Thursday, June 24, 2010

On My Soapbox Again: In Defense of Potter

A couple of weeks ago I responded to a question posted to one of the forums of an online writing community in which I participate. The question concerned Harry Potter. If you've read many of my previous posts, you might be able to guess the direction of my comments. I tend to get all worked up when a possible Potter-bashing seems to be on the cusp of a discussion. So... I said my piece and then decided to opt out and let it lie. But alas... more comments rolled in and... here I am on my soapbox once again.

I understand that many people feel uncomfortable reading a book which, on the surface, seems to promote things which are not of God. Fine. Don't read it. But don't judge others for doing so. And, whatever you do, don't allow yourself to spread negative propaganda from an Pharisaical position of ignorance. Instead, remember that the very stories Jesus told, (which were often incomprehensible at the time to his listeners),were nothing less than illustrations of Truth artfully hidden within Story in order to stretch the minds and hearts of generations yet to come.

I believe Fiction is a gift which the Holy Spirit can and does use--often. And fiction which is not published under the "Christian" banner/label/genre, seems to have the most potential for this life-changing infusion of Truth into the world.

Jesus didn't hang out at the local Christian Book Shop, or even in the bonnet-book section at Walmart-- waiting for the sinners to show up. And neither should we.

Years ago, when the first movie of J.K.Rowling's series was coming out in theaters, my TV was filled with Christians coming out against both the films and the books. So, naturally, I read the first Harry Potter book, The Sorcerer's Stone, simply to see what the fuss was about and whether or not it was justified. When I closed the final page I was not scandalized, but rather, I was in tears, because of the Beauty and Truth I found within its pages. And... I was ANGRY at the Salem-like, legalistic fanaticism which fueled the controversies concerning this (and the following) books.

In a later book in the Harry Potter series, Ms. Rowling, I believe, answers this unfounded criticism with the minor character Pius Thicknesse. A laughable, metaphorical name, to be sure, I believe Mr. Thicknesse to be a comment to the anti-Potter crowd within "the church". I laughed out loud when I first came across this character's name and corresponding personality. It seems to shout to all the naysayers, "Duh!" (Of course, the naysayers wouldn't have read the book, so.... I guess it was maybe for the entertainment for those who have read the series and "get it.") Bravo, Jo.

The self-adapted phrase "don't be so heavenly minded that your mind is of no earthly good." seems appropriate here.

In short (yes, it seems a bit daft to claim brevity at this point in my defense of Fiction) I refuse to take seriously the negative "review" or criticism of a novel when such opinion is perpetrated by a person who has not personally read the work(s) of fiction in question. There is a certain aspect of mob mentality present when an individual succumbs to ignorant propaganda created by those who refuse to look beyond the fictional aspects of a novel to see the Beauty and Truth (both things of God) hidden in plain sight upon the page.

There is NO PLACE within Rowling's popular series where a protagonist or even minor character on the "good guys" team bashes or even remotely insults Truth or Christianity. There are times when, like all of us, they question the cost of doing what is right, but it is the evil characters --those who have sold themselves over to darkness and the love of power--who insult all that is Good and True.

Cuz that is what the bad guy does in fiction. Duh.

Fiction isn't Truth--fiction is a mirror for Truth. Sometimes it is a pure reflection, other times it is a funhouse mirror or a cracked surface. But by judging a book by its cover (or title, or propaganda and rumor) we may just miss out on something which the Holy Spirit could use to give us a better understanding--and a clearer view--of Himself.

Even those books/movies/tv shows that bash Christians and Christianity, unfortunately, are sadly accurate mirrors of the
Loud Voices of Hypocrisy & Legalism which have stained the label "Christian" into a laughable subculture rather than a living relationship of eternal significance. By association, these reflections have stained the name of Christ. Yes, I am angered when I hear these insults, but often on two levels. First: because the insult is driven into something which is True and, second, because it is likely driven as a preemptive action or defensive strike by someone (a writer?) who has obviously been hurt at the hands/words/deeds of someone claiming to carry the banner of Christ.

May God's Mercy cover us all. And may we, as writers, produce inspired works of fiction which not only draw the reader into our worlds, but, through the work of the Holy Spirit, ignite a passion for Truth within the areas of our culture--and our hearts--where a Lie has taken root.


Tracy Krauss said...

Bravo! I seriously love you! (Have I said it before?!) You are able to so eloquently put into words exactly what needs to be said. Bravo, bravo! Encore, encore! I am going to write a short post and link this to my blog if you don't mind. God bless you for your CLEAR head, your bravery and for being such a refreshing voice for those of us who also love the Lord but are sick of the hypocrisy that faces us in the church on a daily basis.

Shari Morehouse said...

I'm here from Tracy's link and echo her Bravo! I agree with you and it's the same way I feel when people critize Paul Young's The Shack. No matter how much he denies that he is writing anything but a novel people continue to vilify him. Thanks for your defense of fiction!