Question: I just read your article about Lois Lowry's The Giver. I have to say that I am disappointed with the stance the article takes and the lack of communication the mother/school board member seemingly had with her daughter. The implication is that the book is encouraging a utopian society, where the truth is that the book is illuminating the danger of desensitization and life without God, where man takes complete control.
Berit's answer: Thank you for sharing your concern with me. I did read to the end of the book, so I understand where you are coming from. But I don't believe the book's conclusion diminishes its effectiveness in changing social values. In fact, the ambiguity strengthens its use as a tool for the consensus process.The two main dangers I see are:
1. The mental images created by the story. The murder of the baby happens in a context that allows euthanasia for the good of the community. Such suggestions will desensitize most children to the value of life whether the town calls for killing "low birth weight" babies or for euthanizing old people no longer useful to the community.
2. The dialogue that usually follows in a classroom setting. After reading the book, students usually choose their positions and discuss the issues raised. Within the rules of the consensus process (see Mind Control) the students must seek common ground and be willing to compromise in order to please the members of the group and come to some kind of consensus. Even if the final consensus disagrees with most of the regulations of the community described in The Giver, the Christian child must consider, imagine, and respect viewpoints that clash with his or her faith. Some of the discussion questions I have seen indicate that the teacher-facilitator must direct the students toward a respect for all options and toward a middle ground that, at least, makes the unthinkable controls and euthanasia seem acceptable if not preferred.
Question from Terri: My Harry Potter question has to do with JK Rowling. What is known about her background? The official press release tells her educational background and circumstances writing the books. I am interested in her world view. "Christian"???, new age, humanist? Is there any involvement in her background in wicca or the occult? I know you are posting some questions on your site, but I would suggest that you might not post this one. I believe rumors will quickly circulate that she is a witch. (I am sensing that this is so in the spirit) But I think it is unwise to state that publicly without evidence.
Please read Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft - with praise from Christian leaders and see next question.
Question: I've heard that the author of Harry Potter books has made some statements putting down Christianity and in support of the occult. Do you have any information on this and do you know where I can get the citations? I'm interested specifically in quotes by the author of the books herself.You are probably referring to an article from the Onion website, which is known for its crude satire. Many have believed this awful spoof and spread it through Internet as if it were true. The website is at http://www.theonion.com/onion3625/harry_potter.html
It attributes this bogus quote to Ms Rowling:
"I think it's absolute rubbish to protest children's books on the grounds that they are luring children to Satan," Rowling told a London Times reporter in a July 17 interview. "People should be praising them for that! ...."
The rest of the statement is to crude to quote. However, Ms Rowling has made some interesting statements in her many interviews. I have quoted some revealing comments in the first part of Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft and in Halloween 2000.
C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia
Question: I would like to do a comic book of my own. But would it be possible to do a Christian story in a fantasy or perhaps a science fiction world. I guess the better question (so maybe you will understand what I am asking) is how do you feel about C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia (that's the only one that comes to mind).
Ian, I appreciate you desire to serve God's purposes, and I'm praying that God help me answer your question. I don't want to discourage you, but I have been concerned about popular books that teach some Christian truths in a fantasy context -- a setting that does not demonstrate God's reality. Blending truth and myth (or fantasy) tends to water down and compromise the very truth God calls us to communicate. I wonder if this blend hasn't contributed to the Biblical illiteracy and unbiblical interpretations we see in today's churches.
If you would read Bewitched by Harry Potter you will find (in points 1 and 2) a partial answer to your question about C. S. Lewis. Since I haven't personally had time to research C.S. Lewis beliefs and loyalties, I suggest you read this one by David Cloud:C. S. LEWIS AND EVANGELICALS TODAY
Comment on C.S. Lewis (Daniel Gregory compares a statement Berit quoted from the first Harry Potter book with the Narnia Chronicles): The centaur says, "We have sworn not to set ourselves against the heaven. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?" The first is in the mouth of a centaur, a beast famous in mythology for reading the stars.... I could still defend this by pointing out that there are two strikingly similar scenes in CS Lewis's Narnia Chronicles.
In one, Doctor Cornelius tells Prince Caspian to meet him on a high tower one night, to witness a conjunction of two planets. When they assemble to do it, the planets pass so close together that Prince Caspian asks if they are "going to have a collision", to which Doctor Cornelius replies, "Nay, dear Prince, the great lords of the upper sky know the steps of their dance too well for that. Look well upon them. Their meeting is fortunate and means some great good for the sad realm of Narnia. Tarva, the Lord of Victory, salutes Alambil, the Lady of Peace. They are just coming to their nearest."
In another place in the book, when Prince Caspian is assembling his army of creatures, we are told of the Centaur Glenstorm, "He was a prophet and a star-gazer and knew what they had come about." And no one, would, I trust be so bold as to declare Lewis a proponent of the occult.) But even if CS Lewis's evidence goes for nothing, and the quote from HP's Centaur is seen as bad, you should, in quoting it, note the context. The Centaur who said the first part of the quote is rebuked by a younger Centaur, who is willing to "oppose the will of the stars", and it is he who says the second part of the quote, "Or have the stars not let you in on the secret?" Thus even in this passage, the moral is _not_ to let the stars guide one's actions. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Daniel, you make some excellent points, and I appreciate the references to the Narnia series. I am not going to defend C. S. Lewis and his use of such symbols and suggestions. In fact, your statements show some of my concerns about his "Christian" message. Like Joanne Rowling, C.S. Lewis makes the reader just a little more familiar with astrology -- one of several popular practices God links to occultism in Deuteronomy 18 and elsewhere....
The problem here has to do with the power of suggestion. In the context of entertainment, children don't tend to analyze what they read. They usually just experience the story vicariously-- through their imagination. So for a moment, the reader listens in on a conversation between centaurs whose conversation suggests that astrology is a normal part of their lives. As I said in my introduction to those quotes, the readers "build memories based on felt experiences in an occult virtual reality, and they are desensitized to the danger. The talent and knowledge of the author makes this seductive world all the more believable."