Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Harry Potter is no hero: Vatican newspaper

Cross-post from The World...IMHO.

A prominent article in the official Vatican newspaper has warned against a fundamental flaw in the Harry Potter novels. Since they just published the 7th and final book in the series in 2007, I think the Vatican speaking out at this point is "too little, too late". I wish the Vatican and the Bishops would be quicker to speak out against morally offensive media. Another good example is "The Golden Compass"... Bill Donohue of The Catholic League, a lay person, did more to speak out against that than anyone else.

In a signed essay in L'Osservatore Romano, Edoardo Rialti argues that despite "obvious superficial resemblances," the novels by J.K. Rowling do not deserve to be compared with the great Christian fables of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The fundamental difference, he says, is that the Harry Potter books portray sorcery and magic as positive forces.

While Harry Potter has many admirable qualities, the L'Osservatore Romano critic writes, the books fall into "the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with secret knowledge." Rowling, the author, offers a character who manipulates secret forces, and turns dark powers to good use. By contrast, Rialti writes, the fictional works of Tolkien and Lewis remind readers that "the seductive power of magic always has grave and destructive consequences."

The hero in Christian allegory, like Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings, achieves great things by perseverance and reliance on his own abilities, the L'Osservatore article notes. Harry Potter, on the other hand, invokes special powers that make him something more than a mortal human. Thus Harry Potter cannot be considered a proper hero, the article concludes.

story here


love2learnmom said...

You should check out this post on Jimmy Akin regarding this article...

Apparently the article in L'osservatore Romano was seriously misrepresented and was, in fact, a debate between a pro-Harry Potter position and anti-Harry Potter position. In the linked article, only the anti-Harry Potter position was given.

Julie D. said...

Thanks for the heads up on the more even handed reporting on that debate! Its always good to have more than one source, and sometimes those are easy to miss. :-)

Christine said...

Thanks for the additional info!

Meg said...

This certainly tells us something about the quality of "Catholic World News" as a reputable source.

Jeff Miller said...

Catholic World News actually passed on a Catholic News Agency story.

Histor said...

What we really need is a copy of the L'osservatore Romano issue in question. Unfortunately, the seriously neglected Vatican website doesn't provide us with archives.

That way, we can either prove CNA is lying by omission to make an editorial point, or prove that CNS invented a completely fictional article by Paolo Gulisano, make it appear that L'osservatore Romano was ambivalent about Harry Potter.