Mailbag: Links for Serious Readers and Gift Givers

Riddled With Gilt: Gilded Books for the Lover of Truth and Beauty on your Gift List (especially if you have extra gold for such things!)

The Harry Potter Alliance has a Gift Shop! Who knew?’s ‘Best Literature and Fiction’ Top 10 List for 2010. I’m confident Mockingjay outsold each and every one and the Deathly Hallows paperback outsold the lot combined. ‘Best Fiction,’ though, means ‘Best Selling Psychological/Literary genre piece.’ Go figure.

The new Hunger Games? Matched, published today and an Amazon best seller right out of the gate, features a girl-two-guy threesome, a dystopian setting, and a movie deal with Disney (just in case it’s the new Twilight, too).

Jesus Potter, Harry Christ is a book that “reveals” that Jesus of Nazareth was just a literary figure in the same sense that Harry is a Christ figure. A new low, I think, but remarkable how far we have come from Harry being the anti-Christ and gateway to the occult. Punk atheists now use Harry as their means to assert that Jesus of Nazareth is a fiction…

My oldest daughter, Hannah, the one who as an 11 year old made me read Sorcerer’s Stone one night so I could explain to her why we don’t read trash like this, won the Three Legged Stool Award at VMI.


  1. “The book will end with a conclusion…” –JPHC website

    Too bad; I was hoping for something more groundbreaking. Why don’t we have more authors boldly ending their books with an introduction?

  2. I thought we were just getting extra buzz about Matched in my neck of the woods, where the author is from, but I guess it’s bigger than that. There was an interview in our paper about the book and the author briefly touched on the Hunger Games comparison. (But no one mentioned that other two guys and girl story written by a BYU grad):
    Too bad she didn’t include wizards…. then we could have had a Mormon dystopian wizarding love triangle story. It looked interesting enough though from what I’ve read of it on Google books.

  3. Congrats to Hannah!!!! I don’t know where the last four years have gone, but I’m glad your VMI senior has put them to amazing use, Professor. May Hannah’s legacy encourage all who strive for excellence in life. Blessings on the Granger family!!!

  4. Well, I couldn’t resist gifting myself one copy of “Matched” after reading this post! When the house is in order and all gifts are wrapped….oh, who am I kidding??? I’ll be diving into the story before the night is over!!!!!

  5. “Jesus Potter, Harry Christ” seems to think it’s more likely that 2,000 years ago someone picked up JK Rowling’s classic and made Jesus like him, rather than a Christian wrote Harry Potter to be Christlike? OF COURSE if Harry is a Christ figure, then he and Jesus will have similar stories. That book makes me think it’s easier to get published than I once imagined.

    P.S. Author, I spent 9th grade learning how Jesus fits perfectly into Joseph Campbell’s Voyage of the Hero, and 10th grade reconciling to myself how God would be a story God and people would have a need to tell stories that sort of tell about what Jesus actually did. (Does that make sense? I guess I spent 9th grade learning “the facts” from my agnostic professor and 10th grade decided that Jesus doesn’t FIT the template, he IS the template)

  6. The author of ‘Jesus Potter, Harry Christ’ asserts that my comments about him above, specifically “punk atheist,” are “hurtful” and incorrect; his arguments against the historical reality of Jesus Christ are based on the existence of a “just, fair, good God” and he is not a punk because “I’ve put seven years of research into my heavily supported 150,000 word manuscript” and “I’m a doctoral candidate for Christ’s sakes.”

    I do not know the man and I have not read his book. I will stand by “punk atheist,” nonetheless, because the man’s arguments as presented in his promotional materials exist only to undermine the cornerstone of the world’s predominant faith and he offers this dismissive assault in an intentionally blasphemous and demeaning package. Please note, too, that he chooses to attack that religious faith that turns the other cheek rather than the one that issues fatwahs and beheads its critics.

    Investment of time, length of manuscript, and having been accepted at a graduate school do not make the poor man or his assertions any more creditable or less pitiable. “Punk atheist” is only “hurtful” because it is on target; as skeptical Schopenhauer wrote, “A reproach can only hurt if it hits the mark. Whoever knows that he does not deserve a reproach can treat it with contempt.”

  7. John,

    I just read (skimmed parts of, read most) his blog entry. I am sure you’ve written on it before, but where can I find evidence to the contrary of him saying that “Harry says, If not you, who? If not now, when? Harry takes full responsibility for this world. God (Dumbledore) is dead; and there is no one else to stop the evil in the world except us.”

    I know in the last book Harry is trying to follow God’s will for his life, but suddenly God is an absent figure that he has to struggle to believe in. In the end, he does. But at 6:22 (PST) in the morning, it’s hard to formulate a good comeback.

  8. Harry “struggles to believe” in Deathly Hallows and returns to his faith in God/Dumbledore when he is saved by the Eye/I in the mirror, Who sends Dobby as savior and Shell Cottage deliverer to the prisoners in the Malfoy Manor basement.

    This is a miracle on one level — Harry has to deal with the empirical fact that he asked for help and received it — but we find out later that it wasn’t Dumbledore/God that Harry thought but brother Dumbledore/bartender. This revelation, however, does not undermine Harry’s faith because it is the recognition/reflection of the love within him that is greater than his persona and ego concerns, a love that he sees externally in Dobby’s sacrificial death, that he knows is God, transcendent and other, albeit within him.

    Hence his interior dialogue after his sacrificial ‘death’ with the illumined Dumbledore/God in Logos Land, in the “inside bigger than the outside.” Punk atheists cannot grasp any of this because the divine to them is entirely external, devotional, and cartoonish (God looks like Dumbledore, right? old man with white beard…) in the revealed religions they despise but profound and meaningful in nature and those people they like, their individual, impersonal, and non-demanding ‘truth, beauty, and goodness.’

    That isn’t the ego-God Harry struggles to believe in. The God Harry eventually recognizes and accepts in the dominion/kingdom within him, the very demanding love that isn’t he yet is within and greater than he as the origin and cause of his existence, is the Christ-Logos. Again, it’s Coleridge (see the post of a week or so back on Ring Composition) and the natural theology that is something of the spine in English fantasy.

    The poor young man in Taipei says he and I are just two people “pandering to different audiences.” I know I am not pandering to you, Rochelle, or to anyone, but the remark does reveal the value and aim of my counterpart’s work. I for one regret having made my initial comment because, as I feared, that is exactly the kind of attention the tar-baby wants.

    Thank you, though, for your thoughtful question. Good morning, West Coast!

  9. Now that it’s nearer afternoon here, and thanks to your response (thanks, John!), I feel clearer on the issue.

    To the part I quoted: “If not you, who?” Harry, yes, believes that it is only himself who can save the world. But his friends are constantly proving the contrary. To save the world, horcruxes needed to be destroyed. Harry destroyed the diary; Dumbledore the ring; Ron the necklace; Hermione the cup; Goyle (or was it Crabbe?) the diadem; Neville the snake; Harry his scar. “If not you, then your friends.”

    “If not now, when?” Well Dumbledore has known from at least book 2 what needed to be done to destroy Voldy. It took research and preparation. Jeremiah 29:11… followed immediately by Habakkuk 2:3. Together I think they make a whole thought: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord [Dumbledore?], ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (NIV I think for Jeremiah, NLT for Habakkuk) “If not now, when the time is right.”

    “Harry takes full responsibility for this world.” Yes, but he shouldn’t. Dumbledore, Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid, at least, tell him time and time again that they are in this together. In DH, after being rescued, he tries to leave the burrow to set out alone. He can’t, because he only wishes he could take full responsibility for this world. He is a Christ figure, but not Christ, so he is imperfect. He forgets to note that even Jesus had twelve people who helped him out in different ways, if only by praying for him (in the Garden of Gethsemane).

    “God (Dumbledore) is dead; and there is no one else to stop the evil in this world except us.” Except us, the eye/I mentioned (which I’m honestly still trying to work out as a concept; it seems a blurry line between having the holy spirit within us and the existential thought that all are God), our friends, and even God. Though he is far away and can no longer be contacted, we have the memoir of Elphias Doge, we have everything Dumbledore’s taught Harry, even to some extent Rita Skeeter’s book teaches Harry about “God.” And then, of course, we have Harry’s real conversation that takes place in his head. Dumbledore is no longer in the flesh, which is what makes DH become a story about a struggle to believe. Harry has come down from living in the same kingdom as Dumbledore and now has the same struggle of faith we all have.

    /sigh. I feel much better about my ability to stand on my own two literary criticism feet, now that I’ve been awake longer than 10 minutes.

    P.S. I had to look up “pandering.” I understood the gist, but its actual implications make it an interesting word choice to describe one’s relation with an audience.

  10. Since Matched has been marketed as The Hunger Games for Twilight fans, I would be interested in reading your thoughts on whether the Matched trilogy is intellectually deeper than a superficial endeavor to capitalize on recent YA trends.

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