Rowling and religion

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Fri Feb 20 10:23:57 EST 2004


Ika replied to

>Hallie, then Minnow on the religion in the Potterverse:
>
>>>especially.  I don't know if it would improve things much were she to
>>>throw vaguely Jewish and Muslin elements in with her vaguely
>>>Christian ones, but the omission is certainly not great.
>>
>> God-of-your-choice help her if she got the vaguely Jewish or Muslin
>> elements even slightly "wrong", though.  <snip> Safer and simpler
>> to leave religion alone, in the circumstances.
>
>It would  have been. It just adds to the overall incoherence of the magic
>in the Potterverse, which has no particular cosmology of its own, to have
>Christianity appearing to be the official religion of the wizarding school
>(even though it appears as a sort of secular cultural tradition, which is
>surely annoying to religious Christians, people of other religions, and
>secular people alike, since it conflates Christianity with a particular
>kind of 'English culture', which misrepresents both Christianity and
>Englishness).

Ah, but the Christians are unlikely to arise up in their monolithic might
and declare some sort of religious-inspired open season on rowlings, the
way bits of Islam did on rushdies, and she is unlikely to have people
shouting that she is an anti-aryanite.  Safer was what I most meant.
Simpler stands to reason, because religion of any sort is *always*
complicated.

I'm reminded of the moment in Susan Cooper's *The Dark Is Rising* when the
Vicar tries to help in the fight against the Dark using Christian means,
with no success at all: it's clear at that point that Christianity isn't
wrong or bad, it has simply been made irrelevant.  Will and his family go
to church, because that is what one does if one lives in the way they do,
but it hardly feels much like a religious matter.  I don't find that
objectionable, in the context.

Would it be better or worse, someone who has read the books, if there were
people in the Potterverse who were like Ann in Antonia Forest's books, and
genuinely Christian?  I mean, would it work if some of the children in the
school did have a faith they held to *at the same time* as being wizards?
Is there anywhere in the structure of the society being built (and the more
you lot discuss it the more inchoate it all sounds, to me, as I might
expect if the Potter books are as alleged a patchwork collection of ideas
adopted and adapted from all over the place) in which a Christian, or a
Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Jewish, or a Buddhist wizard would fit?

Minnow


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