Thursday, July 19, 2007

God? Where?

I am going to make all kinds of people mad at me with this, but, hey, I didn't write it :)

From the latest Time magazine:

Rowling's work is so familiar that we've forgotten how radical it really is. Look at her literary forebears. In The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien fused his ardent Catholicism with a deep, nostalgic love for the unspoiled English landscape. C.S. Lewis was a devout Anglican whose Chronicles of Narnia forms an extended argument for Christian faith. Now look at Rowling's books. What's missing? If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God.

Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind. He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn't. Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.

What does Harry have instead of God? Rowling's answer, at once glib and profound, is that Harry's power comes from love. This charming notion represents a cultural sea change. In the new millennium, magic comes not from God or nature or anything grander or more mystical than a mere human emotion. In choosing Rowling as the reigning dreamer of our era, we have chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred.

<idle musing>
Far cry from holy love, isn't it?
</idle musing>


Andy said...

'Tis sad, but—having read all the books to date—accurate.

Anonymous said...

Harry's power comes from love? And that's worse then Bronze Age control stories? Hmm.

Andy said...

It's interesting to note that, in the final book, there is reference to Christians, and to their hope in life after death, where Harry and Hermione are studying the (biblical!) inscriptions on gravestones in the churchyard where Harry's parents are buried. Yet despite the hope that death would be vanquished, Harry—emphatically—does not get it.

It's still an odd charge to be levelled against the HP books amidst the flood of other books out there. There are thousands of books out there with no mention of God, and there are probably just as many people that do not realize, for instance, that the Narnia books were ever intended as Christian allegory.

Don't like it? Write something better.