Harry Potter and Imagination

Be sure to check out Travis Prinzi’s book, Harry Potter and Imagination: The Way Between Two Worlds.  It’s available to order today and if Travis’ work at The Hog’s Head is any indication, it would make a great Christmas present.  (But you better order it soon.)

Dungeons and Dragons

My brother Mitch just put up a post on his blog called “Why D&D Doesn’t Offend Me as a Christian“. The whole post is spot-on, but I thought this quote particularly salient:

In fact, it seems that the values instilled by D&D are more positive than the values instilled in most television shows, video games, and internet blogs.

(I would probably put my own blog in there, but that would imply I’m attempting to instill something, which I am not.)

In my experience, Christians who are against D&D (or any RPG or Harry Potter, et al) simply do not understand magic. Being too literal, they interpret all uses of magic as being inherently evil. They do not understand magic as a literary device because they only look at the text’s surface, never bothering to look for the real story behind it. This is the way they interpret the Bible, which has caused much trouble in evangelicalism.

A Quick Question

Did Mark Driscoll say something about Harry Potter, because I’m getting a lot of traffic from people searching for those terms.  And yes, this is partially a ploy for more Google traffic, but I also want to know.

Harry Potter Week: Day Seven (and Friday Five)

I thought I would combine Friday Five in with Harry Potter week, thus allowing me to kill two blog posts with one.  (The insanity of the previous sentence does not escape me.)  So, for the final post in Harry Potter week, here are five things that definitely, without a doubt, not happen in Deathly Hallows.  (No spoilers unless I’m right, which I hope I am not.)

  • Snape has a depressing conversation with the Death Eaters, resulting in mass suicide.
  • Dumbledore returns as a blue ghost only to reveal to Harry that most of what he said was a lie (from a certain point of view).
  • Dobby bites off Harry’s finger, thus enabling Voldemort’s demise.
  • Harry becomes a giant stone being who defeats Voldemort, then roams the arctic landscape.  (Bonus geek points for anyone who gets this reference.)
  • Harry wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and realizes it was all a dream.

Harry Potter Week: Day Six

The question of whether Snape is good or bad strikes me as an odd one.  I know what people are getting at, they want to know whether Snape is on Harry’s (more accurately, Dumbledore’s) side or Voldemort’s.

What does it mean to be a good person?  If you are working against those who want to kill, are you then good?  Can you be described as “sadistic” and still be considered good because you don’t want to kill everyone?  Can you kill someone who is clearly good and means you no harm, even if that person somehow asked you to do so, and still be good?

One example that comes to my mind is Paul from the novel Dune (perhaps one of the best pieces of literature of the 20th century).  The Atreides are known as good people; they treat their subjects well and deal justly with all others.  They, Paul included, are the good guys, no doubt about it.

Jump to Dune Messiah, where Paul admits to having been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40 billion people.  The jihad he began on Dune  has spread throughout the whole galaxy and anyone opposed to his rule slaughtered.  Paul did not do the actual killing, but, as he points out, it was all done under his direction.

Is Paul a good person?  He is obviously the hero of the story, but it would take a lot to say he is good.  Is he even better than the Emperor, or Baron Harkkonen?  At a certain point Paul agrees that he is not good; he knows that his rule is worse than Genghis Khan’s or Adolph Hitler’s.  He sees the path he must follow to bring about real change for humanity, but even he cannot follow it.

Okay, then let’s come back to Snape.  Is the question really, is Snape a good guy?  I’m sure many of us would be happy to see that everything he has ever done has been part of a plan and that he really was decent and certainly not sadistic, but that’s probably not going to happen.  If all the experts are right, then we will be left with a deeply flawed, prideful, mean spirited, sadistic jerk who was on the right side fighting against evil.

Just like most of us.

Harry Potter Week: Day Five

If you’ve been following my Potter posts, then you know that I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Let’s just get that taken care of right away so as to avoid any confusion.  Actually, I’ve been saying this about the blog for a long time now and everyone seems to agree.  But, I did start this whole Harry Potter week thing and I don’t want to be a quitter, so I had to come up with a post for today.

I’ve long thought there was some connection between the Potter series and Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea books, especially the first three that deal with the wizard Sparrowhawk.  I’ve never actually read anything about the connection between the two, but they seem to share some common thematic elements.  (Spoilers for Earthsea books follow.)

For those not in the know, the Earthsea cycle may be some of the best fantasy ever written, in some aspects surpassing Tolkien.  LeGuin is a masterful writer; if you’ve never read her, just pick up any book and it will be well worth your time.

I won’t bother giving away too much, just read the books for yourself, but I do want to bring up the ending to the third book, The Farthest Shore.  The plot in a nutshell: a malaise is spreading over the islands of Earthsea and magic seems to be diminishing.  Our hero, the mage Sparrowhawk (or Ged), travels to the end of the world to discover the problem.  He has to go into the world of the dead to confront the mage Cob, who has breached the two worlds in an effort to cheat death.

(This is where a big spoiler comes)  In order to defeat Cob and put the world to rights, Ged has to sacrifice his use of magic.  He does not die, but gives up what some may be considered the best part of himself for the world’s sake.  And afterwards, the world does become united again, after years of disunity.

Some interesting ideas here: going beyond the “veil”, a powerful mage who desires to cheat death and a sacrifice that is perhaps worse than death.

Of course, I’m not saying this is how DH is going to end, that would be stupid.  But it is an interesting idea.

Harry Potter Week: Day Four

(Warning: there are some spoilers in this post, if you haven’t read every Harry Potter book and watched Serenity or The Empire Strikes Back, then don’t read this post; I don’t want to ruin anything for you.)

In the internet age we live in, spoilers are a sad fact.  Who knows what lurks behind every email, what’s on the other side of a link or what some jerk on a podcast might say.  You never know when someone is going to spoil a story for you.

Case in point: there was that video of some guy screaming “Dumbledore dies!” to a line of Potter fans waiting to get HBP.  These fans were just standing there, at midnight no less, wanting to get the latest book.  They were minding their own business, not seeking out spoilers, and had the book somewhat ruined for them.

Or there was that time I was listening to a podcast, when one of the hosts exclaimed, “Wash dies.”  This was the day Serenity was released.  Or, the episode of the Simpson’s when Homer is walking out of Empire Strikes Back and says to Marge, “I can’t believe that Vader is Luke’s father”, right in front of a line for the next showing.

Listen, spoilers suck if you don’t want them.  I’m one person who does not like spoilers and I do everything I can to avoid them.  I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before I experience it for myself.

Don’t post spoilers for DH for at least a week after the book is released.  Even then, recognize that some people have not read the book and might not for some time. 

I’m moving the weekend it comes out, so I won’t get to it until at least the middle of next week, and I don’t want to cut off all internet and TV access because someone might spoil me.  That’s not cool and I shouldn’t have to deal with it.  If you want to discuss what happens, go ahead and do so, but please make it known you are talking about spoilers.

Edit: It’s jerks like this that I’m talking about; these killjoys need to be put away.