I Am a Genius: listen to my words

I Have the Conch

listen to my words

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

On Religion and Fantasy

With the release of a new Harry Potter movie comes a new string of antichrists… er… anti-free speech, anti-freedom of religion, and anti-intelligent preachers who think that the self-purporting fictional account of an imaginary boy in an imaginary place is going to damn the entire world to hell. In my mind, the one type of person equates to the other. It is fundamentally antichristian to burn books in this way. I mean, Christ didn’t deny access to other ways of thinking. He merely encouraged all to listen to the truth. As far as I can tell, my reading of the New Testament shows Christ trying to teach wholesome truths and helping people live positively. I really only recall one time (twice, depending on how you concordinate the gospels) when Christ actually attacked people. It was not on the grounds of religious differences. It was about the desecration of the holy temple.

The popular opposition to the Harry Potter books mystifies me. It does a tremendous amount of damage: it teaches hate and intolerance to children, and tells them that reading is bad. In many ways, it tells children they are bad. Most children do not have the sophistication to separate an evaluation of themselves from an evaluation of the things they like. Heck, many adults don’t have that level of sophistication (see book-burning preachers).

It also confounds me that Harry Potter in particular gets singled out. Tolkien doesn’t. Jordan doesn’t. Feist, Brooks, Zimmerman, and LeGuin don’t. Much of this is particularly odd. Tolkien was Catholic, and therefore anathema to start with for much of the non-Catholic Christian world, but at least his themes are very “biblical” in nature. Jordan deals with non-Christian deities, even as protagonists. Zimmerman was a pagan in every Christian use of the word (and it shows clearly in her work). Most of these authors sell at least at a comparable level to Rowling.

Granted, Rowling is the only one on my list here that writes for a child audience, but if that’s their reasoning, then I have to go back to my other question of whether the book or the book burners are doing more damage to the young ones.

Now, it is not unknown to anyone who reads my material that I am a fan of the fantasy genre. Works like Legend and Krull annoy me not because they’re bad but because they’re bad fantasy (see also the animated movies based on Tolkien’s works). So perhaps I take the whole thing personally. I don’t really see myself as a Potter fan, though. I have enjoyed the one movie and two books I’ve gotten through, but they’re a little low level. I suppose 15-20 years ago I would have loved them though.

But that’s not the point. The point is that these people who claim to be spreading the love of Christ are spreading intolerance and closed-mindedness. I find that repugnant both as a student of literature and as a Christian.

Look, the Bible talks about dragons. It also talks about “familiar spirits” and sorcerers and witches and wizards. Now personally, I find most of that to be somewhat metaphorical. After all, if God is in all ways perfect, then he is surely a perfect artist and writer, and therefore will employ some literary devices, such as figures and symbols and such. However, many of these preachers seem to have a problem understanding non-literal language (which leads me to wonder exactly how they think they can understand scripture) – which is clearly shown by their inability to see Harry Potter as anything other than a text book on how to perform evil magic rites (do the terms “fiction” or “narrative” mean anything to you?). This being the case, I suppose I should come up with a reasoning to justify the reading of fantasy even to you literalists.

Hypothetically, if the Bible accepts these figures as real (remember again, this is not my position, but the position the literalists to whom I speak), then you should accept them as real. This means that you shouldn’t be burning a frickin’ book just because it differs from your religious point of view!

Sorry, I got ahead of myself there. So, we’re accepting them as real, which in turn means that there will be books about the material, just as there are many books on subjects you don’t (and for that matter, aren’t asked to) agree with. This means that you shouldn’t be burning a frickin’ book just because it differs from your religious point of view!

Sorry, that just popped out of my mouth again. So there are subjects that you don’t have to agree with, but out of tolerance for other people’s way of life, as well as convincing them that you actually love them instead of just saying you do once a week while showing them difference, you really shouldn’t be burning a frickin’ book just because it differs from your religious point of view.