Time magazine has a short article this week that describes just how “radical” the Harry Potter books are when compared to similar series in the fantasy genre:
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 [J.K.] Rowling’s books. What’s missing? If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God.
It’s true there is no prayer or religion in Harry Potter. Even though the whole book is full of things people should consider supernatural (ghosts, curses, Horcruxes, etc), those elements are not fictitious in their world. Everyone can observe them firsthand.
To say God is dead in the series is wrong. If something never lived in the first place, how can it die…?
The beauty of the scientific way of thinking is evident in the book. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, one of the main plot points revolves around Dumbledore having a particular theory– one which he will not even elaborate on until Harry provides him with the evidence he needs to confirm his speculation. There’s no taking anything on faith. Harry is expected to question, and unless he does, he won’t discover the answers.
Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.
That’s a stretch if I ever heard one… just because she doesn’t refer to religion in her books doesn’t imply she’s ideologically similar to Hitchens (who has said he’s not just an atheist, he’s an anti-theist).
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chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred.
Next weekend, by the way, I’ll be taking a self imposed hiatus from the rest of the world.
I’ll be gone from Saturday morning (when Book 7 arrives) until I finish the whole thing.
In other words, I should be back by Saturday night.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Catholic, C.S. Lewis, Anglican, Chronicles of Narnia, Christian, J.K. Rowling, Gd, Horcrux, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore, Christopher Hitchens[/tags]