Saturday, July 28, 2007

Would Jesus Read Harry Potter?

This week, the Pocahontas Times features a large print ad headlined "Would Jesus Read Harry Potter?" I was immediately intrigued, and read the ~500 word "question and answer" essay. I was disappointed to find that it never answers the titular question about Our Lord's reading habits. With quotes from Deuteronomy and Leviticus the author makes a strong case that God's Chosen People ought not to practice sorcery, but there is no advice about reading fiction. In fact, the author of this advertisement clearly has read the Bible, and demonstrates that the Good Book describes many acts of sorcery. From this, one might infer that it is OK to read books that describe sorcery.

The Greenbrier Better Living Center in Ronceverte doesn't give a clear answer to "Would Jesus read Harry Potter?" nor do they answer the more practical question they infer, "Should I (or my kids) read Harry Potter?" They don' even say what the Harry Potter books have to do with sorcery as described in the Bible. (You would have to read a Harry Potter book to find out.) It seems to me that if you shell out money to run an advertisement and write 500+ words of single-spaced text, you ought not leave your audience wondering "What's the point?"

Harold Bloom, in contrast, doesn't leave you wondering what he thinks. J.K. Rowling and other hugely popular novelists are signs of the End of Western Civilization.

Can more than 35 million book buyers, and their offspring, be wrong? yes, they have been, and will continue to be for as long as they persevere with Potter. A vast concourse of inadequate works, for adults and for children, crams the dustbins of the ages. At a time when public judgment is no better and no worse than what is proclaimed by the ideological cheerleaders who have so destroyed humanistic study, anything goes.

While The Greenbrier Better Living Center probably doesn't agree with Bloom on reasons for disapproval of the Harry Potter books, its writers should take a lesson in rhetoric from him.