bookwritegirl

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Man, does time slip by fast! October 28, 2007

Well, I’m not sure when my last post was, but it’s time for a new one, with updates from the past week (or was it two weeks?).

 I went to see VR on Thursday. I guessed she was deaf from the way she writes her emails; you know, me being an English major I tend to be able to guess who wrote what from how they write. They were in good English, just slightly “off”, if that makes sense? Some of the verbs didn’t have verb endings, etc. And when I went to see her, she both signed and talked, mostly signed. So I was right! It was about time I intuited something right! She mostly signed, and so I both signed and talked. It turns out there’s not much they can do for me right now. I’m still in college, and I have a job, and so she didn’t even mention monetary support. Plus I felt it would be rude to ask, because I’m pretty self-sufficient. It’s not like I’m hurting for money, though I am on a college student’s budget. Looking toward the future, however, VR said she could help me then. When I’m ready to look for a real job, come see her, and then they can help me find a job, apply, interview, get, and keep the job, and provide whatever accomodations I might need, like a TTY, or a videophone, etc. Or even an interpreter. I’m nearly at the point when I can understand most of what anybody is saying in ASL, which makes me very excited! 🙂 VR says they also will be my advocate, so I shouldn’t be “dismissed” just because I’m deaf.

 After the end of our fairly short meeting she said I signed pretty well, which I thanked her for. She said that because we had been talking about the Sorenson free VRS equip., and they ask you if ASL is your primary language. She told me to say yes, because I know enough to converse with. So, when I got home, I filled out the app! No idea how long it will take for me to get it, but whenever is okay. It probably would be more useful after this semester, once I’ve finished ASL 3.

There wasn’t another deaf game night this week. Asked him when the next one was, he said he wasn’t sure, but thought it would be in two more weeks. I hope he’s right, because I don’t want it to be this friday! I want it to be next friday, as this weekend I’m going on a Student Senate conference in KC, MO! (All paid for by Student Government, which is awesome!). Plus it’s mandatory, so I can’t beg out of it. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe they’ll also have a Christmas gathering? I’m definitely am going to try to make that one if they do.

Haven’t heard anything from Gallaudet for a while. But I’m kinda doubting I’ll go for a while. I am toying around with the idea of graduating from my univ, then going to Gallaudet for a undergrad degree in  ASL, which will take about 2 years, possibly less. Because then I won’t have any scholarships to worry about losing; I could also possibly qualify for SSI or VR payment then, as well. And also then, I can complete my library science masters while at Gallaudet, since I beleive it is all online. I’d better check into that, though. But perhaps then I could work at the Library of Congress, for a great resume builder…man, I’m getting excited! I think this is probably a better plan, even though I’m going to have a heck of a loan to pay off later. I should try to publish a book, and have it take off, so I can actually afford my monthly loan payments…!

 That reminds me. I’m seriously am considering adding a third major. Yes, I am crazy, thank you for telling me! I have no idea if it will work, or if I will still be able to graduate in 2011 (I’m a sophomore, so technically I should graduate in 2010, but double majors means one more year). So, I’m going to see if I can get an appt. with a College of Education advisor and discuss this. Oh, yeah, the major would be Educational Interpreting. A non-teaching degree. I have a goal of encouraging Deaf people to go to libraries, having signed story times, etc, because it seems like nearly all the deaf people i’ve met don’t read much. I had always assumed they’d be bookworms like me, but  I guess not.

Anyway, the reason why I want to talk with the advisor is because I’m deaf. I’m not necessarily going into it for interpreting reasons; I have a hard enough time myself to understand people! It’s just to further solidify my signing skills, and to learn how to translate stories from books into sign. So, I don’t want to go on a practicum, nor do I want to “learn how to interpret in a variety of fields under a variety of conditions”. I’d fail those things. But this perhaps is a moot point if I decide to go to Gallaudet for the ASL degree after I graduate. But perhaps s/he can guide me in the right direction. Or perhaps I can get my univ to create this program, to attract more students?

 *Sigh.* Okay. So I’m looking into a Deaf World Day event, right? Turns out my committee doesn’t actually plan events. It just basically helps to advertise. And even if I’m liason for the something or other disability agency, I don’t plan events. So I’m going to try to talk to the agency director (but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is a student, and not a permanent one like I originally thought it was going to be) and see what she thinks about this. Perhaps she’ll add it to the list of events?

I still want to raise money for my state’s deaf school museum (the school shut down nearly 10 yrs ago). Currently they’re housed in two rooms that the current inhabitant of the building graciously gave to them. But they want to raise money to fix up the oldest building on campus, to the tune of 1 million dollars. Well, if I can get every student in each ASL class at my univ to donate, say, 2 dollars each, that’s about 200-300 dollars right there. That’d buy paint. I’m going to talk to the guy who’s working on the museum, see how I can go about donating that money.

For honors credit, I can do the TAG program. For honors public school students. I’ve been thinking about teaching ASL for a long time, and now just am feeling like I know enough vocab and linguistics to teach younger kids. But public schools? I hated them! I was so lost and generally not quite “one of them”, though all were nice to me. So I asked my honors program, homeschoolers are like honors students, can I teach them? One tentatively said yes, and I’m waiting on the director to give it the official approval. I’m also waiting on my parish to get back to me; the business manager said I should be able to get a schoolroom for free, but has to clear it by Father first. So, I’m taking the lesson plans so generously provided on Lifeprint.com, and modifying them slightly for the target audience. And get this: I’m paying $400 in tuition to teach! If I pay tuition for the “internship”, I get official honors university credit for teaching. The librarians laughed when I told them this. I’m afraid to tell anybody else though, because homeschoolers are really nice. They can be cheap, but they do try to show their appreciation at the end of any program, by bringing in sweets, or pooling their money together to give a gift basket. And I would feel weird if they gave me something. I really don’t mind paying, I would teach either way, even if I didn’t get any credit, official or unoffical. So, I’m probaly not going to tell them that fact, because I don’t want them to feel obligated to chip in to help with tuition. That would feel really weird.

I’m glad I went to Mass this morning. It provides a steady hand to my weird life. I was feeling a little lonely. Not for family, or friends. I just keep seeing all these “couples” around campus, and feel a little pang, and my hand light. I don’t have a hand to hold, walking to class. Etc. And even though there are plenty of guys, of nice guys, of nice Catholic guys who are single, okay, none of them seem to have shown much of an interest in me. So, I wonder, is it me? But I prayed in church today before Mass, and then the rest of the day I felt patient (for once!). He will provide, as corny as that sounds. I used to laugh, but now I know it’s true, though I have no “proof” of it. It’s just a feeling. So, part of me is patient. Part of me is still lonely. And part of me is wondering with every single guy I see, “is he the one?” Then the pateint part keeps telling the wondering part to shut up, stop imagining. It seems to only set me up for disappointment.

What seemed to help is that in the ladies home journal, they talked about how daydreaming is good for you. That gave me license to daydream about how I may encounter my future boyfriend. In the library, at the bookstore, in a class next semester, etc. He doesn’t have an official bodily form. I don’t have any hard and fast “rules” about guys. Neither do I have one about him being hearing or deaf. I don’t care, but lately they’ve been about a deaf guy. He must be self-actualized, though. I wouldn’t date a needy, stupid, or absolutely serious/shy hearing guy, nor will I a deaf guy like that. But I did dream last night that I had twins! I was so happy 🙂 I always have loved children. That’s another thing. He must love dogs, and must love children.

Anyway, writing helps too. I’ve been altering these dreams slightly, daydreams, whatever. And writing them up as a manuscript for writing class. I hope they don’t catch on that is actually real, for a fiction class. 🙂

Part of my rollercoaster emotions right now is horomone related as well. Remember how I went on CrMS? I had lost all appetite for nearly 4 weeks, and lost 8 lbs. Starting 2 nights ago, I got my appetite back! That made me happy, but oh great, just in time for halloween. Ate a lot, stepped on the scale this morning, and apparently I’m at 140. Better than 145, but I liked it better when it was 137! So, I have to moderate myself again. Some of it is just emotional hunger…when I was feeling blue Friday and Sat, I had a lot of chocolate, (hot chocolate, bite size halloween candy, etc). I didn’t pig out, but it felt like it since I had been so picky with food lately.

I sorta miss the pill already. Stupid horomones. But I certainly hope that if I hang in there, the doctor will be able to figure out what does all this, and treat the source. I’m just glad he will never prescribe the pill again! From my share of research, it seems I may have a progesterone defiicency, and the pill is largely estrogen, which I don’t need.

Wow, I just spent a long time on this. I’m going to shut up now, and try to figure out how to keep my mind on homework.

 

Harry Potter: good or evil? August 30, 2007

Filed under: books,homeschool,writing — bookwritegirl @ 4:02 pm

This is a report I did in high school: 

The Popularity and Controversy of the Harry Potter Books

 

November 4, 2005  

The Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowling were an immediate success; millions of the books were sold and the movies made millions of dollars. There are many reasons why the Harry Potter books are popular, including the fact that they spans many genres, borrow many familiar ideas from famous authors, and are easy to read. While Rowling’s books are immensely popular, they are not without controversy. Many people believe that the Harry Potter books help children foster an interest in the occult, while many others believe that they are a good platform for teaching children morality, spirituality, and that good always overcome evil.


The Harry Potter books chronicle the adventures of the boy wizard who attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to study magic. At the school he befriends fellow students Ron and Hermione, meets half-giants, werewolves, Acromantulas (giant spiders), and centaurs, among other creatures. In nearly every book, Harry has a run-in with the wizard who killed his parents, the one whom every witch and wizard fearfully refer to as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, Voldemort (Rowling, 1997, p. 85).

When the British publisher Bloomsbury released J.K. Rowling’s book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997, neither they nor the author had any idea how successful it would be.  In an interview with Gibb, Rowling (1997) said, “I never expected to make money, I always saw Harry Potter as this quirky little book. I liked it and I worked hard at it, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine large advances”      ( n.p.).In another interview Rowling (1997) said, “My realistic side had allowed myself to think that I might get one good review in a national newspaper. That was my idea of a peak. So everything else really has been like stepping into Wonderland for me” (Treneman, 1997, n.p.).

            Harry Potter was sold in the juvenile literature section of British bookstores, next to other authors like Dr. Seuss, but the fact that it was a children’s book didn’t keep adults from buying it; Rowling’s books quickly became a bestseller. It was reprinted four times in Britain by July 1997 (Thompson, 1997) and 30,000 copies of the Philosopher’s Stone were sold by November of 1997 (Treneman, 1997). Shortly after it was released to rave reviews, Rowling’s agent, Christopher Little, auctioned off the American rights to the Arthur A. Levine publishing company (an off-shoot of Scholastic, Inc.) for $105,000 (Waters and Mithrandir 2003). Because a well-known publisher bought the Harry Potter series, people began to think that Rowling’s books were good.

            In 1998, the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was released in the United Kingdom, also to become immensely popular and another bestseller. A few months later, Arthur A. Levine published the first book under the Americanized title, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The title was changed because,

in the United States the word ‘Philosopher’ conjures up images of boring, stuffy old men, while a ‘Sorcerer’ is an exciting Merlin-type wizard….The first book also was “translated” somewhat for U.S. readers because they would not have understood or related to some British terms. For instance, the British “mum” was translated to “mom” and “jumper” became “sweater.” Now, however, the texts have been “unified” by making slight adjustments only when necessary so that all words are understandable to U.S. and British readers…both versions now use “sweater” while “dustbins” (which is not difficult to figure out) is used in both editions rather than changing it to “trash cans” for U.S. readers. From now on, of course, the titles will also be the same in both countries.” (Waters and Mithrandir, 2003, p.5).

The Sorcerer’s Stone landed on the New York Times’ adult fiction list in December of 1998, the “first hard cover book to do so in Scholastic’s history…Adults, it’s clear, are reading the books as fervently as the kids.” (Glitz, 1999, n.p.). “This year also saw the marketing of a ‘black-and-white’ edition designed to appeal to adults embarrassed at sneaking the gaudier version out of bookshops for their own personal pleasure.” (Lockerbie, 1998, n.p.).

            Chambers of Secrets was published in the United States in June 1999, where it was quickly snapped up and became the #1 bestseller on several fiction-books lists. It was originally scheduled to be released in the fall, but Scholastic rushed it out earlier because so many fans were buying the British version over the Internet, too anxious to wait (Glitz, 1999). This was very obvious during Rowling’s U.S. book tour in the fall of 1998.  In an interview after the book tour, Rowling (1998) said: I lost count of the number of children who told me they had sent away to British bookshops and buying the book on the internet to get the sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They said they could not wait until it came out in America in a year’s time. (Walker, 1998, n.p.)It is estimated that, according to an unnamed insider, Scholastic lost out on about 20,000 sales. Because of this, Scholastic published the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, shortly after it was released in the U.K.  (Glitz, 1999, n.p.).            Not everybody appreciated the popularity of Rowling’s books, in particular, the publishers, because they thought that the Harry Potter books took up too much space on the bestseller lists. Gray (1999) quoted David Rosenthal (1999), publisher of Simon & Schuster as saying:

There is a big controversy stirring over whether Harry Potter should be on the New York Times bestseller list. There are a number of publishers–I don’t happen to be among them, actually, but I’ve got calls about this–who are thinking about banding together to beg the New York Times not to include the Harry Potter books on the regular fiction best-selling list, since they now take up two slots and will soon take up a third. (n.p.)

            Just as Rosenthal predicted, the third installment topped the New York Times’ bestseller list when it came out in September, the previous two taking up the second and third place positions on the same list.

            In 2000, with the fourth book’s (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) release due in July, the New York Times decided the time was ripe to create a separate bestsellers’ list for children’s’ books. Charles McGrath (2000), editor of the NYT Book Review, said that“…it is not coincidental that the timing corresponds to the fourth Harry Potter book. …if we were ever going to do this step, this would be the time.” (Corliss, 2000, n.p.).

Barbara Marcus (2000), the president of Scholastic, was annoyed, saying that “Nothing has ever been as popular with families, adults, children, in the history of publishing, and it should be a giant celebration. Instead, the argument is being made that they are taking up too much room on the list.” (Corliss, 2000, n.p.).  Craig Virden (2000), the president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books and Scholastic’s competitor sided with Marcus on the point that if it’s a best seller, it should be on the proper list. He also thought that “3.8 million is an adult number.” (Corliss, 2000, n.p.).

Despite the protests from Scholastic and the many Harry Potter fans, by the time the Goblet of Fire came out, all four Harry Potter books were relegated to the new children’s bestseller list. The release date marked nearly 100 straight weeks the books have been on a New York Times’ list (Mclaughlin, 2000).

In 2001, J.K. Rowling published two more books under pseudonyms, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp. Rowling (2001) said that all the profits, over 80% of the cover price, went to Comic Relief, a British charity (Raincoast Books, 2001).

Rowling (2001) spoke in an interview of these two books:

They are two titles that appear in the novels – Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is a book that Harry buys to go to Hogwarts so it’s one of his school textbooks and Quidditch Through The Ages is a library title. I always write more than I need for the books so bits of them were just written for my own fun. So when Comic Relief asked me to write something I thought I would just love to write them, I just thought it would be so much fun and I was completely correct. It was more fun than I’ve had writing the others. (Raincoast Books 2001, n.p.)Later that same year, the first Harry Potter movie was released, adapted from the

Sorcerer’s Stone/Philosopher’s Stone. It was released under different titles, just like the first book, and every scene in which the Philosopher’s Stone was mentioned, was filmed again, with the actors mentioning the Sorcerer’s Stone instead. The movie brought in a record 90 million dollars in sales on opening weekend, in the United States alone, and opened on more screens (3,762) than any other movie at the time. The second movie, Chamber of Secrets also did well, bringing in 88 million dollars on opening weekend in 2002, putting it in third place behind the first Harry Potter movie and Shrek (factmonster.com n.d.).

            In 2003, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series, was published. It broke a publishing record by a wide margin with a first printing of 6.4 million copies. It is also the longest book in the series (as of 2005) at 870 pages, three times longer than the Sorcerer’s Stone (factmonster.com n.d.).

            The Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie came out in 2004, and had the third best opening weekend with 93.7 million dollars in ticket sales, placing it behind Spider-Man and Shrek 2. The next year the sixth book came out, entitled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Again the U.S. first printing of a Harry Potter book breaks a record, with 10.8 million copies. Book 6 has a notable first; the Braille and large-print editions were released on the same day as the usual regular and audio book editions (factmonster.com n.d.).

            With these numbers and facts, some people wonder why the Harry Potter books are so popular. Some people believe that all the hype is responsible for the books’ success, but “hype cannot convince people to read a 700 page book”. (wizardingworld.com, n.d., Why Are the Harry Potter Books So Popular?). The first book was published with little fanfare, in fact it was the “word-of-mouth testimonials from parents marveling that their nonreading children (even boys!) are tearing through the Potter books and begging for more.” (Gray, 1999, n.p.).

            There are several explanations for the books’ popularity. One reason is that Harry Potter can be categorized into several genres, so that there is “something for everyone” (wizardingworld.com, n.d., Why Are the Harry Potter Books So Popular?). Technically, it is a young adult (or children’s) fantasy, and is found in that section in libraries, because it has magic, witches and wizards, dragons, unicorns, elves, fairies, and other similar fairy tale creatures associated with the fantasy world.

It is also an adventure (wizardingworld.com, n.d., Why Are the Harry Potter Books So Popular?), with Harry getting into one escapade after another. He explores the school secretly under his Invisibility Cloak, flies in exciting Quidditch games (a wizard game played on broomsticks with four balls and six hoops), and fights Lord Voldemort, among other adventures. .

Another major genre Harry Potter can be classified as, is as a mystery. (wizardingworld.com, n.d., Why Are the Harry Potter Books So Popular?) According to Waters and Mithrandir (2003), “the Harry Potter septology is an epic mystery and is considerably more intricate than it appears. She has challenged us readers (we call ourselves ‘HP Sleuths’) to discover them.” (p. xvii). J.K. Rowling said that “if you read carefully, you’ll get hints about what’s coming. And that’s all I’m saying!” (Scholastic.com 2000, Q and A #5). There are two types of mysteries and clues, a storyline clue and a septology clue (Waters and Mithrandir 2003). A septology is a word Waters coined to describe the seven-volume Harry Potter series, as it is “clearly an aggregate work (not just sequels)”. (Waters and Mithrandir 2003, p. xviii).

A storyline clue “is specific to the book in which it was found.” (Waters and Mithrandir 2003, p. xxi). For example, all through Chamber of Secrets, Dobby the House elf had been trying to keep Harry from attending Hogwarts, for reasons unknown. At the end of the book, readers find out that the elf was only trying to keep Harry safe from the school’s monster.

A septology mystery is “not resolved by the end of the book. This kind of clue relates to the whole seven volume mystery”. (Waters and Mithrandir 2003, p. xxi). One example is that, from the very first book, readers wonder why Voldemort wanted to kill Harry as a baby with the Avada Kedavera curse, and why Harry lived when no other witch or wizard was able survive the Killing Curse. According to Waters and Mithrandir (2003), this is “…THE mystery around which the whole Harry Potter septology revolves.” (p. 8).

Another genre Harry Potter could be is literary satire, because J.K. Rowling creates clever names and titles that give insight to the characters and other things. A Ministry of Magic (the wizarding government) department is called the Office of Misinformation, which reminds readers of George Orwell’s books. Accio, summoning charm, is Latin for “I summon” (mugglenet.com, n.d., Name Origins). Transfiguration is a class Harry has to take; it teaches students how to transfigure things, such as a pig into a desk. The Transfiguration teacher’s, Minerva McGonagall’s, shares her name with a Roman god who has a “famed reputation for being able to morph herself and others into clever disguises.” (Waters and Mithrandir, 2003, p. 11). There are so many names that Rowling created that several Harry Potter websites created dictionaries of the words with their origins or probable origins, most notably MuggleNet (mugglenet.com) and the Harry Potter Lexicon (hp-lexicon.org).

Another reason why Harry Potter is so popular is that J.K. Rowling borrows many ideas, concepts, and themes from other books and stories in literature, gives them a new reason to exist, and combines them all into an all new story (wizardingworld.com, n.d., I Thought That Sounded Familiar…). As Voltaire said, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.” (brainyquote.com, n.d., n.p.).

 All of her ideas come from what she calls a “compost heap” of everything she’s ever read, which is a substantial amount as she studied French and Classical Languages at the University of Exeter, graduating with what would be summa cum laude in America.  (Granger, 2004).

She is familiar and fluent with the languages, philosophy, and literature of the classical and medieval worlds. Her books reflect an understanding of the

truths of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas because she has read these greats—and read them as attentively as reading them in the original languages requires. (Granger, 2004, p. xvi-xvii)

            J.K. Rowling is frequently compared to many other writers as well, like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and C.S. Lewis, of which she said she are her favorite authors. She has also been compared to “William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Franz Kafka, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.” (Granger, 2004, p. xvii). Others have said that it is a “ripping good yarn of good verses evil that legitimately conjures up the New  Testament, only with characters that recall Roald Dahl.” (Williams, 1999, n.p.). Still others believe that the Harry Potter series is reminiscent of the Star Wars films, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books, and L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. (Gray, 1999).

            Even with comparisons to authors like Tolstoy, the Harry Potter books are still very readable because of the “…sheer buoyant zest of Joanne Rowling’s storytelling…” (Lockerbie, 1998, n.p.). Rowling never condescends to her readers, giving them a well-planned story in every book (Jones, 1999), even though some critics complain that her language is not classical (Trelease, 2001). “True, her sentences are largely unadorned and, except for proper nouns, there is less or the reader [to] stumble over…Stumbling over text is a discouragement for young readers, not an incentive.” (Trelease, 2001, n.p.). Trelease also said that while classics, such as Heidi, have more intricate texts, “when was the last time you saw a kid reading Heidi in the airport?” (2001, n.p.)

            Another reason why the Harry Potter books are so readable is because of “its humorous descriptions and dialogue…The awful Uncle Vernon’s face ‘went from red to green faster than a set of traffic lights’ when Harry gets his first owlergramme.” (Johnstone, 1997, n.p.). Another article says that Rowling “can be genuinely scary and consistently funny, adept at both brad slapstick and allusive puns and wordplay.” (Gray, 1999, n.p.) Jones, citing Rowling’s great writing skills, also enjoys the humor found in the Harry Potter books:

As a bonus, she’s funny: the list of things Harry is asked to bring to school includes: ‘three sets of plain work robes (black), one plain pointed hat (black) for day wear…Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry name tags.” Anyone who reads these novels can’t help but come away with a high standard for what a good story should be… (1999, n.p.)

The readability of the books is a factor in Harry Potter’s popularity, because it is

enjoyable to re-read over and over again. As Jones (2000) says:

We affectionately remember the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, but try rereading them and their harm burns off pretty quickly. Rowling may not be as magisterial as Tolkein or as quirky as Dahl, but her books introduce fledgling readers to a very high standard of entertainment. (n.p.)

As popular as the Harry Potter books are, it has its critics. The Harry Potter detractors center on the fact that the Rowling’s books contain witches, wizards, and magic. They warn people that since the Bible in many places explicitly forbids occult practice, they should avoid reading Harry Potter. Because the Harry Potter books portray witchcraft in a positive light, it may draw kids into occultism. (Granger, 2004, p.2)

            That is precisely what Beam was worried about in her review of the Chamber of Secrets book for the website pluggedinonline.com:

For many children, curiosity about things such as “parselmouths”, “shrunken heads” and “Moaning Myrtles” cannot be met in a healthy manner. And they can become enamored with what Star Wars calls “The Dark Side” and Rowling calls “The Dark Arts.” (Beam, n.d., n.p.)

Also, in 2000, an email circulated among many Christian families relating the

threat that the Harry Potter books have on children’s souls. The unknown author cited some statistics, saying that “Since 1995, open applicants to Satan worship has increased from around 100,000 to now…20 MILION children and young adults!”, quoting an article that the Onion, an online publication, posted in July 2000. (Urban Legends Reference Pages, 2001, n.p.).

            The Onion article actually said that “more than 14 million children alone belong to the Church of Satan”. (Urban Legends Reference Pages, 2001, n.p.). The article also quoted Rowling praising Satan, and the High Priest Egan of the First Church of Satan in Salem, Massachusetts, as saying “Harry is an absolute godsend to our cause…and we’ve had more applicants than we can handle lately.” (Urban Legends Reference Pages, 2001, n.p.).

            Yet all of these quotes and statistics are false, as the Onion publication is purely satirical. According to its masthead, “The Onion is a satirical newspaper published by Onion, Inc. The Onion uses invented names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental.” (The Onion, 2000, n.p.).According to the Urban Legends Reference Pages (2001):Apparently the obvious humor of a High Priest of the First Church of Satan’s calling the arrival of the Harry Potter phenomenon a “godsend” went right over more than a few people’s heads. If The Onion’s parody had demonstrated anything, it’s that we should be worrying about the adults not being ale to distinguish between fiction and reality. The kids themselves seem to have a pretty good grasp of it. (n.p.)The question still remains: “Are we contributing to our child’s intellectual andmoral degeneracy by letting him immerse himself in this fanciful world of wizardry?” (Hughes, 2000, n.p.). And the answer is “probably not”. (Hughes, 2000, n.p.). Compared to some of the other options children have, such as TV, video games, and rock music, it is actually better for them to line up at midnight parties to read the Harry Potter books, because it is such a “great yarn”. (Hughes, 2000, n.p.). Most children know the difference between fantasy and reality. Rowling’s books do no actual harm, even with a “dash of the occult” in them, when parents discuss the books with their young Harry Potter fans. (Hughes, 2000, n.p.).Though these young children may say they want to be a wizard when they grow up, Hughes reminds us that it’s “pretty standard daydreaming for children.” (2000, n.p.). After all, at that age, they also decide they want to be football players, basketball players, police officers, Olympians, and tour-trolley drivers when they grow up. (Hughes, 2000).

Also, nowhere in the Bible does it “forbid reading material with occult elements in it. As there are witches, soothsayers, and possessed prophetesses in the Bible…it would be more than odd if the Holy Writ spoke against itself.” (Granger 2004, p. 3).

Mack (1999) said:

Yes, they deal with magic and witchcraft. Their tone is dark. But no less a devout Christian than C.S. Lewis understood the power of pagan imagery in preparing the young imagination for the moral rigors and spiritual comforts of biblical religion. Indeed, if there is something wrong with a “tone of death” in children’s literature, then we might as well jettison all our volumes of fairy tales. (n.p.)

            In a Comic Relief online chat transcript, Rowling (2001) said, “I think the Harry books are very moral but some people just object to witchcraft being mentioned in a children’s book unfortunately, that means we’ll have to lose a lot of classic children’s fiction.” (n.p.).

In an interview with CNN, Rowling (1999) said:

I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft. I’m laughing slightly because to me, the idea is absurd…I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, “Ms. Rowling, I’m so glad I’ve read these books because now I want to be a witch.” They see it for what it is. It is a fantasy world and they understand that completely. I don’t believe in magic, either. (n.p.)

Rowling (1999) also said, “Wizardry is just the analogy I use. If anyone expects it to be a book that seriously advocates leaning magic, they will be disappointed.” (O’Malley 1999, n.p.).

Some of the books that would be missing from library shelves if all books mentioning magic was banned include J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Narnia and Ransom series by C.S. Lewis, the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. The last two authors’ books have come under heat themselves in a different time and place.

The Wizard of Oz was criticized in the 1920s’, 50’s, 60’s, and is still being accused today of having communist leanings and a socialist structure, and that the culture of Oz was the approximation of a Marxist dream. L. Frank Baum’s Oz series was banned from several libraries for these reasons, and because they were of no value, encouraged negativism, “misled minds to accept a cowardly approach to life”, and because they were poorly written. (Rising, 2000, n.p.). Baum’s writing was different from the style of writing popular in the 1900’s, because his main concern was telling the story, whereas other writers like Andersen and Robert Louis Stevenson embellished their story with long, descriptive passages and difficult words. (Rising, 2000, n.p.).

Trelease (2001) noted a similar complaint about Rowling’s style of writing:

Some critics have complained that Rowling’s language is not classical. True her sentences are largely unadorned, and except for proper nouns, there is less for the reader [to] stumble over. And that’s good. Stumbling over is a discouragement for young readers, not an incentive. And while classics like Heidi have heavier, more adorned text, when was the last time you saw a kid reading Heidi in the airport? (n.p.)

Judy Blume, another writer whose books have been banned, offered her opinion on the suggestion of banning of the Harry Potter books:

I knew this was coming. The only surprise is that it took so long — as long as it took for the zealots who claim they’re protecting children from evil (and evil can be found lurking everywhere these days) to discover that children actually like these books. If children are excited about a book, it must be suspect.

 

I’m not exactly unfamiliar with this line of thinking, having had various books of mine banned from schools over the last 20 years. In my books, it’s reality that’s seen as corrupting. With Harry Potter, the perceived danger is fantasy. After all, Harry and his classmates attend the celebrated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. According to certain adults, these stories teach witchcraft, sorcery and satanism. But hey, if it’s not one “ism,” it’s another. I mean Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” has been targeted by censors for promoting New Ageism, and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for promoting racism. Gee, where does that leave the kids? (1999, n.p.)

            It was only recently that magic and science were viewed as occupying different realms. “For much of their existence…they constituted a single path in a single history. For both magic and experimental science were viewed as a means of controlling and directing our natural environment.” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.).

Magic works as reliably in Rowling’s world as science does in the real world. As Arthur C. Clarke, author of many science fiction books, said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” (brainyquote.com, n.d., n.p.). Understanding the shared history of magic and experimental science is the key to understanding magic’s role in the Harry Potter books, as Rowling places Harry in a “counterfactual history, a history in which magic was not a false and incompetent discipline, but rather a means of controlling the physical world at least as potent as experimental science.” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.).

Star Trek technology is treated differently from Harry Potter magic, even though the two achieve similar ends. (Olson, 1999, n.p.). For example, both Star Trek’s transporter and Harry Potter’s Apparition spell transports people great distances. Einstein disliked teleportation and quantum theory because of its almost magical features. (Highfield, 2002, italics added).  Olson (1999) quoted Jacobs, and the host, Meyers from the September/October 1999 issue of the Mars Hill Audio Journal (Volume 40):

If we imagine somebody stepping on to a little circle and then suddenly dissolving, and then reappearing instantly somewhere else, and we call this a transporter, and we’re told that it is a device that is created by technology, then we go “oh, that’s cool.” But if we imagine someone waving a wand and then disappearing and reappearing somewhere else, we’re much less comfortable. (n.p.)

“The fundamental moral framework of the Harry Potter books, then, is a familiar

one to all of us: it is the problem of technology.” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.). Real schools teach people how to harness and employ technology, and the wizardry school Hogwarts teach people how to harness and employ magic, but neither one can “insure that people will use those powers wisely, responsibly, and for the common good. It is a choice…between magia and goetia: ‘high magic’ (like the wisdom possessed by the magi in Christian legend) and ‘dark magic.’” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.).

As Jacobs pointed out, there are different kinds of magic. There’s mechanical verses occultic magic, or incantational verses invocational magic. As Morse (2004) said:

Harry and his classmate[s] are born with the ability to perform magic—much as real life kids are born with musical or mathematical ability. Students at Hogwarts learn to cast spells, read crystal balls, and transform hedgehogs into pincushions—but they don’t attempt to contact the supernatural world. (n.p.)

Invocational magic literally means “to call in” (Granger, 2004, p.4-5), and magic

of this kind is usually called sorcery. The Bible says that calling in spirits is “dangerously stupid” (Granger, 2004, p.4-5). Stories that do touch on sorcery show how it always leads to the sorcerer’s downfall. The magic in the Harry Potter books are incantational only, and incantational means “to sing along with” or “to harmonize” (Granger, 2004, p. 4-5). C.S. Lewis shows the difference between the two kinds of magic in his Narnia book, Prince Caspian. (Granger 2004).

In Prince Caspian, when a battle is going badly for Prince Caspian, a dwarf named Nikabrik found a hag who can call up the dead White Witch, whom he hopes will then help them defeat their foes. When Prince Caspian finds out, he is mad. “So that is your plan, Nikabrik! Black sorcery and the calling up of an accursed spirit. And I see who your companions are—a Hag and a Wer-Wolf!” (Lewis, 1951, p. 165).

Some Christians dislike the Harry Potter books for another reason besides magic; they think Harry is a poor role model. Harry Potter is “often at odds with some of his teachers” but these teachers are the ones who are at odds with the “wise, benevolent, and powerful Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore… But to Dumbledore, significantly, Harry is unswervingly faithful and obedient” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.). Harry did say in the Half-Blood Prince that he was “Dumbledore’s man, through and through”. (Rowling, 2005, p.649).

Harry Potter lies, uses trickery and deception, and “breaks a hundred rules”, all poor choices. (Dooley, 2002, n.p.). Harry’s “tendency to bypass or simply flout the rules is a matter of moral concern for him: he wonders and worries about the self–justifications he offers, and often doubts not just his abilities but his virtue.” (Jacobs, 2000, n.p.).

Hogwarts is divided into four Houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin, into which the students are sorted for the entire time they attend the school. In the first book, during the Sorting Hat ceremony, the hat thought Harry should go into the Slytherin house. Harry, having heard enough of the Slytherin legacy—many of the students from that House went bad—told the hat not to put him there. The Sorting Hat placed him in Gryffindor instead. Harry can’t get over the fact that he was almost placed in Slytherin, and in the Chamber of Secrets confided this to Dumbledore. Dumbledore told him that: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (Rowling, 1999, p.333).

Harry Potter is human, and he makes human mistakes, according to Rowling. On Harry’s moral sense, Rowling (2000), said in an interview with Wyman (2000):

I see him as a good person but with a human underbelly. He is vulnerable, he is frequently afraid, he has a very strong conscience, and it is my belief that with the overwhelming majority of human beings—maybe I’m a wild optimist—most people do try to do the right thing, by their own lights. (n.p.)

Another reason why some Christians dislike the Harry Potter books is because there are no instances of Christianity in the books.  For without God and absolute truths, where do the characters’ concept of right and wrong come from? (Smithouser n.d.). Yet the Harry Potter books have become the subject of many books because of their connection to God, such as Looking for God in Harry Potter by John Granger, The Gospel According to Harry Potter: Spirituality in the Stories of the World’s Most Famous Seeker by Connie Neal, and God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister Defense of the Beloved Novels by John Killinger. Dooley (2002) quoted Sheridan Gilley (n.d.) as saying:

Christianity is absent from the books…but to condemn this fantasy world would surely be to damn all the vast mass of fantasy literature in which such magic is commonplace. Moreover, bad or irresponsible witchcraft is condemned here, and the actual morality of the works is evangelically of the simplest sort, of good against evil. (n.p.)

Dooley (2002) also quoted Leonie Caldecott (n.d.) from “Harry Potter and the Culture of Life”:

Overall, I cannot help feeling that a writer who calls the arch-enemy of all that makes life worth living “Voldemort” can’t be a million miles away from a Pope who sums up the ills of the modern world with the term “culture of death”. (n.p.)

Caldecott is accurate in her comparison, as Rowling (2000) said that “if you’re

choosing to write about evil, you really do have a moral obligation to show what that means.” (Time, 2000, n.p.). Harry “is constantly thrown up against dark forces, particularly the ultimate evil, Lord Voldemort. So far, despite all odds, Potter and the forces of virtue and decency have triumphed. The moral significance seems clear.” (Wyman, 2000, n.p.).

Rowling didn’t write the Harry Potter books specifically to be moralizing, and they don’t have any references to God. She said in a 2005 interview that she doesn’t think that her books are “that secular. But, obviously, Dumbledore is not Jesus.” She also said in the same interview that “undeniably, morals are drawn.” (Grossman, 2005, p. 64). For comparison, Tolkein didn’t write his Lord of the Rings trilogy to consciously “defend Christian doctrine directly,” either. (The Irish Family, 1994, part II, Christianity section).

            The Harry Potter books don’t need to contain explicit references to Christianity, for, as Tolkein said in Letter 142, “the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.” (The Irish Family, 1994, Part II, Section 1). Granger concurs, as Rowling’s books contain “themes, imagery, and engaging stories that echo the Great Story we are wired to receive and respond to.” (2004, p. xix). This may be the reason why so many people enjoy Rowling’s series, because their “hearts resonate with the deeper stories underlying the surface of Harry’s stories”. (Granger 2004, p. xxi).

            “The magic and miracles we read about in great literature are merely reflections of God’s work in our life…the magic in Harry Potter and other good fantasy fiction harmonizes with the miracles of the saints.”(Granger, 2004, p. 5). Granger’s statements, that the Harry Potter books and other good fantasy fiction all contain some sort of link to God’s creation, are very similar to Tolkien’s claims in his essay, On Fairy-Stories.             Hastings summarized the four characteristics Tolkien said that all true fairy tales have. The first requirement is fantasy; a true fairy tale needs to be internally consistent, though it is free from the restrictions of the real world. After experiencing the fantasy, readers are in the recovery stage. Readers see things from a slightly different angle afterwards, seeing them in a fresher light. Thirdly, fantasies must have escapism; it must not treat what is reality as inevitable, but it should offer alternatives, even though the alternatives are impossible. The last requirement fantasies need is the consolation, the happy ending, or as Tolkien calls it, the eucatastrophe. “This is the moment of joy at deliverance from evil.” (Hastings, n.d., n.p.). Tolkien says that the greatest eucatastrophe is the Resurrection. The escapism stage is much better explained in an article by The Irish Family, “Escape is closely linked to that of Recovery, ‘escape from’ in order to find out what we are ‘created for’.” (1994, n.p.) .Tolkien described the consolation stage in his essay, On Fairy-Stories, as:

The peculiar quality of…”joy” in successful Fantasy can…be explained eas [sic] a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction…in the “eucatastrophe” we see in a brief vision that the answer may be greater–it may be a far-off gleam or echo or evangelium in the real world. (ssf.net, n.d., n.p.)

Carpenter (1977), in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, quoted Tolkien (n.d.):

We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed, only by myth-making, only by becoming a “sub-creator” and inventing stories, can Man ascribe to the state of perfection that he knew before the fall. (The Irish Family, 1994, n.p.)

Even though the popular Harry Potter books has its critics, “evidently there is

plenty of room for argument about the books’ merits and their morality.” (Dooley, 2002, n.p.) Rowling (2000) believes that too, and is getting impatient with those think otherwise. “…I feel that you can lead a fool to a book but you can’t make them think.” (Wyman, 2000, n.p.)

           

Beam, L. (n.d.) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Retrieved November 4, 2005,

   from pluggedinonline.com. http://www.pluggedinonline.com/articles/a0001776.cfm

 

Blume, J. (1999, October 22) Is Harry Potter Evil? The New York Times, n.p. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from judyblume.com. http://www.judyblume.com/articles

   /harry_potter_oped.html

 

brainyquote.com. (n.d.) Arthur C. Clarke Quotes. Retrieved November 6, 2005, from

   http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/arthurccl101182.html

 

brainyquote.com. (n.d.) Voltaire Quotes. Retrieved November 6, 2005, from

   http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/v/voltaire121880.html

 

CNN.com (1999) Success of Harry Potter bowls author over. Retrieved November 4,

   2005 from http://www.cnn.com/books/news/9910/21/rowling.intvu/index.html

 

Comic Relief (2001, March). Comic Relief live chat transcript. Retrieved November 6,

   2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-quill.org /articles/

   2001/0301-comicrelief-staff.htm

 

Corliss, R. (2000, July 21) Why ‘Harry Potter’ did a Harry Houdini. Time Magazine,

   n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from CNN.com. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/books/

   news/07/21/potter7_21.a.tm/

 

Dooley, D. (2002, January/February). Harry Potter: pro and con. Catholic Insight.

   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from catholicinsight.com. http://catholicinsight.

   com/online/culture/article_239.shtml

 

factmonster.com (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2005, from http://www.factmonster   

  .com/spot/harrypottertimeline.html

 Gibb, E. (1997, June 29). Tales from a single mother. The Sunday Times, n.p.       Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-  quill.org/articles/1997/0697-sundaytimes-gibb.html Glitz, M. (1999, July 9). They’re Wild About ‘Harry’: A Popular New Series Aimed At   Kids Works its Magic on Adults. Entertainment Weekly, n.p. Retrieved November 4,    2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http:www.quick-quotes-quill.org/articles/1999/07   99-ew-glitz.html  

Granger, J. (2004) Looking for God in Harry Potter. Tyndale House Publishers

 Gray, P. (1999, September 20) Wild about Harry. Time Magazine, n.p. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/1999/0999-time-gray.html 

Grossmann, L. (2005, July 25) J.K. Rowling Hogwarts and All. Time Magazine, p. 64.

 

Hastings, W. (n.d.) J.R.R. Tolkien on Fairy Tales. Retrieved from northern.edu.

   http://www.northern.edu/hastingw/tolkienft.htm

Highfield, R. (2002) The Science of Harry Potter. New York, NY: Penguin Group Hughes, J. (2000, July 19) Wise wizards recognize fiction. The Christian Science

   Monitor, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from csmonitor.com. http://www.csmonitor

   .com/cgi- bin/durableRedirect.pl?/durable/2000/07/19/fp10s3-csm.shtml

 

Irish Family (1994) Part II: J.R.R. Tolkien—The Fairy Tale Maker. The Irish Family, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from ewtn.com. http://www.ewtn.com/library

    /HOMELIBR/TOLKIEN.HTM

 

Jacobs, A. (2000, January) Harry Potter’s Magic. First Things, n.p. Retrieved November

   4, 2005, from http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0001/reviews/jacobs.html

 

Johnstone, A. (1997, June 24) Happy ending, and that’s for beginners. The Herald, n.p.

   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/1997/0697-herald-johnstone.html

 

Jones, M. (1999, August 23) Magician for Millions. Newsweek, n.p. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/1999/0899-newsweek-jones.html

 

Jones, M. (2000, July 17) Why Harry’s Hot. Newsweek, n.p. Retrieved November 4,

   2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/

   2000/0700-newsweek-jones2nd.htm

 

Lewis, C.S. (1951) Prince Caspian, 1987 ed. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

 

Lockerbie, C. (1998, June 27) Mischief with a Magical Allure. The Scotsman, n.p.

   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/1998/0698-scotsman-lockerbie.htm

 Lockerbie, C. (1998, November 28). Spell of Best-seller Magic. The Scotsman, n.p.   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-    quill.org/articles/1998/1198-scotsman-lockerbie.htm Mack, D. (1999, November 9) It isn’t pretty…but is it art? The Christian Science

   Monitor, n.p. Retreived November 4, 2005, from csmonitor.com. http://www.

   csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/durableRedirect.pl?/durable/1999/11/09/fp9s1-csm.shtml

 Mclaughlin, D. (2000, July 8) Harry Potter “madness” stuns author Rowling. Reuters

   News, n.p. Retrieved from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/2000/0700-reuters-mclaughlin.html

 

Morse, A. (n.d.) The Potter Magic. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Break Point

   Online. http://www.pfm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=BreakPoint1&template

   =/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=6271

 Olson, T. (1999, December 13) Opinion Roundup: Positive about Potter. Christianity

   Today Magazine, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from christianitytoday.com.

   http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1999/150/12.0.html

 

O’Malley, J. (1999, July) Talking With…J.K. Rowling. Book Links, n.p. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/1999/0799-booklinks-omalley.html

 

Onion (2000) Copyright. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from The Onion.com. http://

  web.archive.org/web/20000815224759/www.theonion.com/info/masthead.html

 

Raincoast Books. (2001, March) Raincoast Books interview transcript. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/2001/0301-raincoast-interview.html

 

Rising, G. (2000, November 16) The Annotated Wizard of Oz. ArtVoice of Buffalo, n.p.

   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from acsu.buffalo.edu. http://www.acsu.buffalo.

   edu/~insrisg/bookmarks/bk2000/1116wizard.html

 

Rowling, J.K. (1997) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, NY: Scholastic,

   Inc.

 

Rowling, J.K. (1999) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York, NY:

   Scholastic, Inc.

 

Rowling, J.K. (2005) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York, NY:

   Scholastic, Inc.

 

Scholastic.com (2000, October 16) Scholastic interview transcript. Retrieved November

   4, 2005, from http://direct.www.scholastic.com/harrypotter/author/transcript2.htm.

 

Smithouser, J. (n.d.) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Retrieved from

   Pluggedinonline.com. http://www.pluggedinonline.com/articles/a0001780.cfm

 

ssf.net. (n.d.) Some Excerpts from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Essay On Fairy Stories. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005  from http://www.sff.net/people/Sherwood/reading/fairy.htm

 Thompson, T. (1997, July 8). First Attempt at Fantasy becomes $100,000 reality. The   Scotsman, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http:   //www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/1997/0797-scotsman-thompson.html  

Time Magazine (2000, October 30) Essay: A Conversation with J.K. Rowling; A Good

   Scare. Time Magazine, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-

   Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/2000/1000-time-staff.htm

 

Trelease, J. (2001) The Read-Aloud Handbook, 5th ed. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

   Retrieved November 4, 2005, from trelease-on-reading.com. http://www.trelease-on-  

   reading.com /rah_chpt 7_p2.html

 Treneman, A. (1997, November 21). Joanne Rowling’s Secret is Out. The Independent,    n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-   quote-quill.org/articles/1997/1197-independent-treneman.html 

Urban Legends Reference Pages. (2001, December 2) Harry Potter books are sparking a

   rise in Satanism among children. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from Snopes.com.  

   http:// www.snopes.com/humor/iftrue/potter.htm

 Walker, A. (1998, October 29). Edinburgh Author is Elated as America goes Potty over

   Potter. The Scotsman, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005 from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org.

   http://www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/1998/1098-scotsman-walker2.htm Waters, G., & Mithrandir, A. (2003). Ultimate unofficial guide to the mysteries of Harry   Potter (Analysis of books 1-4) Niles, IL: Wizarding World Press.  

Williams, R. (1999, January 29) The spotty schoolboy and single mother taking the

   mantle from Roald Dahl. The Independent, n.p. Retrieved November 4, 2005, from 

   Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quotes-quill.org/articles/1999/0199-

   independent-williams.html.

 

wizardingworld.com (n.d.). I Thought That Sounded Familiar… Retrieved November 6,

   2005, from http://www.wizardingworld.com/info/fantasy-themes.html

 

wizardingworld.com (n.d.) Why Are the Harry Potter Books So Popular? Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from http://www.wizardingworld.com/info/hp-success.html

 

Wyman, M. (2000, October 26) ‘You can lead a fool to a book but you can’t make them

   think’: Author has frank words for the religious right. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved

   November 4, 2005, from Quick-Quotes-Quill.org. http://www.quick-quote-

   quill.org/articles/2000/1000-vancouversun-wyman.htm

 

 

Philosophy: Current Issues May 3, 2007

Filed under: Athiesm,books,Catholic,college,homeschool,philosophy,politics,religion,school — bookwritegirl @ 6:06 pm

Sure, President Bush was idealistic, and as we could tell from our response of Socrates’ “ideal city” that ideology doesn’t always translate well into facts.

One of the major differences I see between Iraq and the US is that while in America we come from separate backgrounds, we all can get along or at least tolerate others. But in Iraq, I see a lot of hatred and aminosity between the Sunnis, the Shites, and the Kurds, and even though they’re all Muslims, the minor differences to them is worth it to kill, because like you said they’re at the lower level of hierarchy and don’t have the esteem of others yet. I’m just guessing, but that’s what it seems like. Imagine Christianity in America. If all of us Christians fought against other Christians just because they’re different Christians, that’s kinda what’s going on in Iraq.

As far as good and evil, better or worse goes, it all depends on your point of view (like we debated in class today 🙂 ) Then, the Iraqis were thinking that they had it bad under Saddam, and wanted change. Then the US came in and gave them change, and while they got rid of an evil tyrant, people changed their minds and said that they had it good under his regime, and that America ruined everything for them. Sure, people weren’t fighting under Saddam’s regime, but they couldn’t do much of anything else. Remember the “elections”? Saddam got 100% of the vote. Now there’s just too much democracay in Iraq, and they don’t know what to do with it yet. That’s just my view of the situation.

Now, I’m getting off my soapbox!

***

Actually, in the newspaper it said that many historians already doubt the validity of the finding. (FYI, one historian in particular is investigating it, and he’s an athiest). It’s happened before, last time somebody found something like “James, brother of Jesus” tomb, and it was proven to be fake. Also, “brother” and “sister” were used very loosely back then to include friends and other relatives. Even cousins were considered brothers and sisters. And, even though generally when we say “Jesus”, we know we mean “Jesus Christ”. But Jesus is just another name that was probably common then just as some Muslims are named Jesus. So, even if it is proven to be Jesus’s tomb, we don’t know for sure whether it is Jesus Christ’s or if it is a different Jesus. So, scientists would have to have a DNA sample of Him to match it to the bones before “chaos” would ensue.

***

Hmm…I know what you’re talking about. But I don’t believe Islam is wholly out to destroy other religions 😉 It’s just that it seems like all we ever hear about are these “extremists” and “radicals”. Wait…the same could be said of Catholic and other religions! That is a reason why many dislike Mormons in general…it’s their missionaries going door to door. And after the Elizabeth Smart incident, people tended to think that all Mormoms are weird like the guy who kidnapped her. It’s like falling into the elephant trap. If you build a trap for one kind of belief, that’s all you’re going to find. Or the sterotyping trap. The media likes hyping things up, you rarely hear about things like “In other news today, a Muslim cleric declared “World Peace Day””. That doesn’t have the same ring to it.

It’s not just the Ten Commandments that give a guide to everyday life, there are other passages in the Bible that provides good teaching (or advice, however sounds better). It’s not as if they’re constantly telling us “NO”, it’s more like freeing us so we can actually enjoy life. It’s the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting, like eating a dozen cookies in one sitting. But you feel sick afterwards, and hate yourself because now you’re a pound heavier. Joy is more lasting, and usually comes after a trial, some difficulty, or sadness. If you found an endorsed check for $1200 dollars, sure, you can follow your first impulse and cash it. Instant happiness. But if you go against that impulse, search in the paper phone book, then the online versions, before you finally find the person who wrote it or who it was addressed to, call them to give it back to them, true, that may be difficult, but wouldn’t you feel proud to say, “I returned it!” Think of how many people say “I stole 1200 dollars today!”. What sounds better? Yes, returning it provides joy, and yes, this is a true story that happened to my mom, though I did the legwork for her.

Here’s a hypothetical question. Would you rather be in a repressive regime that forbids or at least very strongly discourages other religions, kills whole villages when somebody from it accidentally or purposefully speaks out against you, or would you rather be in an uncertain environment, where yes, there is daily car bombings, but now you can openly practice your religion, or marry a guy of another religion, or not have to wear that stupid, stifling hijab on hot Iraqi summer days? Again, it’s choosing which is the lesser of two evils. I notice you’re not comparing Bush and Gore. 🙂 I’ll quote some of my graduation speech here, “It does not do well at all/ To sit around and complain,/ To berate the results/ Previous generations have obtained/ For we are a new generation/ Our eyes are fresh, our minds are clear, our hearts are strong/ Let us put our knowledge to work/ And improve the land to which we belong…”

*

True. We just call them “extremists.” There are extremists in every religion (not just Islam). I’m not justifying the war in Iraq or anything, but Bush is going after the extremists, not just because they’re Islamic. (Perhaps he is, but thought I should offer another view of the issue). We jail extremist Catholics/Christians who bomb abortion clinics (the wrong way to go about it…I much prefer the Supreme Court ruling! yay!).

Still, we can’t judge a whole religion based on the few kooks. I mean, Jewish, Christian, and Islam all have a common history (up to a certain point), and they’re all Abrahamic religions. I don’t admire the people who read the Koran to condone violence, but I admire that Islam also believes that abortion is wrong. So long as we find some common ground, some shared history, then and only then will we have the groundwork for peace.

***

The answer is 42. (According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.)

I suppose the answer is not to dwell on our demise. It doesn’t do any good to think about our afterlife (or afterdeath) while shunning the present. It only makes us depressed.

The meaning of life is to give life meaning.

“Climb every mountain, Ford every stream, Follow every rainbow, Till you find your dream, A dream that will need, All the love you can give, Every day of your life, For as long as you live!”

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

We can use the earth’s resources to our advantage, because otherwise we would have died off a long time ago! But true, we also need to take care of the earth. If we’re rich enough to.

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

“…For we are a new generation/ Our eyes are fresh, our minds are clear, our hearts are strong,/ Let us put our knowledge to work/ And improve the land to which we belong…”

Who’s to say we’re all going to die anytime soon? “The end of the world is at hand!” If we do things right, our race just might continue to last as long as the dinosaurs, or even longer. Or we might end up like the Galactica, we’ll roam space and try to stay alive until we find the Earth, or we just might be like Captain Picard, and enjoy archaeology on other planets, studying the ruins of other civilizations, possibly including our own.

But…”Do what you can with what you have, where you are”. We can’t worry about that now; that can be a goal for our kind, but what about your personal goal? Striving, striving, striving. What’s the purpose of your life?

***

I agree, technology really has helped in the education arena, even for homeschoolers. A lot of the learning games helped me (and a few didn’t)…like Treasure Mathstorm, Treasure Mountain, Read, Write, and Type, and the Princeton Review ACT. The internet helped to fill in some of the information I couldn’t find in books for my reports. But so long as we don’t train people to rely soley on technology–a well-rounded education is important. Sure, we can watch War of the Worlds, but it’s far better to hold HG  Wells’s book in your hand. Sure, you can find lots of information on the Internet, but it’s my preference to use the Internet to search for books at the library, then go pick up the books. And, like I said, the librarians can’t always rely on the computerized catalog; it fails sometimes (quite frequently in the summer, unfortunately) so they have to keep the Dewey Decimal System in their heads–even the pages have a mental map of most of the books in the library.

We can’t take a blind leap into the future; we must keep a firm foot on the past, just in case. Otherwise, it would be a win-all/lose-all situation, a brave new world, or a steep cliff. We don’t want to be lemmings (which, by the way, is a old wives’ tale, another thing you learn from books!)

***

No, don’t apologize; it’s an interesting topic! (I actually thought you guys might have learned about it last semester…).

Organized religion divides the world only because many choose to divide on the basis of religion. Perhaps it’s the Maslow thingy; most of us aren’t high enough on the Hiearchy to say, “Hey, wait a minute. Why are we fighting? We share the same history and much of the same religious texts. We’re practically family!”. Sure, some families aren’t so great. But some families are. Sure, I may get irritated at my sister for putting the toilet paper roll on backwards. But do I yell at her? No, I just switch it. Or I endure it. It’s not really that  big of a deal. Do you yell at someone because they left their dishes in the sink? No, you either deal with it or you put it in the dishwasher for them (If they’re taking advantage of you, then yeah, talk to them. With your mouth, not your fists.)

True, religion is a little bigger deal than toilet paper or dishes. But it’s only as big a deal as you let it be. Most of us live in harmony with one another. It’s just that in journalism, you don’t have a headline of “Another day of neighbors living peacefully with each other”. The real story is “Israelites bomb Palestinians” (or vice versa). That’s sinking to the belonging needs level. But you can still belong to a religion and progress up the Hiearchy, so long as it’s not your whole life. It’s a facet of your life, that’s all. Just like I’m Catholic, a homeschool graduate, a book lover, a sister, a daughter, a student, a library employee, deaf, an American, etc. None of these take over my whole life. Even nuns and priests and married couples don’t make their life-changing vows take over their own life. Their personality still endures, the other facets of your life still endures. If I became a nun, I’d still be able to read/write/pray/volunteer like I usually do. And I’ll still treat people alike; even if I hate them, I still treat them like I do everybody else. I don’t begrudge Islam. Like I said elsewhere, Jews, Christians, Islamics all have the same background, some common ground that we can find a footing of peace on together. I would have bought a cookie from the Islam Awareness table today, if I had cash with me.

In conclusion (yeah, it’s long enough for a conclusion) the chasm between religions are only as wide as you make them.

***

I agree that the clash of beliefs and ideology are like crossed wires; you don’t get the effect you want from your religion or policy. (Like a few months ago, whenever I shut the microwave door, the back doorbell would ring. Obviously not what I was intending.) I do think that you can fix crossed wires. If you can’t uncross them, you can at least sheath them in a protective covering that keeps the wires from interacting. This is what America tries to do, allow for the multiplicity of religions and ideologies, all while keeping us from being at each others’ throats. We use that sheathing to take a step back and say, “Okay, you don’t believe what I believe. You don’t step on grass. I can live with that. What’s the big deal anyway?”

I agree that today’s conflicts, while having a religious name, are based out of power, land, and political gain. They just use religion to cover up that true meaning.

About the land, what’s interesting is that our textbook says that the Jewish people were there before the Muslims drove them out and took over. So, you side with the Jews if you say that “they had it first, give it back”, and you side with the Muslims when you say, “Survival of the fittest”. Now, reduced to those terms, don’t they sound like a bunch of toddlers whose parents have different ideas of parenting? However, if you side with the latter, then that gives precedence to continual bickering and pushing and shoving until the next person is the king of the hill. (Remember that game when you were little?) Neither response is fair in the long run, however, as our mothers knew. After a while they’d say, “Why don’t you share?” I think that’s what the Jewish and the Palestineans have to learn in order to have peace in the land.