What could justify the use of such drastic measures to keep these books out of the hands of young readers?
Should Christians Read Harry Potter?
Such texts, and the efforts to limit their readership, are the subject of a class I teach at the University of Southern California. In this class, students survey a collection of books that have been challenged on moral, political, and religious grounds. Similarly, they read incidents in which Harry and his friends disobey adults or make questionable choices as opportunities for characters and readers alike to learn important lessons and begin to develop their own moral and ethical codes. According to them , Hogwarts teaches the kinds of witchcraft explicitly condemned as punishable by death and damnation in the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Exodus.
They believe the books must be banned — even burned — because their positive portrayal of magic is likely to attract unsuspecting children to real-world witchcraft. As Evangelical writer Richard Abanes puts it ,. According to scholar Christine Jenkins , people who try to censor texts often hold a set of false assumptions about how reading works. One of those assumptions is that particular literary content like positive portrayals of witchcraft will invariably produce particular effects more witches in real life.
Another is that reactions to a particular text are likely to be consistent across readers.
In other words, if one reader finds a passage scary, funny, or offensive, the assumption is that other readers invariably will do so as well. In all of these cases, the protesters presume that being exposed to a phenomenon in literature whether witchcraft, foul language, or racism naturally leads to a reproduction of that phenomenon in life.
They also believe that their individual experience of a text is correct and applicable to disparate readers.
These cases of attempted censorship show a profound distrust of child readers and their imaginations. And they ignore evidence that child readers are far more sophisticated than adults tend to credit them for.
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Americans are beginning to wake up to the idea that food waste is a serious problem. Food waste is a terrible drain on the average household bank account and is morally questionable at a time when one in eight Americans are food insecure. But Rowling was never too pushy about her faith, and it was never the thing most of us knew about her.
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It's perfectly reasonable to go looking for allegory in works of fantasy, but while anyone is free to bring an original reading to a work, I start to shudder when I think of a group trying to impose a single reading on books whose meaning is, at best, ambiguous. If Rowling thought that shouting about her faith would blow Harry's cover, it follows that she first gave Harry a cover to be blown.
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It follows that she wrote the books in a way that obscures their underlying religiosity, that the Christianity in Harry Potter is buried so deep that a whole host of books has had to be published to dig it up. It follows that readers who aren't looking for Christian parallels, which is to say the vast majority of Harry Potter readers kids never read in this way , won't even know they're there. The religious elements, like those in Narnia, work more subtly: they provide a viewpoint and some basic plot elements, but they remain in the background.
Redeeming Harry Potter | Christianity Today
Which is why each of these series is beloved for reasons other than their Christianness, by readers who are other than Christian. The Modern Fairy Tale 4.
Discussing Fantasy with Children 5. Morals, Not Magic 6. Dealing with Traumatic Experiences 8. Facing Fears 9.
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