8.02.2007

New Silhouette Post

My article for this month is in here at Silhouette. Happy reading to those who choose to check it out :-)

The article did not come easy this time, perhaps because with the other pieces I had a distinctive idea that I felt strongly about. This one feels a bit more random, and I edited it quite a bit for overstatement.

Maybe I should start taking ideas for next month now, instead of putting it off till the last weekend again. Anybody have suggestions? Feel free to use the comment box!

8 comments:

  1. Hi! Sorry I had to leave so early without responded to you about the Harry Potter thing. I went I vacation. Now, do you want to talk about it???

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  2. Sorry you had to come back to my blog to get my response, Jennifer.

    Wow, I'm not exactly sure what to think, but I do have to gather my thoughts a little bit more. I kind of have to go right now too. I'll have something for you in a little bit...

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  3. Hmm... Jennifer, I have what I was going to say, but with what you are telling me, I'm still trying to decide if I should defend my ideas or go down defenseless. I think I will check out the links you gave me before I do anything else.

    I have some question though. That interview with JKR- Is there someplace on the internet I can go to read it? And what Bible verses were in the 7th book? Thanks.

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  4. Haha... This is funny. You finally found out my age! Don't worry about tuning down your debate level though; I'll finally have something to back up my opionion once I check out the interview and some other things. Thanks. GOD bless.

    RC Hammer

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  5. Just to let you know that I am still taking part in our debate; I've working on a response. I was working on it yesterday, and I hope to continue working on it today. I'm adding all of the facts that I can come up with (while trying to make them make sense.) That's why it's taking so long.

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  6. OK, I'm just about to post my part in the debate. Don't be imtimidated. It's a long one!

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  7. Jennifer, everything you have told me has really got me thinking. If you get all of the facts and compare together, they both say something different- It’s like everything I know on this topic is on a different side. The first side is that Harry supports witchcraft, and the other side says he doesn’t. And no matter how much you analyze the information, they keep coming back to the same roots, the roots that disagree with each other. Now, I’m not exactly sure that you know what I mean, so I will give you a few examples.

    JKR uses Bible verses in her 7th book, which probably means she supports the Bible and it’s ideas. But then, the Bible does say no sorcery, and if she really believes GOD’s word, why would she disobey it by making the hero of her mega series a sorcerer?

    Another example is, some Wiccans don’t think Harry has anything to do with the Craft (the comments you showed me.) But I’ve found that others do believe Harry Potter fans the flame of witchcraft. How about this: “it is good to see that the best selling series of books in the Western world is such a positive tale about witches and wizards.” -The Children of Artemis (a witchcraft and Wicca web site (http://www.witchcraft.org/pastnews.html)) That Wiccan certainly made it clear that he believes that Potter supports Wicca.

    Those are just a few of the “examples” that I have been pondering.

    Out of all of my pondering, however, even though things are a little bit mysterious and double sided, I think I am going to stick to my conclusion that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft (primarily to children). I’m not saying I have anything against Rowling, and I’m not claiming that she is what she isn’t. I just think that she has accidentally created a series that, like it or not, makes magic look like an ideal practice to many people. I’m not even saying that she intends this. Even if she writes of “unreal witchcraft”, I think it could still spark an interest of real magic in her fans, which could then lead to them looking up magic on the computer or in the library… Which could lead to a chain of unfortunate events. The way I see it, the books make magic look like a fun and harmless practice , one that’s ideal to check out. And the books make muggles look like sad, unenlightened people, who are left out of the light. (To be fare, I will have to say that there are some Muggle exceptions. )

    Now, I think you understand what I’m getting at, but I’m sure you have some objections. How about, “You have no real proof that people get inspired to do magic through HP, RC!” Well, gospel singer, Christian Berdahl and his wife, Coby took a video camera and microphone to Stadium 12 in Lodi California, to interview those who just saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as a documentary on Harry Potter. This is just one interview they took, but the results in this are surprising.

    While videotape was rolling, Coby asked some questions of an upper class mother, her 12-year-old son and her 16-year-old daughter about the Harry Potter movie they had just seen.

    Coby: “Did you like the movie?”
    Son: “Oh, yeah it was cool.”
    Daughter: “Yeah, cool.”
    Mother: “It was fun… it was fine.”

    Coby: “What did you like most about it?”
    Son: “All the magic and stuff… you could like get even and get back at people who you didn’t like or something.”
    Daughter: “Yeah, the magic… It would be cool to have powers like that.”

    Coby: “What does mom think about all of this?”
    Mother: “Oh, it’s fine and harmless fun for kids… I mean the books are great and my kids enjoy reading them. And they are both reading the same books and we are able to talk about them… so I like that.”

    Coby: “If there was a real Hogwarts School would you want to go?”
    Son: “Oh, yeah!!
    Daughter: “Yeah, I’d go too!!”

    Coby: “Since you have been reading about this stuff, have you ever tried magic or learning spells?”
    Mother: “Oh NO!”
    Daughter: “Yeah, I…”
    Mother interrupting: “BETTER NOT!!!”

    The daughter smiled and shrugged at Coby as the mother said, “Let’s go!”

    This is one of many others interviews that day…

    I have some more incidents where kids have been inspired by Harry Potter. (These are kind of scattered from all over but) many kids have told how they are mesmerized by Harry (if you want the links just ask me). How about these:

    “I like what they learned there (at Hogwarts) and I want to be a witch.”
    - Gioia Bishop, ten years old

    “I thought the story really made you feel like you could be a witch or wizard.”
    -Lily, eleven years old

    “I think Harry Potter is absolutely fine!… I like how they (Harry and his friends) can use witchcraft for fun/good purposes.”
    -Devon, eleven years old

    “The book made me want to go to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is a school for teaching magic. I would like to learn magic, but I haven’t gotten my invitation yet.”
    -posted on www.amazon.co.uk, age unknown

    “I wish Hogwarts were real because then I could go and learn magic instead of quadratic equations.”
    -Mairead, thirteen years old

    This kind of curiosity (in my opinion) could lead to kids stumbling upon real magic and real witchcraft. The promise to learn magic just like their hero, Harry Potter, would do the trick. You see what I mean by “unreal magic leading to real magic?”

    Even if JK Rowling is what she claims, and her books “meaning” are what she claims, there are still way to many things considerable for me.

    This next part has less to do with my topic, but I thought I would back up what I said about Rowling doing “research” in some references to Wicca. These are some… minor details.

    Do you remember in Order of the Phoenix when Arthur Weasley is attacked by Voldemort and rushed to the hospital? Harry goes there and…

    “Arthur Weasley?” said the witch, running her finger down a long list in front of her.

    “Yes, first floor, second door on the right. Dai Llewellyn ward.”

    Hmm… Dai Llewellyn ward? Did you know that Llewellyn is the name of one of the largest publishers in the modern world! I question why JK would research that just to put such a bold reference to Wicca in her book? Or maybe she didn’t research it. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Hmm… Don’t know.

    How about this. In the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry gets a list of books that he is required to pick up for Hogwarts. The list:
    The Standard book of Spells (Grade one) by Miranda Goshawk
    A History of Magic by Bethilda Bagshot
    Magical Theory by Aldabert Waffling
    One Thousand Magical Herbas and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
    Magical Drafts and Potions by Aresenius Jigger

    Aldabert Waffling… Sounds like a nice name. Wait! He’s a real person. Yes, Waffling was a French pseudo-mystic who claimed to foretell the future and read thoughts. He also did plenty of other nasty things like giving away parings of his nails and locks of his hair as powerful charms and building an alter… FOR HIMSELF!!! Again, I find it strange that JK would put this in her book if she claims she has nothing to do with the Craft. But, that doesn’t really prove anything at all. I’ll use one more example of real references to witchcraft.

    Near the end of Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry and Dumbledore have a conversation:

    “But your friends-Nicholas Flamel-”

    “Oh, you know about Nicholas?” said Dumbledore, sounding quite delighted.

    Nicholas was a real person. He was a French Alchemist who is said to have successfully made the Philosopher’s Stone in the late 1300’s. Many alchemist believe that since he created the stone, he has never died. This is mysterious to me. Why would things like this be in the books? I’m not accusing JK at all. Just as you have giving me things to think about and consider, I am giving you things to think about and consider. Yes, these examples mean nothing now, but what if they really do? It’s just a lot to ponder. I mean, really, why research these things and put them in books that assumingly are about “unreal magic.” I don’t know.

    I have strayed very far from my original topic in these last few paragraphs, so let me remind you of the one thing that I am saying: Unreal magic (in the books), can make HP fans have the desire to learn real magic. This, undoubtedly can lead them to falling into Wicca and becoming witches and wizards, who perform spells, like, of course, Harry Potter. I believe this is happening today, and the results are strong. This is my side of the debate.

    With that said, I don’t really have much left to say. I know I have been pushing my ideas very hard… When you are a 12-year-old Muggle (I’ll be 13 this September!) you have to consider everything! Forgive me for any spelling or grammar mistakes. I hope you understand my concept. -RC Hammer

    Fiction is like a spider web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible. -Virginia Woolf (I882-1941); British Novelist, Essayist

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  8. RC, first I want to let you know that I'm quite impressed by how well you have thought this through. I also think that we can agree to disagree about this, and that is fine. But I would like to respond to some of what you said, particularly since you posted it on my blog, as there are people reading my blog that might be concerned by some of what you mentioned.

    First of all, I do not deny that JK Rowling did some research on magic. Rather, I think that was necessary in creating the type of fantasy world she created. As a matter of fact, I did a certain amount of research myself because of the accusations made against the books, and in the process learned about Nicolas Flamel. She makes references to several real people and events, most of which are either entrenched in legend or rather unlikely to begin with. The most common, and perhaps the best-known, of the names she uses in the books is to the Merlin of Arthurian legend. The point here is that she is using myth, not reality.

    With Adalbert Waffling, whose name is mentioned as an author of a book, my research tells me that there is a fair amount of unknown in his story. I will not claim conclusive proof by use of the internet this late at night, but as far as I can tell, Waffling was a heretic spoken of only in the letters of St. Boniface, and his last name isn't too certain. Again: myth, not reality.

    As a matter of fact, despite the superficial references, the very nature of the wizardry in Harry's world bears no connection at its root to real witchcraft. I went to the link you gave me and honestly it looks like whoever wrote that didn't bother to read the books. Frankly, it sounded exactly like Laura Mallory, only from the opposite perspective.

    Witchcraft and other pagan religions, at least in modern form, are spiritism and naturism. That is clearly portrayed at the link you gave me. Wiccans, as I understand it, traditionally believe that "all paths [religions] are equally valid"; however, as a group they have a goddess or god-and-goddess-based theology. The occult in general is based around either nature worship or spirit worship or both. You will find none of this in Harry Potter. (I don't know if you read my Silhouette post on Harry Potter, but as I said there, Rowling actually pokes fun openly at things like fortune-telling, a practice to which plenty of superstitious people in America give credence.)

    What you have in Harry Potter is a sort of combination between science and super-power. Children have an inherited genetic ability to perform magic (Muggle-born kids with magic have a witch or wizard in their ancestry somewhere). It is taught in Hogwarts and other magic schools like we would learn math and science and history and art. Kids at Hogwarts also do not celebrate Wiccan holidays like Imbolg and Samhain; they celebrate Christmas and Easter (though the Christian background of those holidays is not stated openly--again, Rowling is not making an evangelical campaign out of her stories).

    That there are some children who check into real magic because of Harry Potter, I admit--yes, I do. I have several thoughts on this. First, as the teenage witch whose articles I read pointed out, people who come into paganism because they read Harry Potter or watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch don't stick around; they drop out when they realize they're not going to be learning telepathy, etc.

    Second, you argue specifically that there is a natural drift for young people reading Harry Potter into looking up real magick and thereby becoming interested in it, finally winding up involved. There's a certain sensationalism around magic and always has been, but I think the tradition towards vague paganism in Western culture has more to do with societal disenchantment with both God and atheism and less to do with any particular influence. People drifting into paganism that way are not people lovingly devoted to Jesus Christ. Paganism is like agnosticism and Buddhism and any of the other things people go to looking for peace. We believe Christianity is above these other things simply because as Christians we believe that God made the first move toward us.

    Third: the examples you cite, presumably from the book you picked up, look very much to me like they have either been lifted from context or gotten as a result of asking leading questions. The family interviewed directly by Coby sounded a bit messed up, to be sure, but asking a kid if they'd like to go to Hogwarts? If Hogwarts was a real place as described in Harry Potter, I'd go! It sounds like fun--much more fun, to me at least, than learning quadratic equations :-P But you will not find me attempting to join the local coven, not even to dance before the moon in a white dress (or whatever they do). Hogwarts has nothing to do with reality, and it does not contain the problems that Judeo-Christian traditions (the Bible and the Church) have with actual witchcraft.

    Finally, the failure to distinguish between reality and fantasy is the fault of management and education, not J.K. Rowling's books. Kids today have far too much access to information of all sorts, and without the wise direction that prevents them from improperly understanding what they hear. As you'll know if you've read my other Potter-related posts, I do not recommend these books for very young children; neither, I might add, does Ms. Rowling herself. (I can get you the link for this interview if you want it.) As a matter of fact, there are a lot of books I wouldn't give to small children with full freedom, including parts of the Bible.

    That kids read Harry Potter and do not know the difference between that imaginary world and weird websites they find on the Internet is a gross error on the part of their parents. That it ever happens in a Christian family is a travesty. Unfortunately, neither I nor Ms. Rowling have the ability to stop people from being stupid.

    I would never want to lead a child astray, so let me say again, clearly and unashamedly: Children should not have free access to things beyond their powers of discernment without the guidance of someone wise and mature. The Harry Potter books are PG books.

    That said, however: even though the Harry's world uses alchemical imagery, the basic principles inside it are generally in alignment with Christianity, not paganism. The idea of an ultimate, clearly delineated good and evil; the emphasis on courage, love, loyalty, self-sacrifice and trust; the value of repentance and choosing good, and the obvious parallels that are drawn, particularly in the last book--all these things say to me that these are books for Christians to read and read wisely, not to ban merely out of contention over terms.

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