Other HP by Jeffrey Miller July 22, 2007 written by Jeffrey Miller July 22, 2007 I have inoculated myself against Deathly Hallow spoilers wise. The internet is a cruel place spoiler wise forcing you into a marathon read. 39 comments 0 FacebookTwitterGoogle +Pinterest Jeffrey Miller previous post This from the AJC? next post Catholic Parish Website Midi Challenge You may also like Happy Advent! December 1, 2007 The Rite Stuff April 13, 2008 Blogging alert May 5, 2004 All about me me May 11, 2007 Journeying towards Him day after day November 16, 2011 Fortnight for Freedom June 21, 2012 Godmodding August 16, 2007 Gospel verse November 23, 2005 Silver August 12, 2005 Reflecting on Advent December 3, 2012 39 comments Eileen R July 22, 2007 - 4:44 pm Does this mean you’re done? I made a post at the Catholic.com forums to discuss what I think was the most problematic bit of the book, which I quite enjoyed, btw. So, anyone who’s done the book, and reading this, I’d enjoy Catholic perspectives. The thread’s here: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=170882 Hoodlum July 22, 2007 - 5:47 pm I am hoping more people are inspire like some of my friends to take an interest in paganism. 🙂 Jeff Miller July 22, 2007 - 6:50 pm Hoodlum, Certainly shallow people we see the point of HP as paganism and not sacrificial love for others. Just as many totally missed the points of The Lord of the Rings. Though LOTR is morally superior than HP. Eileen R July 22, 2007 - 7:07 pm Anyone finding paganism in HP will be a bit taken aback by Harry and Hermione coming to Harry’s parents graves in a Church of England graveyard on Christmas Eve, with Christmas carols being sung in the background. And a Bible quote on James and Lily’s graves. PNP, OP July 22, 2007 - 7:52 pm I’ve read exactly one story about the new H.P. novel…and the blasted reporter reveals who dies in the end!!! Where’s my wand…? Fr. Philip, OP Panda Rosa July 22, 2007 - 9:02 pm SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER! After Voldemort announces, Harry, I AM your father! Harry turns into a lobster, clicks his heels three times, screaming, There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home! and falls back through the looking glass on the inside of the wardrobe (of course he didn’t shut himself up in the wardrobe) where the master magican omes back, gets rid of all the brooms and makes Harry clean up the mess! hee hee hee I wonder if Pope Benedict reads Horatio Hornblower in secret. Maureen July 22, 2007 - 9:55 pm “Ah, yes. Ze loneliness of command, ze hierarchy who do not help you, ze children you must bring home safely through danger, and ze French. I understand your problems, mein freund.” paul zummo July 23, 2007 - 9:37 am SPOILER SPOILER . . . . . . . The Christian imagery in this book is so stark and obvious you’d have to be somewhat dumb to miss it. It’s actually a bit like – no, it’s basically a complete echo of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Harry willingly sacrifices himself, descends into hell (King’s Cross) and is resurrected. And I like the epilogue. Cute touch. Jeff Miller July 23, 2007 - 9:45 am Paul, SPOILER SPOILER . . . I would agree there is much to like from a Christian world view. If it wasn’t for the case of Wizard Assisted Suicide I would have been much happier with it. The last book though certainly had more Christian elements and imagery than the previous books. Especially the scripture used in a couple of places such as on the tomb of Harry’s parents. Publius July 23, 2007 - 11:04 am SPOILER SPOILER . . . . On the bright side, Dumbledore is shown to be far, far more fallible in this book than ever before. And while I get the impression that we’re intended to sympathize with Dumbledore’s position, his desire to die at the time and place of his choosing echoes the desire to be master of death that metaphorically cursed his youth and which caused him, many decades later, to place the Resurrection Stone ring on his finger giving him the deadly curse that was going to kill him. Gail July 23, 2007 - 11:11 am SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Paul and Jeff: You are right, this one is an overtly Christian book. Strangely (??) enough I would not have recognized the second Bible quote-on-a-gravestone if I hadn’t been at a seminar by Fr. Mitch Pacwa the day before. He quoted it (in reference to the Left Behind books), and I wrote it down (1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”) And there it was! (Twilight Zone music…) I think JK Rowling has a much more difficult job here than Tolkien or Lewis — Tolkien wrote a pre-Christian fantasy, in which everything prefigures Catholicism; and Lewis wrote an allegory. (For the record, though I read LOTR at least 20 times and grew up a nominal Catholic, I never recognized the connection until I was near 40 and someone told me about it; and as a child I loved the Narnia books but did not recognize them as an allegory until a grown-up neighbor told me and then I felt, as Tolkien predicted, like I’d been tricked, and I never like them as much afterward.) Rowling is writing an alternate world fantasy, but one that takes place in OUR world. The characters are nominal Christians (they celebrate Christmas and Easter) but Christianity doesn’t seem to have any part of their lives — like many millions of people. The story that she has written, though, follows the rules that we Christians believe govern life. It is a sort of Natural Law fantasy. Even though the Characters don’t know it, they are doing what Christianity teaches. Frankly I am happy that my children are learning, through these books, a very Christian view of death. I think that Rowling has done a great job of showing kids that death is bad, but that there are worse things than death. I remember, as a teenager, being puzzled that the Numenorians in the Tolkien books spent their whole lives trying to become deathless like the Elves. I could not figure out why it was a big deal to them — what was so terrible about dying? That’s because I had almost no experience of death. By having her main character be an orphan who wanted his parents more than anything, and whose parents had died for him, Rowling made the abstract concept of death real to a Western audience to whom death is foreign. And Voldemort’s fight against death makes sense, but is shown to be the wrong way to view a real enemy. Death isn’t our enemy to fight, it’s Christ’s. I see the problem theme of “wizard assisted suicide” but I am not worried about it. My daughter (13) and I discussed it, and it is very obvious to her that this is a plot device — that JK Rowling is not saying that people should kill themselves when they are fatally ill. Gail Kathy July 23, 2007 - 3:09 pm SPOILER – – – – – – – – – Wizard Assisted Suicide (or “WAS”) is a huge problem. Although we see the dead wizard’s fallibility in this novel, he has still been a hero with some God-like qualities in the previous books. I think it was a really bad device. I’m not crazy about the cheap shot against Pope Pius XII. Other than that (and the use of the “B” word was pretty cool in this case, I thought the book rocked. It was an old-fashioned epic-style piece of artistry. gail July 23, 2007 - 4:15 pm Okay, I’ll bite. What cheap shot against Pius XII? Kathy July 23, 2007 - 4:22 pm Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be opaque. I take the new Minister of Magic’s name to be a not-so-subtle shot referring to the Holy Father during WWII. Publius July 23, 2007 - 10:25 pm I was unaware anyone had accused Pope Pius XII of setting up courts to try Jews for being Jewish on Hitler’s orders (much less that he’d been hypnotized to do so). You learn something new every day. Kathy July 24, 2007 - 9:25 am Publius, I can’t tell whether you think I’m being hypersensitive or Rowling went too far. Publius July 24, 2007 - 11:20 am I think you’re being hypersensitive. If Rowling wanted to make a caricature of Pius XII based on the popular accusations, Fudge’s actions in Order of the Phoenix, though still a great exaggeration, would at least be recognizable as a caricature of what Pius XII allegedly did (or rather omitted). Kathy July 24, 2007 - 11:39 am I hope I’m wrong. But Pius is a fairly unusual name, and coming to power at the time of the last great war… “Thickenesse” I take to mean “obtuse-ness”. And the Imperious Curse multiplies the obliviousness. I would think that a lot of people (not me) would think this at least this much is true: Pius XII did not fight effectively against the Nazis and Italian Fascists because he was oblivious to the nature of the threat. Publius July 24, 2007 - 12:27 pm Kathy, I think Pius here is a re-Latinization of pious (which is common for names in Harry Potter, e.g., Draco is simply “dragon” re-Latinized). She may well be taking a shot at a certain type of obtuse pious person (such as the kind who repeatedly screams “But Harry is a Witch!!!” in comboxes), not the historic personage of any of the popes named Pius. Gail July 24, 2007 - 2:08 pm Kathy: I gave it some thought and I think Publius is right, although you do have a case (“Nurmengard” or whatever it was sounds an awful lot like “Nuremburg” to me). I think it was more of a general jab at people not seeing the problem while trying to act on the ball, just as “Fudge” was meant to be a general jab at people pretending to do a good job. I don’t think Rowling has named anyone after any historical figures, we should not assume that she did one and only one and it was one of us. Kathy July 24, 2007 - 2:12 pm Publius, I hope you know I’m not a Harry-hater. But I think I’m unfortunately right here that Rowling took a cheap shot. It’s not like she’s a champion of organized “anything.” She thinks bureaucracies tend to corruption. But she also thinks one shouldn’t believe everything one hears, so I find it very disappointing that she’s bought into this mullarkey. Publius July 24, 2007 - 3:07 pm I’m sure Nurmengard was connected to Nuremberg considering that Grendelwald was defeated by Dumbledore the same year the Allies defeated the Axis, and that Grendelwald was imprisoned in Nurmengard shortly thereafter. However, I’m still not seeing the connection between Pius Thicknesse and Pius XII (and that anyone could make such a connection hadn’t even occurred to me before I read Kathy’s first post here). Again, it may very well be a shot, cheap or otherwise, at a certain kind of Christian, but if it was intended as a shot against Pius XII, it seems downright encrypted to me. As before, if Pius had been Fudge in book five, you’d have an excellent point since Pius XII was accused of silence and Fudge was not only silent, but did his damnedest to make sure everyone else in the Wizarding world was too. BTW, Kathy, I was certainly not thinking of you when I mentioned the anti-Potterites. I was thinking about “critics” of Harry Potter who don’t even deserved to be called that since there’s zero evidence they’ve employed their critical faculties at all. The types who literally do scream “Harry’s a Witch!!!” in comment boxes and who invented a new school of theology (Super-Duper-Mega-Giga-Uber-Ultramontanism) in order to forbid Catholics from reading the books. I myself criticized book seven for Wizard-Assisted Suicide and for the use of Unforgivable Curses by Harry and McGonagall in one of my comment boxes. Kathy July 24, 2007 - 4:36 pm Does Harry use an Unforgivable Curse besides AK against Voldemort? Jeff Miller July 24, 2007 - 4:40 pm Kathy, No Harry never uses an unforgivable curse and in fact uses Expellium (I believe) against Voldemort. Kathy July 24, 2007 - 4:54 pm You’re right, Jeff. Voldemort’s jet is green–he did the AK, and was “killed by his own rebounding curse.” I am not convinced about Pius, but admit to being agnostic about it. Maybe it will come up in a post mortem (haha) with the author. Publius July 24, 2007 - 5:00 pm Does Harry use an Unforgivable Curse besides AK against Voldemort? Yes. He uses Cruciatus (not at full power, admittedly) against Bellatrix right after she kills Sirius, tries it against Snape unsuccessfully as he’s fleeing Hogwarts, uses Imperius on the old goblin and Travers the Death Eater in book seven in the Great Gringotts Breakin, and uses Cruciatus at full power on Amycus Carrow in Ravenclaw Tower. Gail July 24, 2007 - 9:15 pm Publius: I want a t-shirt that says “Super-Duper-Mega-Giga-Uber-Ultramontanism”!!! Not that I’m for it, I just think that is a great name. Annie from FUS July 25, 2007 - 8:32 pm Two things First off, I do not believe the so-called “Wizard Assisted Suicide” is any sort of plug for euthenasia or even an example of it. If you read the scene in context it seems clear to me that Dumbledore is sacrificing himself for Draco’s sake. If Draco kills him, his own soul will be “torn”; if Draco fails he will be killed himself. When Dumbledore planned this with Snape it was a worst-case scenereo sort of thing..he wasn’t saying “Lookee here Snape, I’m gonna die anyways so why not just off me quick like?” He was saying “If you do this you will save Draco’s soul and/or life. If you don’t, I’m gonna be killed anyway by Death Eaters moments later at most and that will be far less pleasant and no one will gain anything by it.” He was both sacrificing himself and choosing the manner of his death at the same time. I believe the Church teaches that in cases in which death is inevitable and imediate, say you were traped in a burning building with a 60 story jump out the window, you may choose the manner of your death; you could choose death by falling 60 stories or death by burning but neither case would be sucide. On the whole Pius Thickeness situation. Even if (and I believe that this is a MAJOR stretch seeing as she latin-izes many names) Rowling was refering to Pope Pius remember that her character was under the Imperious curse just like Stan Shunpike and NOT acting of whole own free will. Pius Thickness was unlucky but he was not turning a blind eye like Fudge. People, if you look of evil hard enough you will find it whether it is there or not. I once read an article by a woman who was convinced that the Harry Potter series was an allagory for American Politics with Bush as Voldemort (never mind that Rowling started writing the books in the Clinton years) Annie From FUS July 25, 2007 - 8:35 pm *Look FOR evil hard enough* damn my dyslexia Monica July 25, 2007 - 9:34 pm When I first read that “wizard assisted suicide” section, I read it as that. I felt it was the one odd glaring non-prolife thing in the stories (which I’ve found to be *incredibly* prolife stories from start to… this part). Then I reread the section and realized I’d completely misread what it said. Dumbledore is NOT saying to Snape, as I thought, that Snape wouldn’t tear is soul by killing him because he was going to die within a year anyway, and it’s better to go fast than die slowly… NOT AT ALL. He was saying (as Annie said in her post) that the death eaters were going to kill him then and there. They would try to get Draco to tear his soul (mortal sin) by killing him, and if that didn’t happen, the werewolf and/or Bellatrix would kill him as awfully as possible. The analogy of being in a burning building and opting to jump to your death rather than be burned is an apt one. And in Catholic teaching, in those cases (where it’s immediate death either way) it is morally permissable to jump rather than burn, so to speak. This is not remotely like “assisted suicide” or suicide of any sort (this “burn or jump” was actually an example used in a moral theology book I was given by my spiritual director- a very orthodox Catholic). If anyone did read it the way I originally did, I’d urge them to go back and reread the section. Monica July 25, 2007 - 9:37 pm There was no “cheap shot” to Pope Pius in that. I think Rowling was taking a shot at those who accused her of writing books supporting witchcraft (usually without reading the books, sometimes reading them and totally missing the point- hence “Pius THICKNESSe”. ) Perhaps that was uncharitable of her, but I don’t think it had anything to do with Pope Pius. Just pious thickness in general. Publius July 25, 2007 - 9:42 pm But Snape asked, “What about my soul?” Dumbledore followed with what was essentially an appeal for euthanasia. Oh, and even if we can jump out of a tall building to escape fire, we are certainly not allowed to turn to a friend and say “Please shoot me in the head.” I don’t think there’s any way around it: either Dumbledore made a moral error or Rowling did. Publius July 25, 2007 - 9:45 pm I think we’re getting hung up on Jeff’s clever “Wizard-Assisted Suicide” description. This wasn’t assisted suicide, where a third party provides someone with the means to commit suicide. It was voluntary euthanasia, in which a third party kills someone at their own request in order, for example, to avoid suffering. Publius July 25, 2007 - 9:57 pm To put it simply: With a person jumping out of a burning building, the escape results in death. With Dumbledore getting AKed by Snape, the escape is death. The first can be justified under double effect since death is neither a means nor an end but rather a foreseen side effect. The second cannot, since death is the means, not just a foreseen side effect. Monica July 26, 2007 - 2:36 am I read it as an appeal for euthanasia the first time through, but I’m not convinced upon reading again it was. The entire situation was more complex than that. If the line is taken in isolation, out of context, yes, it does sound like that. Within the context of the scene, I don’t think so. I’m not saying it is morally justified (because it’s a request for snape to directly kill him before the deatheaters do) but I do not think it’s a justification for euthanasia. Putting the event back into the war situation where it occurs, it is two allies, one undercover, and the enemy about to torture and kill the other. The undercover member can shoot and kill his own ally, both to protect another person, and to prevent the ally from being tortured before they are killed. They are reluctant to do it, so the first says “I’m going to be killed anyway, tortured horribly, – heck, you’re doing me a favor by doing it first, quickly” I’d not call that ‘euthanasia’ or a plea for it- not in the context of the story, with so many other factors involved. I can see such an event unfolding in not only this harry potter story, but in a variety of war stories/movies, (and even real life war situations) etc. Morally questionable at the very least, but euthanasia? Kathy July 27, 2007 - 10:03 pm Yes, Monica, that is euthanasia. Kathy July 27, 2007 - 10:09 pm By the way, post-911 I was worrying out loud about the people who were seen falling from the towers. It is such a dreadful thing and I was wondering about the moral issues involved. First of all, Publius’ reasoning holds: it is not that death is willed, escape from death is willed, and the unfortunate result is death. But the thing is, I was talking to a friend of mine whose father is a firefighter. She said that according to her father, the firefighters have to go through special training not to jump out of burning buildings. The instinct to just leave the area is so strong that you don’t have time to think. All you know is you have to get out of there–it is too hot. That is the instinct that the people were most likely going on that day. It’s not in the same category as a considered decision. Antonio aka Berlicche July 30, 2007 - 12:36 pm The problem is that Dumbledore planned it beforehand…He consciously disposed of his own life. It can be discussed if the “I will die anyway” issue was just to override Snape’s doubts or not… Another point: what do You think about the hallows’ sign? It is a shoot, but to whom? At first I thought about Church (trinity), but now I think about masonry… Freeman August 2, 2007 - 11:13 pm I do not believe that Rowling was taking a shot at Pope Pius XII. He would have been contemporary with Grindewald; not with Voldemort! I think she had some other folks in mind. And while the treatment was provocative (as evidenced by the current discussion), whatever he might have done otherwise, as it developed, Dumbledore’s act was sacrifice, not suicide. I am an American. I admire Rowling’s work. I believe that it reflects Christian values as good and bad people interact in an imperfect alternate reality. For years in this country, some misguided members of the self-designated “Moral Majority” have attempted to raise an outcry against Rowling’s “anti-Christian advocacy of witchcraft”. I believe that they have comrades in Britain. Rowling’s work has not hidden her scorn for such bigotry and narrow-mindedness. By introducing “Pius Thickness”, I believe she was giving these folks a character they can call their own. Brilliant! I was rolling around as I hooted my laughter. It reminded me of the scene in the movie “A Knight’s Tale” where Chaucer promises to eviscerate forever in verse his enemies the Pardoner and the Summoner. From my perspective, Rowling accomplished precisely that. Later, by making Pius Thickness the Minister of Magic, it seems to me she could only have had in mind another chief of state, President of the United States, George H. W. Bush! Really! Who else could Pius Thickness better typify? Spying on the public, relentless violations of privacy, illegal detention, corruption of the machinery of government, torture, manipulation of the media, persecution of dissenters; it is hard to imagine that such a caricature could be a coincidence. So, that makes Vice President Dick Cheney Voldemort? (Maybe it would make him Yaxley since Yaxley cast the imperious curse.) Rowling has a great breadth of knowledge, and she weaves with many threads. Perhaps there was a double entendre quality to the naming of Pius, but I only credit it at all because her writing is so intricate. As to Dumbledore choosing the manner of his death, as it unfolds, it clearly is a sacrifice intended to save Draco. Until the moment the other Death Eaters arrive on the roof, Dumbledore continues to try to persuade Draco to accept an alternative. It is provocative to wonder to wonder what course Dumbledore would have taken had Draco accepted his offer and handed over his wand before the other Death Eaters arrived. But, along with so very many other treasures, Rowling has given us here her own “The Lady or the Tiger”. We can make anything out of it we choose, but she clearly left it to us. If it had not been necessary for Snape to kill him as a ruse of war, I am certain at least that Dumbledore would not have placed the burden on Snape. He was certainly capable of ending his own life if he meant to do so – he lacked neither the courage nor the capability. Given Dumbledore’s personal regard for others, “even an eleven year old boy with dragonpox”, he would not place such a burden on the soul of another person if he had an alternative. Comments are closed.