Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter Kills God?

Figure this out and 'splain it to me. Apparently since J. K. Rowling doesn't mention God in any way in the Harry Potter books, she kills God.

To quote Lev Grossman from

"If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God.

Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind. He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn't. Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.

What does Harry have instead of God? Rowling's answer, at once glib and profound, is that Harry's power comes from love. This charming notion represents a cultural sea change. In the new millennium, magic comes not from God or nature or anything grander or more mystical than a mere human emotion. In choosing Rowling as the reigning dreamer of our era, we have chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred."

Such is the bias in favor of Abrahamic theism: not mentioning it is being against it. Either you're an enthusiastic proponent, or your the enemy.

I've not read a word of the Harry Potter series, so I don't have a dog in this fight; I don't like the books, I don't dislike them. Though I am actually all in favor of books that try to pry young minds free from the grip of theism...but I hardly see that not mentioning the theory at all is a very good way of doing that.

For a touchstone here we might think of C. S. Lewis's Narnia series. The best parent I've ever met--the guy really is the Paradigm Parent, I'm not kidding--is hoping his daughter won't read Narnia because, he says (and I agree) it's basically a crypto-Christian fable that aims to help reinforce Christian templates in young minds. Compared to that, at least, no mentioning the theory of Abrahamic theism one way or the other seems...well, pretty darned neutral

When it comes right down to it, I really don't have a big problem with sensible versions of theism sensibly held; but this kind of ridiculous insistence that everyone who doesn't actively proselytize for the view is out to kill it is the kind of thing that gives me a low opinion of Abrahamic theism and many of its proponents.


Blogger Random Michelle K said...

Umm... It's FANTASY for Pete's sake!

Fantasy, as in NOT happening in our world.

Why are some people completely incapable of recognizing fantasy for what it is? Did this person also complain about Lord of the Rings? Or Star Wars? Or A Series of Unfortunate Events?


Michelle K (An Avid Fantasy Reader)

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having just finished Hitchen's book, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisions Everything," I regret that this article had not come out sooner or Hitchens' book later.

Oh, and because I do not wish them to die I would like to mention my mother, my life partner, my siblings, grandparents, and the multitude of others that I both am and am not acquainted with.

2:06 AM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

I have been pulled from my lurking status to comment on this. As mentioned above the books are a fantasy! I have read every book an enjoyed them greatly, the books are not meant to be real the are fictional, got it? Fictional, they tell a great story about a young boy and his friends that are growing up in a world increasingly full of death , it is a story about how they come to terms with this and the fact that not a single one of them is perfect, a point made even more clear in the 7th book as we learn that some of the leaders many have come to love were not such great people at points in their lives.

So what if she doesn't mention God. She still makes a great point about the need for friends and the fact that we all have flaws. Many of the people who are attacking her books could learn a great deal from this women.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy has gotten so hung up on the little details that he is missing the big picture.

So what if the books don't shove Christianity (or any other religion) down the readers' throats? They are still full of moral ideas and lessons.

There are constant themes about not judging people on who or what they are, but by their actions towards others. There are reoccuiring mentions of the power of friendship and love and helping those that are less fortunate you.

When you get right down to it, these are things that Jesus preached about left and right. Just because the Ten Commandments were not posted in Hogwarts doesn't mean that JKR excluded God.

8:56 PM  

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