Near Philadelphia? Hear John Speak

When: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 7:30 PM
Where: The Easttown Public Library in beautiful Berwyn, Pennsylvania (720 First Avenue)
What: ‘Taking Harry Seriously: Reading Harry Potter as English Literature’

I’ll be talking about how to get more out of reading the Harry Potter novels via an appreciation of some of Ms. Rowling’s literary devices (Five Keys, anyone?).

Deathly Hallows: Looking Back Three Months Later

It’s been almost three months since the phrenesis we all experienced in the weeks between Order of Phoenix: The Movie and the publication of Deathly Hallows this past July. What are your thoughts about the series finale now? For your convenience and to prompt your reflection on this question, I post the Thirty Threads on Deathly Hallows from the HogPro Archives. The most recent posts on thread #12 about the meaning of the three Hallows alone are worth a visit.

1. The Covers
2. The Opening Quotations from Aeschylus and Penn
3. The Christian Ending
4. Stoppered Death
5. Narrative Misdirection
6. The Hero’s Journey
7. The Rubedo
8. Postmodern Themes
9. Traditional Symbolism
10. Beheadings
11. Unrequited Love
12. The Horcruxes and Deathly Hallows
13. Ron’s Departure and Return
14. Transformations
15. Nazi Echoes
16. The Name Taboo
17. Phallic Phantasy?
18. Fairy Tales
19. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
20. Disappointed?
21. Philosopher Stone Echoes
22. Comparative Battle Scenes
23. Smuggling the Gospel Fallout
24. Three Controversial Points
25. John Granger at Prophecy 2007 and in Deathly Hallows?!
26. Struggling To Believe: The Dateline/Today Interviews
27. The Bloomsbury Chat
28. Opening and Closing Chapters
29. Arthuriana
30. Best Links for Deathly Hallows Commentary

The Boy Who Lived: A True Story of Harry’s Magic

Healing Words for a Premature Child‘ is a story that ran this morning on the front page of The Roanoke Times in Virginia. Long story short, an English teacher has a baby boy ten weeks premature (all of 3 lbs., 1 ounce). She decides to read to him, a barbie doll strapped in an incubator and to multiple tubes, and chooses a 4100 page series of books she’s always wanted to read but hadn’t had the time. If the results don’t move you, I suggest you seek counseling.

A more objective reader than myself, say that rara avis who has not read about or heard of the boy wizard, might say (a) it wasn’t Harry but the mother’s presence and love that helped the little guy and (b) other books would have done just as well. I will yield on the substantial part of (a) — mommy and her sacrificial love are the magic here — but (b) leaves me scratching my head. I cannot think of another book or series of books that would have engaged mommy and fostered her already overwhelming care for baby as the Harry Potter novels obviously did.

Narnia? The Lord of the Rings? Little Britches? Little House? C’mon. Ms. Rowling, writing as a mother about children, love, and death, has written a classic for all of us that I think must have special resonance for the hearts of readers in neo-natal emergency rooms.

Your comments and corrections, please.

The Hogwarts Professor Is In: Do You Have a Question for Ms. Rowling?

Thank you, Robert Trexler, for filling in for me here the past few weeks while I have been touring the West Coast, moving my family for the second time in three months, settling into a new routine, unpacking the library, and waiting – and waiting – for the home computer to go on-line. I have a bunch of thank-you notes to write tonight and tomorrow to my friends at Biola, Pepperdine, Church of the Mediator, and points East, West, North, and South before I can put up some Dante notes here and re-open Deathly Hallows for discussion. I am very flattered that folks have been writing regularly in my absence and am grateful to Bob for freshening the page with something new every few days when I couldn’t post. It’s great to be back.

I am putting together a list of 20 Questions this week that, in my dreams at least, I hope someday to ask Ms. Rowling. I cannot afford the time or the ticket to see her at Radio City Music Hall, but, on the off-chance that her house-elves surf Harry Potter fan sites (and that they haven’t given up on this one!), I want to post here the literary questions from serious readers that reporters won’t ask her and fans consumed by ‘shipping and their concerns about Ron’s future employment neglect. Please feel free to join me in putting together this list!

I doubt I would open with this question, but here’s a sample of what I’m looking for:

Question 1: The last three Harry Potter novels feature the deaths of characters named, sequentially, ‘Black’ (Sirius), ‘White’ (Albus Dumbledore), and ‘Red’ (fRed Weasley). The stages of the alchemical work are often distinguished by colors, which, sequentially, are black, white, and red. You commented in 1998 that you’d read a “ridiculous amount” of alchemy before writing this series and that alchemy set the “magical parameters” and “internal logic” of the books. Should we as readers play close attention to the colors you use in the Harry Potter novels with the attendant alchemical meanings of these colors?

Okay. Your turn. More tomorrow from me on other subjects, God willing.

Grateful John, delighted to be back with the HogPro All-Pros

Harry Potter in Durham

Here is a podcast from England. You should be able to click on the link below and then click on the center of the “UTube” box to view the podcast.

http://redirect.alexa.com/redirect?http%3A//www.catholic-tube.com/wp-content/plugins/tubepress/common/popup.php%3Fname%3DGodspeed%2521%252020070904-02%253A%2520Harry%2520Potter%2520in%2520Durham%26id%3D3whcwSprtgw%26w%3D424%26h%3D336

Of course, if I knew what I was doing, you wouldn’t have to see all this hodge-podge of words and symbols – but, if it works at all, I’m happy. The podcaster is a priest by the name of Father Roderick. Seems like a fun sort of chap to go sightseeing with.