11.01.2008

Reading and Commentary

If any one reading this hasn't read the following article by a Harvard student, I highly recommend it:

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ... or, as the Creative Minority Report (my source) titled their reference to it, "Conservative is the New Gay".

This student writes with an appreciable empathy toward the conservatives who find that, as she puts it, "Life is hard in the closet. It’s dark, and there are never enough hangers." As a member of the online Harry Potter fandom, which is dominated by groups like The Harry Potter Alliance—which does a lot of good, on the one hand, and then weighs against that by pushing a radical liberal agenda in the name of all things Potter—I know what it is to find myself wondering when, or whether, to push my way out of the wardrobe and let myself be known for a Daughter of Eve.

... weird it may be, but I'm probably one of the few conservatives who might actually be comforted by a rainbow blanket and Elton John music quietly playing. I love bright colors and sappy Disney-type love songs. It's not my fault if they've been reappropriated. "Caaaaaaaaaaan you feeeeeeeeeeeeel the loooooooooooooooooove toniiiiiiiiiiiight …"

* * *

Many thanks to The Hog's Head for the link to this article regarding Richard Dawkins' plan to write a book about 'science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking.'

Of course Dawkins loves Pullman. Pullman was writing against the Church and says so bluntly. But what would Dawkins do with Harry Potter?

What would he do with Harry 'dying' a figurative death in each of the first six books in the presence of a Christ-symbol? (Harry's out cold for three days the first time—even Lewis only put Aslan under overnight.)

What would he do with the scene where Harry approaches a pool of water, wearing, around his neck, a locket containing a great evil? Harry sees a "cross-shaped object" lying at the bottom of the pool, a silver sword which can destroy the evil he's wearing; he jumps into the pool to get the sword, is nearly strangled and drowned by the evil, and has to be rescued by his best friend, who jumps into the pool with him, gets the sword, breaks the evil chain, and saves his life. Doesn't that sound too much like baptism for the atheist mind to tolerate?

What would Dawkins do with the poignant scene in the seventh book where Harry walks into the forest to lay down his life willingly for the lives of his friends?

What would Richard Dawkins do with Harry Potter? Pardon me while I go roll around on the floor laughing ...

But what in the world is he on about, thinking that fairy tales about frogs and princes have an 'insidious effect on rationality'? My mother 'established herself as a truth-telling thing', as G.K. Chesterton says, and she said the many novels I read were 'pretend' and I believed her. When I read Narnia at age 7, I knew it was not a 'true' story in the sense of following actual historical events. Of course, later I grew to understand the senses in which Narnia was and is a true story, and perhaps that is the very thing a man like Dawkins finds so dangerous.

I'll have to disagree, sir. I think it's our best hope for sanity.

* * *

The Internet Monk's (no, he's not Catholic) Annual Halloween Rant

I loved Halloween growing up, even though technically we didn't celebrate it. My family would shut off all the lights in the house and take a pan of warm brownies and some milk to a back room, where we'd play a game (yes, we'd light a lamp if necessary) or watch a movie during the trick-or-treating hours. What kid wouldn't love that? We loved it so much that we often did similar things throughout the year.

When Lou and I have children, should God grant us that blessed gift, I plan on doing the family-night thing at least once a month. Maybe once a week! Perhaps I'll take them trick-or-treating on Halloween. It seems important to me that children learn to face fears, and Halloween—depending on the kid—might be a safe environment in which to learn that our fears are often ugly masks that come at us in the dark, with little or no substance behind. We'll see. I certainly respect the opinion of those who choose not to participate in the Halloween festivities, but likewise I respect the iMonk's position. He's a good man and a good writer. This post of his, on trusting God as father, is also well worth a read, as are his everyday blogging efforts.

Lou and I ran out of candy by 8:00 PM last night, having manifestly underestimated the number of children who would pass by our house. They came in groups of five, seven, ten at times. Apparently, little toddling ones, stumping about on our front porch holding up tiny hands and staring with giant hopeful eyes, make me cry.

* * *

Other things also make me cry, like Alessandro Manzoni's The Betrothed.

Lou bought that book on our honeymoon—we went into a bookshop in Victoria and got souvenirs of the best sort: books. (He got me Elizabeth Goudge's Little White Horse, which is now one of my favorite novels.) He finished Manzoni's book a couple of weeks ago and obligingly told me it had a happy ending, though warning me it was rough getting there.

Crying over a book is not necessarily a bad thing. Tears come to my eyes every time I read the ending of Little White Horse. But my poor blessed husband had to clean me up big-time after The Betrothed. There were scenes of deep and desperate sadness throughout the book, especially toward the end, one of which really got at my heart. Then there came [spoiler alert] a word from a very Godly priest, full of a very holy truth which pierces the soul of anyone who loves, who happens to think on such things:

"And you, Renzo... remember this: If the Church now gives you back this companion in life" [the young man's bride had to be freed from an obligation under which she'd placed herself] "she does not do so to provide you with a temporal and earthly happiness, which, even if perfect in its kind and without any admixture of bitterness, must still furnish a great sorrow when the time comes for you to leave each other; she does so to set you both on the road to that happiness which has no end. Love each other as fellow-travelers on that road, remembering that you must part someday, and hoping to be reunited later for all time."

I told Lou he's not allowed to die any time soon. He promised. God grant it may be so! But of course I can't boss God around and no earthly happiness is guaranteed. All we can do is live as Father Cristoforo advised Renzo and Lucia. And now I am going to do my part and make my own dear man some dinner.

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