‘Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture’

That is the sub-title to the new book by Michael ‘Culture Warrior’ O’Brien, Twilight of the West.

If you want a quick look at the Catholic version of prelest or spiritual delusion consequent to Phariseeism, the preface to O’Brien’s Twilight — complete with his experience of God instructing him to read Harry Potter and write about him — can be found here.

A blessed Ash Wednesday to you all. H/T to Perelandra and Sean.

Talk about “Shared Text”…

How about this book-length review of Pres. Obama’s first autobiography: America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance”?

Two notes: [Read more…]

Why Reading Matters: Climacus Conference

There isn’t that much Harry Potter in the talk I gave at the Climacus Conference last weekend and there are two helpings of Coleridge and St. Maximos the Confessor, so I understand this isn’t for everyone here. Those of you who are interested in why human beings read, though, and who suspect that reading novels and poetry makes us more human may find it interesting.

Your comments and corrections, of course, are coveted.

J. D. Salinger: Requiescat in Pace

Author J. D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, is dead at age 91.

I confess that I never liked Holden Caulfield, if I am a Salinger fan. A young co-ed at the University of Chicago told me during my Orientation Week freshman year that I was the living image of Salinger’s angst ridden, clever anti-hero. I would have preferred to have been likened to Woody Allen (and I wouldn’t have enjoyed that, either, frankly). But Salinger’s artistry was undeniable.

It wasn’t until I was a teacher at Valley Forge Military Academy, where Salinger went to school and supposedly used as a model for Pencey Prep, that I learned anything of interest about this author-recluse. It turns out that he was a loyal alumnus to ‘the Forge’ who had only fond memories of the place (he attended alumni gatherings there well after his retreat to his hermitage in New Hampshire). I suspect it was because the military skills he learned there — and Valley Forge really was a military school in the 1930’s when he was a student, including classes in how to fire a machine gun, etc. — helped him get through the Normandy invasion and drive to the Rhine as admirably as he did.

Two questions for you, in Salinger’s memory:

Do you remember your first reading of Catcher in the Rye?

And in what ways, if any, do you think Ms. Rowling’s Harry Potter and all boy-novel protagonists inevitably are shades of Holden Caulfield, Salinger’s signature contribution to letters?

PotterCast #213: Potter Pundits Talk Luna

Your team of Potter Pundits — Travis Prinzi, Pepperdine’s James Thomas, and yours truly — sent in a ‘Luna Lovegood’ segment to the The Leaky Cauldron’s PotterCast and it aired this week. It was a lot of fun to record, which is a good thing because we got to do it three times, and the feedback from Fandom for this show, John Noe tells us, has been “excellent.” The show segment is several minutes into the program. Please share your thoughts about the program and about Luna here.