Harry Potter and Christianity

A very small (but very vocal!) minority of Christians view J.K Rowling’s series as a gateway to the occult for young people (“look how popular it is! Anything today’s kids like must be evil!”).

A much larger group of Christians view it as harmless fun (many have actually read the books, and I imagine the others simply rely on the fact that of all the millions of kids who’ve now read Harry Potter, the percentage who’ve actually started worshipping Satan as a result is zero).

But the rest of us Christians think Harry Potter is not just harmless fun. It’s extremely-beneficial-to-humanity fun.

We believe J. K. Rowling is a Godsend. Here are a couple of reasons why:

For one, the Harry Potter books are chock-full of good moral values:

  • Guess what, that terrible guy Snape wasn’t so evil after all – guess you can’t judge anyone, can you?
  • The recurring theme about “purebloods” – showing how evil prejudice and bigotry are
  • The recurring theme that our choices, not our circumstances or innate talents that determine who we are: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” and “…the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are…”
  • Harry’s Mum, and that bloke Dumbledore, actually sacrificed their lives to save others (who do we know who’s done something like that?)

… just off the top of my head. Here’s some more MissInterpretation added last time I wrote on this topic:

  • Doing what’s right instead of what’s popular is its own reward (Longbottom trying to stop Harry, Hermione, and Ron)
  • Magic doesn’t fix real-world problems (peer pressure, homework, etc) even if you’re a wizard
  • Adults are there to help you in situations too big to handle (in the beginning, Harry & friends did not trust the teachers enough to bring their problems to them; by the end, Harry learns that he can benefit from the guidance and council of those older and wiser)

This is no big surprise really, as Rowling identifies herself as a church-going Christian.

But the excellent morals in Harry Potter, while leaving most of popular entertainment in the dust, aren’t even the best argument in favour of Harry Potter, even strictly from a Christian perspective. That honour belongs to their ability to encourage people to read.

How many children (and adults), worldwide, now read books regularly that never would have picked one up if not for Harry Potter? 50% more? 10 times as many?

Think how much more literate the world is, as a result of this one woman. Think how much a person’s life (and the lives of those around them, and often the lives of many others only vaguely connected to them) are improved by that person’s acquiring a lifelong love of learning and knowledge from an early age.

In a world where video games are entertaining enough to entice kids to play literally all day, where enough movies and TV shows are released to take up all our waking hours many times over, young people are actually reading books.

Christ taught that if you want to know whether something is good or not, you have to look at the actual results:

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit… Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Matthew 7:20

That’s why Christians should be the last people on Earth to condemn these books.

Brandon Sanderson – First Australian Book Tour

Mark your calendars: Brandon Sanderson is coming to Australia for the first time in April 2012 to attend some conventions and do some book signings! No word yet on whether he’ll make it to Sydney.

Details so far (check his calendar for updates between now and then):

Doom-Con, Swancon 37, Perth, Australia

Date: 05.04.12 Time: 3:00 pm-7:00 pm
Place: Doom-Con, Swancon 37
Address: TBD, Perth, Australia
Type: Convention

schedule: April 5–9, 2012 (Easter weekend)

Notes: Brandon is International Guest of Honor.

Supanova Melbourne 2012, Australia

Date: 13.04.12 Time: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Place: Supanova Melbourne 2012
Address: Melbourne Showgrounds
Epsom Road
Ascot Vale
Victoria 3032 Australia
Type: Convention

schedule: April 13–15, 2012

Supanova Gold Coast 2012, Australia

Date: 20.04.12 Time: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Place: Supanova Gold Coast 2012
Address: Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
2684 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
QLD 4218, Australia
Type: Convention

Fascinating look at everyday life in Sydney in 1966

Film Australia have a fascinating collection of films of historical significance in their archives, including Life in Australia: Sydney, a promotional film showing footage of what everyday life was like for a Sydney family almost 50 years ago.

A few things I found fascinating:

  • Suits and ties everywhere, no bogans
  • Stay-at-home mums
  • Almost all white people
  • The “old rattler” train carriages that were still running until recently (yes, they’re that old!)
  • The opera house being constructed
  • Red-brick buildings shown off as stylish and new
  • Is that girl at the rock’n’roll dance rocking out in her underwear?
  • Time traveller from the 80’s at 17:02
  • The traffic was bad, even then

Ken Jennings: “Ask Me Anything”

The most successful Jeopardy player of all time is a mormon trivia buff and pop-culture nerd named Ken Jennings. He’s a pretty hilarious guy, and his blog is great.

He’s doing an AMA on Reddit right now, check it out:

IAmA 74-time Jeopardy! champion, Ken Jennings. I will not be answering in the form of a question.

Bonus Trivia: He was roommates at BYU with my current favourite author Brandon Sanderson (I originally found out about Brandon from Ken’s blog).

The King of Limbs

Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, is out.

You can buy and download it (320kbps mp3) for £6 (about $9.95 AUD) here.

I like Radiohead.

Here is a picture:

Limbs

Xpadder

I need to use a proper game controller for PC games, because I get RSI from using a mouse and keyboard.

Unfortunately, a lot of PC games don’t support controllers very well. Some have no support, others have very limited or broken support (for example, one of the analog sticks won’t be recognised). This happens even in games where controllers are a better choice (Beyond Good and Evil and Fahrenheit have broken support) and/or the game is a console port (or also available on consoles, e.g. Bioshock 2 has no controller support(!)).

For these games, I use special keyboard/mouse emulation software – programs that accept input from a controller and translate it into mouse movements and key presses.

I’ve used a free one called ControlMK for years, but it has it’s limits:

  • It doesn’t work with every game (not sure why)
  • It’s a bit tricky to configure – hard to figure out which button maps to which button number.

The end result is the eternal problem of PC gaming: the time wasted configuring the game before you can play it properly. Tweaking graphic card settings and fiddling with control mappings was actually somewhat fun  when I was a kid (and beneficial; it taught me a lot about computers). Now I have very little time to game, and I’d really like to spend some of it actually gaming.

So, of course, I asked a question about it on the Gaming StackExchange.

As one answer recommended, I ended up buying one called Xpadder.

It’s interface allows you to use an image of the controller (make your own or use one of the many images on the Xpadder site), with each button in the correct place, which really saves a lot of time – like this. So far, it also works in games which only partially worked with ControlMK. It seems to have an active community and lots of extra features too.

There is a functional (but older) free version if you want to try it or can’t afford the $10 (or so, depends on country/currency, I think) to buy it.

Saved me a lot of time, I recommend it.

Booko

Wow, this is pretty cool:

Booko is an Australian site that, for a given book title, lists the price (including postage to Oz) for all online stores that ship to Australia.

Fastest way to find the cheapest total price for a book you want – and the cheapest is often cheap:

Example: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, a favourite of mine, which I bought for about $22 at Borders in Parramatta:

Booko found a copy going for AUD $8.07, including postage, from Book Depository (US):

Check it out: booko.com.au

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