Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Is it Banned in Boston?

I've been reading some posts lately on a group I belong to that seem to come down very heavily on Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code. I've read them both. Actually I've only read the first four Harry Potter books, but I think that's enough for me to form an opinion.

Starting with Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a wizard. Do you know any real-life wizards? I mean the kind that can fly on broomsticks and the like - not the kind who practice Wicca and call themselves wizards (and I don't know any of that kind either, but I suspect someone might). Do you think there are any schools of magic that only wizards can see? No, of course you don't - and chances are your kids don't either.

It's fiction. It's fantasy. It's fun. Most children who are of an age to be able to read the Harry Potter books know the difference between fantasy & fiction and reality. That doesn't mean they don't wish some fantastical things were real. After all, wouldn't everyone love to have a cloak of invisibility, or an owl that brings you mail?

Are the books Anti-Catholic? They don't address religion at all as far as I can see - and they don't make witchcraft a religion either. It is just what these people are: magical beings.

Harry Potter is the good guy using the means available to him to vanquish the bad guy. I think that's a lesson worth imparting.

Now on to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. I read it and enjoyed it. It was a fast paced thriller with all the murder and mayhem that goes along in that category. Was it the best book I ever read? No, not by a long shot.

Did it weaken my Catholic faith? No. Not at all. I knew the book was fiction. I dealt with it as fiction. Interesting points, but all false, so enjoy the action and adventure.

Could that book weaken the faith of someone who isn't too sure about what they believe. Yes, I suppose it could. However, the true answers are out there for anyone willing to look for them. And perhaps, if someone wasn't too sure about things, and read the book and wanted to know what the church said about these things they'd learn more than they ever would have learned before.

Is it wise to be careful what things we expose ourselves and our children too? Yes - of course.

Should we make a crusade out of popular books because the opinions expressed in them don't match our religious convictions? No.

Why not? Because people not willing to allow themselves to be open to other points of view; to not give themselves a chance to understand why they believe what they believe, are not allowing themselves to grow and strengthen their faith.

When we are small we believe because our parents tell us to. But if at some point in our lives we don't question why we believe that and come up with our own reasons, we will never get beyond the point of 'because my parents said so.'

In some parts of the world people are not allowed to read or see things that contradict what the government wants them to know. Why? Because if they think for themselves perhaps the people will no longer be willing to say "because the government told me so."

The church can stand up to much scrutiny because it is based on the truth that is Jesus Christ. Let people scrutinize, let people question, but provide the answers. Make the truth readily available. Maybe it will be a learning experience.

In the meantime, I don't think these books have been Banned in Boston.


Liz B said...

Books about JKR, HP, and Christianity are plentiful, arguing both ways for HP. Me, what I find convincing is that ultimately they are very moral books about good v. evil. There are a few titles out there (of course I don't remember the titles now!) that argue that not only is JKR Christian, but that it is apparent from her writings. That is, it's like L'Engle and her books.

Da Vinci Code: Pretty much everyone I know knows that this book includes, what's that word, oh yea, Fiction. The only people I have known who "believe" it are those who had little or none religious education, so had nothing in their background to balance what they read, or to nothing to be able to spot on their own the inaccuracies. Which to me is not an argument to ban the book, but rather for CCD and the like. Someone with a basic understand of the Early Church isn't going to be taken in by Brown's "truth."

Liz B said...

Oh and I forget. Here's a post over at BookMoot,

Check out the comments, including the links, which shows that the Pope NEVER came out against HP.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thank you for a thoughtful and eloquent post.