Monday, August 13, 2007

Berit Kjos Just Does Not Get It

Berit Kjos, one of the most staunch opponents of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, reveals her gross misunderstanding of Deathly Hallows in her review, "Harry's Last Battle & Rowling's Beliefs". Concentrating on the Vancouver Sun quotation where JKR told Max Wyman that if she discussed her faith then the "intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books"; Kjos comes to the following conclusion about the novel's climactic ending where Harry sacrifices himself and later comes back to defeat Voldemort:

By presenting a counterfeit version of Biblical salvation, Rowling prompts her readers to imagine a false Christianity that embraces the occult. To most readers, it will feel true, for such dialectical lies (union of opposites) -- taught through occult systems such as the Kabbalah, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, and Unity -- have now become an accepted way of thinking around the world. Indeed, what God calls evil, now seems deceptively good.

Several points must be made. JKR is not trying to seduce her readers into the occult. In fact JKR has said that "[the] two groups of people who are constantly thanking me are wiccans (white witches) and boarding schools. And really, don't thank me. I'm not with either of them. New ageism leaves me completely cold, and Jessie would never go to boarding school" (Hattenstone, Simon. "Harry, Jessica and me," The Guardian, July 8, 2000). She has said on another occasion that "I'm neither a practicing witch nor do I believe in magic" (Rogers, Shelagh. "INTERVIEW: J.K. Rowling," Canadian Broadcasting Co., October 23, 2000). The magic in the Harry Potter series is purely mechanical and often resembling science and technology; more important is that the magic does not resemble anything in Wicca or the occult. Basically it's fantasy magic that one would find in any fairy tale or fantasy novel. Therefore based on the above statements by JKR, Kjos is wrong when she argues that the novels allow readers to "embrace the occult".

Kjos also does not understand the Vancouver Sun quotation. Harry Potter's sacrificial death is a powerful plot point that echoes that true sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Since Deathly Hallows is fiction, Harry's actions are not meant to replace Christ's sacrifice. To say that JKR is perpetuating a "counterfeit version of Biblical Salvation" and a "false Christianity" is dishonest. JKR uses Christian symbolism in her novels and she admitted herself to Meredith Vieira on the Today Show that there is a "religious undertone" in the series. Kjos does not treat Harry Potter as a work of literature and does not understand concepts of symbolism and the rules governing them. Instead she sees them as a portal to the occult, which is not accurate in light of JKR's statements and an honest reading of the novels.

Kjos quickly glosses over the "Christian" elements and fails to mention either JKR use of scripture on the tombstones of Kendra/Ariana Dumbledore and James/Lily Potter or her use of Chaucer's "Pardoner's Tale" as inspiration for the story of the Three Brothers and the Deathly Hallows. Kjos also makes dubious use of a mysterious person named "Peter" who was supposedly a former occultist and Temple Master of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. For reasons of safety, Kjos will not reveal Peter's identity, which is suspicious enough. Given Kjos' inaccuracy concerning the series, "Peter" probably knows as much about the occult as David J. Meyer does. The same tired arguments are peddled throughout this piece showing the age of the anti-Harry movement. I mean the last novel itself pretty much settled the issue. Perhaps there is a relief that Harry Potter is finally over. Now one only wonders whether Berit Kjos will move on as Laura Mallory has done.

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