instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Borrowing trouble

This post should have a better introduction.

The more ardent J. K. Rowling apologists create a dilemma for themselves. If the Potter books are as filled with Christian themes as they say, then the consequentialism of the books (and more generally, all the un-Christian themes) becomes a problem. And so we find parents fretting about the hero being rewarded for misbehavior, as if that never happens in children's stories.

But if Harry Potter is primarily a story, then it should be admitted that it's not a particularly Christian story. The virtues it exemplifies are natural virtues; in particular, the love that plays such a significant (and improbable) role is natural love, not Christian charity.

Which is as it should be, in the non-Christian world Rowling has invented.

The rush to baptize the climax of the last book brings along its own problems. To list all the Christiany aspects is to invite listing all the non-Christiany aspects. Again, non-Christiany aspects are no big deal at all in a story; they only become so if the story is supposed to be somehow more profoundly Christian than any other good-vs-evil fantasy.

I'm also somewhat bemused by the claim that there aren't many good children's books with a reasonably sound moral center. It seems to me that I read a childhood's worth of them growing up, and my kids have found plenty of them written since I was their age. Maybe this is more of a problem in "Young Adult" literature, but... no, I'd say anyone who pays much attention to the "Young Adult" label deserves what they get.