Sunday, July 17, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI v. J.K. Rowling?

"methinks the lady doth protest too much." my apologies to the Bard. But if the shoe fits, wear it! Against The Grain has the round-up of the Harry hysteria. There's simply too much hear to quote. I leave it to you, good readers.

My own take is this: The Pope has said nada about Harry Potter. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger might have jotted a sympathetic commiseration on the possibility that Harry Potter may distract children from the Faith. Or an aide may have released such a letter. In any event, it clearly represents the Cardinal's private opinion, not the judgement of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is no hint of any magisterial weight being attached to this "judgement" whatsoever. Unlike Pope John Paul the Great's extensive personal experience of leading a non-violent resistance against totalitarian evil, here Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is making his opinion known on a literary genre in which he arguably lacks in-depth experience. Therefore, his opinion may not carry the same weight with regards to Harry Potter as John Paul the Great's opinion with regards to conditions that describe a Just War.

In other words, Catholics and allied Christians that see eeevil new age ickiness creeping all over popular culture. They have Harry Potter in their sites as the poster child of their fears. Thus, they have attempted to hijack the Pope to their cause. They've even managed to rope-a-dope Lifesite News as their mouthpiece, and now the MSM gravy train's a rolling. Catholic-bashing headlines of "Church don't get the times" once again corner market share. The Reasonable are making money because misguided Fools have put a loaded gun in their hands.

I've read three Harry Potter books. I've seen the films. When my son gets older, I'll have no trouble letting him read the books and see the movies. Why? There clever stories. They address the challenges of growing up. They stress the importance of Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice--which, as I recall, make up the Cardinal virtues. They show how one child that's seemingly written off as a pathetic loser actually has the power to become a hero. The magic is metaphor for utilizing one's gifts. If I have any complaint about them, it's that the books stop short at the noble Pagan ideal. There's no discernable sense of trancendance in the books, unlike in C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Other than this, admittedly, significant omission, the Harry Potter Books are entertaining fanfare that actually support values Christians cherish. Considering the insidious work of Phillip Pullman (His Dark Materials) and other committed secularists, it's refreshing that stories about young people facing down challenges and rising to the call of heroism should attact international acclaim. Fools should stop beating the drum for Rowling's scalp and start paying attention to the real enemy out there. The Reasonable want nothing more than to sustain their twisted values through manipulative children's literature. Thankfully, Harry Potter is far from Reasonable. Let's put our eye back on the ball, people!