Rita Skeeter Covers the Vatican

The most frequently requested article from the old Hogwarts Professor site after “Obviously Dumbledore is not Jesus” has been this piece on the scandalous use of the Pope by Canadian Harry Haters and Culture Warriors the day before Half-Blood Prince was released. I re-print it now in anticipation of similar shameful efforts in the third week of July this year. Harry Potter is a phenomenon those who style themselves latter-day Savonarolas almost certainly will not let pass without a volley and flourish.

“Pope Opposes Harry Potter”? Hardly.
Michael O’Brien and the Kuby Letters: Rita Skeeter covers the Vatican

A Time Line and Commentary on the Kuby Letters, supposedly written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), on the subject of the Harry Potter novels written by Joanne Rowling.

February, 2003:

The story begins at the press conference releasing the Pontifical Council on Culture and Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue’s of “Vatican statement on New Age Religions’ Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life (A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”). [Read more…]

The Interlibrum and Fandom after July 21st

A very good friend, Sandra Miesel, wrote me last night to let me know that there was a new entry in the Harry Potter speculative genre by an English scientist and science fiction writer:The End of Harry Potter by David Langford. Sandra is the only person I know who is expert in all things Medieval and in what goes on in the world of science fiction and fantasy literature. Reading the reviews of David Langford’s book, it seems to be more than Mugglenet’s entry in this field, or Galadriel Walter’s or W. Frederick Zimmerman’s. I have a hard time seeing how any of these can be better than or even as good as Janet Scott Batchler’s What Will Harry Do? The Unofficial Guide to Payoffs and Possibilities in Book 7 but I love everything Janet writes (if we rarely agree on things in the books).

I edited a collection in this field, of course, Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? (Zossima Press, 2007) and I hope you’ll buy that book if you only buy one book of this set. Fortunately for Zossima Press, the reviews for WKAD? on the Amazon.com page suggest it may indeed be the best of the lot, written by a variety of serious readers using very different speculative approaches for an audience of serious readers.

All these books have one thing in common, though besides looking beneath the surface of Half-Blood Prince to try to figure out what will happen in Deathly Hallows. What they all share is a future that is a dead-end. They will all be collector’s items and curiousities on July 22nd.

Who but PhD candidates in English, obsessive fans and collectors, or readers who like to laugh at the mistakes of Know-It-Alls will buy these books when Deathly Hallows is published? Not me. I expect to see them sold on eBay at a steep discount and with few takers come August. [Read more…]

Good Question: How did Dumbledore Know?

The only person I know (I’m sure there are many others; I don’t get out much) who argues seriously that Snape is indeed what he seems, a BAD, make that EVIL character, and doesn’t leave me shaking my head is Nathan Coblentz. Please read his notes on the Scar-o-Scope theory and after the Dumbledore as Christ figure essays for his insights. If he is right, of course, Nathan will have the great majority of us forever at his “I told you so!” mercy.

Nathan wrote me last week about something which, quite honestly, never struck me as important or mysterious before (though I think Joyce Odell, the Red Hen, mentions it more than once in her essays). Dumbledore knows about what happened at Godric’s Hollow the night Hagrid brings baby Harry to Privet Drive. How does he know? Did someone tell him? Was he there himself? Here is what Nathan wrote:

Hi John,

After going around and around in circles with people about Snape (I
haven’t changed my mind, but that’s neither here nor there), I’ve
found myself delving furthur and furthur into the mystery of what
happened at Godric’s Hollow and am wondering what your thoughts are.
The huge, unanswered question for me is how could Dumbledore possibly
have have known what happened so shortly after the fact? [Read more…]

Zossima Press News

My friend at Zossima Press just called me to say that Hidden Key to Harry Potter is now back in print and personalized, autographed copies of this almost facsimile edition and Who Killed Albus Dumbledore?are shipping daily. Unlocking Harry Potter is going to the publishing juggurnaut, who will be sending us copies for autographs and shipping by February 21, five months to the day before Deathly Hallows appears.

You can order them all here.

Is it a Puzzle or a Mystery?

Malcolm Gladwell at The New Yorker wrote an illuminating piece about the Enron Scandal called ‘Open Secret: Enron, Intelligence, and the Perils of Too Much Information.’ The article is well worth reading in its own right; it makes several of the points Ms. Rowling is trying to drive home about the absurdity of our shared confidence in the news media and what is “public knowledge.” I bring it up here in the context of Harry Potter speculation, though, because of a distinction Mr. Gladwell makes between what is a puzzle and what is a mystery. The question I want to ask you all is: Is the Harry Potter conundrum a puzzle or a mystery?

Here is the relevant section of the longer New Yorker article:

The national-security expert Gregory Treverton has famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are a puzzle. We can’t find him because we don’t have enough information. The key to the puzzle will probably come from someone close to bin Laden, and until we can find that source bin Laden will remain at large.

The problem of what would happen in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein was, by contrast, a mystery. It wasn‚Äôt a question that had a simple, factual answer. Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much. The C.I.A. had a position on what a post-invasion Iraq would look like, and so did the Pentagon and the State Department and Colin Powell and Dick Cheney and any number of political scientists and journalists and think-tank fellows. For that matter, so did every cabdriver in Baghdad. [Read more…]