19 July 2005

Book Burning

Jim Putnam says, in his blog for 16 July:
"I've been interested in some strange preachers' reactions to the latest Harry Potter book. They're burning the book. At least they have to buy the book in order to burn it, and Rowling gets some of their money. What kind of nuts are these people? ... ... ... I'm a believer, and these guys make me queasy and I worry about their sanity. I also wonder where in scripture they get their ideas."
Sadly, this isn't the first time that ‘fundamentalist’ christians (or believers of other Abrahamic flavours) have attacked Rowlings' Potter books – though perhaps it is the first time they have gone so far as book burning. I'm amused by his comment that they thereby contribute to the author's revenue stream ... and almost find myself wondering whether book burning isn't thereby better than lesser attacks? ‘Almost’ is as far as it goes, though. I've been tempted to burn some poisonous books in the past – but to do so is to embrace the road to Fahrenheit 451, the Inquisition, Krystalnacht, 1984, This Perfect Day.

Jim, I know, would be with me on that judgement. I don't, however, share his bewilderment at "where in scripture they get their ideas". Most scripture is, as time goes by, in need of interpretation to meet new times and new circumstances; readings of any of them can be derived, if one has the will, to justify anything. Unlike Jim I am not a believer, but I know that most believers are more humane than these book burners or the London bombers. If I were a believer, I would imagine that god intended me to use the brain he gave me in support of his central tenets ... and, for Christians, the central tenets include "love one another". Harry Potter seems, to me, a very ‘christian’ creation in that sense.

  • Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
    Special ed. 2005, Long Beach, CA: Long Beach Public Library Foundation
  • Levin, Ira. This perfect day. 1970, New York: Random House.
  • Orwell, George. 1984. 2000, New York: Harcourt. 015100568
  • Rowling, J K. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. 2005, London: Bloomsbury. 0747581088

No comments: