John’s Speaking Schedule: The HogPro Speaks!

Have you heard the song “Online” in which the geeky nerd puffs himself up into a virtual reality hunk on his MySpace page? I suspect folks who come to hear me speak after reading posts at Hogwarts Professor have something like a blind-date nightmare experience when they discover I’m a short man who looks a little too much like a house-elf with a mustache and bow-tie. Maybe one of the reasons people are so kind in saying I am a great speaker after I talk is that I greatly exceeded their expectations that had collapsed when they first saw me at the podium?

If you don’t want to risk that roller-coaster ride, you can hear me speak without the video element at Ancient Faith Radio’s Illumined Heart program. I did an interview there last month with Steve McMeans and two students at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute that covered a lot of ground about the status of the Controversy in the Christian community concerning the Potter novels. The folks at Ancient Faith just posted it today as an audio file you can listen to from the Internet. Please give it a listen and post your review here. I haven’t heard it so I look forward to learning from y’all where I misspoke.

If you would like to hear me speak and aren’t afraid of the Dobby Effect, my dates for this month and next include: [Read more…]

Best Prognosticator before Deathly Hallows: Nominations, Please!

Now that the dust has settled, the children have torn and discarded the cover to your copy of Deathly Hallows, and the discussion has moved on to the literary merits and sources of the Harry Potter novels, let’s close the door on the speculative madness of the Interlibrum period with nominations for the Best Prognosticator, pre-Deathly Hallows. Millions of us thought and wrote for two years about what we thought had to happen in the series finale. Who do you think did the best job now that we have the real thing? I offer the following three categories for your nominations. Please write your arguments in support of your candidate(s) or some explanation:

(1) Best Speculator: Who stretched your thinking into areas you never expected to explore? Who consistently drove you back to the books for another look at the text because you couldn’t believe you missed the detail this writer thought was a telling one? So what if their theories proved not just wrong but absurdly wrong or just barely wrong; where did you go when you wanted to read something you knew would be based on clear thinking, an excellent grasp of canon, and a certain wildness?

(2) Biggest Bulls Eye: Who hit the nail on the head with a Deathly Hallows prediction? Extra points for being all alone with the theory, for being there first with a canon-proof argument, and for being considered way-out-in-left-field for the guess.

(3) Weirdest Speculation and Oddest Review: What was the strangest idea you read pre-Deathly Hallows of how the series would end? (No shipping, please; it’s a family site…) What idea before and review after Deathly Hallows made you pinch yourself and ask if you were living on the same planet and reading the same books as the speculator/reviewer?

HyperLinks, of course, are much appreciated so the HogPro All-Pro Panel of Judges can see the context of your nominations and verify the evidence of your arguments.

My nominations for your comments and corrections are: [Read more…]

“Judging Harry Potter” by Fr. Alfonso Aguilar, LC

The National Catholic Register has published an article about Harry Potter by a priest in the Legionary of Christ who teaches philosophy at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. “Judging Harry Potter” by Fr. Alfonso Aguilar, LC, takes a position much like Michael O’Brien’s with respect to Ms. Rowling’s novels; he believes they are essentially godless, beyond a pale pantheism, and that they foster a gnostic perspective on the world. He applauds certain values that can be found in the books but finds their worldview disturbing enough to say they would be dangerous for those not having a strong spiritual formation.

I do not doubt that Fr. Alfonso is a thoughtful, pious man. His recommendations show a great desire, even a zeal, to recommend the prudential course and to avoid the possibility that any potential harm be overlooked. His training as a scholastic philosopher is evident in the organization and flavor of his arguments.

He gives cause to wonder about the depth or quality of his thinking, even of his ability to discern the values and meaning of arguments, however, when he writes (after noting that the President of the International Association of Exorcists does not like the books): [Read more…]

Dobby and Harry: Disciple and Savior?

Two things made me think of Dobby today. First, the discussion on the Alan Jacobs thread about Harry as a Christ Figure left out Dobby’s relationship with Harry, which, frankly, borders on the messianic. We don’t see other house-elves devoted to their masters the way Dobby is to Harry Potter. Second, a short piece sent to me by HogPro All-Pro, Deborah Chan that I’ve posted below. Note the references to the Book of Revelations hidden in Dobby’s burial: [Read more…]

Alan Jacobs: Harry Potter is not a Christ Figure

Wheaton College’s Alan Jacobs has written a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for Christianity Today’s Books and Culture magazine called “The Youngest Brother’s Tale.” (Hat tip to Karl!) It is well worth reading and I look forward to reading your thoughts about his perspective and comments.

My first impression is that Prof. Jacobs goes out of his way to be both laudatory and patronizing in this review. I suspect this will become a preferred posture among the academic mavens of literature because it will allow them to admire Ms. Rowling’s accomplishment without having to admit it to the Halls of Serious Literature above and beyond the dumpsters of fascinating Cultural Artifacts. Prof. Jacobs’ celebration of the books as cliched writing and penny dreadful “kid lit” done very well achieves something like what the New York Times’ creating a Childrens’ Book Best Seller List did: isolating Harry in a lesser category of reading for applause appropriate to this lesser fare. Parents applaud a Nutcracker performance with their children in it with as many decibels as an audience of real ballet aficionados applaud the real Nutcracker at the Balshoi — but there is a difference, even if both dramas receive standing ovations. And the difference is that the kids’ dancing was great only for kids’ dancing.

His comment about Harry as a Christ figure is telling so I’ll quote it at length: [Read more…]