Archives for April 2009

Holy Friday: The Potter’s Field

The Holy Friday Vespers service in the Orthodox Christian tradition is known for the reading of ‘The Twelve Passion Gospels.’ In the Fifth Gospel reading (St. Matthew 27:3-32), we hear:

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned by betraying innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? You see to it! Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood. And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.
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USA Today: How Long Can Harry’s Magic Hold?

In USA Today’s ‘Life’ Section, page 1, above the fold, with a picture of Harry and Ginny, the best selling newspaper in America asks “How long can Harry’s magic hold?” It is a rhetorical question, right? The article is only to announce that the last trailer of Half-Blood Prince film will be released online tonight at 9 pm. Would any other film or book franchise get this kind of cover story treatment for the most recent release of a trailer? Another rhetorical question…

Harry’s magic is holding up quite well, thank you very much. The ‘Shared Text’ of a generation or three is so much a part of the public imagination today I cannot imagine it losing its “hold” or being supplanted anytime soon. Only books that caricature or echo the elements of its success, I suspect, will sell in this league or engage readers in similar fashion.

Your thoughts?

Int’l Alchemy Conference: Why I Won’t Be There

We talk a lot about ‘literary alchemy’ here, the hermetic stream in the tradition of English ‘Greats’ from Chaucer and Shakespeare that Ms. Rowling draws on with special takes I think, from C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy and Elizabeth Goudge’s Little White Horse. Alchemy is no small part of the Hogwarts story magic and the artistry with which Ms. Rowling uses traditional symbols as her scaffolding may be her single most important and certainly her least appreciated accomplishment as a writer.

Given my interest in the literary side of the alchemy story and the occult arts from which it draws its imagery and perhaps even its effect on readers, why won’t I be traveling this October to Los Angeles for the International Alchemy Conference? Good question. [Read more…]