Monday, July 16, 2007

Lev Grossman, God, and Harry Potter

I find it fascinating that Lev Grossman of Time Magazine is heralding God's funeral because of His supposed absence in the Harry Potter series. Grossman writes "[i]f you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God" and "Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind". This flagrantly contradicts J.K. Rowling's statements that she believes in God. What about that famous Vancouver Sun quotation of hers in response to whether she is a Christian:

''Yes, I am,'' she says. ''Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.''
Travis Prinzi responds to Grossman point by point in his recent (and brilliant) Sword of Gryffindor post, Lev Grossman Strikes Again. Prinzi scoffs at Grossman's secularist view of the series by bringing up the fact that Harry Potter does have some religious elements such as Christian holidays and christenings. Grossman clearly has an agenda (he's admitted that he's an atheist and that he likes the supposed absense of God in the series) , which is evidenced by the fact that he ignores statements made by JKR herself. If Grossman was a journalist then he should have scoured her many interviews looking for a quote or two to support his 180 degrees wrong views on the series. He would find no such evidence but what he would find is a author who is keeping her religious views under wraps until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

John Granger a.k.a. Hogwart's Professor has suggested in a recent post that perhaps JKR is using Lev Grossman to protect her storyline and take the heat of her religious beliefs this close to the Deathly Hallows release. JKR has said in the past that:

There is one thing that if anyone guessed I would be really annoyed as it is kind of the heart of it all. And it kind of explains everything and no-one's quite got there but a couple of people have skirted it. So you know, I would be pretty miffed after thirteen or fourteen years of writing the books if someone just came along and said I think this will happen in book seven. Because it is too late, I couldn't divert now, everything has been building up to it, and I've laid all my clues (Paxman, Jeremy, "JK's OOTP interview," BBC Newsnight, 19 June 2003).
Could this be a reference to a religious ending that Grossman seems to ignore? Whatever the case, if we are to believe Granger, maybe Grossman's article is a good thing.

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