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

Writing Fiction: Outliner or Discovery Writer?

Some fiction writers work better by just jumping in and starting writing, no planning. They’re often called discovery writers (good podcast about DW).

Some writers produce better stuff when they plan and outline and world-build a lot. They’re sometimes called outliners.

Everyone is different, but most people can probably improve their writing by using a bit of both. For example, my own fiction writing happens something like this:

My process

  1. My stories start as simple concepts in my imagination. For example,
    • a girl who can see through other people’s eyes, or
    • a ghost trying to save a living friend in peril.

    Some come from dreams.

  2. If one strikes me as interesting, I try to build on the characters and setting around it and come up with a basic story (still all just in my head, so far). For example,
    • Who is the girl? What kind of person is she? What is her situation?
    • How can she see through other people’s eyes – what kind of magic or technology, and how does it work?
    • Why is it important? Who does it hurt/help? What situations does it lead to?
  3. If I create something I like, I decide to start capturing it (on paper or a computer file). I start a written outline consisting of info like:
    • Plot summary (a paragraph)
    • Characters (3-5 bullet points about them)
    • Setting
    • Major scenes (a short paragraph for each)
    • Etc
  4. In this way, I construct the plot, setting and characters until I can see one or two key scenes really coming together in my head.
  5. At that point I make myself stop outlining and actually write some of those key scenes to “flesh them out”
  6. Getting the whole scene written down helps me learn a lot about my plot, and characters. I see some problems and have some good ideas. So I go back and revise my outline.
  7. I do the opposite, too – after writing a few more scenes out, I return to the outline to see if I like the direction I’m going. I fiddle with the outline to improve a few things, then use that to chop and change the written scenes

So I recommend trying both together and seeing what works best for you.

Potential problems

Avoid:

  1. Outlining too much and never getting started with the actual writing (the Writing Excuses guys call this “World-Builder’s disease”)
  2. Jumping in with no planning and writing thousands of words into a story that never goes anywhere or ends abruptly/unsatisfyingly
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