Friday, October 19, 2007

More from Harry Potter

This article just made the presses within the last couple of days

Albus Dumbledore is gay

And this is directly from the lips of the author.

A while ago, I wrote a post expressing my concern about the ending of the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. **SPOILER ALERT** It is clear in her stories that Harry Potter is a Christ figure. He is meant to save everyone from the evil Voldemort by sacrificing himself. It is made clear in the last book that Harry must die in order to defeat Voldemort. Yet Harry does not die. In the end, it is stated by Dumbledore that it was only important that Harry was willing to die in order to defeat Voldemort. He passed out when Voldemort attacked him, and then regained consciousness. A veritable *swoon theory* in action.

When I posted my concerns, I was reassured by my Lutheran theolgian friends that Rowling clearly is a Christian, and the sacramentology that is throughout the books clearly show that. She is writing more in a Tolkien sense rather than a C.S. Lewis sense - less literal, less willing to make the story a tight allegory, even though Harry's walking into Voldemort's camp was so clearly parallel to Aslan walking into the White Witch's clutches.

Okay, I could see that as a possibility. She didn't want to make Harry into Christ. But it still troubled me. There are too many people who wear the label Christian who don't believe that Christ died and rose again. I expressed that I wished I knew where her beliefs were. The only thing I could find was that she was Church of Scotland, which is a liturgical, sacramental church that also is known for its all-inclusiveness of beliefs and its encouragement that everyone "work it all out for themselves and decide where they stand on Scripture, etc.."

When Rowling issued that pronouncement, those possibilities became much less possible to me. If she is willing to make an admirable father figure - a Merlin or a Gandalf - and make his sexuality an issue when it NEVER had to be, she was showing her true colors. Yes, I know that it doesn't specifically state that she doesn't believe that Jesus died and rose again, but it does show that she is willing to snip God's Word into the bits and pieces that she wants to take and create her own gospel, her own God.

And that destroys other people's faith. We live in a world where it is hard to take God's word at face value. When we hear that someone may go to Hell because of the sins that they are embracing and placing above God's Word, it is hard for us. But we know perfectly wonderful people who live with each other in a non-marital sexual relationship. We know really great gay people. etc. How could God want to damn them. Truly wonderful characters in literature do that for us as well. Albus Dumbledore is a wise, loving man who fought for the good of all and sacrificed himself to the utmost. Yet he was being gay can't be all that bad, right? So our flawed human reason goes, if it is not trusting in God's Word.

Not only that, but she did something that is despicable in literary criticism. Many times anymore, when you look at strong friendships between two people of the same sex in classic works of literature (or in the Bible, or in history), the literary critic, the academic rushes to say that they are a clear indication that it was a gay relationship. Rowling intentionally set up a relationship that showed nothing more than a friendship between two young men with similar dreams - and then later, looking back at her own work, she points out that she intended this to show forth as a homosexual relationship.

I am not a Harry Potter attacker. I have read every book and eagerly awaited each one as it came out. My son is reading Sorcerers Stone now. I see a lot that is worthwhile in these books. However, truly good children's fiction often has two messages - one that the children enjoy, and one that is meant to be picked up later. It has become clear that Rowling fully intended to propogate a liberal agenda at the same time that she is telling us a wonderfully imaginative yarn full of social morality and good and evil. Yet in that good vs. evil, she is constantly using things that sets us off balance - things that we typically associate with evil -- and she makes them good. And in some ways -- she is taking things that have been typically associated with good -- the wise, fatherly wizard that keeps us safe by his power and presence (Merlin, Gandalf - who both did have to go away and let the battles be fought) -- and associating them with things that have through time been considered evil -- and then she took the most important thing of all -- and portrayed it as paltry compared to what it really and truly was.


Des_Moines_Girl said...

I was very disappointed to hear her announcement about Dumbledore. It had no literary purpose - there was never a hint or question regarding his sexuality in the books. It was not necessary to know his sexuality to move the plot forward. It was never an issue period.

I believe she did it purely to score points (get her activist card punched) and push her own agenda.

I still love the HP series. She is a fantastic writer...but in this instance I think she showed very poor judgement.

Polly said...

Hi Lora,
I have seen a couple of the HP movies, but have not read the books. My older kids have devoured them.

When the first book came out, I heard a RC man on the radio presenting the anti-Harry side - his point was exactly what you said - that things that have been traditionally pure and saving are not, and vice versa. It stuck with me and I"ve never had a good feeling about this series. Great movie sets though.

elephantschild said...

I too am sad that Rowling felt she needed to make an "issue" over Dumbledore.

Thankfully, the books can be read and enjoyed without a hom0s@xual agenda hitting you in the face - we'll just have to ignore anything the author says about her own books.

I have my own concerns about whether or not the HP books are "Christian" in intent; I'm content just to enjoy them at face value as good entertainment.

Lotzastitches said...

I, too, was disappointed when I read that linked article. And please don't think my post below is in support of her "outing" him or defending Rowling in anyway. That said I'll plug my nose and jump in...

I think the liberal media will pounce on Rowling's statement and proclaim HP linked with gay rights activism. But reading the story itself (all 7 books) that really isn't the case at all. It's filled with teenage pregnancies, no abortions, no living together before marriage, I don't even recall any divorces mentioned in the books and certainly no same sex relationships or advocating such relationships.

Looking at her complete answer, she said that Dumbledore was attracted to Grindelwald. She didn't say that that attraction was acted on. He was tempted, just as he was tempted with seeking power.

Book 7 was showing the human/sinner side of Dumbledore. It also showed his determination to not act on those temptations. Certainly not a poster child for gay rights.

In the Deathly Hallows we see a glimpse of a book written by Rita Skeeter entitled _The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore_. Rowling could have used this to "out" Dumbledore in the storyline but she didn't. For that, I am very thankful!

Ahh...I'm blundering along here. This article is more articulate...

e-Mom said...

Wow, this post is chock full. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter series (gasp!) but from your description, could it be that Harry Potter is not a Christ figure, but an anti-Christ figure of Daniel and Revelation?

Anyhoo, you might be interested to know I quoted you anonymously in a recent blog post. It's from a piece you posted at The League of Pastor's Wives. Well said! When you get a chance, take a look here: Christian Ministry Wives: Five Myths.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Morally, I've always been impressed with the Harry Potter books. The messages about letting fear or avoiding fear rule your decisions, prejudice based on a system that is already inherently unjust, on something that is not someone's fault (being bitten by a werewolf), on someone's worth because of their bloodlines were all well done (as well as others). The self-sacrifice, the friendship, the sense of right vs. wrong are all beautifully done.

These don't make the book Christian though. They make the books moral. There are some sacramental elements..but IF she is using Harry Potter to project a very stereo-typical message about Christ's death and resurrection - that he was a good man who willingly gave himself up for us but didn't die because there is no resurrection..and that being willing to die was enough to atone. Then she can have all the sacramental imagery in the world...the books aren't Christian, even if the author herself would say that they were.

I agree about Dumbledore. She didn't have to say anything about his sexual orientation or where his temptation lies. And viewing book 7 as one that reveals Dumbledore as the flawed yet wise man who was not the all-seeing wise wizard in his tower, but the doubting man who did the best he could is a clear insight into what the book really was, despite what Rowling decided to share with us about her motivation. Clearly, if she was clearer about her thoughts on the subject, she would've enraged 3/4 of her readership, either because of her beliefs or because she saw fit to expose their children to that internal struggle.

I can't say I even feel betrayed by her revelation. The books do stand on their own as good books without her post-published revelations. Like I said, my son is reading it right now.

The fact that she saw fit to make this revelation though pushes me further down the line in questioning what view of Christianity she was also trying to portray at the end, because it just so happens to coincide with a heresy that is about as old as the resurrection itself.

Anonymous Lutheran said...

Hey, I know this is an ancient post, but I stumbled on it by accident just now. lol

I was surprised by Rowling's revelation about Dumbledore, and at first I was bothered by it. But when I thought about it a little more, my feelings changed a bit. There were two reasons for this:

1. The final book left me with a very negative view of Dumbledore. I did not read his character as merely flawed, but as manipulative and deeply immoral--willing to use other people for his purposes no matter how it hurt them. Looking at it from this point of view, revealing that Dumbledore is gay could hardly be taken as a pro-gay statement. At the absolute most, it would be neutral, and even that is questionable.

2. It is completely normal for a writer to develop extensive background information for a characters that never makes it into the story. These things can affect the character's behavior is subtle ways that bring depth, and which lend to the overall variety of a story's cast. This should not be taken as necessarily endorsing a particular behavior or lifestyle.

Those are my thoughts, for whatever it's worth. =)