Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet the Story Seems So Familiar

You know, when crazy southern Baptist preachers get all apoplectic about Harry Potter, that's one thing. They're supposed to be nuts. But when the Catholic Church gets all up in Harry Potter's grill, well, I will not be silent (caution to the one person left on the planet who hasn't read the HP series -- THERE BE SPOILERS HERE):

This week the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published two essays examining "The Double Face of Harry Potter." The essays may placate religious hardliners, but could rub many younger Catholics the wrong way.

The essays juxtapose the views of University of Florence literature critic Edoardo Rialti, who does not like the series, and Catholic essayist and doctor Paolo Gulisano, who does.

In his essay, Rialti concludes that Cardinal Ratzinger (the Pope's old handle) was right to fear the "subtle seductions" of the series, as he wrote in a 2003 letter to Potter-hater Gabriele Kuby. Since the series portrays sorcery as a positive force and encourages trickery, Rialti says, it blurs the line between good and evil


The Harry Potter series is about a boy with magical powers - sometimes referred to by the other characters as the "Chosen One" - who at the tale's end willingly sacrifices his life at the hand of the "Dark Lord" - a villain whom the author associates with all kinds of serpent imagery - only to come back from the dead to conquer the Dark Lord, allowing humanity to live free from his evil interference.

Oh - and the chapter that describes what happens while Harry is dead is titled "King's Cross".

I think there's an allegory in there, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps the Vatican might have better luck finding it, if it tried a little harder.

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