Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This instant classic of a series first caught my attention when I was in the third grade, reading a borrowed copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban in my crowded school auditorium. (And yes, I admit it, I started the series out of order.) Since then, I've read the entire saga at least three times, and separate books even more often. I admit I have a special place in my heart for The Order of the Phoenix in particular. In writing this entire series, J.K. Rowling has created a sort of parallel universe in which magic thrives and things we write off as impossible are, on the contrary, very possible. Moreover, she creates real, plausible and relatable characters, and intertwines pop culture and history along with current events into the principal theme of good versus evil.

Of course, that's not enough for some people who can't get past the plotline of Harry and his friends attending wizarding school. Apparently, there's a lot of Group B activity going on in the movements to ban this book- parents in the U.S. believed these books were "evil" and "twisted" and recruited children to the occult. One mother in an Atlanta, GA suburb went on a vendetta to ban the books from the entire county school district, saying that they promote evil and foster the kind of culture where school shootings happen. According to her this would not happen if the kids were assigned the Bible. (Little does she know that a) the Bible itself is a banned book and b) schools cannot assign books of any particular religion when many are represented. It could be seen as an attempt to convert Jews, Muslims, etc. to Christianity.)

There was also an online petition (perhaps one of many) I discovered in my search, as well as a book burning in New Mexico spearheaded by a sermon by Pastor Jack Brock, who said the books were "satanic" and taught children to take up wizardry. Sounds like the normal Bible-beating nonsense some churches like to come up with in order to trap their followers. If you read anything other than "good, pure, wholesome" dreck, you're being lured by Satan, and we can't have that. Brock himself admits he's never read the books, only researched the contents, but he's championing the destruction of a work of art. Fundamentalism at its very best (worst?).

In my eyes, far from being a lure for children to the dark side, Harry Potter is and has been a wonderful read for years. Rowling is a fantastic writer, and she has spun a gorgeous tale that has gotten kids interested in reading again. I only hope she will continue writing in the future.

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