Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What I don't get about Harry Potter

First of all: I'm a fan of the novels and movies - as should be obvious from my previous post on this topic. I really like the story and the characters (although I still favour Harry dying at the end of the last novel - that's such an interesting way to end a story). What I don't get about it is the reaction of some people - especially religious people.

I can at least grasp the basic principle behind damning the stories because of the magic. After all, the Roman-Catholic church did burn witches in the past, they obviously don't like magic at all (or maybe just women using it ... but your guess is as good as mine on this subject).

So I can, to a certain degree, understand why religious people might think that "Harry Potter" could convert people to Occultism or Satanism (although I don't see why ... in the novels you have to have a special talent to use magic, it's not as if everyone in the streets could do it). I don't agree with that idea, but I can understand where it comes from - or maybe some people just don't like bestsellers ... who knows?

But there seem to be people who draw a link between Harry Potter and Jesus.


Can Mr. Potter - as good as his magical abilities may be - walk on water? I don't think so.

Was he a virgin birth? Nope, the only virgin birth I've come across lately was Anakin Skywalker - but that's a different story.

Did he do or say anything that might link him to Jesus? Not when I last checked.

Yes, he does have a special place in the Wizarding World, both for being the first person who survived a fatal curse and for being the person who seemed to vanquish the Dark Lord Voldemort as a child. But that doesn't turn him into the Son of God. He's the son of James and Lily Potter, two more or less normal people (depending on whether you ask their friends in the Wizarding World or Lily Potter's sister Petunia and her family).

He also seems to be destined to either kill the Dark Lord one day or be killed by him (the prophecy would work both ways, more about the outcome of the story on Sunday, when I'm finished with the last novel). That does make him a hero, but a hero isn't necessary a divine being. While gods and demigods have always been portrayed as heroes (from Hercules, who's a demigod, over Thor, who's a god, to Beowulf, who's not divine, but nevertheless a superhuman hero), the same goes for normal people.

If I were a conservative Christian, I'd worry more about George Lucas' work: there are people who have turned "Jedi" into a religion. I haven't heard of any "Potterism" lately.

So why worry about it? Because there's a lot of people reading the novels? In that case "Discworldism" or "Middle-Eartism" (God, does that word look scary...) are just as likely to happen - and if I add TV programs and movies to the list, I could probably give you new religions enough for the next 2,000 years. But I won't. Play the game for yourself, if you want to.

"Harry Potter" has managed to pull a lot of kids and teenagers back towards books - and any book that can - in a time with that many other media - do that should really be cherished and not condemned. The story is good and still interesting after six novels - and for me interesting enough to count the days until I will be able to go to the bookstore of my choice and buy volume seven. The story has given many people who don't read that much a good reason to pick up a book every now and then. It has inspired five good movies by now - movies without the usual Hollywood actors (as the largest percentage of the actors in the movies is British, not American).

Novels are no reality, they are not supposed to be. They are fictional and only meant to entertain. Everybody who sees more in them should seriously consider talking to a psychologist.


Anonymous said...

Actually they burned men too. Please get your facts right.

Cay Reet... said...

Yes, I know they burned men as well, but in much smaller quantities.