Michael O’Brien responds to his critics on Harry Potter - Preview
Exclusive LifeSiteNews Interview on July 20, 2011
Editor’s Note: The July 18 LifeSiteNews story, Harry Potter expert criticizes Vatican newspaper’s glowing review of Deathly Hallows 2, was widely read and elicited many comments both pro and con, especially regarding the statements of Potter critic Michael O’Brien. In response to this, LifeSiteNews conducted an additional, in-depth interview with O’Brien to allow him to expand on his views and respond to some of the many comments readers posted beneath the story.
In the interview O’Brien explains why he became involved in critiquing the Harry Potter series, his views on why the series has become so popular and the astonishing and at times hateful criticism that Potter critics have received, such as O’Brien himself being called “the anti-Christ” by a Potter fan. O’Brien also answers the question of what he means by “the evil means” used by Harry to defeat Voldemort, why Harry Potter is not just “entertainment”, why it is appropriate for LifeSiteNews to cover the Harry Potter issue, how Rowling’s pro-homosexual views may be reflected in the novels, and more:
LIFESITENEWS: How did you become involved in critiquing Harry Potter in the first place? What sparked that interest?
O’BRIEN: As the editor of a Catholic family magazine in the early 1990s I began to receive letters from parents asking my opinion on a new phenomenon that was appearing in children’s literature, with greater frequency. I really had no opinion on it, and then well meaning people began to give such books to our children for birthday presents, or urged them upon our family, and I thought, “Well, thank you, but I think I’ll take a closer look at the material first.”
The more I read, and the more I researched, the more I realized there was a radical change happening in the literature, and culture in general, and especially in material aimed at young people. Certainly, the themes were increasingly violent, although to some degree children’s literature has always had an element of violence.
More worrisome was the corrupting of Western civilization’s traditional symbols of good and evil, and also the growing presentation of occult powers as the way to defeat evil, as though occult powers were morally neutral.
LIFESITENEWS: So this is more than just about Harry Potter. There were a number of other book series as well.
O’BRIEN: Yes, this has been going on for quite a long time. Some influential writers have promoted these themes, beginning in the 1950s and accelerating, until with the appearance of Harry Potter we have a worldwide phenomenon of unprecedented power and grip on the imagination of a generation. Potter is unique in the history of literature; nothing like it has ever happened before.
LIFESITENEWS: How do you account for it? What has made it so popular?
O’BRIEN: Part of it is due to the fact that J.K. Rowling is a talented storyteller, but she has also used the style and technique of modern television and cinema media, which seizes the imagination by pummelling it, bombarding it with powerful stimuli, in a rapid pace, with plenty of emotional rewards. So, in the matter of style alone she has made a major change in the way stories are told, and how they are read.
Most important, she has taken the paganization of children’s culture to the next step, in which sorcery and witchcraft—traditionally allied with supernatural evil—is now presented as morally neutral. In the hands of “nice” people it’s an instrument for good. In the hands of not-nice people it’s an instrument for evil. She has shifted the battle lines between good and evil, which can have a disorienting effect, especially on the young who are in the stage of formation.
Regardless of how wildly imaginative it may be, good fantasy points us towards ultimate reality, “the moral order of the universe” as J.R.R. Tolkien called it. Corrupt fantasy points us, or forms us, in a consciousness that can lead to thinking that evil is good and good is evil. In the worst case, this may have long range effects, prompting the reader intuitively, subconsciously, to do evil while thinking they’re doing good.
All my critique is about the potential. Nobody whom I know is saying that those who read Potter are destined to plunge into actual witchcraft or sorcery. However, studies conducted by the Barna research group revealed a twelve percent increase in occult activities among Christian students in the U.S.A. after reading the Potter series, and which the students themselves attributed to the books. Serious critics also raise concerns about other effects of saturating the mind in symbols of evil and adventures in which evil and good are redefined.
LIFESITENEWS: Regarding the various types of children’s literature that you’ve critiqued, I gather the strongest reaction by far that you have received has been in response to your writings and comments on the Potter series. Is that correct?
** See the COMPLETE, IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW HERE **
Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.
I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:
Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.
Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.
After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.
The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.
So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.
When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.
Target boycott climbs to over 1 million
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 1 million people have signed a pledge to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.
The American Family Association’s Boycott Target petition gained traction immediately, reaching the one million mark in only nine days.
“Corporate America must stop bullying people who disagree with the radical left agenda to remake society into their progressive image,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “#BoycottTarget has resonated with Americans. Target’s harmful policy poses a danger to women and children; nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy. Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable. And it’s clear now that over one million customers agree.”
Target defended its policy in a statement saying that it believes everyone “deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally” and earlier this week, a Target spokeswoman defended the policy as “inclusive.”
The AFA said that unisex bathrooms are a common-sense alternative to allowing men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms.
“Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided,” the petition says.
The AFA warned that Target’s new policy benefits sexual predators and poses a danger to women and children.
“With Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?” the petition asked.
There have been numerous instances of predatory men accessing women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities in the wake of “transgender” bathroom policies allowing them to do so.
“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses this danger to the wider public,” said Wildmon. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”
Amazing new video captures the flash of light the moment life begins
CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Life begins with a spark – literally.
Researchers at Northwestern University have documented the striking event in a new video that accompanies a study published this week.
At the moment of conception, the egg releases massive amounts of zinc, which creates a spark that can be seen with the aid of a microscope.
“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”
The research team had noted the zinc sparks before in mice eggs but had never observed the process in human beings.
“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization,” Woodruff said, “yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
One of the researchers, Northwestern chemistry professor Thomas O'Halloran, explained the science behind the process in 2014.
“The egg first has to stockpile zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis,” he said. “On cue, at the time of fertilization, we see the egg release thousands of packages, each dumping a million zinc atoms, and then it's quiet.”
“Each egg has four or five of these periodic sparks,” O'Halloran said. “It is beautiful to see, orchestrated much like a symphony.”
Since the amount of zinc in an egg correlates with successful implantation and birth, the Northwestern researchers are highlighting that their research may be used to assist in vitro fertilization.
But that raises concerns given the grave moral issues with IVF, which involves creating numerous embryos that are either killed or frozen. Moral theologians also emphasize that IVF is an injustice even for the children who are born as a result, as they are created in a lab rather than in the union of man and woman.
The study may have far-reaching consequences the research team did not intend, such as strengthening public belief in the longstanding scientific consensus that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.
Many of those who saw the Northwestern video said it testifies to the beauty of life and the shallow lies that buttress the argument of abortion-on-demand.
“I saw this, and I was blown away by it,” said Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio program Thursday afternoon. “For anybody in the mainstream media to openly admit that life begins at conception” defies arguments that an unborn child is only “tissue mass.”
Researchers released a separate video of the zinc spark taking place in a mammalian egg more than a year ago:
The paper, which is entitled “The Zinc Spark is an Inorganic Signature of Human Egg Activation,” was published by Scientific Reports on April 26.