July 03, 2003

Harry Potter vs. the Fundies

I left a version of this as a comment in this post of Tim's reporting the shenanigans of a "conservative Christian" school's administration re: the Harry Potter books. I've no beef with Christian fundamentalists, in general, but I have had it up to here with this "Harry Potter's magical powers = real witchcraft" garbage. I will first offer these caveats:

That being said, here is what I have to say to the actions of the "Maranatha Christian College" and so many others, including some commenters to Tim's post who compared J.K. Rowlings to such luminaries as Larry Flynt Jr. and Karl Marx:

I am going to only say this once: the "magic" in the Harry Potter books is NOT REAL, nor does it correspond either to the rituals and practices of pre-Christian pagan peoples, to the supposed remnants of those rituals and practices engaged in by people accused of being witches and sorcerers in Europe and America's past, nor to the rituals and practices of the various contemporary pagan faiths (for instance, Wicca, Magick, the "Old Religion," and so forth). As a matter of fact, the "magic" and "witchcraft" in the Harry Potter books come straight out of popular culture's idea of such things -- aka Disney, Warner Brothers, Hollywood, and thousands of children's stories and fairy tales. And furthermore, as has already been pointed out but I'll repeat it here, the "magic" is a literary device -- actually, a metaphor, for something that Rowlings is trying to say about being a kid and growing up and dealing with life, albeit in a light-hearted manner.

And last of all, the Harry Potter books are FICTION. Yes: FICTION FICTION FICTION FICTION. They are not: manuals for casting magical spells on people, calls to join an evil, godless -- excuse me, Godless -- cult, or any of that shizzat. Jesus H. Christ, will you people get a grip?

Update: and if it isn't the religious nuts, it's the "grownups shouldn't read childrens' books" cretins. Let me add this final caveat: I don't believe in segregating books by age group or by any other group. I will read what I damn well please. Your fear of being considered uncool, or whatever it is that drives you, is not my problem.

Posted by Andrea Harris at July 3, 2003 12:23 AM

Damn skippy. Bunch of fun-suckers. I enjoy Harry Potter. I am old. Also, I am a Methodist. I seriously doubt that when I croak I will be tut-tutted by a celestial being who will tell me, "Well, you were doing pretty good there, until you read HARRY POTTER!!!!" and then kick my butt into a pit of eternal torment.

There is real evil in the world--why don't these folks expend their energy dealing with that? Oh, right. That would be HARD. Never mind.

Posted by: Tracey at July 3, 2003 at 08:02 AM

Tracy: I agree wholeheartedly. There are people in those movements that would suck the fun out of a church social. Real Puritans.

I will be 50 years old in two months. I have in my possession the first book I remember reading, "Boy of the Pyramids." I'll read whatever the heck I want whenever I want to. As soon as I get the hot water heater fixed, I'll go get Harry Potter V. And I'll enjoy it.

They can come get me if they want to try. I'll have the shotgun ready.


Posted by: Elizabeth at July 3, 2003 at 09:33 AM

The same types of meatheads were yammering about the Wizard of Oz series of books back when I was a boy.
My family was already angry over the racism of the preacher in our 1950s South Texas Church (in a town with no Blacks, one would think the preacher'd leave 'em be, but nooo!). During a sermon about the eeeevillll Wizard of Oz books my mother stood up and set, let's go, were leaving. Dad, always getting the last word in, said 'yes dear. The preacher said something, can't remember what. Mom turned around and asked 'were you born this stupid or did you have to study?' We never went back to that church. We'd see the preacher from time to time, funerals and such. My mother never spoke to him again.
It's not new, the world has always been full of dimbulbed bigots and it will remain so filled until we put a bounty on 'em.

Posted by: Peter at July 3, 2003 at 10:56 AM

It's plainly obvious that the children who have learned the Dark Arts from the Harry Potter books have gotten to Andrea with their mystical wizardry and spells.

Actually, what disturbs me most is that the people who are so against these books live in, apologies to Carl Sagan, the demon-haunted world. As adults, do they cower under the covers when something goes bump in the night? These people are idiots, and it saddens me to think they have produced offspring.

Posted by: andy at July 3, 2003 at 12:08 PM

It's an honor to be burned by these people.

Posted by: Jack at July 3, 2003 at 02:40 PM

Here, here to this and all the commenters. It amazes me how idiotic these happy-clappys can be at times. For more on this idiocy you can always go to Pagan Prattle.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Castel-Dodge at July 3, 2003 at 03:16 PM

This is exactly like the anti-rock 'n roll crusade of the 1950s and early 60s.

It's dumb, and it'll suffer the same fate.

Posted by: Nemesis at July 4, 2003 at 12:06 AM



Posted by: RHJunior at July 4, 2003 at 03:31 AM

As long as the anti-Harry Potter crowd stays in the private realm, they can censor all they like.

Posted by: Mrs. du Toit at July 4, 2003 at 02:52 PM

Oh, I agree. People can do what they like in their own private Idahoes, for whatever reason, no matter how stupid and un-thought-through. Normally I don't even bother saying anything anymore about the plethora of dumb things people say, but after reading the umpteenth numbnuts declaration that the Harry Potter books are about "the occult" and therefore as dangerous to the Children™ as hardcore pr0n my frustration boiled over.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2003 at 03:22 PM

You mean you don't think it's as dangerous?


Posted by: Mrs. du Toit at July 4, 2003 at 09:05 PM

Only if it works. But so far none of my spell-casting has had any effect. (I'm still not a millionaire, I still haven't been able to turn my Toyota into a Bentley, and fame remains elusive.) And dang it all, if the warranty on the magic wand didn't just run out.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2003 at 10:07 PM