By John-Henry Westen
EDINBURGH, March 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The newly released edition of the Edinburgh University Student newspaper, the oldest student newspaper in the UK, includes an interview with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. In the interview Rowling claims to have received death threats from Christians opposed to her novels, calling Christian ‘fundamentalists’ “dangerous” and comparing them by inference to Islamic fundamentalists.
Asked if there were not some Christians who dislike the book ‘intensely’, Rowling replied, “Oh, vehemently and they send death threats.” Questioned about the ‘death threats’, she added, “Once, yeah. Well, more than once. It is comical in retrospect. I was in America, and there was a threat made against a bookstore that I was appearing at, so we had the police there.”
While she said she could stomach critics, she had little time for Christian criticism. “But to be honest the Christian Fundamentalist thing was bad,” she said. “I would have been quite happy to sit there and debate with one of the critics who were taking on Harry Potter from a moral perspective.”
Many Christians who have opposed the Potter series have done so after reading comments by Christian reviewers pointing out their moral and spiritual dangers. The opponents, who have been relying on the reviewers criticisms, have often avoided reading Rowling’s lengthy Potter narratives, and Rowling uses such cases to paint Christians as if they were insane.
“I’ve tried to be rational about it,” she told the paper. “There’s a woman in North Carolina or Alabama who’s been trying to get the books banned-she’s a mother of four and never read them. And then- I’m not lying, I’m not even making fun, this is the truth of what she said-quite recently she was asked [why] and she said ‘Well I prayed whether or not I should read them, and God told me no.’”
The interviewer notes that at that point “Rowling pauses to reflect on the weight of that statement, and her expression one of utter disbelief.” Rowling then continued, “You see, that is where I absolutely part company with people on that side of the fence, because that is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is, ‘I will not open my mind to look on your side of the argument at all. I won’t read it, I won’t look at it, I’m too frightened.’”
“That’s what’s dangerous about it, whether it be politically extreme, religiously extreme…In fact, fundamentalists across all the major religions, if you put them in a room, they’d have bags in common! They hate all the same things, it’s such an ironic thing.”
Michael O’Brien, one of the most prominent Potter critics, has carefully read and analyzed the Potter books critiquing the spiritual and moral problems with Rowling’s works. O’Brien commented to LifeSiteNews.com about Rowling’s mockery of Christians who avoid her works.
“Regrettably, there is a strange new form of self-righteousness at work in the world-a psychological state of mind that is common to post-modernists such as J. K. Rowling,” said O’Brien. “One of its symptoms is their inability to discuss on a serious level the truth or untruth of their cultural products. They avoid the real issues and instead take the ‘ad hominem’ approach-personal attacks against those who raise critical objections to the disorders in their books. From the vaccuum of real thought arises the dreary habit of classifying as a ‘fundamentalist’ any critic who bases his arguments on religious or spiritual grounds.”
Added O’Brien: “This term is used against bomb-throwing terrorists, sweet grandmothers praying silently before abortuaries, and anyone who preaches the fullness of the Christian faith in church and media. It has become the utmost smear word, a weapon that is proving quite effective in silencing opposition. If you don’t have an argument yourself, you just switch tactics and cry ‘fundamentalist!’ Supposedly all opposition will then collapse.”
In previous interviews Rowling has said Christian criticism of her works come from the “lunatic fringe” of the church.
Prior to being elected Pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger expressed an opinion opposing the Potter books. He sent a letter of gratitude to Gabriele Kuby who authored a work explaining the dangers of the Potter story, especially to young children. Made available by LifeSiteNews.com, Ratzinger’s letter to Ms. Kuby stated, “It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”
Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist of the Vatican also condemned the books warning parents, “Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil.” Father Amorth criticized the novels for glorifying magic, which he explicitly refers to as “the satanic art”, and for presenting disordered perceptions of morality in the supposedly heroic main characters.
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Pope Opposes Harry Potter Novels – Signed Letters from Cardinal Ratzinger Now Online
Harry Potter Feature Page: