High Inquisitor = Grand Inquisitor?

As I have said here before, encountering Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov was a landmark event in my life as a reader and thinker. My mother gave it to me the Christmas of my junior year in High School. It was a Bantam paperback edition of Brothers translated by Andrew MacAndrew that she wrapped up with Anna Karenina and Ivanhoe, if my failing memory serves, in the hope that big books were what I wanted from Santa Claus. I worked that summer for my father at his auto body shop in Pennsylvania and started reading Brothers on the long drive to and from work each day.

Within a hundred pages, I was lost to the larger world and neglected my work as custodian and car-cleaner even more than usual to read every moment I could. As providence would have it, the novel assigned in my first semester as a senior that fall at Exeter was The Brothers Karamazov, the Garnett translation. I was able to read the whole novel again, discuss it with friends (and with a teacher who loved it), and write about it. [Read more…]

JKR Invited To Vatican?

From a link at HogsHead Tavern: Q&A at University College Dublin

“About Pope Benedict complaining ? (laughter) Well. (more laughter) If it is the case, I’ll tell you what — see, you may know more than I do on this, I read that he had, when a cardinal I think, responded favourably to a woman who had written to him about the Harry Potter books being dangerous, but that’s as much as I know. If he has since said more than that I don’t know about it. Has he said more than that that I don’t know about ? I don’t know, you know, I was invited to a kind of symposium at the Vatican. It took a very circuitous route to get to me and I’m afraid to say it was to short a notice by the time I got the letter. So someone there is pretty open-minded about Harry Potter. I’ve always felt and I continue to feel that… Firstly, I’m vehemently anti-censorship. I think that it’s foolish and misguided to ban books. Secondly, I feel that… Now that the seventh book has been published I can say very openly, I think these are very moral books. They don’t promote a specifically Christian agenda, and I think that that, coupled with the fact that clearly they deal with folkloric mythical themes many people see as a cult, which I do not, but many do… but that has always antagonized a certain brand of Christians. And I’m fine with that (laughing). I am fine with that. I detest fundamentalism in any religion and that includes my own religion. As far as the Pope goes, I truthfully don’t know what his current opinion on Harry Potter is. So I can’t really ****.”

Your thoughts?

Guest Essay: Hallows or Horcruxes? Power in Harry Potter (Adam Ross)

Please forgive my absence during the extended Spring Break at the electronic Hogwarts. I am in the process of finding work, submitting book proposals, responding to publisher proofs, re-writing Unlocking Harry Potter, studying Artemis Fowl, and doing what I can to become receptive to the life-changing graces available during Great Lent. I have five HogPro posts near completion, and God allowing, they’ll begin to go up next week. Thank you for your patience.

Into the breach of my inbox comes an essay from Adam Ross, an English major and senior, about ‘Power in Harry Potter.’ As he wrote to me: “Independently from classes, I’ve written an essay on how the Potter series views power and power relations (from a Christian perspective), focusing on the contrasting views of Harry and Voldemort and how they both respond to gaining power, especially when the Hallows are concerned.” The Christian perspective is never unwelcome here, so I offer it the HogPro All-Pros for your reflection and comments. Thank you, Adam, for sharing this with us.

Hallows or Horcruxes? Power in Harry Potter

There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it. Lord Voldemort (SS, film version)

What do the Potter books have to say about power and our relationship with it? Is it good, bad, worthy of being sought, even hungered for? How does the view of power in the Potter epic mesh with the view of power laid out in Scripture? [Read more…]

The Adeel Amini – Jo Rowling Interview

[Note February 2018: AdeelAmini.com no longer exists. The longest excerpts available from the interview are inside this report at The Leaky Cauldron. In case it too goes away, I have copied and pasted longer sections by topic from the Leaky report in the comments boxes below this post.

Nota bene: I contacted the writer of the TIME magazine ‘Person of the Year’ article on Rowling in 2007 to ask if she knew to whom Rowling was referring in her “eyes open” comment. She very generously and promptly responded that it was Connie Neal, author of What’s a Christian to Do about Harry Potter? and other books. She also gave me a link to the talk Connie Neal gave in which she made the “lost evangelical opportunity” comment Rowling admired. Case closed!]

Read the full text here. We’ve discussed much of this interview’s comments before (the importance of Dumbledore’s single-sex attraction incident, her colloquial use of the word ‘fundamentalism,’ etc.) but the whole thing is, as always, much better than the excerpted parts.

There is one passage, though, I hope you will take home and show your friends:

Moving on to a more contentious issue, Rowling has categorically said that she does believe in a higher power, a statement reinforced by her childhood church-going (“Till I was 17,” she clarifies). It must be difficult to reconcile her religious beliefs with those that denounce Harry Potter as anti-Christian, I wonder aloud. Rowling’s expression does not change a fraction. “There was a Christian commentator who said that Harry Potter had been the Christian church’s biggest missed opportunity. And I thought, there’s someone who actually has their eyes open.”

I can think of ten writers who wrote that “missed opportunity” line, several of whom aren’t Christians, but, as one of those commentators, I’ll tell you it is grand to read Ms. Rowling thought this was the “eyes open” understanding of her books.

I should note, too, the fact that this sentence was not mentioned in any of the previous reports about the interview throws light on the blind-spot in Daily Prophet coverage of Harry Potter. All we have read about this interview was homophobia and stupid Christian fundamentalists. Not one mention of the author pointing to the spiritual content of the books and their explicit and implicit Christian meaning!

Ms. Rowling Contemplated Suicide

How different all our lives would be!

For those who are not disturbed by interpretations driven by the Personal Heresy, this revelation would support the psychological or Jungian interpretation of the alchemy in the series. Either way, I know Ms. Rowling’s recovery from depression and consequent success will come to my mind the next time I am speaking to someone convinced their life is going nowhere and is meaningless; depression can be overcome and the world made better, much better, by those who have overcome it.