A Chestertonian Rebuke to Catholic Harry Haters: On Human Beings and Magic in J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Sean Dailey, editor of Gilbert magazine, home of the best in Chesterton studies and Chestertonian reflections on our times, has responded to a recent outbreak of Harry Hating in the world of American Catholics (most notably, a reprinted rant of a Star Chamber priest and yet another EWTN talk with the ever amiable Michael O’Brien, who shares his insight that unrepentant Potter Philes are secretly addicted to their “spiritual pornography”). Mr. Dailey takes the high road in his retort by addressing the usual tack of Catholic culture warriors with a Rowling fixation, namely, their assertion that human beings don’t play with magic in real fantasy literature, by which they mean The Lord of the Rings. The argument he makes is cogent and has the added benefit of taking you to the American Chesterton Society website for a visit. Enjoy the counter-argument to the usual tripe and the time spent abroad among civilized people.


  1. Thanks for this link.

    I wanted to check – is this from Sean P Daley correct?

    “Dumbledore’s grand and misguided scheme for Snape to gain mastery of the Elder Wand backfires when Draco gets there first and disarms Dumbledore. ”

    I gathered that Dumbledore intended to die in possession of the elder wand and at Snape’s hand, but – because he would not use the EW to defend himself this meant that the wand’s power would be lost (not transferred to Snape, because snape had not actually defeated him – merely killed him).

    But because D was surprised by Malfoy and disarmed by him (expelliarmus) the ownership of the EW was instead transferred to Malfoy, because he *had* defeated Dumbledore.

    So that Dumbledore did *not* have a ‘grand and misguided’ scheme for Snape to gain mastery of the EW (which would have been a silly idea anyway, since if Voldemort discovered this – as he did – then V would kill S – as he did.)

    Am I right?


    That aside, from my own experience, I think that the Harry Potter series is easy to misinterpret, because the surface is all about what you term a ‘postmodern’ ethic – tolerance, diversity, villains as obvious Nazi parallels, values of kindness and friendship etc. Standard mass media/ soap opera/ chat show stuff.

    It is teh deep and implicit level (becoming more explicit through the series until with the second part of the Deathly Hallows it is almost explcit – but not quite.

    JKR is always honest in her interviews – but there is a lot she leaves unsaid, and the unsaid parts are the non-postmodern (non-politically correct) undercurrents of the books (e.g. the reality of the soul, life after death, love/ charity/ agape the vital motivation in life, damnation due to pride – as the worst of sins [not cruelty nor prejudice, as it is for PC]) – but these are the deepest and most important elements.

    So I can understand how some people ‘get’ the apparently modernist anti-Christian superficiality, while missing the truly Christian reality of the series. I was one of those people!

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