Archives for January 2011

The House Cup goes to Yale: God and Harry Potter at Yale by The Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio

Most college students, most people, in fact, seem to view theology in the same way they view flossing or eating Brussells sprouts: as something that they know is important  but which isn’t fun, engaging, or very easy to understand.  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, beloved by millions of readers, appear to be at the opposite end of the spectrum, as they are fun, engaging, and easy to read and since they are often (incorrectly) thought to be more entertainment than edification.  Who would have thought that theology and Harry Potter could have been combined to create a class that changed lives at Yale? The answer to that question is Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio,  who created an incredibly popular seminar at Yale, tackling the sometimes daunting subject of theology by studying it in the context of the Harry Potter universe. The class took on subjects such as sacrifice, Christology, grace, and the  problem of evil, as portrayed in Rowling’s novels. The incredibly popular course garnered international attention, and now, Rev. Tummino takes readers where she has taken students, to a study of theology unlike any other.  Follow me after the jump for the full review.

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Shared Text: Harry Potter in ‘Big Bang Theory’

A better episode from the same series with a Quidditch reference (embed function disabled, alas) can be found here and here’s the actress who plays Penny talking about her love of Harry Potter. H/T to Lynn!

Jane Eyre 6: Faith and Fairies – Conventional Spirituality versus What the Heart Hears

If you’ve read Bronte’s own preface to the second edition, you’ve noticed that, besides  laying it on a bit thick in praise of Thackeray, she also indicates that the novel has been getting some serious criticism for its religious elements (or lack thereof). Those of us here who are used to being lambasted as the spawn of the devil for reading Harry Potter might find ourselves doing the proverbial head-scratch over folks getting their dander up over the likes of Jane Eyre, which still makes the school reading lists  at religious schools and is hardly the text likely to set parents shouting at PTO meetings. In many ways, of course, this is a Christian novel, so much so that its “preachiness” sometimes turns off modern readers (as we’ve already seen in our conversations here), but its depiction of the spiritual and the supernatural is often unconventional, leading “Currer Bell” to remind readers, in the preface, that “conventionality is not morality.” As we look at the roles of the Christian faith, the spiritual, and the supernatural in Jane Eyre, we may never see what some of those nineteenth-century critics were in such a tizzy over, but we will certainly see some of Bronte’s deft touches with the non-corporeal elements of Jane’s story.

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Mailbag: Whence Dumbledore’s ‘I Am With You’?

A question I’m asked at almost every Potter speaking event I do — after “Have you met J. K. Rowling?” and “Are you related to Hermione Granger?” — is “What it is like to be a Potter Pundit?” I even had a young man write me a longish note about his plans to create eventually a career in which he could spend all day reading Harry Potter and writing about his favorite books, just like I had done.

The best part of being a Potter Pundit, hands down, is conversations in person and through correspondence with serious readers. I’m not sure how anyone can position him or herself to become a Hogwarts Professor professionally; I certainly didn’t, unless Classics major, Marine NCO, miso maker’s apprentice, grocery store cashier, yurt sewer, and Latin teacher constitute a calculated career path. Regardless, I really enjoy the letters I get every day, often several times a day, from readers who accept the invitation that is in all my books to write me with their comments and corrections and from HogPro All-Pros like you who write via this site’s Contact tab.

Today’s question arrived just after midnight. “Is Dumbledore’s great line in Half-Blood Prince as he and Harry escape the Cave of the Inferi an echo of the Psalter or what?” Here is the note with question and my attempt at an answer, with an invitation as well for you to share what you think:

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TwiHards Finally Find Middle-Aged Guy Critic?

Over at Twilight Lexicon this week, the biggest Twilight fan site, there is in article praising Mark Kermode for his BBC5 radio review of Eclipse, in which he lauds the film, defying the trend of most film critics. Kermode, who makes a pretty good living by writing against the flow, praises the third cinematic installment of the Twilight Saga (which we also reviewed positively here), despite having never read the books.

The readers at Lexicon commenting on the review are, for the most part, tripping over themselves to applaud him. Oddly enough, they seem to think Kermode is (A) the only intellectual-type taking Twilight “seriously” and (B) the only middle-aged guy doing that. Actually, they are wrong on both counts, and he’s not even first.

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