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Fighting the wrong (magical) battle

Jeffrey Gerlomes | Friday, November 19, 2010

Although Catholics should admire the faith of Ryan Williams, his condemnation of Harry Potter (“The evil lurking in Harry Potter,” Nov. 18) preaches the kind of ignorant fear that enables people of an otherwise good will to malign the Church as a whole. Were J.K. Rowling’s best-selling fantasy series better understood by those who fear it, it would hardly appear to be dangerous or blasphemous. Many of the real textual examples that Mr. Williams could have cited would have painted a much less malevolent picture of the entertainment franchise.

The protagonists of the Harry Potter series celebrate a very traditional Christmas. Harry receives critical guidance from his godfather. Death is treated with appropriate solemnity. Redemption and sacrifice are values, and love (cf. 1 John 4:16) is recognized as the ultimate power of the universe. Pagan and Satanic overtones seem more the domain of Voldemort and the Death Eaters — who are certainly not “the good guys.”

Cardinal Francis Arinze recently stated that he had not actually read any of the Harry Potter books, but that even with his concern, parents were ultimately responsible for making sure that their children do not blur the real world with the fictitious magical one of Ms. Rowling’s books. Fantasy makes for a great stage on which an author can set the morality plays of reality. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would likely agree.

Indeed, Rowling has received no president’s Medal of Freedom, her literary merit is dubious, but it trivializes the real evil in the world to suggest that Notre Dame’s Harry Potter activities are anything more insidious than youthful entertainment. Even and especially if President Obama’s involvement with the 2009 commencement really was such an outrage, we should be proud to celebrate the Boy Who Lived.

Jeffrey Gerlomes


Duncan Hall

Nov. 18