The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Going through the motions

July 18, 2007

Welp, we know that a new Harry Potter book is about to come out, because the Washington Post has featured the obligatory piece on Christian reactions to Harry Potter, along with a side-helping of wonderment at the rise of explicitly Christian publishing.

Too bad this is so not new.

The article points out that some Christians are uncomfortable with the depiction of magic in the series, and notes that literature marketed as Christian in content (as opposed to the previous thousand years or so of Christian literature which was, well, just literature) is becoming a large and important market segment.

As Dan and I have argued elsewhere, for Christians who genuinely believe that magic is 1) real; and 2) derived from demonic forces, it is perfectly logical and consistent within their worldview to object to Harry Potter, the popularity of which encourages children to play at being wizards themselves, putting them at risk of contacting those demonic forces. That the heroes use magic for good is irrelevant, since magic is per se evil and dangerous. The article, unfortunately, doesn’t really explain the basis for the objection. Although to many of us on the secular left (as well as the very large number of Christians who also don’t believe in magic), their claims are patently ridiculous, there is a nearly unbroken chain of cultural imagination concerning witchcraft and satanism going all the way back to the middle ages, and possibly beyond. (If you want to know more, you need to buy the book. I can’t give away everything, you know.)

Then there’s the breathless discovery of Christian literature, complete with OMIGOD! They. Have. Romance. Novels. With. No. Sex. Scenes. Although Christian publishing continues to be a rapidly expanding market, the writer makes the forays of the major trade houses in Christian publishing sound like they happened yesterday. Unfortunately, this has been going on now for over 10 years. Sure, it’s a trend, but it didn’t start yesterday.

Update: Here’s an example of the kind of thinking I mentioned above, concerning the promotion of magic by Harry Potter.

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