Skip to comments.Harry Potter and the Chair of Peter (Lead us not into temptation has meaning to Benedict XVI.)
Posted on 07/13/2005 11:29:36 PM PDT by nickcarraway
News was abuzz, as news ought to be, about how Pope Benedict, a.k.a. Cardinal Ratzinger, speciously abetted derisory comments toward one Potter, comma, Harry as a threat to Christianity as we know it. I can just imagine the headlines: Is the blacklist back? Are those Catholics ex-communicating authors? Is the Christian Right going to protest the Potter films? When does the book-burning begin? You would think children would soon have scarlet P's etched into their chests.
There's a benefit to mystifying liberals with, well, mysticism. They become silly, not afraid, when faced with what they do not understand, and adherence to dogma and Christian doctrine is a decent enough catalyst. What the liberal has typically offered in light of Vatican denouncements has been that the holy men themselves have gone silly and cannot stand the sight of that which they do not understand. The reporting of the affair belies astonishment. The Church! Taking a stand?! Round and round they go, and Benedict is bereft of the prospect of writing book reviews for the New Yorker.
Yet the Pope wasn't speaking ex-cathedra, nor nasally threatening to add J.K. Rowling to his "list." Simply put, Benedict's response was even predictable. I just interviewed the Pope, at least in my head, and the pinnacle of my questioning resulted in this: Mr. Most-Notable-Christian-Leader, what do you think of a children's book that forgoes conventional morality, God's grace, and divine intervention, in favor of witchcraft and magic, often with relativist undertones? And should I have bothered with the question?
In March 2003, when Benedict wasn't the "Pope who was a Hitler youth," but rather the "Dogmatic Enforcer," the then-Cardinal noted to an author critical of the young magician:
It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.
If only he had explained "subtle seduction." A holdover we have from John Stuart Mill and Darwin is the naive thought that the stronger idea will survive, and if immorality appears in the Goblet of Fire or elsewhere, nascent Christian souls will be nowhere harmed from exposure -- they will only become stronger. An odd argument when criminal acts are attributed to the influence of the neighborhood, and not the individual. If we are to accept that criminals often come from weak families, we accept that negative influences take their toll. Harry Potter may not exactly lead young Jimmy into a lake of fire, but it is not a reach to say that it could without guidance detract from the Church's message -- just as a child watching Desperate Housewives might get the wrong idea about what marriage is really like.
In Paradise Lost, Milton's Satan is a seductive character contrasting the bland Son of God, but the comparison isn't lost on the author nor the informed reader. Satan, as all evil, is supposed to be seductive. One must resist temptation to sin -- that is, when occasion faces him with it. It's commendable when people stare down evil and resist, but preferable not to have them do it -- after all, human will is often frail. Sir Thomas More says to an overly ambitious Richard Rich in the film A Man for All Seasons, "Man should not go where he will be tempted." Richard Rich went, got tempted, perjured himself, and got More beheaded. So much for Mr. Mill. And so much for liberals who would sooner say that on the whole, exposure was better for Rich. Tell that to More's daughter.
Yes, the Potter books have the kids reading in their spare time, which is enough for some to settle for. Ironically, this argument was ridiculed by its own progenitors once a deal had been struck for movie rights based on the books. And they follow a long, wonderful tradition of fables the kids can enjoy. But if the Potter books are on loan to help forge a Christian child's soul, without its being informed by the moral lessons of Christ, then how would they not be seductive? Put another way, what would encourage a child to accept God when the tales he hears involve other children overcoming problems by using powers they themselves hold?
That is the Pope's business, to worry about what might intervene in a child's relationship with the Church and God. I would rather he do it than Joycelyn Elders, Janet Reno, or Sandra Day O'Connor. Even if you dissented (which is allowed, regardless of what the New York Times tells you), he brings up a point so few are willing to heed: you are influenced by what you choose to experience, so choose carefully -- which does not directly translate to being "close-minded." It simply means, do not go where you may be tempted. Strength does not necessarily follow temptation.
J. Peter Freire is a Journalism Fellow with The American Spectator under a grant from the Collegiate Network.
Um... competent parenting? Demonizing the Harry Potter series is utter nonsense. What's next, the Wizard *gasp* of Oz? Superman, Spiderman? There are far, far bigger fish to fry in the culture/morality war.
I'm not a Catholic and I totally disagree with some of their doctrinal stances, including those related to the Pope, but I am so glad that there is a conservative Pope who will not give into cultural whims. The way people are attempting to liberalize and water down the Gospel is parallel to the people who are trying to water down the Constitution. And usually, the same people are the culprits in both religion and politics.
They are the moral relativists, the liberals, the secular humanists who find the thought of any absolutes abhorrent, close minded, backwards, and bigoted. I am so proud of the Pope for standing up for truth, convictions, and standing tall against the movement towards absolute relativism. I wish many Protestant denominations who fallen victim to this push for liberalization would return to the truths that Christ taught and those that are found in the Bible.
The Bible gives life, but it is not living in the sense that it changes with the times. Sure, just like the Constitution, it is applicable through time, but it was not intended to be interpreted in a different way every year to keep up with what is popular or the cultural fad of the day. If it is watered down, then there really is no truth, and without absolute truth, the documents, whether the Bible or the Constitution becoming meaningless. The power will no longer rest in the document itself, but in the hands of the humanists who mold it to fit their agenda. We must stand up against moral relativism in religion and politics.
Three big cheers for Pope Benedict.
VIBRATING Potter Nimbus 2000
I also want to clarify that I have never read a Harry Potter book and therefore am not in the place to say whether this specific decree has merit in my opinion. I just am impressed by the Pope's boldness and open defiance of the moral relativists. And in no way do I think (without having read them) that these books should be banned from libraries. Warnings are good, bans and censors are not.
Thank you! I read this stupid article twice. What are these people going to advocate next -- burn books. I have seen the Harry Potter movies and they are for entertainment something I guess we are not supposed to have anymore.
What's with Catholics and books -- should clean up their own house and quit worrying about what book someone is going to read. The Harry Potter books have gotten some kids to read that didn't like to read and now they have gone on to other books.
These are stories of wizards and the bad guys -- sure glad kids are smarter than some of these editorial writers think. Why does a work of fiction have to evolve into something serious -- aren't kids allowed to read or go to a movie for enjoyment without someone trying to find a hidden meaning.
Maybe some folks better watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the Nazi's were burning books! I am tired of the thought police!
Here's another thread with lots of discussion:
Pope Opposes Harry Potter Novels - Signed Letters from Cardinal Ratzinger Now Online
Even if the HP books weren't promoting selfish slime, they'd still be poorly written two dimensional tripe.
I have read the books, seen the movies, and my youngest daughter is looking forward to going to Borders at midnight to get the next book in the series. The books are entertaining -- guess I am not into the mode of looking for hidden meanings and neither are my kids. We all like to read -- have two in college and one in the Navy who is married and all three of them enjoy reading various types of books as I do.
Personally getting tired of the thought police. Any child that can read these books as they are lengthy is old enough to understand they are FICTION.
Guess maybe there should have been a warning on Nancy Drew books when I grew up because they had some bad guys in them and I should have looked for a hidden meaning when growing up.
If you haven't guessed, I am less than impressed with this author's take.
There's no reason to equate reasoned criticism with book burning.
In the old days parents and educators understood that childrens' characters and moral sense can be wrongly influenced by what they read, see, hear and who they hang out with.
I have read two of the HP books very carefully and not only are they very poorly written, they inculcate amoral selfish power tripping. They have a dark side which is detrimental. I am not speaking from a sectarian point of view at all; but if you read these books and compare them to really good childrens' literature you'll see what I mean.
Now that I read the whole article carefully I got it. Too late at night to read sarcasm and "get it"!
Just to clarify, my comments weren't at all meant to bash Catholics or the Pope. I get equally irked, moreso perhaps, by similar nonsense from Protestants/Evangelicals.
A liberal source, surely. They are only rotten shit.
I get fed up with the whole bunch of them as well! I am getting tired of being told that what I enjoying reading or my kids enjoy reading is bad for them. I have a son who is a graduate assistant at OU who is teaching Comp I and graduated from the Honors College a year ago with a 3.9 GPA, another daughter who has a 3.6 GPA, and another one that is in the Navy and finishing her degree -- all love to read various types of books and all have enjoyed Harry Potter.
Did the late pope ever address Harry Potter?
I really like the new Pope,but get over this, it is just a novel. It is fiction. Like Fairy Tales. Ever read The Brother's Grimm?
What's next? Bookburning in the public Square?
The Da Vinci Code is just a good summer read, IT IS A NOVEL, and not a very good one at that.
FOUCAULD'S PENDULUM by Umberto Eco: the thinking man's DVC.
a.k.a. = also known as
I'm not Catholic, but shouldn't that "a.k.a." instead be "formerly known as"?
You're right. However, I can see what the author is doing. He's mocking the MSM's continued refusal to acknowledge that once he became Pope, Benedict XVI ceased to be "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger."
Imagine, if you will, the howls of protest from the MSM if Fox started referring to their favorite "political prisoner" as "...Mumia Abu Jamal, a.k.a. ______"
I read DVC and found it a fast read witha somewhat interesting mystery tale.
The fact that Dan Brown says that it is historically true don't make it so.
There is no evidence whatsoever of Leonardo being connected to the "Priory of Zion" , no evidence whatsoever that the figure next to Jesus in the Last Supper was Mary Magdalen. The figure is a conventional depiction of the time of James, the disciple, who is always portrayed with long hair and is slight and sensitive looking.
The reality beyond DVC is a lot of hooey.
Foucauld's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, on the other hand, is a masterful work. I am sure that Brown lifted a lot from it.
I didn't particularly like the first book, so therefore haven't read the series, although the movies were pretty good tales. I can see why people like the books.
On the other hand, I have twice been in borders when children with their mothers were buying Potter books AND books on Wicca, witchcraft, etc. There ARE people who are influenced unduly by books, and I suspect more of them are children.
I don't believe Rowling wrote an intentionally anti-Christian book. As I understand it, she was mostly writing to get herself off welfare (an admirable ambition) and simply made up a good story. Awarning that the books can be difficult for a young person to handle is not a cry for censorship.
And Mom likes it, too!
Stop the presses everyone, the CONSPIRACY has been uncovered!! </sarc>
From the letters posted on the other thread, some woman who wrote a book (Harry Potter -- Good or Evil) sent a complimentary copy to Ratzinger, who thanked her, said some polite things and advised her to send it to someone at the Pontifical Council on Culture. Doesn't sound like he ever read the books, and it certainly wasn't a spontaneous statement. But she got what she wanted and wrote again to ask if she could make his first letter public.
I don't think anyone demonized HP. I think they did say that HP can blur the lines between good/evil. And it is true. The worldview of the HP series is different than our own. It's a world of witches, demons, magical powers, darkness, etc. In short, it is an occult worldview.
And if I simultaneously teach an occult worldview is both good and bad, have I not blurred something?
Note: If you run out of material, write a Harry Potter vs The Church article. People will fawn all over you like you are a genius.
I'm rereading them now. They are a comic book without art. Not bad or nefarious. Just not great literature as some believe.
Bears repeating, especially when he starts labeling literature as subversive.
Sadly I'd be more concerned over my child coming in contact with a priest than a HP book. Just what the heck do they think sexual abuse does to a childs soul...alot more damage to the victims spirituality than a fairytale book on magic. And yet they put more effort into keeping a book from a child than a queer pedophile....go figure.
I'm betting he never said any such thing.
"Harry Potter and the Chair of Peter."
When does that one come out? :^D
I have this theory that this is one Pope who will never escape his birth name, at least in the secularist community. RATzinger is simply too delicious for insult and parody.
Wow! What an amazing leap of logic. Whereas the article points out that Benedict merely voiced an opinion that the books may not be beneficial, you leap to imagining him leading a global book-burning orgy of hate.
Next time, wait 'til those meds kick in before you resume writing.
I was just going to say that while these books may not be Christian they have a double helping of good vs evil, and I certainly don't have a problem with that.
I WISH they had some religion because it saddens me that Harry can have no hope of ever meeting his parents or Sirius Black (his Godfather(how can you have a godfather, or Christmas for that matter, without God?)) in Heaven. It leads to a lot of depression on his part IMO.
You should see the abuse that gets heaped on the Chronicles of Narnia: Promoting child sexual abuse, drug abuse, underage drinking, paganism, sun worshipping...
I won't read DVC. It is designed to tear down and mislead. Harry is about good and evil and friendship. Apples and Oranges. And you'll know them by their fruits.
Perhaps you should of read the article a third time:
Is the blacklist back? Are those Catholics ex-communicating authors? Is the Christian Right going to protest the Potter films? When does the book-burning begin? You would think children would soon have scarlet P's etched into their chests.Seems as though the author has you pegged.
There ARE ancient stories about wiccans and methods of ingesting hallucinogens that supposedly led to the stories about flying broomsticks.
Harry Potter is the age-old battle between good and evil, and teaches a LOT of good things such as friendship, trust, self-confidence, standing up to bullies, etc. There is no blurring.
It's a world of witches, demons, magical powers, darkness, etc. In short, it is an occult worldview. And if I simultaneously teach an occult worldview is both good and bad, have I not blurred something?
It's fiction, fantasy! Occult? C'mon, we live in the 21st century, not 1692 Salem, Mass.
I suppose CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien are both authors who wrote similar books of the "occult?" No, they get a pass. Why? Because personally they were know Christians, so everyone says the Good-v-Evil stories of their books are somehow Christian-themed, whereas JK Rowling hasn't expressed any devout Christian faith, so her similarly-themed books must be of the occult.
Get a grip, toots.
Nancy Drew was an evil seductress who should have stayed home and baked cookies for the Hardy Boys.
Are you kidding? Tens of thousands of little kids were in Hitler Youth because they were heavily pressured to be. Haven't you read anything about this Pope?
You think the Pope has no right to make a statement or have an opinion about a book?