For the Love of God, Bless Harry Potter and My Home Sweet Home

3 08 2007

So Daryl blogged a Harry Potter-phobic letter to the editor, the thrust of which was that because we Americans enjoy and celebrate Rowlings’ creation, God will let the terrorists win.

Considering that the whole world loves Harry Potter, it’s not clear why the fellow believes his omniscient Christian God would punish only Americans for it.

Newsweek’s “BeliefWatch” for August 6 debunks this Dobson-derivative take on Deuteronomy, saying that Harry Potter stands revealed as a Christlike figure, far from the servant of Satan that fundamentalists more literal than literate once damned him for being. Thus the letter-writer seems damned ignorant about the real power of story, both in Rowlings’ books and books of the bible.

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And I don’t think it’s just Harry Potter and the Christian bible that this poor fellow doesn’t get, it’s everything! — doesn’t he sound more like these real world, ultra-orthodox middle eastern leaders self-sealed away from modern human life and culture, than like a normal mom-and-apple-pie American in 2007?

“We do not have to be drawn like apes, following the rest of the world in a sub-culture of this kind, and certainly not while violating our holy Sabbath”. . . Trade and industry minister Eli Yishai, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said that the [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows] launch party was “a blatant violation of employment law, which prohibits work on the Sabbath.”

. . .Most Orthodox Jews in Israel live in closed communities, often without television or radio, refraining from any contact with the secular world and its culture.

Speaking of apes, the Newsweek issue proclaiming Harry Potter to be more divine than demonic actually has a huge black African gorilla on the cover, as art for power of story about “the world’s magnificent animals” facing “new threats of extinction.” C.S. Lewis made an ape into an instrument of human estrangement from their own goodness in “The Last Battle.” I think Rowling’s genius is to see humans as carrying both hope and fear, both good and evil, to see us as magnificent, and animals, and facing new threats of extinction — to realize our ancient songs and stories need to be understood in progressively evolving ways, for anyone to win anything worth living or dying for.

“Make her victorious on land and foam . . .” went the original 1918 lyric for “God Bless America” by this Siberian immigrant who wrote it while in the U.S. Army. But he shelved it; he was sensitive enough as a lowbrow entertainer (not an educator, politician, theologian or foreign policy expert) to understand that during the trench warfare of World War I, appealing for righteous might to kill one’s ideological enemies wasn’t quite light-hearted enough for musical comedy. Read the rest of this entry »

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