Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Friday, 25 July 2008

PZ Myers has a link to this article about Harry Potter and an accompanying rise in the popularity of "Witchcraft".

 

I read it, but its kind of long.  There's a lot of hyperventilating about the popularity of fantasy in the current culture, some self-righteous pontificating....but the really significant quotes are as follows:

 

"In these standby novels, girls fret over friends, popularity, sports, parents, boyfriends, jobs and homework—or a neighborhood "mystery." But in this new darker world, girls don’t simply ask a friend’s advice, hang out at the soda shop or give the team their best effort. That would be too boring and too passive. Today’s girl takes charge, even in the heavenlies—these young priestesses cast spells. The paperbacks are laced with actual spells and rituals suited to many teen occasions. They are also packed with sexual innuendo and activity;"

 

uh huh...'cause hanging out at the soda shop had nothing to do with sexual innuendo and activity...and "boring and passive" girls never get into trouble.  Seriously?  You want your little girls to be boring, passive door-mats who know nothing about sex and hang out at the soda shop? (I think they actually hang out at coffee shops nowdays)  Jesus people, you might as well tattoo targets on their vaginas.

 

"It’s a seductive method of manipulating human envy by ensnaring naïve youth: if you’re a misfit, it’s not because you are lacking something; it’s because you are "above" the rest in a unique way."

 

Yeah...the other kids didn't pick you up and stuff you in the trunk of your car because you're an asthmatic shrimp with a 135 IQ, and they're a bunch of muscle-head jocks whose daddies told them they had to live it up 'cause these are the best years of their lives when they get to rule the school and have no consequences for their actions, and they know they'll have to spend the rest of their lives answering to people who are smarter and more educated than them.  They did it because YOU are lacking something.

 

But my favorite is this one:

"As adolescents peak in self–absorption, our panacea is to hand our offspring the sorcerer’s wand to wave away all troubles. They can use it to raise that already inflated self–esteem."

 

Obviously, this lady hasn't read the books she's condemning.  At no point does Harry simply "wave his magic wand" and have his troubles disappear.  Harry is initially protected by the loving efforts of his parents to shield him from danger, and prepare for his future.  Later, he learns to draw on the wisdom and advice of his teachers, and ask for help when he gets in over his head.  His loyalty to his friends and their resulting loyalty to him helps him through situations he could never have survived on his own.

In the end, he has to put his life on the line and risk everything...and it has nothing to do with his powerful magic.  It has to do with giving back to all of the people who stood by him what was given to him.  Giving love freely, and being willing to risk everything for the good.

Magic has nothing to do with Harry's final triumph.  It is achieved through love, trust, and courage.  The whole point of the ending is that he doesn't even raise his wand in order to win.

Geeze lady.

 

And, of course, no hyperventilating, hysterical scrawling are complete without the faint-hearted whining about D&D:

"Too numerous to mention are sites specific to role–playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and toys, CDs, DVDs and video games with occult themes."

OH NOES!  CHILDRENS CAN HAZ IMAGINASHUNS!  IM IN UR COMPUTER BRINGIN TEH DEBIL!

 

But how oh how do we stop it?

"Today we are urging parents and educators to prayerfully consider a general boycott of Scholastic materials in homes and schools country–wide." Kathi, a former witch who is now a Christian, has strong opinions about the Potter books. "Anyone who allows their children to read these books and participate in related activities is allowing their children access to the occult."

 

Of course!  Boycott the Scholastic-sponsored school bookfairs which is usually a primary vehicle for funding literacy programs in the school district! What we need is more illiteracy and less funding for the schools!  Naturally.  Genius.

 

Ill skip over the part where she bends herself into pretzel shape to involve Planned Parenthood, the feminists and homosexuals, and the ACLU in the plot to make your kids witches.  It's entertaining, but too self-satirizing to need my attention.

 

"And if your teen isn’t an activist or practitioner in middle school or high school, college is a fertile field for the growth of witch sympathies. Your daughter or son who takes a religion or women’s studies class at a non–Christian college can expect to be exposed to the benefits of alternative religions, mostly occultic, in overcoming the "oppression" of the entrenched Christian mainstream. "

 

For reals?  The University of Minnesota must be a Christian college then!  Except for my comparative religions class (which spent more than half the time on Christianity, 'cause there’s so many flavors).  Whatever.  Has this woman even BEEN on a college campus except maybe as a crazy mall preacher?

 

"If you are "as gods," you can make your own rules. Forget parents! Forget teachers! We’ll just live for the moment, the latest sensation and party on down. So witchcraft is a perfect fit for a paganized, pleasure–centered, shallow America.

 

I swear, everytime I hear a Christian's description of what their life would be like without Christianity, I thank God that they have Christianity.  People who have such a vivid imagination for depravity should certainly have a religion that makes them able to repress it,and keep it decently confined to airport men's rooms.

 

And I just have to say..."party on down?"  For real?  Linda, You. Are.  ADORABLE!

 

Friday, 25 July 2008 07:18:24 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [10] |  |  | #
Friday, 25 July 2008 08:25:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Wow, a bit harsh, eh? Oh well, I know what I was like when I wasn't following Christ, and I know what I am like now. I thank God for the difference.

But anyway, I read this:

""Too numerous to mention are sites specific to role–playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and toys, CDs, DVDs and video games with occult themes.""

And thought I would tell a funny personal anecdote about my time in a religious boarding school. It was 11th grade and I was attending a Seventh-Day Adventist school in western NC. Before you go thinking my parents are wealthier than I've let on, it was one of those schools where you worked half the day to pay your tuition. I did construction work on the old folks subdivision across the street from the school. Sorry for the digression. Anyway, the rules prohibited cassette players, CD players, etc. the only music we heard was funneled through the dorm speaker system/intercom which went into every room.

My classmates and I figured out how to smuggle in and hide CD players and even got together for some strictly prohibited Dungeons and Dragons games. We even went so far as to turn our games into science fiction mini novels, which we took turns reading to each other on slow days.

While you might expect me to say that the experience was terrible, I can't say that. Why? Well because it opened up whole new worlds of interest for me. For example, because modern pop (non-christian) music was not allowed to be played in the dorms I discovered ways around that by developing a love for opera (three tenors mostly) and convincing the dean to play it over the intercom. Surprisingly, it caught on quickly and lots of the other guys were requesting the dean play various different songs over the intercom. Also, it was nice to be detached from the mostly insipid and banal pop music that is churned out these days.
Friday, 25 July 2008 08:42:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
John,

"Oh well, I know what I was like when I wasn't following Christ, and I know what I am like now. I thank God for the difference."

Hey, whatever works for you. Life's tough enough without denying ourselves the things that help us out from time-to-time.

Thing is, I dont mind what other people do to get by. What I laugh at is the INSISTANCE that my exsistence is meaningless and barren and depraved because I don't need the things they need to be happy and productive.

Having some "Christian" describing their imaginings of how depraved I am without Christ is, I think, more revealing about their minds than mine. That was my only point, and I don't think it's an unrealistic one.

If that is "harsh" then so be it.
Teresa
Friday, 25 July 2008 09:07:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
John,

Your charming stories made me think of certain similar situations in my childhood.

The resilliant people always figure out how to play.

However, they also tend to liberate themselves from bondage to insipid pop music on their own. :-)

You would have been fine.
Teresa
Friday, 25 July 2008 09:30:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
"If that is "harsh" then so be it. "

I wasn't going to hold it against you. I understand your point. ;-)
Friday, 25 July 2008 10:04:24 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
While I rarely respond to your religious comments (mostly because I agree with a lot of them), this one (plus its comments) seemed to need one.

Most of these types seem to forget that most Pagans (not just Wiccans, not just assorted different types of Witches) grew up Christian. And a good portion of those were at minimum mentally abused by their assorted so-called Christian leaders. Not all of us were (I for one wasn't) - but a good portion of us were. For some of them, their brand of Paganism "saved them" -much like your commenter John seems to imply that he was "saved by" Christianity. It gave them that sense of morality, that sense of "love and comfort" that Christ is supposed to give to His adherents. In some cases, it even turned them from serious psychopathic behavior - and gave them a purpose and a reason to be "fine, moral, upstanding Americans."

We're not "depraved" - the few people you see in sensationalist papers who claim to be Pagan or Wiccan are no different from the few people you see in news stories who are some form of Christian who do horrendous things. They are a dark fringe, found in ANY religion. But they are less than 1% of any religion - including Paganism and Wicca. It's just that with a "popular" religion (and in this country, Christianism is still the most popular religion), that means that 1% of the group is a LARGER subset than in a less-popular religion. (Which yes, means more Christians are these dark fringe than Wicca, Paganism, and many other alternate religions all put together).

Most of us are people just like any other. We live, we work, we take out 2nd mortgages just to pay for gas, you know the normal things.

And my own story about D&D. You know I went to a religious college for the first two years of my college experience. A group of us played D&D in the lobby of the women's dorm. We never hid it. After 2-3 weeks of playing it, the housemother complained to the Dean about it. We, of course, got called into the Dean's office. He asked us if we considered D&D to be "appropriate" for those learning to be parochial school teachers, and cited the whole "it is a gateway to the occult."

We explained it was about learning to expand your imagination - something that is important for elementary school children, and therefore important for elementary school teachers! After two hours of intense discussion, we basically received permission to continue playing - as long as we remained in a public space (which is exactly what we were already doing). He never truely approved of it - but in reality, it was at least a success in the fact that he allowed us the chance to explain, rather than just starting a (forgive the pun) "Witch hunt."

It wasn't D&D that brought me to Paganism. Quite frankly it was Christian witnessing that brought me to Paganism. I was witnessing to a number of new friends at the secular college I transferred to after the religious college - and we got into a theological discussion. And you know what? They made some really good points. Enough to make me want to study it (of course, with the expectation that I was studying it to understand how Pagans thought, so that I could witness to them better). Fast-forward - yep, I became Pagan.

I still respect certain Christians (as well as the religion as a whole) - but my standards for respecting Christians is the same as for any other religion. You have to LIVE what you preach. If you are Christian and you cheat, lie, steal, or any other thing like that - to my mind you are no Christian, just someone mumbling the words.
Friday, 25 July 2008 10:36:08 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
)
Cat,

thanks for your comments, and yeah, I know at least one of whom you speak, and thank goodness he never absorbed the "Christian values" that his father tried to teach him.

I actually just followed a search term on my activity page with a name that I wrote about a long time ago...it lead me to a results page that indicates to me that someone I knew tenuously is following in the path of abuse and religious (Christian) confusion that he was taught.

So sad.

Teresa
Friday, 25 July 2008 14:12:01 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
"And my own story about D&D. You know I went to a religious college for the first two years of my college experience. A group of us played D&D in the lobby of the women's dorm. We never hid it. After 2-3 weeks of playing it, the housemother complained to the Dean about it. We, of course, got called into the Dean's office. He asked us if we considered D&D to be "appropriate" for those learning to be parochial school teachers, and cited the whole "it is a gateway to the occult." "

D&D as a gateway to the occult. Yeah right. And chocolate is a gateway addiction to crack. I've seen fellow evangelicals make that argument before and I just don't buy it. Sorry you had to deal with that Cat. I think it is an apples and oranges issue. And, in case you are wondering Teresa, my daughter will be allowed to read Harry Potter. Although I hope there is a better book around by then. I find the bespectacled boy wonder a bit too whiny for my liking.
Friday, 25 July 2008 15:45:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
John,

" And, in case you are wondering Teresa, my daughter will be allowed to read Harry Potter. Although I hope there is a better book around by then. I find the bespectacled boy wonder a bit too whiny for my liking."

LOL! Part of what I like about the series. Harry is a little kid when he starts Hogwarts, and a young man when he finishes. An exceptional kid, to be sure, but a kid. One whose had a bit of a rough life up 'til then, and suddenly has too much responsibility and fame to deal with.

Personally, I think she barely made him whiney enough to be believable...a perfect compromise between being realistic and being tolerable.

I liked that, as we worked our way through the books, my kids were able to criticize Harry at the same time that they identified with him. We used it to illustrate how you can sometimes be wrong, know that you are wrong, and still not care because you are too caught up in the moment, for instance.
Teresa
Friday, 25 July 2008 23:25:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
John, if you talked to my doctor....she thinks chocolate *IS* crack!

I found it more amusing than anything else. Here, we had a highly educated man (and he was, actually, highly educated) - with more on the ball than most of the Christian teachers at that school (many of whom were of the "shoot them all, let God sort them out" variety - a few stars shone in that night, but only a few) - being out-thought and out-reasoned by kids half his age.

If anything - I know better arguments now. Gaming (particularly RPGs) can teach kids - in a more controlled environment - lessons about self-image, self-esteem, and allow them a low-risk situation in which to try out social choices (and perhaps get over some social akwardness). My husband runs a gaming night which has turned into quite the mentoring group - and does exactly that. And has been thanked profusely for doing it by more than one parent - who were really worried about the social capabilities of their child(ren).

Frankly, if you are really afraid of your kids getting into the occult - introduce them to a trusted Pagan or two. While yes, there is a risk of a possibility of a conversion - it is FAR smaller of a risk than making the occult some form of "forbidden fruit." Finding out that the local witch is a normal person with normal problems takes out some of the Hollywood spin on it. Frankly, my niece and nephews know that we are Witches - and could care less. There's no interest in dabbling, no interest in "seeing what they can do." It's old hat to them - cuz it's just Aunt Cat. I overheard one of them, talking to a friend, say: "Oh. So what if she's a witch. My Aunt Cat's a witch, and they're just boring!"

It's the same way my parents taught me about alcohol. It was just another thing to drink in the house. It was limited access, of course - no drinking entire bottles of vodka. But if we asked for a drink, they gave us one. Made it much less of a "forbidden fruit." So, frankly, drinking for me has never been all that important or "exciting." Makes it very hard to rebel in certain ways if there is no "mystique" involved in that very thing.
Saturday, 26 July 2008 12:12:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
And lets not forget Cat's father; WELS minister, went to seminary, reads the Bible in several languages and spent one happy summer participating in a WoD campaign where he played a Werewolf Shaman with us . I'll never forget that as long as long as I live. This is the same guy who once talked to me about Harry Potter and told me "Bob, if all it takes to turn your kid away from the faith and morals you've tried to raise them with is a silly little book about a boy wizard then the problem isn't the book. It's in the mirror."

Gods I love that fuzzy old fart.
Bob Wagner
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