Saturday, April 09, 2011

Father Costigan has guts

I've read four Harry Potter books and watched two of the movies. It was mostly fun but not great literature or movie making for that matter and I viewed the  Harry Potter wars with bewilderment. I couldn't see what the big fuss was about but a couple of things have happened over the years. First, I've noticed that some vocal Potter fans can get really, really ugly whenever someone criticizes the series.

And then there was the Buford incident. There's a guy at my job, I've nicknamed him Buford-- who admitted that he and his wife refused to let their children read the books. Another co-worker laughed at him and mocked his religion -- Buford is a Protestant-- and was critical of the way Buford is raising his kids.

Buford is one of the finest gentlemen I've ever met. He is devoted to his wife, would take a bullet for all of his children and he never, ever conducts himself in anything but a professional manner at work--- but he won't buy Harry Potter so according to my other co-worker, he must be a boob.  I didn't like it when she made those remarks. I don't like it now.

Many of the critics of the Potter series have damaged their argument by being as shrill as the super fans. These critics often came off sounding silly or just plain tiresome, like poor Michael O'Brien but Father Costigan of the Fathers of Mercy has written a critique that got  my attention. He's not hysterical. He's not anti-literature. He's not a dreary old toothache of a man who just doesn't want to see kids enjoying themselves. He has some good points. That mandrake/baby scene was almost funny when I first read it but it leaves an unpleasant aftertaste now.

Hang tough Father. I have a feeling that you're going to get some nasty responses.

9 comments:

Paul Stilwell said...

O'Brien is not hysterical or shrill. You should read him again. I'll go read Fr. Costigan. Thanks for the link.

Old Bob said...

Thanks for this post, Dymphna. I added a comment to Father Costigan's discussion. One thing I said was that in Lewis or Tolkien human beings do not have magical powers; in Rowling they do. There's the big difference (among others).

Dymphna said...

I'd forgotten that point, Bob. Gandalf the Grey, wasn't human and the Nazguls had been so destroyed by the ring that they really wern't human either.

Baron Korf said...

That was good. A distinction to the problem of sorcery he leaves out is that the setting is contemporary Earth. In other settings you can excuse the use of 'magic' as another science in a world with different rules. The line between a technologist and a magician is much finer than most people suspect. The magic is really just a means. You could easily write a SciFi novel where many of the same effects are accomplished with "SCIENCE!".

The actions of the characters is the real issue at hand. Father makes a very good case for why they aren't good role models.

Anita Moore said...

I'd forgotten that point, Bob. Gandalf the Grey, wasn't human and the Nazguls had been so destroyed by the ring that they really wern't human either.

Indeed, the Nazgul got to be Nazgul precisely by meddling with the Rings of Power: object lessons on why humans should not meddle with such things.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

I've read a teen girl "saying same thing" (not as Father, but as Baron's resumé) on a blog post, 16 things that are so wrong with HP.

One of them seems to be how the love life of Ron Weasley. Esp. numbers 5 and 7.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Another one, cited:

darthatheos: The danger that a wizard might go rogue and reveal magic to the Muggle's military forces.

Right? Like what has been stopping them? On the other hand, do we REALLY think Muggles would believe that wizard? Probably not.

Shrinks would be more eager than military, they seem to get witches as much sa Christians and as mundane people with more classic "attitude problems" ... I think some are using the witches they have as patients.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"You could never really be sure if you've ever been a victim of a memory charm.

Oof, yeah. That's definitely rough. You would never know if you lost your whole memory. How sad!

And since I suppose memory charms are sometimes put to "good" uses in HP (which I haven't read), some shrinks (many of their personnel here are HP fans) might be tempted to use the real memory charm that exists, post-hypnotic suggestions to forget.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"One thing I said was that in Lewis or Tolkien human beings do not have magical powers;"

Except briefly Lucy in VDD. And Pippin using Palantir.

Denethor is destroyed by one, Aragorn is stalwart and escapes destruction, Pippin is saved (and yes, hobbits are basically human except for size).

The Nazgûls have been destroyed earlier by use of ring, in other fashions than Denethor.

"in Rowling they do."

And without regrets, unless really screwed up.

"Gandalf the Grey, wasn't human"

And the "two blue wizards" very probably screwed up in the way that they founded the magic cults - Conan Barbarian's many evil sorcerers and HP would seem to be later chapters of their story.

The wizards were, a bit odd in theology, incarnated angelic beings.

"and the Nazguls had been so destroyed by the ring that they really wern't human either." - "Indeed, the Nazgul got to be Nazgul precisely by meddling with the Rings of Power: object lessons on why humans should not meddle with such things."

A very apt warning. Rowling makes a somewhat similar one depend on intentions, but Tolkien makes the point such things corrupt by themselves, even without bad intentions.

A warning Rowling leaves out.

"A distinction to the problem of sorcery he leaves out is that the setting is contemporary Earth. In other settings you can excuse the use of 'magic' as another science in a world with different rules."

Probably the intention about Lucy's use of it. VDD.

Not sure if it really holds.

But about Rowling, there are no such fine doubts.

I think some of the things she writes are purely evil even if magic is not taken into account.

As I just cited about poor Ron Weasley.

Or, as how "School" in a really communist fashion is set up as a kind of ultimate authority (insofar as any such above individual conscience), along with its "wise" administrational rules.