Thursday, August 1, 2019

My Harry Potter Rant

A couple of weeks ago, I finished HP book number 3, The Prisoner Of Azkaban. I read the first two books years ago and had no desire to read it further, because I formed a certain opinion about this whole book series. Then somehow I decided that may be, I was just prejudiced and should give it another try, so I did.

Here are my honest thoughts on the subject. First, I really can't understand how any serious Christian can give this or other HP books to his minor children. It's a book about witchcraft, sorcery and incantations, and boys and girls learning how to be witches and wizards. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live comes to mind immediately. Just like with so many other things, modern Christians will find any number of reasons why it's actually OK for us. As someone wrote, it's not wrong to read about it because you aren't actually doing it. I wonder if they use the same reasoning about p0rn?

This said, what really baffles me is how folks described HP series as "the best books they've ever read". I mean like really? Because I've read much better books in my life, including children's books. It's like somebody comparing his experiences at McDonald's to fine dining. The author was praised for creating "a whole magic universe". But what do we see of it? It's mostly about a boarding school (probably of the sort the writer herself attended, that's why she could describe it so well). There is very little outside of it.(May be there is more as the series progress but I honestly have no desire to find out).

A magic village is mentioned many times and the kids are allowed to visit it. It's the only village in the whole of UK fully free of "muggles" and what do we learn about it? It has a great candy shop! That's about all. The rest is all school, teachers, students, exams and playing sports. It's actually a very artificial environment with only a hint at the normal family life and conflicts which are inevitably connected with living in society so there is little psychological development of any sort. The chief conflict is between Harry's sportsball team and that of Slytherin and between Harry and his friends vs Professor Snape, who is mean, we all get it.

Dementors aren't really explained, either. Not every grown up can defend himself against them, but the Ministry of Magic has no problem moving them here and there. Also, the story doesn't really develop until the last third or so of the book, where (I will admit), it does get interesting. The main moral lesson appears to be that death penalty is bad because someone can get falsely accused. I could read the same in the Guardian and it would cost me less time.

There is a reason why these  books have become the world bestsellers and were made into movies and it's not because they are the best thing ever written. (Frankly, I find them quite mediocre). In my opinion, there are actually two reasons for this. First, the biggest book and film market is, of course, the USA, and lots of folks there are raving mad about anything British, especially if it hints at "upper class British", "aristocracy", "royalty" and stuff like that. It has been milked for all it's worth lately with shows like Downton Abbey, royal weddings and such.

The second reason is much more nefarious. Someone has decided to promote this particular series of books for kids which shows witchcraft as fun and normal people as boring. Someone invested lots of money into marketing campaign for the books which essentially attack one of the tenets of Christianity. Should we be surprised? Me, I'm only surprised that so many Christians fell for it.


  1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! I read the first three books and couldn't stomach anymore as they are so poorly written with totally inane dialogue. Some find virtues in them, but I couldn't. And the "magic" is inconsistent, strong sometimes and weak sometimes. The power of Jesus Christ is consistent and will beat, win, or rule over the power of Satan every time! It is difficult enough to fight against Satan without inviting him into our lives through poorly written books.

  2. Amen, sister! I can understand that kids like these books, but I read somewhere that about 1/3 of them are actually sold to people over 30 (if not 35). Apparently, millennials are big fans.

  3. Housewife OutdoorsAugust 2, 2019 at 1:20 AM

    I have read all Harry Potter books. I find them entertaining but nothing more and they are not worth second reading. Mind you, I have read my favourite Alistair McLeans propably 20 times, so if I say a book is not worth second reading, it is really very mediocre.

    When it comes to fantasy, I prefer actualy fantasy that has nothing from our world. You now, Lord of the Rings, the Belgariad, that sort of thing where the whole universe is different. Adding wizards and such to our modern world is always so clumsy. Rowlings language is also rather dull and narrow. She does not write that well.

    BTW I have understood you Sanne like LOTR. How about the wizards there? And elves have magical powers, too. Do you condemn LOTR, too? Tolkien was devoted catholic, I have read.

  4. I think so many kids loved them because school is (usually) boring and a magic school sounds way more cool. But in real life, most children don't go to a boarding school and they come home after lessons and interact with more people than just a couple of teachers. Most children's books also show adventures outside school environment, like the Famous Five by Enid Blyton.

    As for LOTR, I think it's different because wizards were some kind of incarnate angels and their wizardry was just demonstrating their innate powers, and the same goes about Elves who are immortal, too.

    I have no problem with stories depicting witchcraft as long as they show it as something wrong, definitely when practiced by humans.

  5. Tolkien's books are also much better written, even The Hobbit. I actually like The Hobbit most of all.

    However, to be fair to J.K. Rowling, her books are still head and shoulders above the story about a shining vampire Edward. Those were so horrible, I couldn't even finish the first one. Yet, THEY became bestsellers, too.

  6. My kids read the books in their middle grade years (ages 11-13). I've only ever read the first one and while I was not particularly enamored with the writing, we took a position pretty similar to this one:

    Also, though I definitely see your point -now- about humans practicing it, at the time I didn't really consider the books as all that different from reading Tolkien or Lewis because good triumphed over evil in the end. what's done is done now, but I still appreciate the opportunity to consider or reconsider our position.

    Someone here mentioned Twilight, which we did not allow because of the overtly sexual overtones we understood the books contained.

  7. C. S. Lewis is probably borderline in some things. I never really cared for the way Narnia series ended, with 3 out of 4 children dying in a train crash at such a young age (imagine how their parents felt!) and Susan being left out because she gets normal girly interests of her age.

    Yet, C.S. Lewis made a distinction between "magic" (he calls the Creator's laws "the Emperor's magic" in his books), and witchcraft. His real problem was that he didn't really believe such thing as witchcraft existed. He mentions it in one of his (adult) books as something superstitious people believed in.

    Of course, as the society gets less Christian, we all realise now that, yes, such things do exist and can be incredibly spiritually damaging. I've heard testimonies of the young men who got involved in this stuff and later became Christians and they all say the same: don't ever try anything of the sort, you'll regret it bitterly.

    And yes, I did mean Twilight. If something, it was much worse than HP as it showed a human girl marrying an unclean undead "person" as the triumph of love. My mother called it sick and I agree with her.

    On the other hand, while many kids became interested in witchcraft due to HP, I doubt many teenage girls started dating vampires, for the lack of them:)

  8. Housewife OutdoorsAugust 5, 2019 at 4:55 AM

    This is really very interesting subject. I have never even thought about that fiction could be harmful in any away. Though I did not read "50 shades of grey", I very strongly felt I do not want that sort of stuff to my system.

    How about fantasy novels with invented gods? You know, the book takes place in totally imaginary world and has several imaginary gods? "The Belgariad" comes to my mind again: pseudo-medieval fantasy world with 7 gods: one evil/fallen one and one "high-god". You know, little bit like ancient Greek mythology. (There were also lots of wizzards. They got their power from their own god, if I recall correctly).

    My gut feeling is reading that sort of book is not harmful because it so clearly has nothing to do with OUR world. So there is no way people can get confuced with what is wrong and what is right. And the morals in those books are healthy. But my gut feeling can, of course, be wrong.

    And of course there is difference wether the reader is adult or child/teenager.

  9. Books are probably less harmful than movies because (I heard it somewhere) our brain has difficulty distinguishing between real and fake imagery, i.e. whatever our eyes see, the brain will register as "real" while reading a book always requires a certain degree of abstraction. That's why video material is such a powerful tool of propaganda. Take flat earth e.g. Most people who converted to this point of view say it happened because they were watching YouTube videos, not from reading a website or a discussion.

    I can't really say anything about a series of books I've never read. An adult should figure for himself where his threshold lies. It's different with children because they usually lack intellectual capacities, discernment and experience of grown-ups and tend to take things a bit too literally. I would suggest if you have kids, may be educate yourself about their reading choices unless you are sure the book is perfectly harmless, like Winnie-The-Pooh?

  10. Post Alley CrackpotAugust 6, 2019 at 11:55 PM

    "It has a great candy shop!"

    I think you have to be familiar with Yorkshire to get that particular in-reference easily ...

    BBC Travel -- "The strange story of Britain's oldest sweet

    There may in fact be no Muggles in Pontefract or even the whole of Wakefield. :-)

    "... unless you are sure the book is perfectly harmless, like Winnie-The-Pooh ..."

    Says you -- I had an unhealthy relationship with pots of honey for years!

    I still can't look at a little Tiptree jar of Manuka honey from New Zealand without a little voice telling me, "Oh, it's just a bit over a quid, it's not like you're going to drop eighty pounds again on a huge tub of South Island Manuka, izzit?"

    But really, nothing is really and truly harmless. :-)

  11. Well if you really wish to dig this deep into about promoting open borders and pathological altruism??? Still like it tho:)