Better Conversations

Open books

Powered by TypePad

« Can Orthodox and Muslims Get Along? | Main | A Bigger World »

Comments

I'm not sure what "HypoChristianity" means, especially in this context. You may have wanted "hyper," but I'm not sure.

My being a follower of Christ is a hope, not a self-deception.

If you think that I exhibit venomous hatred and bigotry, then you know neither real venom nor hatred, and "bigotry" is a label that you have learned to foist on a morality that is neither fundamentalist or obsolete, but simply Christian.

"Venomous hatred" is more accurate a description of what some writers get when they openly disagree with the self-affirmation of the gay culture.

How you can exhibit such vemonous
hatred and bigotry and deceive yourself that you are actully a follower of Christ is laughable.
HypoChristianity at it's best.

Dan

You disagree with more than a couple, James.

Rowling was acutely aware that she was divulging more than just a "minute" of everyday life when she described Dumbledore as gay. By her own account, this fact was key to his character. I disagree, and I thought it was unnecessary in the grammar of her narrative and inappropriate in the moral fabric of her fantasy. It is not right to characterize, ex post facto, a "father" character after he has been accepted as such by a zillion children. Describe him as gay up front, but don't camouflage the fact on one hand as a bit of minutiae, and on the other hand, clearly reveal Dumbledore's gayness as an operative dynamic in one of the central, plot-driving characters.

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I preferred Dumbledore now as a two-dimensional villain. I still admire the Dumbledore character and am inspired by him, as I harbor a deep interest in the whole Potter canon.

Finally, I'm not sure what happened to Solomon and Lot, but their actions received real old fashioned condemnation -- much more than what you saw me lobbing at the headmaster. And I am rather sure that King David repented of his homicidal adultery. Psalm 50 is the product of that searing penance.

Are you suggesting that Dumbledore repent of his homosexuality? That JK conceives of him in his elder years as regretting his relationship with Grindelwald?

Now THAT would be a story.

I take issue with a couple elements from this post:

a) Authors deal with the minutiae of every-day life: they describe the look, the feel, the scent to try to convey upon the reader the spirit of a scene. If describing the draping of a fabric or the color if a flower is worthwhile, I'm not certain why the briefest reference to one's sexuality should be deemed "irrelevant".

b) It seems you would prefer that Dumbledore be portrayed as a two-dimensional villain now that it has been said that he is gay. Is it impossible to believe that a person may have other redeemable characteristics even if they are gay? It's not as if JK went into great length to describe Dumbledore's sexuality, anyhow. In addition, Scripture is filled with far more troublesome personalities than Dumbledore: King David (a murderer and adulterer), Solomon (who kept concubines), Lot (who impregnated his daughters) ... the list goes on and on.

I just don't think this level of condemnation is warranted.

FWIW, I apologize for the way my comments seem to have misdirected Fr. Jonathan's intended discussion, and my acerbic and cryptic choice of words set off Mr. Granger. My mistake. All the same, there are those of us who tremendously enjoy both fine literature and good pulp... but don't confuse the difference, nor does our ability to distinguish between them mean that we hold ourselves in high esteem, but that we esteem the truly great authors and artists and their works.

I would parry suggestions regarding my ignorance - which by the way is great and why I sign myself Thickheaded - duh! - with the simple note that management of a technique or list of techniques conveys something of the artisan, but less of the artist. Art is and always has been something more ephemeral to define, and the inspiration of the muse often beyond the artist's own control. The Greeks recognized this... yet today we are less inclined to admit that realization is more than craft. Those who give life to their characters truly do give them life of their own and they succeed beyond themselves and they indellibly impress themselves upon our imaginations. But I digress.

Mary-Leah, I'm not sure what age group you're looking for or particularly what your standards are. I'd suggest asking a school library mom or grand mother for recommendations. Tell them what you want and the interests of the child, and I suspect you'll have to wade through a few, but you'll find some real gems. There are wonderful new books out there, and some of the prose is really, really good. And of course the old greats are still out there, and the vocabulary of the older works... well, it's closer to the basis of the SAT's then you'll find elsewhere. For my bit, a fantasy series I enjoyed recently was Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game". It's pulp, but fun and reasonably well told. His inspiration was Isaac Asimov's Robot trilogy... and comes close, but his prose isn't in a Ray Bradbury class. Sci-Fi has always been didactic and these books are no exception.

One closing note from the librarian mom I share my life with: Rowling has changed publishing to the extent that authors are now-a-days virtually required to write a series. I guess this is no different than the impact of Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys, but it seems increasingly out of control, pushing many beyond their measure. Also, please note that my comment regarding the source of reference is not meant in any way other than to simply to distinguish among librarians between those who love books, and today's more commonly found librarians who specialize in cataloging information.

Hope this helps.

Hey, everyone, (note the element of fatigue and cheerful aggravation) I did not get in this to argue with John Granger about Dumbledore. I did not post anything on his site (I only do so on my sister-in-law's place, and at the kind offices of the Ochlophobist when I am particularly brave or feeling oddly intelligent).

I am neither endorsing Harry or condemning him.

I don't like it that JK said that the "father figure" is gay, and it doesn't matter one bit when and how and in what context the applause was made. I don't want to talk about applause or Dumbledore's celibacy. It's getting a little ripe, n'est-ce pas?, when we surmise the unknown, unreported, unwritten unnatural inclinations of a fictional character. I don't know what "gay" means here, but she didn't say "I've always thought that Dumbledore was a celibate gay."

I wish that children could have their stories and the hearth would be safe, the firelight shutting out the dark and cold.

I wish that I could have MY stories without them being added onto, rewritten, deconstructed, theorized, hermeneutized, redacted, inclusivized, egalitarianized, politicized, spun for profit and focus groups, positioned in the market for leverage and movies and franchised till Kingdom comes.

I rather like childish things, still, but I have no luxury, Mary-Leah.

Fr. Stephen is a good father figure. I'll go to him and ask him if there are any stories left in the world for a child.

Interesting...

I am very much inclined to agree with John Granger, but enjoying an alternate perspective nonetheless.


And Fr. Jonathan knows how to spell "germane"... :)

As Fr. Stephen so aptly put it on Glory to God for all things!
Why cannot children be left to childish things while they have the luxury? This was nothing that was germain to the story or it would have been placed in the actual books.

Thank you all for your kindness and conviviality.

Anna, to a degree you're right about celibate homosexuality. The germane issue here is whether by celibacy you mean the usual abstinence from commission, or the wider meaning of Orthodox chastity, which involves not only abstinence from commission, but more importantly demands interior chastity from the passion of lust, and from communion with the psychic images and insinuations that precede the act.

In these weird modern times, we are used to the term "orientation," although that concept is absent in the Fathers. I suspect that the Fathers might say that there is the potential for any passion, and thus any commission, within any soul-darkened person. Therefore, a homosexual orientation is not just 10% of the population, it is potentially 100%.

I would accept that, just as long as it is stipulated that homosexual ideation and commission (as well as any sexual activity outside of the nuptial sacrament of a man and woman) is -- well, I'll go old-fashioned here -- sin.

Also a word to those who will watch only the movies -- you will get a truncated, poorly acted version of J.K.'s story, stripped of most of its deeper meaning. Just fyi.

Just a humble suggestion -- J.K. gives us no reason to believe Dumbledore was ever involved in any kind of sexual activity (when would he have had time/space/privacy?), and I see a long-term celibate homosexual as a triumph for Christianity, not a threat to it.

Fr. Bless!
As usual well said. I have not read any of the books, I am always the type to wait for the whole of a series to come out and then buy the lot, guess I will pass on Harry and just watch the movies when they hit television. That will happen soon enough.

I do find J.K's timing suspect, as you have pointed out but, gosh, what about those who have invested in supportive publications?

Especially those who went out on a limb, before it was popular to do so, and supported the Christian themes that they perceived within the Potter series? Now they are left to defend J.K. and her creation as much as she is willing to, their investment is as risk.

Good luck with that, Mr. Granger, you have invested in the author of that series and are at her whim, she can sink your suppositions with one interview, and her support of the homosexual agenda.

Mr. Granger says that the denizens here are... well, talk about judgments, I won't go there, he has an investment and books to sell. I do wish him luck, and I mean it.

Dumbledore? J.K. has kept her name from the upper echelon of Christian literati by this one move... her efforts could be all that you say, yet, current society deems popularity and the tokenism of relativity, applied equally to everyone, to be all that is necessary for entry in to the beau monde.

Our standards have fallen very low, very low indeed.

In Christ,
the handmaid,
Mary-Leah

I fear I'm not too proficient at moderating comments, so I'll let this one pass, too.

By all means, pass and be published on this smug site, even with your link to your Amazon offerings. I will probably purchase the 5 keys, since they've been so heartily recommended.

I'm puzzled though by your tone. Rowling's a big girl and I'm sure she can take a critique, even if it turns out to be mistaken. Surely I am not the first to raise these issues, especially pertaining to her failure to accomplish what I thought was her main goal and opportunity. There have been others, Harold Bloom among them, who have raised substantive doubts about the quality of her writing. She may write well as a children's author, but not as an adult.

I am also quite sure she can take my complaint about Dumbledore. She was ready for the barrage.

I received some ribbing from my colleagues about my affirmation of Rowling in my first post on Harry. The gag usually went like this: "You're a priest, and most of us have condemned this stuff, and here you are announcing that you read it out loud to your kids?" They were amused when I rehearsed to them my voices for Dumbledore, Voldemort and Dursley. Most were not impressed.

Now I get raspberries from the other quarter: "You're smug, counter-intuitive, uncharitable, and a stone-thrower from high places." I guess you're amazed that I'm not on board with the rubric "remarkable literary achievement." Nevertheless, I am still entertained by her tales: but "literature"? Aw, shucks, no.

Renaissance Florence is hardly a commendation, and neither is the alchemical theme all that alluring. I don't know if Dante would have recognized his stuff in the canon. I do hear Austen in Rowling: I hear her better in O'Brian ... I rather think that Austen would have found JK's penchant for the supernatural upsetting and then, later, pretty pedestrian.

This is a small site, Mr. Granger. We do all we can for good authors and Orthodox writers. The times demand a frank critique on one hand, and a fraternity on the other.

I will let all my comments stand (though I'll correct spelling), as long as they're not commercial, blasphemous or too vulgar. You can afford to moderate.

I will not.

Joseph asked me to return but I don't see enough common ground here for a discussion. We're approaching the books from different and irreconcilable perspectives.

The consensus here seems to be, excuse me for speaking frankly in a very frank, even smug forum, that the Harry Potter books are as popular as they are because they are so bad and millions of readers have no taste or idea of what makes edifying, challenging reading (they're all stupid). That is a counter-intuitive and uncharitable position, if I suspect, uncharitably, that it must be satisfying in a way to someone arguing it. A more common sense and humble place to begin is with the assumption that people love these stories because they are very well written and they are uplifting in some way (cf. Eliade's thesis about the religious function of entertainments in a secular culture). That has been my working principle, and, looking at Ms. Rowling's work seriously, it seems to hold up very well. These are very good books, in the several senses of "good."

An examination of Ms. Rowling's work as literature, for example, reveals an excellent grasp and use of narrative misdirection (a la Austen, her favorite writer), literary alchemy (from Shakespeare and Lewis, two more favorites), a hero's journey (classic monomyth with Dantesque changes; Rowling is consumed by Renaissance Florence imagery and literature), traditional symbolism (almost exclusively Christian), and postmodern themes, the latter being a consequence of her being a writer of her times writing about the concerns and beliefs of her audience. Dismissing this remarkable accomplishment as serial Seagull reflects much more on the, ahem, ignorance and arrogance of the reader than the failings of the author. I write about these five keys to unlock Harry Potter in a book with that title.

If you want to discuss the books as literature and Potter mania as a counter-cultural phenomenon rather than throw stones from your high place, please join us at HogwartsProfessor.com. It is a moderated site, I am obliged to say, and little if any of the self-satisfied, self-important and, again, excuse me, snarky comments above would have received a pass.

I attach two posts I made at HogPro on the Christian meaning and alchemical artistry of Deathly Hallows in place of joining a discussion here of that book's merits and failings. Thank you for the invitation to join you -- and farewell!

John Granger, checking out
http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=160
http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=155
http://astore.amazon.com/zossimapress-20

And who actually suggested Rowling was writing literature and not pulp? Lotta dough in pulp. Even (or especially) kid-pulp. Sure am thankful to have taken a "pass" after book one. Did anyone ever suggest Rowling was in a class with C.S. Lewis or Tolkein? Classical guitarist Christopher Parkening once counseled not to make the all too common mistake of confusing success with accomplishment, but to strive for the latter. Rowling took the other course and became a phenomena. If you'll forgive me, the whole Harry Potter blather has always reminded me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.... except issued in multiple volumes for a serial effect and profits. And if that suggestion only results in a head scratching "What?" ... you have my point exactly.

Fr. Jonathan,
I think you make some excellent points that I wish John Granger would interact with you on rather than focusing on the recent comments by JK. Maybe John will come back for a good discussion.

I've read all the books except the last one to my children. I've always found them to be clever, but rather shallow. They hint at something greater, then usually disappoint. Dumbledore's "outing" fits the pattern.

Dumbledore's gayness, John, is a disappointment but not my chief concern. Didn't you think that that last bout with Voldemort was at least a tad contrived? The plot schematic looks like a Rube Goldberg Device.

I won't burn my copy, but it sure didn't live up to the cachet and panache JK established in the first few volumes: wizards/witches as hippies ... magic not as occult but as quidditch and the Leaky Cauldron ...

Rowling, to patch things up, became awkward, lurching from a fairytale-tone to something akin to Lovecraft. The bildungsroman progress from child magic to adolescent "bloody mary" necromancy was not convincing.

For another, less biting view of Ms. Rowling's comment in Carnegie Hall last night, please see http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=198.

John Granger, just visiting

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

July 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31