Sunday, July 03, 2005

Extremists say: 'Fictional white magic worse than 'real' black magic.'

` "Harry Potter?" she said. "No, I'm not into that devil-worshipping crap."
` I was shocked to hear those words. Then again, the person speaking was a mental patient.

` Nevertheless, I've seen some mental-hospital-free extremists protesting by loading Harry Potter books into a burning garbage can in their church parking lot.
` I think the sound of my eyes rolling could be heard from miles around.

Why would anyone demonstrate like this? Well, the 'Potter is Evil' material that I've read basically says this:

1) If you don't believe in God, you TRULY EVIL! God is the ONLY Being in existence who is good.
2) If you do not do a good deed while believing in God, it is NOT a good deed because God does not recognize you as a good person.
3) If you deal with Satan directly, things may start out okay, but eventually you will be screwed royally.
4) If you have another religion, you are TRULY DOUBLY EVIL! Since Satan is behind ALL OTHER religions, you can only be screwed royally.
5) If you practice witchcraft, you are THEREFORE REALLY, REALLY EVIL! You will be sorry when you become corrupted and evil and are burning in hell.

` See where this is going?

6) If you even THINK about witchcraft, or pretend to practice witchcraft, YOU ARE TURNING AWAY FROM THE ONLY GOOD ONE EVER.
7) If you think that white magic is 'good' because fantasy characters who practice white magic only use it to do good, you are being tricked because magic comes from Satan, the Evil One, and not God, the ONLY GOOD One.
8) Therefore, ANY magic AT ALL is EVIL!
9) Harry Potter is a fictional character who acts good but is not because he uses magic, which God decrees is evil.
10) Harry Potter is and EVIL character because he practices an abomination in the Eyes of the Lord.
11) Children might get the idea that it's okay to take magic lightly.
12) A few children (who probably have some sort of learning disorder) want to learn how to practice magic 'for real' because of Harry Potter and this HAS TO BE STOPPED BEFORE THEY FALL INTO THE CLUTCHES OF SATAN!

` I think that, seriously, such religious extremists - and children who don't know the difference between fantasy and reality - need to be reminded that MAGIC IS FICTIONAL: YOU COULDN'T TURN A HEDGEHOG INTO A TEACUP IF YOU WANTED TO!
` Most kids realize that things like magic and other supernatural stuff is just a tool that writers use to make neat stuff happen in their books. They don't mean to imply that it's real. That's why it's called

` As this article was still in 'draft' stage and I had forgotten to finish it, I don't say much in it myself, but I did write in a bunch of quotes from various writers:

` Joann K. Rowling herself has never in person met a child who actually thought all this was real - and she's met thousands of kids who were eager to see her! So... the number of kids who want to be witches and wizards because of her is probably not very high.

` I went to Judy Blume's website. She had much to say in her article: Is Harry Potter Evil?

'I'm not exactly unfamiliar with this line of thinking, having had various books of mine banned from schools over the last 20 years. In my books, it's reality that's seen as corrupting. With Harry Potter, the perceived danger is fantasy. After all, Harry and his classmates attend the celebrated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. According to certain adults, these stories teach witchcraft, sorcery and satanism. But hey, if it's not one "ism," it's another. I mean Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" has been targeted by censors for promoting New Ageism, and Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" for promoting racism. Gee, where does that leave the kids?...

...My husband and I like to reminisce about how, when we were 9, we read straight through L. Frank Baum's Oz series, books filled with wizards and witches. And you know what those subversive tales taught us? That we loved to read!

...At the rate we're going, I can imagine next year's headline: "'Goodnight Moon' Banned for Encouraging Children to Communicate With Furniture." And we all know where that can lead, don't we?'

Oh yes... tell me about it.

Moving on, John Monk had this to say:

They're great. They're wholesome. They're fun.

The Potter books combine the detective work of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, the mirthful wordplay of Dr. Seuss and the lampoon portraits of Charles Dickens. No author in the English language has displayed a more frolicking imagination since Lewis Caroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland.

Reviewers have aptly compared the Potter books to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings....

...Though set mostly in a wizard's world, the Potter books promote -- through their characters -- friendship, love, bravery, self-reliance, the importance of family and tolerance toward those different from us. They depict the quest for knowledge, wisdom and right action -- the universal journey every human takes. The books condemn bullies, falsity, rudeness, greed and Nazi-like tendencies to denigrate and hurt those who aren't like us.

Rowling doesn't sugarcoat. Her characters can die or fall by the wayside. They struggle within themselves. But no worthwhile book, the Bible included, has only plastic people. Life is played for keeps. Good books reflect that....

...Some claim the Potter books lure children into witchcraft. poppycock. you might as well say Gone With The Wind teaches young readers to be slave owners, or Treasure Island entices children to be pirates, or Peter Pan urges children to run away from home.

...It's understandable why some are upset at Harry Potter books. Many people just don't understand that writers use the supernatural as a prop. That's different from luring kids to the occult.

Monk also mentions that Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare, as well as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens use the supernatural in this way.

...But school officials, librarians and teachers must stand firm against any attempt to ban Potter books from S.C. classrooms or schools. This is a state where tens of thousands of children read below grade level. And Potter books are turning kids on to reading.

If we ban these books, a dark force stands to be unleashed. It's not the occult. It's ignorance...

He notes that Betsy Hearne, in Choosing Books for Children, a Common Sense Guide, writes:

'It's a lot more effective to join in reading what children are reading and to express reasoned opinions of what they're reading than to hide or confuscate their books.

"Partners can discuss books; dictators forbid them. Partnership breeds respect, dictatorship breeds rebellion. An open-book policy isn't just about theoretical rights of the child, it's what works best."

In conclusion:

If these books have magic in them, it's the magic of Shakespeare and Dickens and Lewis Carroll and Dr. Seuss.

Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers wrote this in Harry Potter's Magic is Real!

"Adults who object to Harry Potter's wizardry are right to feel threatened. Harry Potter is a magician of incredible power! He turns TV-watchers and video-game players into readers right under their parents' noses! Any small boy who can accomplish in one stroke what legions of well-meaning adults haven't been able to do is a small boy to be reckoned with. Maybe he SHOULD be banished!
` After all, do we want a country full of little bookworms smuggling flashlights under bedcovers? And after Harry Potter, what then? The doings at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can't continue forever and we all know where this kind of thing can lead. Just imagine hoardes of small book-readers sneaking off to places like Oz, or Camelot, or Lilliput, or Narnia. It bears some thinking about.

` You can read about Rowling from her own pen on her website (and play around with the shiny 'objects' there in a hunt for 'easter eggs'). It's got everything from 'outtakes' to the dispelling of a myth where, growing up, the boy she had known named Potter played wizards with her (I guess he was just trying to get attention).

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