Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PSNV: The Mystery of Harry Potter

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Title: The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide
Author: Nancy Carpentier Brown
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Date Published: June 18, 2007
ISBN: 1592763987
Price: Softcover 12.95
As a fan of Harry Potter, and a Catholic Christian, I have often lamented the time wasted on paranoid analyses of J.K. Rowling's great work of Christian (yes, I said Christian) fantasy from believers who ought to know better. Now comes a fine appreciation of Rowling's achievement from a first rate writer, believer, and (to top it off) Chestertonian Catholic. Thanks, Nancy Brown, for doing justice to the greatest Christian fantasy epic of our generation. - Mark P. Shea, Senior Content Editor, CatholicExchange.com

Nancy Carpentier Brown has done us all, especially parents, a great service. The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide is an informative and original assessment of the Harry
Potter books, examining why they are not only great literature, but great Christian literature as well. Harry Potter should be on every Catholic family's bookshelf, right alongside Nancy's book. -Sean P. Dailey, editor-in-chief of Gilbert Magazine.

Nancy Carpentier Brown has done a great service to Catholic parents, and to Catholic readers of fiction in general: Cutting through the hype and controversy surrounding the Harry Potter series, she provides her own confidently Christian interpretation of the story. In truly Chestertonian fashion, she turns upside down the strident criticisms of those whose opposition to real-life witchcraft and sorcery prevents them from seeing anything good in the books. Her clearheaded analysis of the fundamentally moral, religious, and even Christian character of the narrative is very convincing. Her voice deserves to be heard. -Fr. Pierre Ingram, CC, S.T.L.

At last a book by a devout Catholic mom about Harry Potter! Nancy Brown puts to rest the objections raised by Catholics who have not read Joanne Rowling's wonderful books and raises concerns for prudent Christian parents to consider. This is a must for every Catholic parish library and RCIA teacher! –John Granger, author, Finding God in Harry Potter

The Mystery of Harry Potter is a great resource to enlighten Catholic parents and educators that JK Rowling is on the side of the angels. -Robert TrexlerEditor, CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society

The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide by Nancy Brown is fantastic! Whether you hate, love or are unsure about Harry you have got to put this book on your reading list. Mrs. Brown wrote it in a way I would have never dreamed. She ties J. K. Rowling's story of Harry Potter to G. K. Chesterton's Battle of Lepanto. Only a Chestertonian like Nancy could pull it off so beautifully. -Maureen Wittmann

(Note to librarians: Amazon has the wrong release date at their website - it is available now)


Anonymous said...

I think that the Harry Potter issue needs to be treated with ongoing discernment. I also think that as a Catholic community we need to be careful about 'labelling' certain Catholics as 'paranoid' for their caution in recommending Harry Potter books.

It would behoove all of us to recall the response of Benedict (then Ratzinger) to Gabriele Kuby's book Harry Potter: Good or Evil? in which she pointed out errors which can harm youth.

Benedict wrote: “Good for you to enlighten us in the matter of Harry Potter. These are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable, and precisely because of that they have a deep effect and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it could properly grow.”

Now when a Pope begins to recognize 'subtle' seductions, which are 'barely noticeable', then in my mind, if I don't see them, I would question the purity & correctness of my own perspective before I begin to question the truth of such a holy man's clarity.

In all honesty, I have not yet seen the need to read the Harry Potter books. But when I see such divergent opinions on this within the Catholic community, I am wondering if I ought not to... And it is in this regard that I would like parents to remain cautious about these books until we can see their fruit

My opinion...
Holly Pierlot

Cut & Paste this:

Mrs. V said...

I have read all the books. I would challenge anyone to read the sixth book and not see Christian symbolism. In fact, it is rather obvious!
I understand those who are weary. There has been much debate. Pope Benedict has not told us not to read the books, nor do I believe has he read them himself. He is a very busy man!
Again, I understand the other point of veiw, but honestly the books are such a great work of Christian fiction. It is sad that some people are being deprived of such good and meaningful fiction.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Well, there are subtle seductions in everything in life (even and especially in the objectively "good" things with plenty of good, juicy fruit). There is no NEED to read Harry Potter, but there should be no NEED to totally condemn things which you know nothing about except excerpts of teeny bits of biased objections (good thing we don't do that about the catechism or the Bible!). Educate yourself by reading the book (or how about don't say anything if you haven't read it), then give good arguments for your opinions, then pray that you are seeking pure reasons for your actions or just leave it be. I say bravo to this woman for seeing what I saw in the beginning: good books of fantasy which clearly defined right and wrong. Simple. The Christian themes found within the book are just bonuses as far as I'm concerned. I saw no difference between the C.S. Lewis classics and the HP series other than the modern twist. The "good fruit" is that I read them and liked them and keep encouraging my children to read. Simple again. I don't claim to be some big, Catholic mom guru or anything but I'm not the only one who thinks this way and I could just let it go and move on my merry way if this kind of thing didn't have a hand in defining myself or my children. For instance, I have to be careful to tell the kids that they can't discuss HP with their friends in the homeschool group because when they've done this in the past, they've come home saying things like "so and so said that HP is written by a lady who worships SATAN!" OH FOR PETE'S SAKE! Why not just freak your kids out entirely. If you don't read the books, just tell your kids, "not allowed until I decide..." or "you are not old enough yet to understand them..." but instead, they automatically label kids like mine as "people who don't mind such things as satan worship" because they read Harry Potter!!! Ahhhhhhhh! Is it the "bad fruit" of Harry Potter that divides our homeschool group (a little dramatic, but it IS there) or is it the "bad fruit" of ignorance that puts up the barrier? Hmmm.

Mrs. V said...

True Laura. I dearly love some of the people in my life who won't read HP. Mainly because their pastor told them so. I am not going to make it a condition of our friendship.
I have been called flat out nasty things by Catholics I don't even know for suggesting that they read and article about HP by a Catholic homeschool mom on John Granger's website! That is what blows me away.

diana said...

Didn't Kuby say the books "*promoted* racism"? Catholic exchange had a post of hers where she outlined her findings...

And that's why Fr. Peter Fleetwood, the priest the then-Cardinal Ratzinger referred Kuby to, said she is neither a careful reader nor a competent critic. Vatican Radio had Fleetwood post a statement during the brouhaha.

Harry Potter books promote racism? Umm, okay? Kuby really doesn't help the Catholic cause!

Incidentally, I have to wonder about Lifesite news and their credibility in dealing with this subject...

Also I used to think HP was the ultimate worst until I actually read it! I made a fool of myself trying to debate it with people! Which of course is evil, to assume something is evil. Live and learn!

Anonymous said...

I think the issue remains that there ought to be patience and no name-slinging on either side of the debate. It is this aspect which I find very anti-Christian.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Of course there should be no name-slinging, but I've only ever heard name-slinging from one side of the aisle.

diana said...

True, I have only heard anti-Potter people do the name calling. For instance, calling J K Rowling a Wiccan, Satan-worshipper, evil...
while I am told how stupid I am and how I should "research" this more...while they didn't even bother reading the book...I'll leave off on that.

Anonymous said...

I have been called everything from a nazi to a paraniod to an ignorant book burner all because I don't let my kids read the book. I saw the movie, I let my eldest read the first three books back when they first came out. WE talked about them. I don't have time to read them now.. I am a Catholic Home schooling mom of 6 here on earth. I only read things I want to read. BUT i did sit through the first movie.. twice. We live in America.. we each have free speech. If you want to let your children read it fine. But PLEASE stop knocking those of us who don't. I DO see where it could lure kids. I was Catholic and got lured away into wicca as a teen/early twenties. Christ went out of his way to pull in this lost sheep. There will be some children who do fall prey to this. Is Rowlings evil. Doubt it. But that does not mean that HP is not junkfood for the soul. Sure you see great things. Literature is art. And like a painting, you might see one thing.. and I see another. Your child might see yet a third. WE are called to raise Saints.. why take the risk?
Steph Scarlson@cinci.rr.com

Maureen Wittmann said...

Wow, a nazi! That's really horrible! I sure hope it wasn't a fellow Catholic homeschooler who stooped so low. Sad.

Personally, I don't like the movies. I'm a lot more strict in what my children watch compared with what they read.

At our house we read the books together and I see them raising my children's souls not risking them, just as LOTR and Narnia did. I don't see them as junkfood at all.

But I would never discourage you from doing what you see is right for your family -- in this case, discontinuing reading the HP series. If you see it putting your children at risk - you're right you shouldn't let them read the series -- especially if you're too busy to read or listen to them too.

PS to HP fans . . . make sure to check out hogwartsprofessor.com. John Granger is writing some great stuff this week on the Christian meanings found in the last book.