, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Hey Esau are you bluffing or you really know?

    Esau July 24, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    Audio vocem. Non-ne audis vocem?

    Some Day July 24, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Audire quod?

    Emily Snyder July 25, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Eileen R – thanks for recommending the Bartimeus Trilogy. I have all three, I remember enjoying the first, but then I got bogged down pretty early in the second and have never thought to pick them up again. I guess I will now! Danke!
    (Can’t join the kewl kydz speaking Latin, sigh. Franglais, anyone? ;P)

    Tim J. July 25, 2007 at 8:29 am

    “You guys adore this so much you aren’t willing to see the things that make it so bad.”
    On the contrary, the Potter books mean little to me. They are an interesting social phenomenon, I enjoy the movies with my kids, but I can take or leave them. They haven’t affected me deeply like Tolkien’s books have (I try to read LOTR every spring).
    The truth is YOU are imagining boogie men where there are none. You (and many like you) have utterly failed to demonstrate why these books should be considered Tools of Satan, aside from your repeated assurance that they really, really are.

    Foxfier July 25, 2007 at 8:37 am

    You guys adore this so much you aren’t willing to see the things that make it so bad.
    I enjoy the stories– they could be better– but even if I did not, I wouldn’t stand by and let folks slander them. Thus far, there are lots of folks bearing false witness and putting bad motives on the author and those who enjoy the books, and thus far won’t respond to the logical replies.

    SDG July 25, 2007 at 9:01 am

    You guys adore this so much you aren’t willing to see the things that make it so bad.
    Justification. Even Satan has to do it.

    Please, please be careful. In all things charity. Let us think others better than ourselves. For the measure you measure with shall be measured back to you.

    Shane July 25, 2007 at 10:03 am

    The more time that goes by since my having read the final book, the more wonderful Christian symbolism I recognize in it.
    For example, before attempting to battle the evil that is out in the world, the trio must spend months quite literally in the wilderness battling their own inner, personal evils.

    Foxfier July 25, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Shane– I’d never thought of the giant spiders as an embodiment of evil, but I like that!

    Maureen July 25, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Re: Utopia
    More is messing with you when he presents Utopia as a perfect place. He wants you to look at it and say, “Hey! This _isn’t_ a perfect place!” He also wants you to think about what _is_ wrong with the present world, of course. The implicit standard for judgment is the Gospels, as it should have been for any educated and religious person of his time. (The fact that it wasn’t always was one of the reasons More wrote the book.)
    Rowling’s wizard world, like most worlds in fantasy and science fiction, is also _deliberately_ flawed. Whenever a character talks about how much greater their system is than the “Muggle” system, she’s trying to get the kids to ask themselves, “Is it?” Introducing the house elf and blood purity stuff was supposed to point this out even further. Throughout the books, she makes sure that the characters — and even more, the readers — can never mistake the wizarding world for a utopia.

    Shane July 25, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Foxfier – I wasn’t talking about the spiders, but about what they do in book 7. Now that you mention it, though, the spiders bit probably works too in some way. Maybe the entire forbidden forest plays the role of the wilderness.

    Foxfier July 25, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Giant spiders are always evil. ;^)

    Maureen July 25, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Some Day,
    Have you visited Mark Shea’s website?
    You’re famous, buddy!
    He’s written an article about you!
    Just click the “Catholic & Enjoying It” link on the left of Jimmy’s blog.
    Btw, I think I’ve found Rowling’s source for the name “Gellert”. There’s apparently an old German hymnwriter by this name, who wrote a hymn called “Jesus Lives and So Shall I”. :)

    labrialumn July 25, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Esau,
    bar bar bar bar ;-)

    labrialumn July 25, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Maureen, and Flamel was one of the Reformers.

    ArizCalFlaLaw July 25, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I have not read the Harry Potter novels, and I have no intention of doing so. I do not have any small children around.
    To me, though, the whole question revolves around parental supervision and involvement. Parents need to be involved with their child. To know what television programs they are watching, the books they are reading, the friends they are keeping, the movies they are seeing, and the activities in which they are engaged, . . . well, you follow my drift, I am sure.
    The parent should not expect the TV to babysit, or hand the kid a book and, figuratively at least, tell him to get lost.
    In the context of proper parental involvement, explanation, and moral guidance, I seriously doubt that there is anything in the Harry Potter novels that is harmful to a child.
    Any more than letting a child observe Halloween. [trick or treating in the dark is not safe, and I would limit it to indoor supervised activities, though].

    Monica July 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    One of the things I like about the HP books is that they are enjoyed by many adults as well as the kids. This has made for many great discussions between my kids, nieces and nephews and the aunts and uncles. There is not a lot of lit. that will span the age gap between the teens and those with PhD’s. When I think back to the things that teen girls read when I was in HS (steamy romance novels) I have to say I’d much rather they be reading Harry Potter. Of course Tolkein is better, as is Lewis, but I won’t restrict my teens to reading these two exclusively.

    Eileen R July 25, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Emily, great to kickstart you into continuing reading. They’re pretty incredible books, imho, with one of the best character-growth-driven plots I’ve come across.

    AnnonyMouse July 25, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    AnnonyMouse July 25, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    I am sorry Jimmy, but I feel Mark Shea went overboard with his summation of Some Day’s remark. I can not believe someone would so vehemently defend Harry.
    I also feel he misuses the bible references to “fit” his own opinion…when that is just what it is. An opinion. geeesh.
    Keep paddling Some Day.
    If your heart lies where your interests are….would he have a harry heart?….j/k

    Foxfier July 25, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    AnnonyMouse – why do you feel that?

    AnnonyMouse July 25, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    His summation is long but you can go to his website.
    Also the bible reference and his view of it makes it seem like we are brought to a higher level and nothing can hurt us…
    But excludes the fact that people have to realize where they are and where their kids might be too.
    Therefore not all things will be appropriate for all kids.
    The Pharisaic Approach to Purity
    Over at Jimmy’s blog, the discussion of Harry Potter proceeds apace, with the inevitable appearance of the Harry Haters who, not content with not wanting to read the books (which is their perfect right), also bound and determined to arraign Rowling as an evil person and those who enjoy the books as dupes and/or traitors to the Pure Faith, etc. ad nauseam. One comment in particular stands out for me as nicely summing up the failure of a particular sort of approach to the Faith, which is really not faith in the Catholic sense at all, but is more like Phariseeism:
    One drop of poison in a clear glass of water still poisons the whole glass.
    One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.
    The thing is that since almost everything is poisoned these days, you have to go for the one that won’t kill you and still get rid of your thirst.
    But then, that accomplishes the purpose of those books.
    Give your thirst for true beauty and splendor a glass of poisoned water.

    Foxfier July 25, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    That isn’t an answer, Annonymouse, that’s just cutting and pasting from someone else’s website.
    Why, exactly, do you disagree? Do you honestly think that only the most pure things should be allowed to exist?

    Bill Q July 25, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    I actually enjoyed the first six books in the series. I’m greatly disappointed with the seventh. I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll just say that I think the author tried to sneak in argument for a very non-Christian viewpoint (having nothing to do with wizardry or witchcraft) instead of just telling an exciting story.

    Susan Mills July 26, 2007 at 5:29 am

    Three years ago, while watching “HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban” with our children, my daughter noticed a couple of details in one scene that dispelled forever my (very) few doubts about the books/movies creating an unhealthy interest in the occult or paganism.
    During the classroom scene with the boggart (a magical creature that takes the form of whatever you fear most), Professor Lupin throws himself between Harry and the boggart (which has taken the form of a dementor). I don’t remember her exact words as she watched this scene for probably the dozenth time, but it was something along the lines of, “Look, Professor Lupin is standing like Jesus in front of Harry and he’s holding an apple.”
    – AND HE’S HOLDING AN APPLE –-
    While this scene is straight out of Book 3, the detail of the apple (I’m almost 100% certain) is particular only to the movie.
    Now I seriously doubt that the director had even the remotest intention of interjecting the symbol of “Christ the Apple Tree” into this scene, but Clare saw it there all the same. She was able to look through a story she already loved and perceive the sacrifice of Christ.
    That scene will forever bring tears to my eyes.

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 6:01 am

    Foxfire,
    I thought I had stated what I found wrong, but I will go into more detail.
    Do I feel that only the most pure things should exist? No, because that would deny who we are and our fallen nature.
    But given the problematic nature of the series themselves (pursuing withcraft vs magic in novel) I can see why people would validly have concerns with the book, even grave concerns.
    But, in his blog, we are lumped together as Harry Haters who have not read the book and have no idea what we are talking about.
    In his, Shea’s, summation, we are like the Pharisees who would not touch anything unclean. But Jesus brought this to a new height and now we are basically sheided from any “poison” of the world.
    I have a problem with this for several reasons. This is a kids book. Parents are to be the judge, kids are not born “immune” to the wiles of the world, the temptations of the world. A parent has the right to say this is something we do not feel is worth while, will help us, or will be understood.
    If I understood correctly from past posts, Some Day is a young adult. He has a right to have reservations about the book; his opinion. He probably knows more so than kids his age that witchcraft is evil and not every kid is going to understand as Shea does (although I feel he is streching it comparing the sacrafices to Christ).
    So thus, Harry Haters become Pharisees.
    We are discussing a kids book/not refusing to help people we find “unclean” or don’t like which is one of the points Jesus was making.
    Just my two cents.

    ArizCalFlaLaw July 26, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Foxfire,
    You wrote:
    “One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.”
    With all due respect, I find that to be an extremely narrow-minded point of view, and further, even as a Catholic, I do not agree with the statement.
    As the Second Vatican Council observed in its “Declaration of Religious Liberty” and other documents, the church rejects nothing that is good, whatever its source, because all that is good comes from God.
    Who, moreover, is to decide what is “authentically Catholic”? Assuming for the sake of discussion that I am willing to have the Pope review the books I read and the television shows I watch, and the motion pictures I see, I suspect he is too busy to do that for more than a few people at a time.
    Are you suggesting a return to the Index of Forbidden Books, or the restoration of the Inquisition?

    ArizCalFlaLaw July 26, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    As many of you may know, the United States Catholic Conference maintains a website that reviews motion pictures and rates them for moral suitability. In their view, the 2007 movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is rated A-II, which means that it is suitable for adults and adolescents. They think some of the scenes might be too scary for very young viewers. The summary review is set forth below. Notice that the bishops describe this installment as “the best yet.” If they think so, that is good enough for me. Based on the recommendation, I may go and see the movie if it is showing in my neighborhood.
    =============================
    Teenage wizard Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his intrepid Hogwarts chums (Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) face an unexpected obstacle in their ongoing struggle with the malevolent Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes): a repressive teacher (Imelda Staunton) from the Ministry of Magic who won’t allow the practice of hocus-pocus that they need to defend themselves against the evil forces. With director David Yates at the helm, this fifth installment is arguably the best yet with its excellent performances, superior special effects, coherent narrative and sensible balance between action sequences and human drama, not to mention a meaningful subtext about the power of love and personal choice in doing good rather than evil. Some scenes of peril, moderate fantasy violence and scary imagery may preclude very young viewers. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. (PG-13) 2007

    Shane July 26, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    ArizCalFlaLaw, I believe that Foxfire was making that statement as an example of the sort of thinking that some hold and which he disagrees with.

    paul zummo July 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    ArizCalFlaLaw:
    Foxfier ddin’t actually say that – he was quoting what someone else said.

    ArizCalFlaLaw July 26, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Then I retract the statement as it relates to Foxfire, and address my remarks to the person who said it. Thanks for bringing the matter to my attention.

    Foxfier July 26, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    ArizCalFlaLaw – very well said– a better worded version of my reaction, in fact. Some Day is the source of the poison quote. (By the way– I’m not a he. Just as a side note.)
    AnnonyMouse – you keep saying that the books push kids to witchcraft without backing it up. You still haven’t said *why* this book is bad, while Cinderella is good. (Wingarium Leviosa is every bit as silly as “bipity bopity boo,” and works equally well.)
    Some Day may have reservations, or may simply be attacking the “impure”– since he won’t respond to challenges with anything but reiterations, we can’t know.
    But, in his blog, we are lumped together as Harry Haters who have not read the book and have no idea what we are talking about.
    You may wish to re-read the post– you may have been angry and read something that wasn’t said. It clearly says they don’t WISH to read the books and proceed to berate the books and/or author and/or fans. At no point does the phrase or paraphrase “no idea what (they) are talking about” come up.
    Also, Mr. Shea never accuses anyone of failing to help those in need, nor is the duty of parents to be parents withdrawn. The entire point of the post is that 1) there are folks who make a villain of Harry Potter as impure and 2) the Pharisees made a similar mistake.

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Foxfire,
    *I didn’t say it pushes kids to witchcraft.
    I said witchcraft is evil so therefore I have my reservations b/c hp is a wizard in training.
    *You can look at the link in one of the comments above (very long comment) regarding pursuing magic vs magic in stories
    *”Mr. Shea never accuses anyone of failing to help those in need” Helping those in need is my summation of his bible verses he uses to defend that we shouldn’t be hypocrites
    *”nor is the duty of parents to be parents”
    Maybe you feel that he doesn’t but this is what I got,
    He like HP
    He likes him a whole bunch
    If you disagree you are either ignorant or stupid or a kooky kristian (you see for yourself)
    So you can disagree…you are just among the unenlightened kooky harry haters and no matter how many “concerns” and reliable people with same concerns…well then they must be mistaken.
    This is more time than I wanted to spend on this matter. We, as parents are always cruising and reading and making adjustments if needed in our assesment. We haven’t in this case.

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    I did forget one thing,
    Shea will accept literary criticism of the book but that is it. If you found it to be a bore..then fine.
    But you are not validated if you have a problem with the whole theme to begin with.

    Foxfier July 26, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    But given the problematic nature of the series themselves (pursuing witchcraft vs magic in novel) I can see why people would validly have concerns with the book, even grave concerns.
    If the “pursuit” of witchcraft/magic is a valid reason to be concerned, but you don’t think it pushes the readers to witchcraft… what exactly makes it a valid problem?
    You can look at the link in one of the comments above (very long comment) regarding pursuing magic vs magic in stories
    I want to hear *your* problem with it, not read a reference of someone else.
    I want you to expressly explain how an imaginary in-born talent in an uplifting story is morally equivalent to consorting with mystic beings to gain powers. You want an example of what Harry Potter would have to do to be objectionable? Go look up the Anime “Slayers.” The main character calls on the Lord of Darkness in nearly every episode.
    ” Helping those in need is my summation of his bible verses he uses to defend that we shouldn’t be hypocrites
    Please explain how quoting verses where Jesus rejected the idea of ritual impurity means that you do not wish to help people. He did good with those who were ritually impure– much like Mrs. Rowling is doing good with a very Christian story, despite having the boogie-man word “witch” in the book.
    If you disagree you are either ignorant or stupid or a kooky kristian (you see for yourself)
    You have yet to prove that you are NOT! Don’t get so upset about folks you are accusing of being immoral and nasty returning fire with “your logic sucks, here’s why,” “you’re quoting the faith wrong, and here’s why.” When you start accusing folks of immorality, they are not likely to come over to your side– especially when you have no good arguments that you’re willing to part with.
    Frankly, you are coming across like the worst conspiracy-theory “Christian” sites around. I really hope that’s inaccurate, but you are NOT doing your cause any good.
    So you can disagree…you are just among the unenlightened kooky harry haters and no matter how many “concerns” and reliable people with same concerns…well then they must be mistaken
    …. did you even read the same web log I was at?
    The entire topic of the post is those who demonize those who do NOT have a moral problem with the book. Not those who don’t like the book and will argue against it, but those who rant about a single drop of poison in a glass. (Google “arsenic” some time if that metaphor is still strong to you.)

    Foxfier July 26, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    But you are not validated if you have a problem with the whole theme to begin with.
    Not if all you do is stand there and shout “evil! It’s Evil! It promotes EVIL!”
    Offer some rational explanations for why you think it’s bad, and there can be respect– insult people and wrap yourself in glory and you don’t deserve to be “validated.”

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Foxfire, I am not answering all of your questions because most of them are obvious if you go back and read again or not.
    I have not said the books are evil, I said I had a problem with the theme and it could be problematic for some children and adults. That is what I am saying should not be dumbed down.

    Foxfier July 26, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    I didn’t expect you to actually reply, but I had to give you the chance.
    AnnonyMouse– and you’ve defended someone who is accusing dozens of others of huge sin, without so much as a nod that there may, perhaps, be a small problem with those unbacked accusations.
    I hold bearing false witness as a LOT worse than reading books that bug some folks.

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Huh?

    AnnonyMouse July 26, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Well, Foxfier, I don’t get where you are concluding that someone is being slandered from all of this…but I had to give you a chance to answer!

    Some Day July 26, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    I’m glad reading HP has not messed your conscience.
    Because if it did and you kept reading, than you have a problem.
    As I stated before, more than the characters and the example they give, I denounce it due to the reasons I said on the matter of beauty.
    But that arsenic thing is not a good example.
    The optimum thing is to not commit any sins and not just come out strong after a life of sin.
    Our fallen nature is not an excuse to sin.
    It is one to beg mercy however.
    Mark Shea, a guy I don’t even know totally went overboard, but I don’t care.
    As I tried to explain to people who don’t like the idea of fighting evil, in all ways, when I meant to fight enemies it is the enemies of the Church.
    Those who insult you, as in you personaly, give the other cheek and kiss the hand that hurt you because one deserves more than that pain.
    That my friends, is being fanatical over a silly book.
    Esspecially making such a faulty analysis over some stuff said in a blog.
    It is childish and that is coming from a 17 year old.
    Thanks for the defense Annony, but you know, justification for ones prefrences put a blindfold to any remote possiblity of accepting error.

    Foxfier July 26, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    The optimum thing is to not commit any sins and not just come out strong after a life of sin.
    You have still not proven–or even given a good argument– that reading Harry Potter is a sin, Some Day. All you’ve done is make assertions and make those who may share your perspective look foolish. I hate to pull the age card, but grow up; you’re not doing any good.
    AnnonyMouse, if you can’t figure it out, I can’t help you. If someone flat-out calling others sinners for reading a book and not believing it’s evil isn’t a pretty obvious example of false witness, I don’t know what you would accept as an example.

    Petra July 27, 2007 at 3:55 am

    *MINOR SPOILER*
    Not wanting to spoil people’s fun who are trying to make out Harry Potter as “satanic”, but maybe you should be informed that there are two BIBLE QUOTES in the 7th book? Just look at the inscriptions on the tombstones in Godric’s Hollow…

    Petra July 27, 2007 at 4:14 am

    *MINOR SPOILER*
    Not wanting to spoil people’s fun who are trying to make out Harry Potter as “satanic”, but maybe you should be informed that there are afaik two BIBLE QUOTES in the 7th book? Just look at the inscriptions on the tombstones in Godric’s Hollow…

    Etal July 27, 2007 at 9:41 am

    If HP is satanic/wiccan than so is the Christ-like Aslan of Narnia when he is resurrected and informs the girls that there is a “deeper MAGIC” that the White Queen didn’t know about.
    Get over it people, magic is fun for kids to read (unless of course you get your religion from a Jack Chick cartoon, then I can’t help you).

    Esau July 27, 2007 at 9:48 am

    If HP is satanic/wiccan than so is the Christ-like Aslan of Narnia when he is resurrected and informs the girls that there is a “deeper MAGIC” that the White Queen didn’t know about.
    “deeper MAGIC” is an allegorical reference.
    I can’t believe somebody would actually misconstrue that to mean the type of magic which resides in fantasy.

    Esau July 27, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Not wanting to spoil people’s fun who are trying to make out Harry Potter as “satanic”, but maybe you should be informed that there are afaik two BIBLE QUOTES in the 7th book? Just look at the inscriptions on the tombstones in Godric’s Hollow…

    Certainly, Harry Potter is NOT ‘satanic’, but one cannot avoid the fact that it does prompt certain impressionable individuals (such as children) to investigate the occult, in spite of the fact that this might not have been the intention of the novel, but rather a result of the subject matter that it deals with.
    As far as the reference in the 7th novel, has anybody considered that perhaps Rowlings did that as an after-thought due to the criticism she had been receiving from the Christian front concerning her previous Harry Potter novels?
    Keep in mind, Catholics are not the only ones who have problems with her book; there are also some very dedicated Protestant Christians as well.
    This is why there was actually an author who actually created a more acceptable version of Harry Potter for Christians called “Fablehaven”, aside from the fact that he perhaps wanted to take a chunk out of the $2.4 billion Harry Potter industry!

    Monica July 27, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Does anyone actually know any kids who have explored the occult because of reading Harry Potter? How many of those kids (if indeed they exist) would have explored the occult whether or not they’d read HP? After all, kids have been fooling with oiji boards and whatnot since WAY before HP.

    SDG July 27, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Good questions on all counts, Monica.
    My opinion is if you could chart kids from, say, 1 to 10 for risk of occult involvement, the range of kids within that spectrum for whom HP would realistically be a real factor inclining them toward occult activity would be quite small.
    Toward one end of the spectrum, kids unlikely to become involved in the occult would be unaffected; toward the other end, kids likely to get in trouble with the occult would be likely to do so with or without HP. Only a minority of “at-risk” kids would be likely to be swayed one way or the other.
    Not that I don’t care about that minority of at-risk kids. But as Jimmy points out, lots of things can set off at-risk people in crazy directions.

    Esau July 27, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Does anyone actually know any kids who have explored the occult because of reading Harry Potter? How many of those kids (if indeed they exist) would have explored the occult whether or not they’d read HP? After all, kids have been fooling with oiji boards and whatnot since WAY before HP.
    I do at our local bookstore.
    But, am I really blaming Harry Potter for that?
    My argument was not that Harry Potter was this ‘source of all evil’ and that it was the very thing that prompted impressionable folks to the occult; in fact, that is why I stated:
    “Certainly, Harry Potter is NOT ‘satanic’, but one cannot avoid the fact that it does prompt certain impressionable individuals (such as children) to investigate the occult, in spite of the fact that this might not have been the intention of the novel, but rather a result of the subject matter that it deals with.”
    Rather, I said that it was due to the subject matter it dealt with and, furthermore, there is the unavoidable fact that it’s basically a book whose target audience primarily consists of the youth.
    As far as some Christian parents who might not want to expose their children to such a seemingly seductive book they may consider harmful to the spiritual state of their children, why put them down with such fury and hate all because they care so much for the spiritual well-being of their children?
    That’s even more downright despicable than those people who condemn the Harry Potter series as being satanic!
    If only there were more parents out there who likewise cared about their children’s spiritual well-being, perhaps we might fashion a brighter future for our nation!

    Esau July 27, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    My opinion is if you could chart kids from, say, 1 to 10 for risk of occult involvement, the range of kids within that spectrum for whom HP would realistically be a real factor inclining them toward occult activity would be quite small.
    SDG,
    Anything dealing with the subject matter Harry Potter deals with fashioned with a similarly attractive storyline might quite possibly entice impressionable folks such as children to the occult.
    Sure, Harry Potter may or may not bring such folks to explore the occult.
    That’s not the point.
    The point is we have parents (some of whom we might find overly-cautious) who actually do care for their children’s spiritual well-being, they’re careful as to how they raise their children and their exposure to certain materials.
    Why would you put down such parents who care for their children so much that they even take into consideration what they expose their kids to?
    Should we actually condemn these folks for that?

    Bart July 27, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    maybe you should be informed that there are two BIBLE QUOTES in the 7th book
    “When the Devil quotes Scriptures, it’s not, really, to deceive, but simply that the masses are so ignorant of theology that somebody has to teach them the elementary texts before he can seduce them.” – Paul Goodman, “Spring and Summer 1956,” sct. 6, Five Years (1966).

    Carlton July 27, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    CCC# 2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Why would you put down such parents who care for their children so much that they even take into consideration what they expose their kids to?
    Should we actually condemn these folks for that?

    Most heartily no. However, neither should those who weigh the odds and find no threat in it be accused of spreading Satanism and poisoning the Body.
    Carlton- that’s for reality, where magic comes from dark mystic sources; not for a Fantasy book where magic comes from being born, kind of like having blue eyes or a great sense for making art.

    AnnonyMouse July 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Those that erre on the cautious side, I feel are wise.
    Check out “Dairy Otter” on this website.

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Bart, are you sure you want to bring that guy in?
    Paul Goodman (9 September 1911 New York City – 2 August 1972) was an American poet, writer, and public intellectual. He described his politics as anarchist, his loves as bisexual, and his profession as that of “man of letters”. Goodman is now mainly remembered as the author of Growing up Absurd and for having been, during the 1960s, an activist on the pacifist Left and an inspiration to the counterculture of that era. He is less remembered as a cofounder of Gestalt Therapy in the 1940s and 50s.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Goodman_(writer)

    AnnonyMouse July 27, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    And here is the website
    http://skojec.wordpress.com/

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    AnnonyMouse- feel all you like, but back up accusations. Your feelings are no more inherently valid than anyone else’s.

    AnnonyMouse July 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Already have, you were not listening (or would it be reading?).

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    *sigh* You keep saying the same things, and accusing the same folks, all the while not realizing that I am saying let folks *choose* if they will read these books– and you still slander them as spreading witchcraft.
    Maybe this will make you understand.
    Romans 14:1-3
    1 Accept those whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat everything, but another person, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted that person.

    Mary July 27, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    If HP is satanic/wiccan than so is the Christ-like Aslan of Narnia when he is resurrected and informs the girls that there is a “deeper MAGIC” that the White Queen didn’t know about.
    “deeper MAGIC” is an allegorical reference.
    I can’t believe somebody would actually misconstrue that to mean the type of magic which resides in fantasy.

    There are neo-pagans who have taken it not as fantasy magic but as real magic and whose only complaint is that it is — in their eyes — half-hearted.

    Mary July 27, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.
    Once upon a time, you could be a good Catholic and practice alchemy, or even bury a metal plate of the appropriate astrological in your field (provided you didn’t do it with invocations). This was because it was good science at the time.
    There was also honest-to-goodness bon-fide full-blown magic, dealing with spirits. The pagan Romans and Greeks punished it as impiety; in fact, the two largest witch hunts on record occurred in the Roman Republic.
    We confuse them nowadays, because nowadays we know that if the stuff in the first group worked, it was by signalling to demons.
    But an imaginary setting where the laws of nature are different — as people imagined them to be — is not necessarily calling on occult powers.

    Monica July 27, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Here’s a spoiler from the 7th book for those of you who are against it and won’t read it anyway: The most evil and powerful wizard Voldemort’s magic is like sparklers on the 4th of July compared to the power of self sacrifice – the willingness to die in order to protect others. He resists the draw of power and might for a peaceful world, living with family and friends. Is this a dangerous message for our kids?

    AnnonyMouse July 27, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    LOL..Ok Foxfire. You go eat your carrots and I’ll eat my steak!
    I won’t accuse you of being unChristian if you do not eat meat, how is that?
    Now, regarding those whose faith is weak..you bring up a good point. Seeing that most Catholics my age do not know their faith very well, all the better to be cautious of the book, ehh?
    You crack me up!

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    AnnonyMouse — Thank you for proving my point.

    Some Day July 27, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Carlton- that’s for reality, where magic comes from dark mystic sources; not for a Fantasy book where magic comes from being born, kind of like having blue eyes or a great sense for making art.
    To say the least, by that logic, pornography is not a sin, because, hey its not “reality”.
    And becareful Fox, I never napalm blaketeldy said that everyone who reads HP commits a sin.
    I said if your conscience puts objections.
    I ask myself though, you read HP, or anybook…
    How long did you spend in the Blessed Sacrament?
    Did you pray your Rosary?
    How about the Divine Office?
    Not nearly as long as you spend reading things meant to falsely satisfy your desire for true Beauty, which takes you to God and as long as you spend defending yourself with sophisms and stupidly saying that peaple are pointing fingers without evidence.
    Make sure before you spend reading whatever, blogging or watching TV (I hope you don’t, as that I have HUGE reasons why that is sinful), you’ve prayed what you should, because HP is not a saint and reading his life isn’t going to make you one either.

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Some Day-
    in your own words:
    They give you wondorous scenes of castles with satanists- I mean wizards and such.
    So we are supporting Satanism.
    The optimum thing is to not commit any sins and not just come out strong after a life of sin.
    Sinning, somehow, by reading and liking the books.
    One drop of anything not authentically Catholic poisons the whole glass.
    Are killing the Catholicism in ourselves.
    Give your thirst for true beauty and splendor a glass of poisoned water.
    Killing our love of beauty– and, if we suggest the stories to others, we are poisoners.
    Saying something is not so does not make it so.
    (That’s my favorite, since it’s been your practice, thus far, do act as if that exact thing works….)
    It is through the influence of temporal and spiritual things in the most minimal way, that souls are weakened to the point where today it is a crime to be a Catholic in the eyes of the world. Virginality, Chastity, Combativity, Holy Hate of Evil, Spritual Life, Love of the Cross are all hated by the world.
    By reading and liking these books, we’re helping the world hate the Church.
    The forces that be’s way of mantaining a control they need to continue to do Satan’s work.
    …. Is it clear yet that you are going so far overboard about a series of BOOKS for the offense of using a word that is impure? Is it getting through that you may, perhaps, be less than great in how you treat those who do not find a problem with it– who even find great good?
    I know that schools aren’t what they use to be, but I should hope that by now your English classes have covered the idea of stories that are not in this world. Alternate world stories. Stories where normal rules do not apply. The Potterverse is one of them– in our world, magic is something you must go about acquiring, willingly putting yourself to dark mystic forces. In the Potterverse, it’s a genetic quirk– if it were sci fi, they’d be telepaths, teleporters and similar jargon. Because the story is a modern fantasy, it takes the fairy-tale words for “these people can do interesting things to move the story along and provide color.”
    You are weakening your point by your histrionics. You are weakening the Church because I *know* I’m going to have to deal with my non-Catholic friends and clean up after you making us look like chicken little. How do I know this? I’ve already had to do so.
    Oh, wait, maybe talking to non-Catholics will infect me with something that is “not authentically Catholic”! I’ll poison myself if I touch the leper! I’ll be spiritually unclean if I eat this pig meat!

    Foxfier July 27, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Some Day-
    To say the least, by that logic, pornography is not a sin, because, hey its not “reality”.
    If you make an alternative world where they call married love “pornography” because they wish everyone to have test-tube babies, then in this alternative world, *it is not a sin.*
    Ever read “The Giver”? It illustrates a world that such a story could be placed in.
    I’m starting to think you simply don’t have the imagination to understand that stories can be set in worlds unlike this one. I can’t see how that’s so, but that’s how you are acting.

    Mary W July 28, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Monica,
    When the 2nd HP book came out I can remember a couple of articles about librarians who noticed that books on the occult were emptied from the shelves. One said she doesn’t remember that happening before HP became popular and was very concerned that the children were being influenced by HP to read more about black magic.

    AnnonyMouse July 28, 2007 at 7:03 am

    In the end, you have to decide for yourself if these books would be appropriate and for those who do choose to not read the book because the theme is problematic to begin with, that is ok.
    I have not read anyone on this post saying anyone else was sinning by reading these books. Although, if we told our 9 year old absolutely NO, and he decided to sneak and read it anyway, then he would be sinning.
    Is it worth it? Are these 8 year olds going to get these lofty allegorical meanings that all these adults and literary critics are claiming? Are the parents going to read the critics and say..oh yes, lets do sit for a spell and discuss the deeper meaning of the magic in the books? Hogwash. It is meant to entertain. Harry is popular. Harry is a wizard. There is magic, although maybe not Rowlings intent, that could be misunderstood and made to look “cool”.
    Is it worth the risk knowing the dangers of witchcraft? The evils of it?
    NO.

    Carlton July 28, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Carlton- that’s for reality, where magic comes from dark mystic sources not for a Fantasy book where magic comes from being born
    With respect to CCC#2117, it doesn’t matter if it’s a fantasy book or a science book, or whether magic comes from being born or if it’s acquired. CCC#2117 addresses the actual PRACTICE of magic, “by which one attempts to tame occult powers.” When a person reads a book about real or imaginary people, the act of reading is not itself an attempt to tame occult powers. In that regard, it matters not what Harry Potter books say in regard to where the characters get their magical powers, whether acquired or born or whatever. Even if the characters are born with powers, it still does not preclude that the characters are attempting to tame (occult) powers. Taming and acquiring are not the same thing. Yet, none of that matters with respect to reading about it, for to read about magic is not to practice it and that is what CCC#2117 is concerned with: the actual PRACTICE of magic.

    Monica July 28, 2007 at 10:50 am

    “Are the parents going to read the critics and say..oh yes, lets do sit for a spell and discuss the deeper meaning of the magic in the books?”
    ‘sit for a spell’??? pun intended?
    Actually, yes, we did, many times for each book, ‘sit for a spell’ and discuss:
    - churches teaching on practicing magic
    - actions of different characters in their different situations
    - decisions people make being affected by how they were raised
    - how the author could have done better in some areas
    - flaws in Rowling’s magical world
    - R’s writing as compared to tolkein/lewis and other favorite authors
    for starters. So for us, the books have been a worthwhile read.

    Foxfier July 28, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Well, Carlton, if you show up in the Potterverse, don’t do magic.
    I believe the CCC also has an entry where actors, writers and other folks who make imaginary worlds are not held morally liable for what their characters do.

    AnnonyMouse July 28, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Monica I think that is great to see a parent involved as you are.
    Do you think the Catholic parents you know in your parish are like you? Would you be a minority or a majority? I know what I see here, you would be a minority.
    Fox, is the reasoning you stated about artists the same reason some Catholic Colleges have the Vagina Mon? State the CCC you are referring to please.

    Rita July 28, 2007 at 11:40 am

    if you show up in the Potterverse, don’t do magic.
    If you show up in the Potterverse, you’ll do whatever J.K. Rowling pens you to do.

    Carlton July 28, 2007 at 11:43 am

    actors, writers and other folks who make imaginary worlds are not held morally liable for what their characters do.
    The writer’s characters don’t actually do anything. They’re only IMAGINED to do things. Meanwhile, the writer is morally liable for whatever the writer actually does.

    Foxfier July 28, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Annon, how about you state where it says they are morally liable? I’ve wasted enough time on you. If you are going to stand there and equate a play that glorifies rape to a book that glorifies loving self-sacrifice, the time is most assuredly wasted.
    The writer’s characters don’t actually do anything. They’re only IMAGINED to do things. Meanwhile, the writer is morally liable for whatever the writer actually does.
    Exactly. Not for what the characters do. Not for what the characters they’re reading about do. Not for what the actions would mean in the real world.

    AnnonyMouse July 28, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    “I believe the CCC also has an entry where actors, writers and other folks who make imaginary worlds are not held morally liable for what their characters do.”
    In all seriousness, where does it say this?

    Farris July 28, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    Do fiction writers have power? “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.” (#2287)

    Jarnor23 July 28, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    A) Fiction writers have no power that you do not give them.
    B) A Christian writing a Christian story with a mask on it is hardly attempting to do wrong, even if SOME take it wrong and do evil with it. Even if there may possibly be some flaws in it. Twinkies aren’t exactly health food, but they’re hardly to blame for Dan White shooting two politicians in the late 70s. Even though the jury believed that they were and reduced his charge to manslaughter.
    C) When you slander and insult that which is not actually evil, but morally neutral or even somewhat good if not perfect, you make the Catholic Church look like a bunch of idiotic intolerant rubes. If you don’t like something, fine, but when something is NOT clearly evil, don’t make it out to be.
    D) If you really think Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, or Narnia books are evil and not just possibly flawed works by Christians attempting to convey the message of the faith, please actually read them with the knowledge that all three series are written by professed Christians. You JUST may notice a bit more symbolism than you did before. If not, I’m sorry you’re a nutter, please don’t post about it anymore, we have a hard enough time winning souls for Christ without explaining why you’re screaming in every webboard that we need to burn the witches.

    Fiction writer July 28, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    A) Fiction writers have no power that you do not give them.
    Nothing special about it being a fiction writer. The same would apply to any writer, any speaker.
    B) A Christian writing a Christian story with a mask on it is hardly attempting to do wrong, even if SOME take it wrong and do evil with it.
    When did Christians stop being sinners?
    C) you make the Catholic Church look like a bunch of idiotic intolerant rubes.
    It is the Church’s own teaching that the Church is made up of sinners.
    You JUST may notice a bit more symbolism than you did before.
    As a fiction writer has no power that you do not give him, his writings have no symbolism that you do not give them.
    I’m sorry you’re a nutter, please don’t post about it anymore
    Did you forget so quickly your own words? “Fiction writers have no power that you do not give them.”

    Foxfier July 29, 2007 at 2:11 am

    As a fiction writer has no power that you do not give him, his writings have no symbolism that you do not give them.
    Incorrect. You may not *notice* or understand the symbols, and they will not have power if you don’t notice them, but the symbols are there.
    Metaphor: some folks can’t read; the written words still have meaning, and the letters are still symbols, just some folks can’t understand them. Or you could go with the example of using roman letters but writing a language unknown to the reader– the symbolism is there, it simply goes by the reader who cannot get meaning from it.
    On point B, there is a difference between “being a sinner” and “using X to further the cause of sin.”
    On C, how is the Church having sinners in it an excuse to call possibly innocent things of being evil?

    A Non July 29, 2007 at 3:41 am

    Pagans use the internet. The internet is used to do all kinds of great evil. The internet turns some people into thieves, others into pornographers, and some, even, into murderers.
    Get off the internet. It’s not Christian. It’s poison.
    Well, I wish SomeDay would someday be consistent…

    Mary July 29, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Humm. Was re-reading the opening, and thinking:
    In economic terms, there must be scarcity: magical power must be a finite resource.
    Except that in Harry Potter magic is clearly a finite resource. The Weasleys and Remus Lupin are both poor. Remus can’t be cured of his werewolfry, and neither can either of Neville Longbottom’s parents, not even after Voldemort’s death. The World Cup goes to exhaust the Ministry of Magic with the effort of keeping it secret.
    It’s not like the wizards and witches have magic like Aladin’s genie.

    Fiction writer July 29, 2007 at 11:36 am

    You may not *notice* or understand the symbols, and they will not have power if you don’t notice them, but the symbols are there.
    Symbolism is the attribution of meaning or significance to something. Words do not have meaning on their own. It is YOU who does the attributing, and until you do, there is no meaning, no signficance to them. And when your thoughts change to something else, you are no longer attributing meaning to it, and whatever meaning you were previously attributing ceases to exist. Meaning is always fresh amd immediate. It does not exist in the past or future or sitting on paper waiting.
    how is the Church having sinners in it an excuse
    Who said it’s an excuse? The Church teaches it to be reality. It’s you who is looking for excuses.

    Jarnor23 July 29, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Fictionally a writer: Please note Foxfier’s fine response.
    To further clarify – fiction has no power we do not give it. I read the Da Vinci Code to be able to debunk it. Painfully bad garbage which was promptly destroyed after reading. Also happy to say the copy I read was discarded by someone else so no proceeds were going to Dan Brown.
    However, I didn’t magically turn into a drone, renounce my conversion to the Catholic Church, and start looking out for albino assassin monks (who, oddly, was the only interesting character to me in the whole book). I recognized stupidity and garbage for what it was and rebutted it sensibly. It had no power over me, as Christ is infinitely more powerful, as are the facilities He gave me. Fear of that book gives it power.
    Now to go the next step, books that aren’t even intentionally evil, and may indeed have beneficial lessons can be learned from. Even with flaws. I would go as far to say that the most perfect Christian fiction would still have some flaws given we are talking about trying to capture the essence of Christ’s perfect love.
    When a Christian, who, yes, of course is a sinner, like everyone else, writes something, it is at least worth your while to examine the material well before having a knee-jerk reaction to it. Otherwise you are likely to slander Christians who are trying to promote Christ’s message in a way those poisoned by worldly ways may not detect right away and discard. And calling the work that possibly God wished them to do evil is harmful to readers, authors, and common sense everywhere. If you were to hear about a world of talking animals (DEMONS!), magical spells (WITCHCRAFT!), and sword battles (MURDER AND VIOLENCE!), and say right off the bat this MUST be evil and God hates the author and curses those who read by allowing dark magic to infest their minds, congratulations, you just condemned C.S. Lewis and all those who love Narnia.
    Catholics SHOULD do better than this.

    Fiction writer July 29, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I read the Da Vinci Code to be able to debunk it… I recognized stupidity and garbage for what it was and rebutted it
    Whatever “stupidity” you rebut is only that which you’ve assigned. Hence, it is your own.
    It had no power over me
    Other than the power you give it, to play the game of rebutting your own interpretations.
    it is at least worth your while to examine the material well before having a knee-jerk reaction to it.
    Whatever worth you find is but the worth you’ve bestowed, and whatever reaction you see is but your own.
    And calling the work that possibly God wished them to do evil is harmful to readers, authors, and common sense everywhere
    What is it when you call it “harmful”?
    If you were to hear about a world of talking animals (DEMONS!), magical spells (WITCHCRAFT!), and sword battles (MURDER AND VIOLENCE!), and say right off the bat this MUST be evil and God hates the author and curses those who read by allowing dark magic to infest their minds, congratulations, you just condemned C.S. Lewis and all those who love Narnia.
    If it matters to you, it’s only because you give it power.

    Foxfier July 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Jarnor23, I think this “Fiction writer” guy is the “interpretation” guy from a while back.

    Jarnor23 July 29, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Yup, after reading that, I concur. My mistake for trying to ACTUALLY communicate. *sigh*
    Why do these people show up and waste our time of actually writing out a reasoned idea?

    ArizCalFlaLaw July 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Being informed is always better than being ignorant, and it gives us a credible basis on which to rebut error. As for Catholics who should do better, then, respectfully, you may wish to address your concerns to Roger Mahoney, Thomas O’Brien, Bernard Law, etc., and not get too hung up about children’s books.

    Emily July 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Why do these people show up and waste our time
    Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
    – Carl Sandburg
    Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
    – Rodin
    The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
    – Bertrand Russell

    Jarnor23 July 29, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Ariz, don’t think those guys aren’t on my s*itlist. :)
    Emily, good point, good point. If maybe I learned something by having to articulate it, I can consider it time well spent. Still don’t get people who just show up places to troll, or worse yet, spam. I wonder if Jimmy even knows several of his threads have been flooded with spam links and porn ads. That’s damned annoying to me, especially as crass as that is to do to someone’s RELIGIOUS THEMED SITE.

    AnnonyMouse July 30, 2007 at 8:23 am

    “Otherwise you are likely to slander Christians who are trying to promote Christ’s message in a way those poisoned by worldly ways may not detect right away and discard. ”
    How is this book promoting Chist’s message? Does Harry die for the “bad” guy? Does he sacrafice himself for the evil guy in the book?
    I still don’t get how you see people as slandering others.

    Tim J. July 30, 2007 at 8:32 am

    “If it matters to you, it’s only because you give it power.”
    That’s your interpretation, therefore we can dismiss it.
    Begone, ignorant spirit of gnostic blather! I cast you OOUTT-uhhhh…!!

    Esquire July 30, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Tim J.,
    Was that witchcraft, or an exorcism?

    Tim J. July 30, 2007 at 9:55 am

    That was just pure-dee old show bidness.
    Stagecraft.
    Y’all send money and I’ll send you a prosperity hankie. It may not drive out YOUR demons, but it sure helps with mine.

    Esau July 30, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Speaking of Exorcism, just recently on MSNBC:
    Link:
    Attempted exorcism ends in man’s death
    Police use stun guns on grandfather seen choking 3-year-old girl

    Excerpt:
    Updated: 4:32 p.m. PT July 29, 2007
    Naked woman seen chanting
    A bed had been pushed up against the door; the officers pushed it open a few inches and saw Marquez choking his bloodied granddaughter, who was crying in pain and gasping, Tranter said.
    A bloody, naked 19-year-old woman who police later determined to be Marquez’s daughter and the girl’s mother was in the room, chanting “something that was religious in nature,” Tranter said.

    AnnonyMouse July 30, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Esau, that is tragic!They need our prayers!
    One essay I found that has good points regarding magic/witchcraft good/evil used in literature:
    “We need to ask ourselves what kind of alternate worlds we can, in good conscience, imagine (if any at all). Lewis and Tolkien imagined alternate worlds ruled by a sovereign God but with different created orders from our own. Rowling imagines a world identical to our own, but one where witchcraft is not a sin and boys can fly on broomsticks. We can say, “that’s okay, because there are still good and evil.” But good and evil are redefined. Would we be so forgiving with a series set in a world much like our own, but where homosexuality is a virtue? Where the hero is commended for his commitment to a relationship that in our world would be forbidden by God?
    Lewis and Tolkien created fantasy worlds where good remains good and evil remains evil. This fidelity to moral absolutes is a requisite for good fiction. Though the characters and scenery differ, right and wrong do not, and the moral value of the story is retained. Sorcery is no more acceptable in Middle Earth than it was in ancient Israel. It is Sauron, the Dark Lord, who steals the learning of the elven-smiths to secretly forge a “ruling ring.” It is Sauraman, a traitor, who turns his gift of persuasion into a tool for manipulating those under him. Here, the setting is make-believe, but the story is true to life.”
    http://homepage.mac.com/andrewvardeman/misc/magicInLiterature.html

    Monica July 30, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    “Rowling imagines a world identical to our own, but one where witchcraft is not a sin and boys can fly on broomsticks.”
    It’s not a world identical to our own. We live in the ‘muggle’ world, while the wizarding world is more of a parallel society with its own laws which the wizarding world tries to keep separate from the muggles.
    Can you show me where in the books good and evil are redefined? I’ve heard this before but didn’t see it at all when I read the books. Friendship is highly valued, loyalty, self sacrifice, thoughtfullness, hard work, obedience, etc. all seem to have the same values I am familiar with.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Lewis and Tolkien created fantasy worlds where good remains good and evil remains evil. This fidelity to moral absolutes is a requisite for good fiction.

    The first sentence above is true, and expresses one of the hedges from my own six-year-old essay on the subject. The second sentence is at least problematic and of questionable applicability.
    Firstly, neither Church teaching nor any literary authority establishes any “requisites for good fiction.”
    Secondly, suffice to say that the divination-like practices of Lewis’s Dr. Cornelius (an astrologer) and Tolkien’s Aragorn (who gazes into a crystal ball to communicate with an evil disembodied spirit) would in real life be at least morally highly suspect, if not outright violations of the religious precept embodied in the first commandment.

    Some Day July 30, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    You all look so hard into HP as a “Christ figure” when he is not, instead of looking to real examples of Christ. You want adventures, look at the live’s saints.
    Go read about the Crusades, the Conquest of America, the taming of the pagans.
    Read the Bible.
    Those are real alter christi’s.

    Jarnor23 July 30, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    AnonyMouse, funny you should ask…
    * SPOILER FOR BOOK 7 WARNING *
    the answer is yes. He very much performs such an act of Christ symbolism. Obviously not exact, or even as close as Aslan’s (being Christ in Narnia), but read the last 4 chapters and see. Since you have not, it might explain your lack of knowledge in this matter.

    Jarnor23 July 30, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Some Day: You presume we don’t do both. However, you should be aware, most people won’t pick up a Bible, but they will pick up a Narnia book. I was lead to Christ through Lewis’ writings.
    By your proposition, we should never look at sacred art again either, because the painting cannot be as good as Christ. However, I think all but the most ignorant would understand that works of art communicate in ways that may talk to hearts in a way that a text might not.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    You all look so hard into HP as a “Christ figure” when he is not, instead of looking to real examples of Christ.

    The first half of this sentence is an idle assertion devoid of demonstrative force; the second is a false and uncharitable assumption. Please, Some Day, in all things charity — think what you are saying, and the accusation you are leveling at fellow believers.

    You want adventures, look at the live’s saints.

    In the first place, whom are you suggesting isn’t looking at the lives of the saints and the Bible and so forth? But in the second place, since you evidently approve of Tolkien and Lewis, evidently you don’t mean to only read the lives of the saints. Are we not allowed to read or watch stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood or Zorro? What about Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker? What about Spider-Man or Batman? In the well-known words of a great hack actor, S.D., get a life.

    JoAnna July 30, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    You all look so hard into HP as a “Christ figure” when he is not, instead of looking to real examples of Christ. You want adventures, look at the live’s saints.
    Go read about the Crusades, the Conquest of America, the taming of the pagans.
    Read the Bible.
    Those are real alter christi’s.

    Why can’t we do both? I enjoy reading about the saints and do so on a fairly regular basis. I also enjoy reading Harry Potter and do so on a fairly regular basis.

    Tim J. July 30, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    That’s the thing that bothers me most about some of the Harry Potter critics… they are determined to set up a false “either/or”… either you disavow Harry Potter OR you weaken your Catholic faith.
    I just don’t accept that there exists in HP a choice of this kind. Period.

    Gene Branaman July 30, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Some Day said:
    “Lewis and Tolkien created fantasy worlds where good remains good and evil remains evil. This fidelity to moral absolutes is a requisite for good fiction.”
    SDG said:
    “The first sentence above is true, and expresses one of the hedges from my own six-year-old essay on the subject.”
    (SDG – I’m having trouble bringing up your “Harry Potter vs. Gandalf” essay on Decent Films – I wanted to refresh my memory of it before writing this post. Please check your link.)
    Some Day sould take into account that, until recenlty, the HP series was incomplete & we did not know what the ending would be. Harry & his friends were developing as characters; maturing into adults who learned from their mistakes, grew in wisdom, & gained the knowledge necessary to defeat evil. In the final book (NO spoilers here), both readers & characters learn information that changes events & character actions from all 6 previous books & we are now able to see these characters & their actions in a new light. (Frankly, some of these are quite obscure characters & events, too.) We, as readers, can see that JKR was consistent from the beginning – no “retcons” here! – &, taken as a whole, we (as well as the characters) can now understand fully what we could not before.
    In retrospect, what was evil, truly evil, remained evil. There is no moral relavitism in JKR’s evil. There are some who chose to follow that evil &, as happens in those cases, a price was paid. In every case. But we see this in real life. Risking Godwin’s Law, I was constantly reminded of totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany as Voldemort rises to power in Deathly Hallows. It’s clear that some of his followers regretted their choices, considering his lack of mercy & compassion – a trait he had from the beginning, even after mercy & compassion were shown to him by Dumbledore, as told in a previous book.
    Also, what was good is found to be good all along. The rule breaking Harry & his friends employed early in the series ends rather abruptly in HP4 as they realize it’s not ethical. As there is no omniscient narrarator in the series (since most of the story is from Harry’s POV) we never really know the full story until Harry learns the truth. As with many stories of this type, vital information is withheld from the reader & characters until very near the end. As was done in Star Wars, for example. When Empire Strikes Back came out, many of us were in deep denial that Vader was really Luke’s father. I simply could not be! But, as we all know now, it was true. There was real dramatic tension in that possibility. And, who was the other Yoda spoke of at the end of the film? Once we found out, it all made sense. Same with HP.
    Lewis’ Narnia series is an example of a series that wasn’t written in this way; it & LOTR employ omniscient narration to the point that there was very little information withheld from the reader. What was read in the first half of The Two Towers colored what we learned in the second half, (Gandalf’s return, for example) but Tolkien didn’t keep much from us. That wasn’t the point. But it was vital that JKR keep info from us (not to mention her characters) to build that tension. In fact, she does this all throuth Deathly Hallows to good effect; Harry begins to question the character of someone not realizing he should have been questioning that of another.
    And that’s why, IMO, so many folk have problems with HP – they didn’t see all ends, to paraphrase Gandalf. Now that we can, it will be interesting to see how many will remain anti-Harry, especially after the final film comes out, since not all will read the books. Perhaps there will always be too many assumptions about the use of magic in JKR’s books that will keep some from reading these books.
    Now . . . let’s all put this energy toward a series that, per its writer, is most definitly anti-Christian: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, written specifically to get readers (especially children) to question the existence of God & deny Him. BTW, as many may know, the first film in that series, The Golden Compass, will be out this Christmas. The irony of its release date is not lost on those who know the full story in that case.

    Elmar July 30, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    We, as readers, can see that JKR was consistent from the beginning – no “retcons” here!
    She could have made twenty different endings which each would appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    (SDG – I’m having trouble bringing up your “Harry Potter vs. Gandalf” essay on Decent Films – I wanted to refresh my memory of it before writing this post.

    Here ’tis.

    She could have made twenty different endings which each would appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.

    Unlikely. As a critic, I can tell you this sort of thing goes awry far more often than it works out, if indeed it ever does. George Lucas’s Star Wars series is a classic case in point of how easily dramatic retrofitting goes awry.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Now . . . let’s all put this energy toward a series that, per its writer, is most definitly anti-Christian: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, written specifically to get readers (especially children) to question the existence of God & deny Him.

    Yes, and this raises one of the more problematic aspects of Harry Potter overreaction — it diminishes both our capacity to react proportionately to something that truly is anti-Christian, and also our credibility in the public square.

    Esau July 30, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    SDG,
    How can you say that?
    Are you telling me that only one ending was possible?
    When an author weaves his/her story, it can go a number of different directions; so I can see what Elmar means.
    Personally, I find it interesting that the so-called Christian elements didn’t materialize until the final book, which might have possibly been done to appease the Christian critics out there.

    Tom July 30, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Everyone is a critic and the critics don’t agree. Perhaps in a few years, she’ll write another book to change everything up again. Even Phillip Pullman can write another book. Even after their dead, hidden manuscripts can be found.

    Foxfier July 30, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    …The Golden Compass, will be out this Christmas. The irony of its release date is not lost on those who know the full story in that case.
    I was wondering how long it would take someone else to find it ironic.
    Personally, I’m hoping for the film to have as much to do with the book as Disney’s “Hunchback” cartoon did….

    Melissa July 30, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    According to the article, “The answer, as with so much of JK Rowling’s work, seems to be ‘she didn’t think it through‘. The details are the great charm of Rowling’s books, and the reason that I have pre-ordered my copy of the seventh novel: the owl grams, the talking portraits, the Weasley twins’ magic tricks. But she seems to pay no attention at all to the big picture, so all the details clash madly with each other. It’s the same reason she writes herself into plot holes that have to be resolved by making characters behave in inexplicable ways.

    Esau July 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Everyone is a critic and the critics don’t agree.
    Tell me about it!
    Proof is this very thread!
    You have folks screaming: “If you love Harry Potter, you’re a Satanist!”
    While you have others yelling: “If you denounce Harry Potter, you’re a hypocrite and a Pharisee at that!”

    Mary July 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    In retrospect, what was evil, truly evil, remained evil.
    Drat.
    I hope this is vague enough to not be a spoiler and clear enough for those who have read it already.
    One point in the work is not morally correct. It is objectively wrong to do evil that good may come of it. This is regardless of who asked you to do it, and whether the evil that you do would be done by someone else, perhaps more nastily.
    One can hope, under the circumstances described, that the subjective requirements for guilt are not fulfill — but the act was still objectively wrong.

    Foxfier July 30, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Mary– I think I know what you are referring to, and I think that might be why they were expressly downgraded to… well, a rather extremely utilitarian character.

    Mary July 30, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Humm. I’m not sure what you mean.
    I was refering to the revaluation of something that happened in the earlier books.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Are you telling me that only one ending was possible?

    No, I am saying that the proposal of twenty equally plausible and self-consistent endings is highly improbable. There is a lot of room between more than one and less than twenty.
    In a well-crafted work of art, often only a single ending is really possible. I don’t think Rowling’s work is necessarily as well-crafted as that, but I think it was sufficiently well-crafted that her options for a workable ending were limited. It seems likely, in fact, that Rowling has been angling toward this particular resolution at least for the last three or four books.

    Everyone is a critic and the critics don’t agree.

    Not everyone is a critic in the disciplinary sense in which I was speaking. And there isn’t a lot of critical controversy on the specific point at issue (i.e., twenty equally workable and seemingly consistent resolutions).

    Elmar July 30, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    I am saying that the proposal of twenty equally plausible and self-consistent endings is highly improbable.
    That they’re “equally plausible and self-consistent” wasn’t part of my proposal. Instead, my proposal relies on the fact that each person is a judge of what is plausible and consistent and what isn’t. As such, there is hardly a limit to the number of potentially plausible and consistent endings. For some, waking up in bed with Sue Ellen would be as plausible and consistent as the rest of the magic in HP.
    There is a lot of room between more than one and less than twenty.
    The original claim was that “JKR was consistent from the beginning” because it supposedly appears to be consistent when seen from the end. But only a single alternative ending is required to defeat that claim.
    It seems likely, in fact, that Rowling has been angling toward this particular resolution at least for the last three or four books.
    Which is not the “beginning.”
    there isn’t a lot of critical controversy on the specific point at issue (i.e., twenty equally workable and seemingly consistent resolutions).
    When you choose to change the “point at issue” to one which hasn’t been an issue, you pave yourself a wide open frontier.

    SDG July 30, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    That they’re “equally plausible and self-consistent” wasn’t part of my proposal. Instead, my proposal relies on the fact that each person is a judge of what is plausible and consistent and what isn’t. As such, there is hardly a limit to the number of potentially plausible and consistent endings. For some, waking up in bed with Sue Ellen would be as plausible and consistent as the rest of the magic in HP.

    FWIW, what you said was “She could have made twenty different endings which each would appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.” You do not now seem to be defending quite that proposition as phrased.
    In any case, playing the ball as it lies, I don’t see that the theoretical possibility of an endless supply of endings that might be “potentially plausible and consistent” to “some” is necessarily relevant, unless you really wish to argue in fact that this particular ending is no less random than any. This would seem a priori unpersuasive, though, considering that, e.g., a number of astute and careful readers of HP have been predicting an outcome much like this for some time now. It would seem plausible that the relationship between the story’s inner logic and the ending Rowling actually wrote is closer than some skeptics might wish to argue.

    The original claim was that “JKR was consistent from the beginning” because it supposedly appears to be consistent when seen from the end. But only a single alternative ending is required to defeat that claim.

    I, however, wasn’t necessarily defending the original claim you cite — merely taking issue with the actual counter-argument you made, to the effect that “She could have made twenty different endings which each would appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.”

    Which is not the “beginning.”

    Again, not my bailiwick.

    Mary July 30, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    CHORTLE
    The process of writing is much harder to fathom from the end product that either of you seem to understand.

    Elmar July 30, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    I don’t see that the theoretical possibility of an endless supply of endings that might be “potentially plausible and consistent” to “some” is necessarily relevant, unless you really wish to argue in fact that this particular ending is no less random than any.
    Who said anything about randomness? Do you randomly decide if an ending is plausible and consistent? Did JKR just set a monkey in front of the keyboard? It doesn’t have to be random; it can be very predictable, as you say…
    a number of astute and careful readers of HP have been predicting an outcome much like this for some time now.
    And a number of people who’ve never read the books have predicted the same. So cutting the fluff from your statement, it boils down to “At least one person predicted a similar outcome.” Wow. That is so powerful.
    Meanwhile, we have many other people who think themselves astute and careful who were bellyaching with the expectation of a different outcome.
    Anyway, that leaves us with:
    She could have made twenty different endings which each would appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.
    Now if JKR could make a single consistent alternative ending, she could also make 20 or 20,000, for an alternative ending does not have to be as different as black is from white. It doesn’t take a literary genius. Like I said, the point was not in fixing a number on how many alternative endings are possible, but merely refuting the claim that a consistent result does not prove an intentional consistency from the beginning.
    But because you like repeating it so often, let’s replace the “from the beginning” with your “for some time now” notion. Doing that, we’re left with:
    “She could have, FOR SOME UNKNOWN LENGTH OF TIME WHICH MIGHT LITERALLY EXTEND ALL THE WAY TO HER CHILDHOOD OR UP UNTIL A FRACTION OF A SECOND BEFORE THE BOOK HIT THE BOOKSTORES, made just one alternative ending which could appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.”
    Such an assertion is completely plausible. Were you trying to refute what I had written, or were you supporting it? Or did I just come up with a consistent ending to your Harry Potter story.
    The process of writing is much harder to fathom from the end product that either of you seem to understand.
    I haven’t professed her process and I don’t believe anyone who does.

    Potter Mania July 30, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    From
    POPE OPPOSES HARRY POTTER NOVELS
    In a letter dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger thanked Kuby for her “instructive” book Harry Potter – gut oder böse (Harry Potter- good or evil?), in which Kuby says the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy.
    “It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.
    The letter also encouraged Kuby to send her book on Potter to the Vatican prelate who quipped about Potter during a press briefing which led to the false press about the Vatican support of Potter. At a Vatican press conference to present a study document on the New Age in April 2003, one of the presenters – Rev. Peter Fleetwood – made a positive comment on the Harry Potter books in response to a question from a reporter. Headlines such as “Pope Approves Potter” (Toronto Star), “Pope Sticks Up for Potter Books” (BBC), “Harry Potter Is Ok With The Pontiff” (Chicago Sun Times) and “Vatican: Harry Potter’s OK with us” (CNN Asia) littered the mainstream media.
    In a second letter sent to Kuby on May 27, 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger “gladly” gave his permission to Kuby to make public “my judgement about Harry Potter.”
    The most prominent Potter critic in North America, Catholic novelist and painter Michael O’Brien commented to LifeSiteNews.com on the “judgement” of now-Pope Benedict saying, “This discernment on the part of Benedict XVI reveals the Holy Father’s depth and wide ranging gifts of spiritual discernment.” O’Brien, author of a book dealing with fantasy literature for children added, “it is consistent with many of the statements he’s been making since his election to the Chair of Peter, indeed for the past 20 years – a probing accurate read of the massing spiritual warfare that is moving to a new level of struggle in western civilization. He is a man in whom a prodigious intellect is integrated with great spiritual gifts. He is the father of the universal church and we would do well to listen to him.”

    Foxfier July 30, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Bad place to post that BS, PM
    http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2005/07/lifesitenews_ca.html
    That site is well known and not well loved.

    JoAnna July 31, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Potter Mania, two things:
    1. Cardinal Ratzinger was not the Pope at the time he wrote the above-mentioned letter, so it is inaccurate to say that “The Pope says… etc.”
    2. The letter was a private letter to an individual and was expressing a personal opinion (and an uninformed one at that, given that Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged that he hadn’t read any Potter books firsthand). The personal opinion of a cardinal is in no way a binding teaching for all Catholics.

    Gene Branaman July 31, 2007 at 8:32 am

    “Yes, and this raises one of the more problematic aspects of Harry Potter overreaction — it diminishes both our capacity to react proportionately to something that truly is anti-Christian, and also our credibility in the public square.”
    Exactly, SDG!
    “Drat.
    I hope this is vague enough to not be a spoiler and clear enough for those who have read it already.”

    Mary, that was my intention & I was being as non-specific as possible when I wrote that paragraph. It’s my hope that I won’t spoil anything for readers here!

    Monica July 31, 2007 at 8:38 am

    “That’s the thing that bothers me most about some of the Harry Potter critics… they are determined to set up a false “either/or”… either you disavow Harry Potter OR you weaken your Catholic faith”
    Tim, this is why I defend the HP books. NOT because they are great lit, but because I resent being given the ‘either/or’ option, and resent the inference that I am so spiritually weak that I’ll loose my faith/soul if I read them. (If I’m going to hell for reading anything, it would be Lolita, which I only read to see what the fuss was all about.)

    SDG July 31, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Who said anything about randomness? Do you randomly decide if an ending is plausible and consistent? Did JKR just set a monkey in front of the keyboard? It doesn’t have to be random; it can be very predictable, as you say…

    You’re the one who threw out the example of “waking up in bed with Sue Ellen.” As endings go, I’d call that pretty random, or arbitrary, or tacked on, or whatever you want to call it.
    Stories do sometimes end in random or arbitrary ways, ways that formally resolve the conflict without satisfying the dramatic requirements of the drama to date. Disney’s The Little Mermaid, for instance.
    Most of the time, a story that builds toward an ending that wasn’t foreseen for at least the bulk of the creative process, and doesn’t reflect a consistent creative vision informing the work as a whole, is going to feel tacked on (random, arbitrary), rather than integral, to most careful audience members.

    And a number of people who’ve never read the books have predicted the same. So cutting the fluff from your statement, it boils down to “At least one person predicted a similar outcome.” Wow. That is so powerful.

    You can wax reductionistic if you want to, but it’s (popular) art, not science, and you aren’t going to get a demonstrative argument. People will offer varying interpretations which others will find more or less persuasive; that’s what my business is all about.
    There is an argument out there regarding the dramatic and conceptual integrity of the narrative arc and overarching themes of the Harry Potter stories. Some commentators, like John Granger, have argued for some time that Rowling’s work consistently reflects an integral point of view, and the way the story has unfolded and now been resolved either strengthens or weakens their case.
    The claim that twenty alternative endings could be proposed that might be felt (by “some”) to be plausible and consistent seems intended to debunk the claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote. If that wasn’t your intent, perhaps you could clarify.

    Meanwhile, we have many other people who think themselves astute and careful who were bellyaching with the expectation of a different outcome.

    I suspect that the number of readers who received the first six books with joy and turned eagerly to the seventh, only to be left unhappy and disillusioned and puzzled by what they found to be an inexplicably wrong ending, will be comparatively small.

    Now if JKR could make a single consistent alternative ending, she could also make 20 or 20,000, for an alternative ending does not have to be as different as black is from white. It doesn’t take a literary genius. Like I said, the point was not in fixing a number on how many alternative endings are possible, but merely refuting the claim that a consistent result does not prove an intentional consistency from the beginning.

    It seems to me that while the first sentence above is trivially true, it undermines the argument of the last sentence, since to the extent that possible alternate endings approach the actual ending, they offer correspondingly less evidentiary value regarding the question of intentional consistency. For instance, if Rowling had decided to have Harry give the invisibility cloak to Ron instead of keeping it, that would be a difference, but I can’t see that such a difference would have any bearing regarding Rowling’s intentional consistency or lack of same.

    But because you like repeating it so often, let’s replace the “from the beginning” with your “for some time now” notion. Doing that, we’re left with:
    “She could have, FOR SOME UNKNOWN LENGTH OF TIME WHICH MIGHT LITERALLY EXTEND ALL THE WAY TO HER CHILDHOOD OR UP UNTIL A FRACTION OF A SECOND BEFORE THE BOOK HIT THE BOOKSTORES, made just one alternative ending which could appear, in retrospect, to be consistent from the beginning.”
    Such an assertion is completely plausible. Were you trying to refute what I had written, or were you supporting it?

    When I’m clearer about what your macro-argument is, I’ll decide whether I think it’s worth supporting or refuting. For now, I’ll just say that the contention that the ending Rowling actually wrote isn’t necessarily the one and only possible satisfying way she could have resolved the series isn’t one I would quibble with.
    That said, the real question isn’t what Rowling hypothetically could have done, but what it seems she did do. The per se possibility of Rowling deciding on an alternate ending after completing, say, six books doesn’t make it particularly plausible that she actually completed six books without really knowing where the series was going. I’m not myself going to argue on internal evidence that she necessarily knew where she was going from the very beginning, but I think the general case for a meaningful level of intentional consistency for at least much of the series is probably credible.
    FWIW, apparently Rowling has said that she actually wrote the actual last chapter of the seventh book over 15 years ago, and has hinted at details over the years. That’s not internal evidence, of course, but to the extent that one credits her it does support the case for intentional consistency.

    The process of writing is much harder to fathom from the end product that either of you seem to understand.

    I doubt it. I read “Fernseed and Elephants” at a young and impressionable age.

    Esau July 31, 2007 at 9:34 am

    SDG,
    If anybody here knows about the process of writing, wouldn’t it be Mary Catelli given her professional background?
    Criticizing Mary in this regard would be like my criticizing Ebert as far as movie reviews go.
    Simply put, I believe you might be a bit out of your element on that one.

    SDG July 31, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Esau: I didn’t criticize Mary in this regard. I didn’t even disagree with her on the substantial point. On the contrary, I emphatically agree with her on the substantial point, as my reply emphasizes. What I doubted was not Mary’s substantial point, but her impression that I for one was insufficiently impressed on the point at issue. (Have you read “Fernseed and Elephants”?)

    AnnonyMouse July 31, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Gene,
    As far as the Golden Compass coming out in Dec or such..Don’t leave me hanging. Where can I read a plot summary, etc.
    SDG,
    I don’t think the HP conflict is going to hurt or dumb down someones objection to the Golden Compass. Say what you have to say.

    Elmar July 31, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    You’re the one who threw out the example of “waking up in bed with Sue Ellen.” As endings go, I’d call that pretty random, or arbitrary, or tacked on, or whatever you want to call it.
    Random? Well, it was Hollywood, but nonetheless made by a decision process, to include the shooting of multiple alternative endings.
    Stories do sometimes end in random or arbitrary ways, ways that formally resolve the conflict without satisfying the dramatic requirements of the drama to date. Disney’s The Little Mermaid, for instance.
    The vast majority of people and critics were sufficiently satisfied with the Little Mermaid that they were left with a big smile. In the words of one very well-known critic, it was “so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past.” Another, “The Disney folks have turned The Little Mermaid into a rousing celebration of cultural assimilation.” But, as always, YMMV.
    People will offer varying interpretations which others will find more or less persuasive; that’s what my business is all about.
    Just as I originally said: critics don’t agree.
    The claim that twenty alternative endings could be proposed that might be felt (by “some”) to be plausible and consistent seems intended to debunk the claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote. If that wasn’t your intent, perhaps you could clarify.
    I already have, several times. As anyone can plainly see, the original claim I responded to was “We, as readers, can see that JKR was consistent from the beginning – no “retcons” here! [- &, taken as a whole, we (as well as the characters) can now understand fully what we could not before.]”
    Such is not simply a “claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote” but an assertion of fact. He didn’t say she MAY have been or was LIKELY consistent from the beginning. Instead, he claimed WE can see that she WAS consistent from the beginning, that WE can now understand FULLY what we could not before. However, claims like “We know how this works” are exactly what the writer of the article Jimmy posted disputes: “You can’t say that about Harry Potter, because Rowling doesn’t seem to know herself,” she says.
    I suspect that the number of readers who received the first six books with joy and turned eagerly to the seventh, only to be left unhappy and disillusioned and puzzled by what they found to be an inexplicably wrong ending, will be comparatively small.
    Who is talking about eager happy readers and their feelings? We’re talking about critics, that their views have spanned the gamut, and what JKR actually did or didn’t do. If you were trying to say the clear majority of critics have predicted the actual outcome since the beginning, you didn’t say that when you said “a number of critics”, nor would it be valid as proof that JKR has known the outcome since the beginning or that she has been consistent since the beginning.
    I’ll just say that the contention that the ending Rowling actually wrote isn’t necessarily the one and only possible satisfying way she could have resolved the series isn’t one I would quibble with.
    That was my point from the start, that it’s at least possible that she was not intentionally consistent from the beginning. The other poster claimed that we can see she WAS consistent, when, as you’ve conceded, we agree that she may not have been. I’ve intended no assertion as to the likelihood of any alternative, only that any assertion as to her intentions “from the beginning” will forever remain speculation.
    That said, the real question isn’t what Rowling hypothetically could have done, but what it seems she did do.
    If the question were what it SEEMS she did, there is no limit to what it may SEEM she did. Perhaps you mean what she ACTUALLY did. That is finite but always in doubt, hence why it’s questioned.
    I think the general case for a meaningful level of intentional consistency for at least much of the series is probably credible.
    Indeed there’s an argument for it. But whether it’s probable will always remain a matter of opinion.
    I’m not myself going to argue on internal evidence that she necessarily knew where she was going from the very beginning
    Neither was I. That’s why I spoke to the original claim that “We, as readers, can see that JKR was consistent from the beginning… we… can now understand fully what we could not before.”
    Rowling has said that she actually wrote the actual last chapter of the seventh book over 15 years ago, and has hinted at details over the years. That’s not internal evidence, of course, but to the extent that one credits her it does support the case for intentional consistency.
    And she’s also said, “I have made small tweaks to it over the intervening years. And I’ll have to rewrite it when I get there.”
    What’s more, if she settled the matter years ago, it’s curious why, according to her, she was recently in mourning for “the loss of this world that I had written for so long and loved so much.” In an interview about her recent mourning she said, “Definitely the passage that I found hardest to write of all of them in all seven books, and the one that made me cry the most, is Chapter 34 in this one… it’s the part that when I finished writing, I didn’t cry as I was writing, but when I finished writing, I had enormous explosion of emotion, and I cried and cried and cried.”
    Such statements can make people wonder. But when it comes to emotions, I suppose anything is possible. Or when it comes to the words of a fiction writer, anything is possible.

    SDG July 31, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Random? Well, it was Hollywood, but nonetheless made by a decision process, to include the shooting of multiple alternative endings.

    Perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you were proposing waking up in bed with Sue Ellen as a possible ending for Harry Potter in book 7.

    The vast majority of people and critics were sufficiently satisfied with the Little Mermaid that they were left with a big smile.

    So do I. It doesn’t change the fact that the way Ursula is actually defeated is a major letdown in no way organically connected to or coming from the drama to date, and completely dropping the ball on the driving motifs of contracts and loopholes and obligations that have been in play up to that point. The fact is that the storytellers wrote themselves into a corner and had no idea how to satisfyingly engineer Ursula’s defeat in a way that was organic to the story to date, so they pulled an entirely arbitrary magic bullet out of their collective behinds. It’s a fairly glaring flaw in an otherwise charming film. (Contrast with the defeat of Jafar in Aladdin, which is organic and satisfying, very much reflects that film’s driving motifs of not trying to be something you aren’t, relying on your own resources instead of looking for magical solutions to everything, and so forth, and of course turns on the established and central rules of geniehood.)

    Just as I originally said: critics don’t agree.

    I’m familiar with the phenomenon; at Rotten Tomatoes we call it the Tomatometer. The question I raised was how much mileage you would get with critics with the claim regarding the consistency of twenty different endings.

    As anyone can plainly see, the original claim I responded to was “We, as readers, can see that JKR was consistent from the beginning – no “retcons” here! [- &, taken as a whole, we (as well as the characters) can now understand fully what we could not before.]“

    Such is not simply a “claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote” but an assertion of fact. He didn’t say she MAY have been or was LIKELY consistent from the beginning. Instead, he claimed WE can see that she WAS consistent from the beginning, that WE can now understand FULLY what we could not before.

    I’m not clear that it’s necessary to read the claim in question uncritically, as an absolute assertion of fact. Critics and others often advance their interpretations and arguments in strong language, like a lawyer arguing a brief, without necessarily advancing a claim of absolutely objective and proven fact or denying the in-principle possibility of looking at the facts any other way. (See my comments above re. The Little Mermaid!) In general, such an argument should be taken FWIW; offer a counter-argument if you want, but don’t blame the other person for holding his POV and not throwing in words like “might” and “likely.”

    Who is talking about eager happy readers and their feelings? We’re talking about critics, that their views have spanned the gamut, and what JKR actually did or didn’t do.

    My point is, critics who were already bellyaching through the first six books needn’t be surprised to find that book 7 gives them a bellyache too.

    If the question were what it SEEMS she did, there is no limit to what it may SEEM she did. Perhaps you mean what she ACTUALLY did.

    Not being God, I have no direct access to the absolute and final truth about what Rowling or any other writer has ACTUALLY done, other than trivial facts about what words are physically on the page (and even there I can’t exclude editorial revision).
    All interpretation of all narrative and indeed all art in the primary, literal sense is predicated on what it seems to the reader that he can reasonably infer about the author’s intentions and what the author seems to have reasonably wanted to communicate.
    As a critic I may use objective and absolute language; I don’t mistake it for absolute fact. I may be passionately convinced of the rightness of my interpretive case, but having said that I hold my beliefs provisionally, subject to counter-argument and reexamination, even if in particular cases it seems (there’s that word again) to me practically impossible that a successful counter-argument could be mounted.

    Such statements can make people wonder.

    Hm, I’m not sure why. It seems to me one would have to assume a level of insight into the writer’s creative process in order to find such comments curious.

    Elmar July 31, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    I thought you were proposing waking up in bed with Sue Ellen as a possible ending for Harry Potter in book 7.
    It would be a possible ending. Whether you’d appreciate it or not is another matter.
    It doesn’t change the fact that the way Ursula is actually defeated is a major letdown
    What you call “fact” is in fact an opinion.
    The question I raised was how much mileage you would get with critics with the claim regarding the consistency of twenty different endings.
    Obviously, it would depend on the critic. Those who read the statement in the light in which it was made will agree.
    I’m not clear that it’s necessary to read the claim in question uncritically, as an absolute assertion of fact.
    No, it’s not necessary. For example, I “can” interpret the words “we can” as meaning “we have the possibility to.” But if “we can” interpret it that way, then “we can” say anything we want.
    In other words, “we can” see that I am right, for taken as a whole, “we can” now understand fully what we could not before.
    don’t blame the other person for holding his POV and not throwing in words like “might” and “likely.”
    MIGHT you be a hypocrite? I mean maybe you didn’t hear me when I said it MIGHT be that such was not simply a “claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote” but an assertion of fact. Afterall, he didn’t say she MAY have been or was LIKELY consistent from the beginning. Instead, he claimed WE can see that she WAS consistent from the beginning, that WE can now understand FULLY what we could not before.
    My point is, critics who were already bellyaching through the first six books needn’t be surprised to find that book 7 gives them a bellyache too.
    That was my point. Critics typically don’t agree except with themselves.
    Not being God, I have no direct access to the absolute and final truth about what Rowling or any other writer has ACTUALLY done
    That’s why I said it’s the question. You question how it seems to you, but how it seems to you is not the question. The question is what is the truth.
    It seems to me one would have to assume a level of insight into the writer’s creative process in order to find such comments curious.
    Level 1 insight is simply being a fellow human being. Level 2 insight was her remarks about having written the final chapter long ago. Level 3 was her claims of crying over it only recently. Some people question #3 in light of #2, while moderated by level #1.

    Potter Mania August 1, 2007 at 5:12 am

    Cardinal Ratzinger was not the Pope at the time he wrote the above-mentioned letter
    That’s the title of the article, posted for reference purposes. The article content itself explains that he wasn’t yet Pope.
    The letter was a private letter to an individual
    In a second letter sent to Kuby on May 27, 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger “gladly” gave his permission to Kuby to make public “my judgement about Harry Potter.” By his own admission, he did not intend his views on Harry Potter remain private between himself and Ms. Kuby.
    was expressing a personal opinion
    It’s not just “a” personal opinion, but the opinion of a person who held and continues to hold a very important position in the Church. Not to mention, he signed it as Cardinal and Ms. Kuby did not write to him merely because he was just some random person off the street.
    (and an uninformed one at that, given that Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged that he hadn’t read any Potter books firsthand)
    He didn’t claim in the letter he was uninformed. Indeed, he claimed Ms. Kuby’s book which he had received was “informative.” How can you honestly claim something is informative if you have not been informed? And more, do you believe he would authorize “my judgement about Harry Potter” to be made public if he thought he was ignorant on the subject?
    He wrote what he wrote, whatever it means, and he was who he was when he wrote it. None of that is made any less by your attempts to diminish it.

    SDG August 1, 2007 at 5:21 am

    It would be a possible ending.

    It would be an arbitrary ending.

    What you call “fact” is in fact an opinion.

    “Opinion” is a slippery word; it can refer to mere matters of taste or feeling (“In my opinion, wahoo is tastier than mahi mahi”), to unproven hypotheses about real things (“In my opinion, bin Laden is in Pakistan”), or to questions of judgment or morality (“In my opinion, the North was wrong to invade the South over the issue of secession”).
    How I feel about the ending of The Little Mermaid is an “opinion” in the first sense. That the resolution is arbitrary and not organically connected with the events and themes of the drama to date, and as such dramatically flawed and imposed on the narrative for the lack of any better way to end the story, is something more than that. It is an argument with some persuasive force, one that many people will find cogent in a way that the mere words “I thought it was a letdown” would not be.

    No, it’s not necessary. For example, I “can” interpret the words “we can” as meaning “we have the possibility to.” But if “we can” interpret it that way, then “we can” say anything we want.

    Critically speaking, you can indeed advance any argument you like; how persuasive other people will find it is another matter.

    MIGHT you be a hypocrite? I mean maybe you didn’t hear me when I said it MIGHT be that such was not simply a “claim of plausibility and consistency based on the ending Rowling actually wrote” but an assertion of fact.

    Maybe I did hear you, and maybe I found the possibility advanced by your interpretation uncompelling, and lodged a dissenting interpretation.

    That was my point. Critics typically don’t agree except with themselves.

    That seems to me a remarkably silly statement. Among any substantial number of critics (often as low a number as three or five), real and substantial agreements will emerge on nearly every topic — not among all the critics, of course, but certainly not each critic agreeing with no one but himself. Of course agreement, like disagreement, is a matter of degree, but you didn’t say critics typically disagree with everyone (which you might then defend by saying that even the most convergent opinions probably differ on some point), you said critics typically don’t agree except with themselves, which seems to be patent nonsense.

    That’s why I said it’s the question. You question how it seems to you, but how it seems to you is not the question. The question is what is the truth.

    What is the truth is the question, yes, the question we are always trying to answer if we are honest. But every answer we offer to that question, the only answer we can arrive at, is what it seems to me the truth is, what is my last best effort to ascertain the truth. That is what it means to be a finite human being with imperfect knowledge of the world.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 6:20 am

    Permit me to observe that
    I’ll just say that the contention that the ending Rowling actually wrote isn’t necessarily the one and only possible satisfying way she could have resolved the series isn’t one I would quibble with.
    and
    That was my point from the start, that it’s at least possible that she was not intentionally consistent from the beginning.
    In order for a story to be internally inconsistent, you have to have inconsistencies. Alternative, satisfying endings can build on the same materials without contradiction, possibly with different materials introduced in the middle of the story rather than the beginning.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 6:22 am

    Oops. AFter the second quote insert “are not talking about the same thing.”

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 8:20 am

    It would be an arbitrary ending.
    Many endings in real-life are seemingly arbitrary, and yet they are in fact consistent.
    That the resolution is arbitrary and not organically connected with the events and themes of the drama to date, and as such dramatically flawed and imposed on the narrative for the lack of any better way to end the story, is something more than that.
    Yes, in your opinion.
    It is an argument with some persuasive force
    Satan is persuasive to many people. So is a hamburger.
    Maybe I did hear you, and maybe I found the possibility advanced by your interpretation uncompelling, and lodged a dissenting interpretation.
    If you heard me say “might”, then the “possibility advanced” is that given by the meaning of the word itself. It thus falls upon your own interpretation, not mine, for if you understood my interpretation, you’d understand I wasn’t “blaming” anyone.
    Among any substantial number of critics (often as low a number as three or five), real and substantial agreements will emerge on nearly every topic
    That seems to me a “remarkably silly statement.” On any yes/no vote, for example, there will *always* be at least half the people who agree in some way. But as you give people more options, the more it may splinter.
    Of course agreement, like disagreement, is a matter of degree, but you didn’t say critics typically disagree with everyone
    If I had said “critics typically disagree with everyone”, it would be patent nonsense, for it is impossible to disagree with everyone, as “everyone” always includes yourself, and you never disagree with yourself. Even if you change your mind, you still agree with yourself.
    even the most convergent opinions probably differ on some point
    It’s an obvious deduction from “critics typically don’t agree except with themselves.” To use your words (and mine), ‘opinions’ (“critics”) ‘probably’ (“typically”) ‘differ’ (“don’t agree”) on some point, which leaves a critic only in agreement with himself (“except with themselves”). Hence, as I said, critics typically don’t agree except with themselves. The words ‘on some point’ are superfluous in regard to disagreement, as it’s necessary there be disagreement ‘on some point’ in order for there to be any disagreement at all.
    you said critics typically don’t agree except with themselves, which seems to be patent nonsense.
    Must be your own interpretation which is patent nonsense to your own self.
    What is the truth is the question
    Glad you now agree.

    SDG August 1, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Many endings in real-life are seemingly arbitrary, and yet they are in fact consistent.

    Many endings in real life would not make good drama. In fact, many endings in life are not really endings, because ending is what drama does, while real life (i.e., the world) goes on. We rightly have expectations of drama (which of course vary with the type of drama involved) that would be ludicrous if applied to real life.

    Yes, in your opinion.

    Until you define that word, you might mean too many things for me to agree or disagree.
    Either way, I think the thesis in question is pretty unassailable, which for me excludes at least some things that you might mean by “opinion,” since I wouldn’t characterize as “unassailable” everything I hold as an “opinion.”
    Yes, I said “I think” and “for me.” Finite beings, limited knowledge. Lots and lots of room to throw around the word “opinion.” Can we move on?

    Satan is persuasive to many people. So is a hamburger.

    I am sanguine regarding the capacity of my substantial case to withstand this cross-examination.

    If you heard me say “might”, then the “possibility advanced” is that given by the meaning of the word itself. It thus falls upon your own interpretation, not mine, for if you understood my interpretation, you’d understand I wasn’t “blaming” anyone.

    I’m not particular about that word. “Don’t take unnecessary issue” works for me too. I don’t know why you (apparently) felt it was necessary or helpful to point out at length that a person advanced a point of view without using words like “may” or “likely.”

    That seems to me a “remarkably silly statement.”

    Then you may not have had enough experience discussing subjects among critical groups of various sizes. The common trope that if you ask twenty different critics you’ll get twenty different answers is deeply misleading to say the least.

    On any yes/no vote, for example, there will *always* be at least half the people who agree in some way. But as you give people more options, the more it may splinter.

    Very often, OTOH, convergent opinion can be and is quite specific, detailed and granular. In some conversations, I find that other people’s opinions and arguments are essentially interchangeable with my own, or that they say things I would have said if I’d thought of them and vice versa.
    Of course as I said if you go granular enough, you may eventually find shades of differing opinion, but also as I’ve already pointed out the more granular you go the less such differences ultimately mitigate the larger agreement.

    If I had said “critics typically disagree with everyone”, it would be patent nonsense, for it is impossible to disagree with everyone, as “everyone” always includes yourself, and you never disagree with yourself.

    If you’re unable or unwilling to supply the implicit word “else” to the end of the proposition in question, the obstacles facing this exchange may be sufficiently formidable to call into question the value of further effort.

    It’s an obvious deduction from “critics typically don’t agree except with themselves.” To use your words (and mine), ‘opinions’ (“critics”) ‘probably’ (“typically”) ‘differ’ (“don’t agree”) on some point, which leaves a critic only in agreement with himself (“except with themselves”).

    Non sequitur. “Disagreements exist” and “Agreement does not exist” are not interchangeable propositions; the former does not entail the latter. “Disagreements exist” entails “Agreement is not total and absolute,” but “agreement” in ordinary English is not burdened with connotations of the absolute nonexistence of any differences whatsoever. “Critics don’t agree absolutely about everything with anyone except themselves” would be a very different and more defensible (if also more trivial) statement than the one you actually made. As it is, that critics disagree is certainly true; that they “typically don’t agree with anyone but themselves” is remarkably silly.

    Glad you now agree.

    I’m glad you now (seem to) understand what I said, at least on this point.

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Oops. AFter the second quote insert “are not talking about the same thing.”
    They are both “talking about”, i.e. are in reference to, a previous claim that satisfaction / internal consistency is not possible unless there was (intentional) consistency from a prior point as in she had planned it and stuck to it. Originally, said prior point was the beginning, though SDG had tried to assert a more vague “at some point” but without benefit to his argument.
    What has been meant by consistency has varied between internal consistency and intentional consistency. As I don’t see any active argument being presented that HP is internally inconsistent (other than what the writer of the linked article is perhaps saying), that leaves the main argument as to whether the author was intentionally consistent, i.e. she had it all planned out and stuck to her plan, from the beginning. That is not to say, however, that the subject of internal consistency has not been raised as a guide in determining whether there was intentional consistency.
    For example, the word “resolve” in the top statement you’ve cited which says, “only possible satisfying way she could have resolved the series” is pointing to the notion of consistency, both internal and intentional.
    In the bottom statement, the words “possible that she was not intentionally consistent from the beginning” means she might not have planned from the beginning the, as you say, “different materials introduced in the middle” or other point in the series. This is referring to intentional consistency, as it seems no one is presenting any internal inconsistencies as evidence for discussion. Therefore, as you’ve said, as I’ve said, it is indeed possible that she could introduce without contradiction different materials sometime after the beginning and arrive at alternative endings.

    JoAnna August 1, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Potter Mania,
    The fact remains that Cardinal Ratzinger expressed his personal opinion to another individual. He did say that she didn’t have to keep his comments confidential, yes, but if he’d wanted them broadcast to the Catholic world he could have issued a press release, which he didn’t.
    Given that he wasn’t Pope, and given that Cardinals invidiually cannot present their own opinions as infallible, it’s possible he is wrong.
    Ms. Kuby may have “informed” him about the HP books but as such he has only heard one side of the story. I could tell him anothe, or (preferably) he could read the books himself and then draw his own opinion. Until he does the latter option, I do think he is mistaken.
    With all books, though, it is the responsibility of the parents to talk to their children about the difference between fantasy and reality so they do not think that the magic of Narnia, Middle Earth, or Hogwarts exists in real life.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    With all books, though, it is the responsibility of the parents to talk to their children about the difference between fantasy and reality so they do not think that the magic of Narnia, Middle Earth, or Hogwarts exists in real life.
    By the same token, it is the RIGHT of the parents NOT TO EXPOSE their children to materials they might deem HARMFUL to their children, whether physically and, above all, SPIRITUALLY.
    Other folks might disagree with them (and may very well have reason to); however, unless these are their children, I don’t see how such folks can put these parents down and even go to the extent of condemning them with such pejorative labels as “Kooky Kristians” or “Pharisees” just because these parents merely want what they feel is BEST for their children.

    JoAnna August 1, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    I agree, Esau, but at the same time I don’t think parents should condemn a work without checking it out for themselves first. I don’t judge a book unless I’ve read it or a TV show unless I’ve seen it. If my daughter wants to read a book that I perceive as questionable, I’ll read it first and make my own judgements instead of making assumptions that may be unfounded and based on biased opinions.

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Esau– no-one here has called parents who want to control what their children read “Kooky Kristians” or “Pharisees,” those who insist that Harry Potter is demonic/satanic/evil and CAN NOT be read in good faith, on the other hand, have been called this.
    Actually, the “Kooky Kristian” comment was on a not even directly related post on an entirely different web site, and the “Pharisees” originated elsewhere, in response to the ludicrous “a single drop of poison ruins the glass” metaphor for ANYTHING that isn’t directly and expressly Catholic.

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Many endings in real life would not make good drama. In fact, many endings in life are not really endings, because ending is what drama does, while real life (i.e., the world) goes on.
    Real life is filled with drama, and sometimes that drama involves arbitrary endings. Maybe to you arbitrary endings do not make good drama, but to someone else it does. In my book, there is no better ending than an abitrary ending. But then, I enjoy all of life.
    We rightly have expectations of drama (which of course vary with the type of drama involved) that would be ludicrous if applied to real life.
    You and your “we” may have any set of standards you want, just as anyone can have their own set of standards.
    Until you define that word, you might mean too many things for me to agree or disagree.
    Perhaps if I were seeking your agreement or disagreement, I might define it. But I’m not.
    I think the thesis in question is pretty unassailable
    Indeed, it’s likely consistent with your opinion.
    I am sanguine regarding the capacity of my substantial case to withstand this cross-examination.
    Do you imagine someone is cross-examining your opinions on The Little Mermaid?
    I don’t know why you (apparently) felt it was necessary or helpful to point out at length that a person advanced a point of view without using words like “may” or “likely.”
    Words give clues. If you choose to ignore words, that is your choice.
    Then you may not have had enough experience discussing subjects among critical groups of various sizes. The common trope that if you ask twenty different critics you’ll get twenty different answers is deeply misleading to say the least.
    It doesn’t mislead me. Does it mislead you?
    If you’re unable or unwilling to supply the implicit word “else” to the end of the proposition in question, the obstacles facing this exchange may be sufficiently formidable to call into question the value of further effort.
    There is no obstacle before me. Might you have a speck in your eye? The word “else” is not logically implicit to your proposition (i.e. “critics typically disagree with everyone [else]“), because to add the word “else” would yield the very proposition that you were arguing against which I had previously posted, namely “critics typically don’t agree except with themselves.” If you don’t agree, what’s new?
    “agreement” in ordinary English is not burdened with connotations of the absolute nonexistence of any differences whatsoever.
    Nonsense. In ordinary English, agreement means a level of compatibility and consistency that is compatible and consistent in the eyes of those who are agreeing. The only objective, universal, ordinary standard among parties who don’t otherwise agree is complete agreement on all issues that any party to the agreement may deem relevant. Anything less than complete agreement would have to be agreed upon by the parties involved. That’s the nature of agreement.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Joanna:
    I agree, Esau, but at the same time I don’t think parents should condemn a work without checking it out for themselves first.
    That’s all and fine that you raise your children in the manner you deem best; but, similarly, you must oblige other parents to raise their children in the way they deem best as well.
    Certainly, you might feel that the manner in which they’re raising them may seem questionable; yet, in this case where their intention is fundamentally good in that all they desire is to shield their children from anything seemingly harmful to the spiritual state of their children (though in this case it may appear excessive as far as this Harry Potter mania is concerned), I’d rather parents pursue such a noble intention since it speaks volumes of just how much they actually care for their children in this regard.
    Foxfire:
    Esau– no-one here has called parents who want to control what their children read “Kooky Kristians” or “Pharisees,”
    I’m not saying that it’s actually the folks here; rather, I just wanted to address on a topic dealing with the Harry Potter issue those who have heartlessly condemned parents whose only sin really is that they’ve been so cautious as to prevent exposure to materials they deemed questionable and even harmful to their children.
    Now, that doesn’t mean that those materials are actually harmful — just that the parents are rightly acting out of a genuine concern for their children.
    Further, since this matter deals with concern for the spiritual state of their children, I find it even more admirable that such parents actually devote such attention to this extent whereas other parents these days would instead irresponsibly, in a word, sacrifice their children to whatever wiles the secular world yields to especially if large on the popularity scale.

    Potter Mania August 1, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    if he’d wanted them broadcast to the Catholic world he could have issued a press release, which he didn’t.
    No, he “gladly” allowed Ms. Kuby to do it.
    Given that he wasn’t Pope, and given that Cardinals invidiually cannot present their own opinions as infallible, it’s possible he is wrong.
    Of course. The article didn’t say he couldn’t be wrong. You could be wrong.
    Ms. Kuby may have “informed” him about the HP books but as such he has only heard one side of the story.
    That was apparently enough for him to allow his “judgment” / opinion to be made public.
    With all books, though, it is the responsibility of the parents to talk to their children about the difference between fantasy and reality so they do not think that the magic of Narnia, Middle Earth, or Hogwarts exists in real life.
    Then may God have mercy on the children.

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Potter Mania, you’re trying to quote verbatum from something that was written in German. You might want to find an original, then find someone who is fluent in German and can read the nuances. We have *no way* to know if “gladly allow” is a polite formula, a poor translation, a great translation… nothing.
    You are aware that the Ms. Kuby involved wrote an anti-HP book? It is very possible that the-man-who-would-be-Pope never read it, and if you bothered to read Mr. Akin’s prior post, you’d know that we don’t even have information on who she was going to make it public TO.

    skyhawk August 1, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    “yawn”….

    Anonymous August 1, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    By the way, you guys do know that Harry Potter actually exists, right?
    Link:
    Living, breathing Harry Potter weathers storm
    Endless phone calls, interview requests for Florida man with wizard’s name

    “The kids want to know if I’m Harry Potter,” he said with a chuckle. “I tell them I’ve been Harry Potter for darn near 80 years!”

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    They are both “talking about”, i.e. are in reference to, a previous claim that satisfaction / internal consistency is not possible unless there was (intentional) consistency from a prior point as in she had planned it and stuck to it.
    It doesn’t matter what the previous claim was. It matters what they were saying. Something talking about whether more than one satisfactory ending was possible from the beginning, is talking about that and not about consistency.
    For example, the word “resolve” in the top statement you’ve cited which says, “only possible satisfying way she could have resolved the series” is pointing to the notion of consistency, both internal and intentional.
    Balderdash.
    “Consistency” and “satisfaction” are distinct concepts, and you are conflating them in a manner that the English language does not justify.

    Potter Mania August 1, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    We have *no way* to know if “gladly allow” is a polite formula, a poor translation, a great translation… nothing.
    I read the German originals on Ms. Kuby’s website. “Gladly allow/permit/grant” is an acceptable translation to me.
    You are aware that the Ms. Kuby involved wrote an anti-HP book
    I’m aware of her book. She doesn’t keep her views secret.
    It is very possible that the-man-who-would-be-Pope never read it
    Could be, but if so, it didn’t stop him from “gladly allowing” her to use his words.
    if you bothered to read Mr. Akin’s prior post, you’d know that we don’t even have information on who she was going to make it public TO.
    With all due respects to Mr. Akin, the letters are available to anyone who visits her website. She’s also recited the contents in a number of public interviews. I don’t think it’s any surprise that she’s using it to advance her cause, and I have no good reason to think the Cardinal thought otherwise.

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Some Day said:
    “Lewis and Tolkien created fantasy worlds where good remains good and evil remains evil. This fidelity to moral absolutes is a requisite for good fiction.”

    Just to make it clear I did not sat that.
    And to SDG, I worry more about my spiritual life than my “fun” life.
    It shows that you would despise a person who spends as much time as he can in the BS, praying and reading elevated books. “Get a life”is what typical people my age would say to some one who does not sin like they do. Living life is not balancing fun and God.
    It is living for God totally, and if having fun is part of giving glory to God, then do it, but not because you are entitled to it or anything else.
    And yes I did read Narnia for school. And I think it is much better than these other books, with out saying it is without error.
    I’ve said it many times why. I remember that it was monarchist, the children rule as celibate kings and queens. So on and on…
    And I still dare challange people who read those things with a fanaticism as people who do not pray enough and read things that truly make a person progress in their spiritual lives.
    Hey its August 1, I’m reading the Glories of Mary.
    Go read something good too.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    …the children rule as celibate kings and queens.
    Wait a minute, didn’t they have sex once they reached adult age and, thus, producing the next generation of rulers?

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    PM- How fluent are you in German? How about a neutral source, rather than one which claims that the Pope made a pronouncement he never made?

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Wait a minute, didn’t they have sex once they reached adult age and, thus, producing the next generation of rulers?
    No, they didn’t. Possibly because that would have been really, really gross when they went back to England and turned back into kids.
    Hey, Some Day? They may tell you to get a life because you’re making a big show of how holy you are.

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    No they didn’t.
    The couple who was brought in by accident started the human race in Narnia.
    But the great kings and queens did not.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    No, they didn’t. Possibly because that would have been really, really gross when they went back to England and turned back into kids.
    Foxfire,
    That was for Some Day!
    Oh well…

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I am not saying that I am holy.
    In fact, I think I am not doing enough for my vocation.
    But that does not change the fact that experience would say that if you are are a fish, you aren’t ever dry.
    If you defend and read HP with such an ardor then…

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    But that does not change the fact that experience would say that if you are are a fish, you aren’t ever dry.
    Okay, you just lost me.
    What do you mean?
    As far as the fish thing, I happen to enjoy fish and chips! YUM!

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    If you waste your time in other things, than one can resonably conclude that you are not doing what you should.
    And by “you” I don’t mean specifically you

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Esau– I know it was, but I ADORED those books, so I had to straighten the mythology. ;^)
    Sorry if it stepped on a point.
    Some Day, get rid of the sack cloth, ditch the ashes and try not praying on the street corners. Maybe you’ll have an easier time if you focus more on self improvement than yelling about how much you’re trying, and how little everyone else is.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    If you waste your time in other things…< ?i>
    Some Day,
    That may be true, but I believe you might be losing sight of the fact that a “waste of time” may depend on the individual.
    For example, some folks might think that your avid reading of the lives of the Saints may be a waste of time.

    Anonymous August 1, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Off

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Esau– I know it was, but I ADORED those books, so I had to straighten the mythology. ;^)
    Sorry if it stepped on a point.

    No problem, Foxy.
    It can’t be helped here.
    Cross-examination is much more effective in person than on blogs! ;^)

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    And most people find offering up their virginity a waste of time.
    So most people can also go to Hell like the leaves fall in Autumn.

    Esau August 1, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Some Day,
    Just to clarify on my above comments regarding what one considers a “waste of time”, although I feel that your intentions themselves are indeed righteous; it’s just the way you go about it presents a problem.

    Some Day August 1, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    I guess.
    My modes of expressing what I have on my mind are a bit explosive.
    I guess I got to be a bit more like a Jesuit eh?

    Potter Mania August 1, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    How about a neutral source, rather than one which claims that the Pope made a pronouncement he never made?
    If the letters were between Ms. Kuby and the Cardinal, what “neutral” source do you suppose there is? You can go to Ms. Kuby’s website to view the copies she provides. I’ve already posted the link. And you can write to the Vatican and see what they’ll give you. 8-) Do you consider either of those neutral?
    Lifesite claims to uphold Judeo-Christian values, and that wasn’t neutral enough for people.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    And most people find offering up their virginity a waste of time.
    So most people can also go to Hell like the leaves fall in Autumn.

    “He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.”

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Something talking about whether more than one satisfactory ending was possible from the beginning, is talking about that and not about consistency.
    SDG has been saying that to change the ending sometime along the way (anytime after the beginning) is highly likely to be associated with problems in satisfaction and/or consistency. He cites Stars Wars having gone dramatically awry and aspects of Little Mermaid being “a major letdown in no way organically connected to or coming from the drama to date, and completely dropping the ball on the driving motifs of contracts and loopholes and obligations that have been in play up to that point. The fact is that the storytellers wrote themselves into a corner and had no idea how to satisfyingly engineer Ursula’s defeat in a way that was organic to the story to date, so they pulled an entirely arbitrary magic bullet out of their collective behinds.” Perhaps you can connect with SDG and feel his pain.
    “Consistency” and “satisfaction” are distinct concepts, and you are conflating them in a manner that the English language does not justify.
    In the English language, baloney and satisfaction are also distinct concepts. That doesn’t mean they’re not related in the minds of people who enjoy baloney. But just for fun, here are some more of SDG’s examples.
    He says, “Some commentators… have argued… that Rowling’s work consistently reflects an integral point of view, and the way the story has unfolded and now been resolved either strengthens or weakens their case.” That statement links “resolved” (story ending) to consistency. And another, “formally resolve the conflict without satisfying the dramatic requirements of the drama to date,” links “resolve” to satisfaction of dramatic requirements. And in another example, he says without a “consistent creative vision informing the work as a whole, [it] is going to feel tacked on (random, arbitrary), rather than integral, to most careful audience members.” That statement links consistency to a satisfying feel. SDG crosslinks story story resolution, consistency and satisfaction.

    SDG August 1, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Real life is filled with drama

    I’d rather say that real life can be dramatic, at least in fits and starts. C. S. Lewis in An Experiment in Criticism has written helpfully on the markedly undramatic qualities of real life. Drama is artifice. When real life actually is filled with drama, usually it’s because someone is being tiresome.

    Maybe to you arbitrary endings do not make good drama, but to someone else it does. In my book, there is no better ending than an abitrary ending. But then, I enjoy all of life.

    Oh, I doubt this. In good drama very little if anything is ever really arbitrary. What I suspect you really like is an effect or illusion of arbitrariness which is really carefully wrought by the artist seeking precisely that effect for a particular aesthetic reason. Certainly if you were to offer a top ten list of some of your favorite stories with arbitrary endings, I strongly suspect most or all of them would be found to have endings that were anything but arbitrary.

    You and your “we” may have any set of standards you want, just as anyone can have their own set of standards.

    Fortunately, such a thing as culture exists, with inter-subjective shared standards that allow artists to seek to communicate to implied audiences.

    Perhaps if I were seeking your agreement or disagreement, I might define it. But I’m not.

    It’s scary how much you just sounded like this guy I know. It makes me wonder what exactly you are seeking.

    Do you imagine someone is cross-examining your opinions on The Little Mermaid?

    I don’t think I said that, no. I’d try to clarify, but I suddenly doubt you are really interested.

    Words give clues. If you choose to ignore words, that is your choice.

    Some words give clues. Some clues are more helpful or sufficient than others. Some clues might seem sufficient viewed from one perspective, not from another. Some clue leavers are more interested in being understood than others.

    It doesn’t mislead me. Does it mislead you?

    Misleading statements mislead only when they are credited. If your opinion converges with the saying, I wonder whether you are right in thinking yourself not misled.

    There is no obstacle before me. Might you have a speck in your eye?

    Thanks for noticing. Are you sure it’s not mud? (As in “Here’s…”)

    The word “else” is not logically implicit to your proposition (i.e. “critics typically disagree with everyone [else]“), because to add the word “else” would yield the very proposition that you were arguing against which I had previously posted

    Yes, that is precisely what I was doing: articulating the proposition that I was arguing against (or a variation on it that might be marginally more defensible than others).
    Are you seriously saying that you thought that “Critics typically disagree with everyone, even themselves” a more reasonable construal than the proposition I was arguing against? If so, I wonder how accurate your assessment of the obstacles in your path was.

    Nonsense. In ordinary English, agreement means a level of compatibility and consistency that is compatible and consistent in the eyes of those who are agreeing. The only objective, universal, ordinary standard among parties who don’t otherwise agree is complete agreement on all issues that any party to the agreement may deem relevant. Anything less than complete agreement would have to be agreed upon by the parties involved. That’s the nature of agreement.

    You say “Nonsense,” and then what you say not only doesn’t contradict what I said, it doesn’t even support what you said. On this reading, “Critics typically don’t agree with anyone except themselves” would seem to mean something like “Critics typically don’t agree in their own eyes with anyone else who would also agree in his or her own eyes with the critic.” The statement remains as ridiculous as ever. Moreover, it seems to me almost inevitable that any effort to salvage it would wind up applying not just to critics, but by and large to almost any group you might care to posit (Protestants, Albanians, surveyors, women, octogenarians, etc.), largely defining most “agreement” out of existence.

    Foxfier August 1, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Potter Mania– there is a difference between claims and actuality. Basically, we have Lifesite’s word that the *Pope* said something that, materially, the *Pope* never said.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    SDG has been saying that to change the ending sometime along the way (anytime after the beginning) is highly likely to be associated with problems in satisfaction and/or consistency.
    The mere fact that we can speak of their likelihood of being associated is proof of their distinction. No one says that childhood is “highly likely to be associated” with being young.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    That statement links “resolved” (story ending) to consistency.
    That was not the statement I was talking about. I cited two exact statements which were made, and which were not the contradictions that they were posed as.
    You are letting your previous discussion blind you to the content of what you actually said.

    Mary August 1, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Incidentially, SDG, Elmar, what you are revealing is that you know nothing about writing fiction.
    We get the picture.
    You can stop now.

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    The mere fact that we can speak of their likelihood of being associated is proof of their distinction. No one says that childhood is “highly likely to be associated” with being young.
    Perhaps it’s time you and no one got better acquainted. Whether someone says it or not, it is nonetheless true. Childhood and being young are strongly correlated.
    It’s also conceivable and permissable that in the course of a discussion one need not maintain Mary’s view of how words must be used to facilitate discussion. If SDG, or I or anyone so chooses to conflate consistency with SDG’s mysterious “satisfaction”, or equate the symbol “consistency” with the symbol “satisfaction”, or if someone should choose to ignore some aspect of what another wrote for the sake of moving a point forward, or whatever the reason, they can. Yes, you might not like it, but you hold no authority over anyone but yourself. You’re welcome to sit in your “Gee I learned it this way in school” chair if you want.
    When someone speaks of whether it’s consistent or it isn’t, that’s a value judgment. In effect, he’s saying whether he’s satisfied that certain principles have been followed. So whether you say you feel it’s consistent or someone else wants to say he feels satisfied, big deal.
    I cited two exact statements which were made, and which were not the contradictions that they were posed as.
    I didn’t pose them as contradictions. I posed them as having a level of agreement. Who posed them as contradictions? You did. If they “were not the contradictions that they were posed as,” then why did you pose them as contradictions?
    Incidentially, SDG, Elmar, what you are revealing is that you know nothing about writing fiction.
    Bless you Mary. May God’s mercy be upon you.

    Elmar August 1, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Certainly if you were to offer a top ten list of some of your favorite stories with arbitrary endings,
    But I don’t have a top ten of anything. It would be like picking my ten favorite children.
    Fortunately, such a thing as culture exists, with inter-subjective shared standards that allow artists to seek to communicate to implied audiences.
    Like seeking to eat an implied turkey.
    It’s scary how much you just sounded like this guy I know. It makes me wonder what exactly you are seeking.
    Perhaps you have me confused with some aspect of yourself.
    If your opinion converges with the saying, I wonder if you are right in thinking yourself not misled.
    You might wonder if you’re right in thinking I think that.
    On this reading, “Critics typically don’t agree with anyone except themselves” would seem to mean something like “Critics typically don’t agree in their own eyes with anyone else who would also agree in his or her own eyes with the critic.” The statement remains as ridiculous as ever.
    Sounds like the joke about not wanting to be a member of a club that would have you as a member.
    Are you seriously saying that…
    If I keep a straight face, am I serious?

    Jarnor23 August 1, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Remember, in “The Horse and His Boy” Susan was looking at marrying, but did not. It stands to reason that the Penveses had no reason to suspect they were going home, and if they had remained longer some may have married. Given their destiny to return, perhaps there’s a reason why none of them ever fell in love and had the vocation to marry while they were in their first trip to Narnia.
    Some may have remained celibate, others may have had a different vocation. I’d not use that as any kind of example to say that marriage is a lesser thing.

    Jarnor23 August 1, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    And as long as I’m talking Lewis…
    For those who said that the bad guy has to have a downfall that flows out of the story so far. Sometimes something out of the blue is used to finish the story and that contrast is on purpose.
    *NEXT PARAGRAPH HAS Perelandra SPOILER, if you care*
    Such as in Perelandra where after all that arguing, Dr. Random decides instead of letting the Evil One debate another world into falling, he brains the possessed scientist with a rock and then physically battles him to the death. Ironically a rather ringing endorsement of sacrament from a Protestant, but this IS Lewis. :)
    *SPOILER END*
    A similar case can be made for Ursula’s death. Instead of finagling contracts and trying to weasel out, Eric uses manly physical strength and skill to steer a ship’s prow through Ursula’s black heart.

    Jarnor23 August 1, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Oh, and as far as WHY not to slander J.K. Rowling’s good name and self-professed Christian beliefs. Well, Christian charity would be a good start.
    But also important is the fact that if you as a parent blanket ban these books without even reading them to see if they have this Christian message we say it does, due to the word “witch”, you look like an ignorant rube, as do your children who cannot disagree with your uninformed opinion due to their obedience.
    So when they tell people that “The Golden Compass” is also evil and they shouldn’t go, their friends will be thinking “Ah! I’ll bet this will be just as good as Harry Potter. I’m glad I’m not one of those strange ‘Christians’ like my friend.”
    Call actual evil, evil. Things that are not are flexible. To do otherwise can damn souls.

    Monica August 1, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Jarnor, did you mean Dr. Ransom? That was a pretty funny typo.
    I thought you might like to know that there are people out there who have children in the suzuki violin program who won’t let their children play the tune ‘witch’s dance’ by paganini, because it has the word ‘witch’ in it. Apparently Paganini wrote the piece because he could do amazing things on the violin and had been accused of witchcraft because of it. I think he had the same condition as Lincoln, and had enormous hands. And YES these people are silly.
    Sorry to interrupt. You may now resume your discussion…

    Anonymous August 1, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/08/31/1156817034534.html
    This post shows condemnation by a respectable church authority.

    Jarnor23 August 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Heh, yes, Ransom. Random is the way my brain seems to work some days. :)
    And as far as any links go, if they’re by an anonymous rule breaker (see Jimmy’s Rulz), I’m not bloodly likely to visit them. Both due to lack of anyone to rebut, and the lack of security for my computer.

    Some Day August 2, 2007 at 12:07 am

    I just went to that site. I’ll garantee no foul play.
    And I believe he proscribed frequent anon posting.
    Singular events are still allowed I believe.
    The article is by Fr. Armorth BTW.

    Foxfier August 2, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Jarnor– that’s common sense– any page that you don’t trust, you shouldn’t click on to without good computer protection. Helps to google it sometimes.
    Some Day, that interview also says that he thinks Hitler and Stalin were possessed, that HP draws on Satanic art, that last year the Pope said HP was potentially corrupting, that D&D is LARPing…
    And the article is by Linda Morris, Religious Affairs Writer.

    Foxfier August 2, 2007 at 12:23 am

    http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2006/09/devil_not_just_.html
    This article and this so-called “religious affairs writer” are not new here.

    Some Day August 2, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Well I don’t see what is contrary to Church doctrine.
    The opinions on Hitler and Stalin are very well possible.
    There are just somethings that people won’t do without a little help.

    Foxfier August 2, 2007 at 1:02 am

    …. Some Day, you mis-attribute a paper, are informed that it’s well-known bunk, the guy isn’t even *Associated* with the Pope, and your only reply is basically “well, I think it’s possible”?

    Some Day August 2, 2007 at 1:30 am

    He is a person in possition to say such a thing.
    And regardless, Blessed Francisco Palau speakes extesively on the subject.

    Jarnor23 August 2, 2007 at 3:00 am

    Ah, I see, it’s kind of like a evangelical protestant style Rita Skeeter…

    Foxfier August 2, 2007 at 3:22 am

    *blink* Jar, that’s actually a really good discription.

    SDG August 2, 2007 at 5:07 am

    Well, I have to profess myself entirely satisfied with the breakdown of this discussion at this point, and ready to move on with my life. In one thing, at least, (it would seem) we agree, Elmar, in extending to Mary grace and peace. And you too, for that matter.

    For those who said that the bad guy has to have a downfall that flows out of the story so far. Sometimes something out of the blue is used to finish the story and that contrast is on purpose…

    Your example doesn’t prove your case. Thomas Howard in C. S. Lewis: Man of Letters (I believe the current title is Beyond Narnia or something like that) argues cogently that the physical confrontation between Ransom and the Un-Man is profoundly in keeping with the themes and drama to date of Perelandra. The incarnational and sacramental resonances (however ironic they might be) are part of the warp and weft of Lewis’s story and worldview, and the obvious scriptural and spiritual echoes — crushing the serpent’s head, resisting the devil rather than arguing with him — are eminently satisfying to the story’s requirements. By contrast, it’s not clear how if at all The Little Mermaid might be illuminated by consideration of the themes of manly strength and skill.

    Mary August 2, 2007 at 6:16 am

    Perhaps it’s time you and no one got better acquainted. Whether someone says it or not, it is nonetheless true. Childhood and being young are strongly correlated.
    Don’t be silly. Childhood and being young are not “strongly correlated”. They are the same thing.

    Mary Kay August 2, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Doing the dangerous thing of joining a conversation late, my two cents:
    IIRC, the pope’s comment on HP was along the lines that “there were better things to read.”
    Fr. Amorth has a wider experience than most people about evil. I can see where he’s coming from but I also recognize that many people have enjoyed the HP series. It’s difficult to argue with the number of kids who go from hating to read to devouring 600 page books.
    I read the first book and thought it clever but not something I’d want to continue reading. IMO, the biggest message of HP is how much we’ve failed to capture the imaginations of the young with stories of God’s people.

    Elmar August 2, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Childhood and being young are not “strongly correlated”. They are the same thing.
    You just proved my point and your own ignorance.

    Jarnor23 August 2, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Well, that’s charitable Elmar. I’m sure you mean “young at heart” or the “spirit of youth” or something, but you MUST admit by dictionary definitions, the two are close, in fact close enough that many might consider them synonyms.
    SDG, I stand by my example and think it illustrates well. And while this is obviously interpretation on my part, an example of a point it makes is that the sneaky wheeling and dealings of the witch were trumped by manly courage and strength to not try to dicker with the witch anymore, but put an end to her evil through force.
    Not a popular lesson these days, that.

    SDG August 2, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Bold off.

    Jarnor23 August 2, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Bold off. Man, I hate it when people forget to close tags.

    Jarnor23 August 2, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Heh, beat me to it. :)

    Lauren August 2, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    It’s true “childhood” and “being young” can often be the same thing, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing. In the trival sense, they are different words, but in a more meaninful sense, they don’t necessarily share the same meanings. For example, childhood can end with adolescence while being young can extend well into adulthood. A person 70-years young comes to mind. Meanwhile, second childhood may sometimes be among those young at heart or simply a euphemism for deteriorating mental infirmity of old age. So they can often be the same thing, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

    Elmar August 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    you MUST admit by dictionary definitions, the two are close, in fact close enough that many might consider them synonyms.
    I already have, to those with eyes. Like I said, they’re strongly correlated. Some people may hold them as different, some may hold them as identical. Is one group right and another wrong? Not to me. Everyone is entitled to use words as he/she wishes, to say what they see or even what they don’t see. They can even use them to disagree. They’re tools, toys, whatever.
    Well, that’s charitable Elmar.
    It’s just words. Make of it what you will.

    Tim J. August 2, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Another gnostic… *yawn*

    Tim J. August 2, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Or more likely, the same old gnostic under yet another name.

    Elmar August 2, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Another gnostic… *yawn*
    I don’t believe in gnosticism.

    Tim J. August 2, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    But do you disbelieve it?

    Elmar August 2, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    I have nothing to do with it.

    SDG August 2, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Does anything have nothing to do with anything else?

    Elmar August 2, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    What does it mean to you to “have nothing to do”?

    SDG August 2, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Why are you asking me what it means to me? You introduced the phrase; I only questioned it. What does it mean to you?
    While we’re on the subject, is your claim to disbelieve in gnosticism sufficient to establish that you aren’t a gnostic? If you were a gnostic, would you say that you believed in gnosticism?

    Some Day August 2, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Don’t tie knots in the poor man’s head.

    Elmar August 3, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Why are you asking me what it means to me? You introduced the phrase; I only questioned it.
    If you use the phrase in a question like the one you posed, you either understand what the phrase means or you’re unsure what you’re asking. If you know what it means, then why not answer your own question? On the other hand, if you’re unsure what you’re asking, then neither can I be sure. Hence the question to you.
    What does it mean to you?
    With the meaning of “have nothing to do”, there is nothing to explain. Would you like nothing explained to you?
    While we’re on the subject, is your claim to disbelieve in gnosticism sufficient to establish that you aren’t a gnostic? If you were a gnostic, would you say that you believed in gnosticism?
    I wouldn’t gnow.

    SDG August 3, 2007 at 1:44 am

    With the meaning of “have nothing to do”, there is nothing to explain. Would you like nothing explained to you?

    If there’s nothing to explain, why did you ask what it meant to me?

    Elmar August 3, 2007 at 2:05 am

    If there’s nothing to explain, why did you ask what it meant to me?
    So I might hear your rendition of nothing.

    SDG August 3, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Since you introduced the term, and I asked you first, it seems to me your rendition of nothing is the logically prior one, but then perhaps you’ve already been gracing us with that.

    Anonymous August 3, 2007 at 10:17 pm


    The dust cleared…

    Anonymous August 5, 2007 at 11:42 am

    And nothing remains.

    Mary August 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Lots of interesting stuff remains. Alas, it’s all spoilers-required to discuss.

    J.R. Stoodley August 6, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    No spoilers. I’m still waiting to get my hands on the last book to see if my theories about Snape are right.
    Some people need to lighten up about this. Ok the books aren’t philisophically perfect and are a little more dangerous to predesposed young people than much other fantasy, but they are fun and harmless for most people. They’re no Lord of the Rings but they are literary masterpieces compared to that plagiarized (hardly anything that didn’t come from Tolkien, McCaffery, Rowling, or George Lucas) and anti-Catholic piece of toilet paper Eragon, though a teenager wrote the latter so we must give some allowance for youth.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 10:07 am

    When will it be safe to discuss actual material in the final book on this thread?
    It seems that if any substantive discussion is to be had on the matter, it will require that we discuss actual matter in the final book.

    J.R. Stoodley August 7, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Esau,
    On a thread like this, maybe in a few years. As it is a few months ago someone let out who died in book 6 and ruined that for me. This is just one of those things you have to do out of courtously to others.
    If you really want to discuss it at least give a disclaimer and then a bunch of blank lines below before you start discussing. However sometimes I (and I assume other people) skim these threads from the bottom up looking for something interesting so I think it is better not to discuss it at all in a public way like this.
    That said some general ideas probably won’t hurt, like how Rowling has an emphasis on the power of love, which is called a kind of magic or could maybe be interpreted as something greater than any magic, or that unless I’m forgetting something or it is revealed in the last book there is no indication of what magic ultimately is, or where it comes from or why some people from birth have access to it and others don’t, or how the books don’t take religion seriously and include “transfiguration” as a type of magic (I don’t like anything Jesus did being called magic, though as I said I think you just have to be lighthearted about such minor things). What I object to is revelations about the plot or the more mysterious characters.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 10:51 am

    J.R. Stoodley,
    In a few years… I guess.
    By that time, all the allure of the series may have died out by then. ;^)
    (j/k)

    Jarnor23 August 7, 2007 at 10:51 am

    J.R.: No offense, but years isn’t going to happen. Someone will spoil you soon if you don’t get the book done now. It’s like expecting people not to know the whole Darth Vader/Luke thing. You almost can’t miss running into story stuff on the internet sooner or later.
    That said, after you read the last book, you may even be more impressed with the series than before. I know I was.

    Publius August 7, 2007 at 11:29 am

    If you really want to discuss it at least give a disclaimer and then a bunch of blank lines below before you start discussing. However sometimes I (and I assume other people) skim these threads from the bottom up looking for something interesting so I think it is better not to discuss it at all in a public way like this.
    Isn’t that the few who a) are slow-pokes when it comes to reading the books and b) have bizarre blog-reading habits (which I share, BTW) holding the rest of the universe hostage? If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read a Harry Potter thread from the bottom up—at least not after the book has been out for a few weeks. I should say that the blogmaster designating threads as containing spoilers or not is a good idea.

    Anonymous August 7, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Lectio divinae.
    Non demonorum!

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Actually, Publius raises a good point in his above comments.
    However, as regards the pace at which certain books are read, I would argue that reading what’s basically a fantasy book out of leisure may be completed more promptly (given adequate time) than one that deals with, say, the intricacies of science.
    The latter often has the reader in engaging in more (painfully) laborious, in-depth activities necessary to completing the book (e.g., understanding the thermodynamic/kinetic states of certain molecules and their molecular arrangement, if it happens to be one dealing with biomolecular sciences) whereas the former merely has one basically immersing themselves in a dreamworld where really anything goes; thus, there’s not really anything to understand but rather one simply need read.
    Of course, that’s an entirely different matter for books that may deal with more abstract ideas, in which case, one would need to pay more particular attention to certain elements in the book.

    Mary Kay August 7, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    J.R., on this one, I think you’re vastly outnumbered, indeed possibly a minority of one.

    J.R. Stoodley August 7, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    It’s not that I’m reading it right now and am just slow. I don’t actually have access to the book right now and likely won’t for a couple weeks at least. It isn’t worth it to me to go out and buy the expensive hardcover edition. I guess that’s my own fault, but still.
    Also, once a thread had gotten long it is much easier to start at the bottom than try to find where new material starts from the top.
    If you guys really think something in the last book is a big deal you can talk about it and I’ll just not read this thread anymore. I’m afraid some other overtrusting person might stumble across something they didn’t want to know, but oh well.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    J.R. Stoodley,
    Speaking strictly for myself, I was just kidding with you (hence, the j/k).
    No worries!
    At least, you weren’t one of those folks who (quite opposite from your situation) ended up getting the book days before its scheduled release date.

    Jarnor23 August 7, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    A tactic I find useful for long threads is to do a text find on my name from the bottom up. If it’s in a post, I ignore and hit “find previous” until I find my last post. Then I proceed downwards from there and get all spoiler warnings, etc.
    BTW, you might want to check out your local library, they probably have a few copies. Of course, those copies may well be checked out. Borrowing a friend’s copy’s not a bad idea either. Trust me, I know money doesn’t grow on trees! Of course, I was quite impressed with how low the price was for my copy for a hardcover. I just don’t like softcovers, they never hold up to reading abuse over time.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    I just don’t like softcovers, they never hold up to reading abuse over time.
    Yeah — but they sure are cheap and convenient for travels.

    J.R. Stoodley August 7, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Esau,
    I figured you were half joking but also really wanted to say something about book 7.
    I am trying to borrow the book from my exgirlfriend (yes, ex now Esau, though it’s complicated) before college starts but it may not happen. After that it would have to wait till December.
    I like hardcovers for really good books, but softcovers for brain candy like Harry Potter.

    Jarnor23 August 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Easy solution then, 7′s a really good book. At least on a scale where Narnia would be up there. :)

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    J.R. Stoodley,
    It seems that Jarnor23 has just volunteered to purchase Book 7 for you! ;^)
    Jarnor23, you’re such swell brother in the Faith!

    Jarnor23 August 7, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Merely pointing out that if the problem was the quality of the book was denying a hardcover, then that needn’t be an issue.
    Were I in a better financial state I’d love to pull an Oprah and buy everyone a copy of it. And the Narnia and LOTR to boot. :) As it is, sadly, I’ll have to reiterate my suggestion of local libraries. Despite the grousing one often hears here about taxes, I think those are a fine use of those dollars. Sure beats some of the OTHER things the government wants to do with it anyway.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Just picking on you, Jarnor23. ;^)
    About good books, you may want to read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.
    Although I may know of some well-to-do-folks, I, myself, am certainly far from it in comparison.
    This was a popular book in our church back in the days as well as in college.
    It won’t make you ‘infomercial’ rich, but it does help provide a whole other mindset.

    Mary August 7, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Esau — others — if you think that there are issues in Deathly Hallows that could really bear being thrashed out in a Catholic forum and that this blog is the best forum that you can think of, you could write to Jimmy and ask him if he could start a SPOILER WARNING thread.
    He may not, of course, seeing as this is his blog and he’s not a fan.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I don’t think the book deserves that much of noteworthy attention.
    I just thought that if there is any substantive discussion to be had on this very thread, then actual material from the book should be rendered in order to facilitate any such discussion.

    Jarnor23 August 7, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    True, true. It’s hard to tell people “oh, just trust me, the 7th book makes it all clear, but I won’t say what”… (and if you’ve read it, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. :) )
    There actually have been some nice Potter discussions on Mark Shea’s blog, and I’ve been buzzing about there lately. I can respect Jimmy’s tastes not running to Potter, not every book is for everyone. I personally find this kind of literature more important, obviously, while finding some more “important and mature” type literature to be meaningless and/or offensive, but it’s a matter of tastes.
    I think the real key is just to not mindlessly slander Rowling and what many believe to be a very Christian work. It’s not charitable and it’s not helpful to the Church. Sadly, some who say much about the books and their “evil” content know very little about the books, often being proud of not even trying to read any, let alone follow the story to its very end where the purpose is truly revealed.

    Mary August 7, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    If there are people who mind spoilers, it is an elementary act of charity to refrain from putting spoilers in their path.

    Esau August 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Mary,
    I believe that was J.R. Stoodley’s point.

    Jarnor23 August 8, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Right, right, but the world is one big spoiler for that book now. There does need to be a bit of a statute of limitations on such things.
    That being said, if someone specifically asks, I think reasonable precaution to help them avoid spoilers is not only an act of charity, but the decent thing to do. However, not discussing relevant material for months while clearly warning is kind of silly, and leads to a lack of practical discussion.
    It’d be like if someone called me out for blowing Perelandra’s plot despite my warnings. I mean, it’s only been out a few decades, I’m sure SOMEONE hasn’t read it. Actually, a few years back, that someone would have been me. I’d have expected spoiler warnings for courtesy’s sake, but not people to not discuss it, especially with the ending of that book having some interesting theological statements.

    Esau October 22, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Just another reason why the Potter books literally sux:
    LINK:
    J.K. Rowling Outs Hogwarts Character

    gab November 24, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    the book is just made up and maybe people shouldnt be so sensative i am 14 and when i read something or watch something i dont get stupid ideas to join a cult or kill myself or have underage sex or to be influenced in to doing anything because i realize when it comes down to it you and only you as an individual can come to the conclusion that yes i will or no i wont people in todays society are so weak and pathetic just like people who believe in god why dont you take responsability for your actions or just admit that you dont know live your life and jump off a building so in conclusion it is just a bok just magic or in simpler words just entertainment for mindless idiots and you obviously havnt earned it yet and if you are a parent and your kid read harry potter or saw the movie and took it to heart or thaught you could live your life like that or joined a cult youu are a bad parent and who are you to saw joinig a cult is really a bad thing

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