[DWJ] witches in fiction, and exploiting children (was

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Jun 18 09:05:49 EDT 2006

Sylvia recounted:
>In fourth grade, my best friend's heavily Presbyterian parents protested
>when our teacher began to read Monica Furlong's "Wise Child" out loud to us,
>because it dealt with witches.  Of course, had they bothered to actually pay
>any attention to the book, they might have noticed that it was about witches
>being persecuted by Christians for being Wiccan, and that the general
>message was that everybody worships in their own way and that's fine as long
>as you don't try to infringe on other people (well, among other messages),

Maybe they *did* know what it was about, then.  That message runs clean
contrary to "no-one cometh to the Father but through Me", which is the
christian-exclusivity clause -- as opposed, of course, to "in my Father's
house are many mansions", which suggests that someone else may be right *as
well as*, rather than *instead of*, oneself and one's parents and preacher.
One needs to be very secure indeed in one's faith not to be bothered about
the idea that it might not be the *only* faith, that others who have a
quite different set of ideas about something may not be *wrong*, they may
just be different...  (The human race seems to be hardwired to think of
"different" as "wrong" and "dangerous"; left-over bits of evolutionary
stuff, or tribal stuff, or something.)  The obvious follow-up to that is
that if it has to be either the one set of beliefs or the other, *they*
might be "right" and *we* might be "wrong", and then what good does all our
striving do us?  Not a comfortable feeling at all, and I can understand how
one might want to avoid having to look at that possibility; the obvious way
not to have to worry about it is to condemn the "threat" on autoilot and
not think about what it actually has to say.  (I think it's very silly, but
I can see how it happens.)

>The teacher wound up reading us something else, instead.  These are
>the same parents that, when the Magic: the Gathering card game became
>popular when I was in middle school, refused to allow their daughter even to
>play it with me, much less buy her own cards.  (Truthfully, I look back on
>this friendship now and wonder how we got along as well as we did...)

Might could be they thought it was a huge waste of time and money as well
as being dodgy on religious grounds, and a commercial exploitation of
children, which was how a fair few parents I knew who wouldn't give a cuss
about the "magic" in the name felt about such games.  Anything that
encourages kids to spend more and more to collect the whole set is regarded
with suspicion by many people as being likely to be a rip-off.

I can't off-hand remember, because I wasn't interested at the time, but I
have a feeling "Magic: the Gathering" was/is one of the ones that's even
more dubious than just "collect the whole set": there are several games in
which you buy a sealed packet of ten random cards and one of them may be
one that you wanted, whilst the rest (or the whole pack) will just be
"swaps".  I didn't like that for another reason too, because essentially it
meant that the kid who had most money had the best chance at the best cards
because he or she simply bought more and more in pursuit of the one packet
with the card they still hadn't got, and so the rich kids or the ones whose
parents gave them lots of money were most likely to win.  I thought that
sucked swamp big-time, and I'd've discouraged a child of mine from starting
to buy into such a game.

I didn't mind my kids collecting things, but I did want them to be able to
see what they were getting before they handed over their money.  There's
something very icky about conning kids into buying a pig in a poke, and
sealed packets are precisely that: you don't know what you're getting, and
it may be valueless in every way.   Sheer and nasty exploitation, even more
than usual with carefully-advertised and commercially-nurtured kids'


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