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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Ban on Harry Potter

The Town Crier posted about the new Pope, or the Pontiff Formerly Known As Cardinal Ratzinger, and his opposition to the Harry Potter series. Ha! Those Catholics are so behind on the banning times! Out here in the "Yeshivishe Veldt" (The yeshivish world), Harry Potter books have been banned for ages! Harry Potter costumes were not even allowed into my kids' schools for Purim! It seems that the use of kishuf (witchcraft) that is so rampant in the series makes the books inappropriate reading for their young, impressionable, preteen minds. Even though R' Moshe Feinsten wrote a Teshuva (Igrot Moshe Y.D. 4:13) expressly disagreeing with that view, and saying that as long as the children reading the books are aware that the magic and witchcraft in the books are just fantasy, they may read them for their literary value. I am not an opponent per se of carefully choosing which books to encourage our children to read. As MO Woman pointed out last week, many "children's" books nowadays are far from appropriate reading for children. I do, however, think that banning the Harry Potter series solely on the basis of a fictional depiction of witchcraft is a very narrowminded interpretation of the Torah's prohibition against practicing witchcraft (Shmot 22:17).

Once again, the Orthodox world proves itself to be way ahead of the curve when it comes to banning the use of everyday objects. Who says we're backwards? Look out for the Pope to speak out against Catholic students using cell phones next. You heard it here first.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes we orthodox jews are lightyears ahead.see heshyshouse.blogspot.com

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" the Pontiff Formerly Known As Cardinal Ratzinger"


3:41 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I wonder what today's yeshivas have to say about the Chronicles of Narnia. Or are today's kids not into C.S. Lewis.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Maybe he'll just ban them from using birth control while they're co-habiting prior to marriage...oh wait, he's already done that huh? And they're still doing it huh? I suppose the ban on Harry Potter is equally as observed. Sigh.

3:48 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

and you want your daughter to be a rosh yeshiva, yet?

3:56 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I remember Narnia... those were the first books i read when i was little that weren't shot through with illustrations. They just had a single picture at the beginning of each chapter. And then i jumped into Tolkien's books once i was in 4th grade. I still remember being amazed that there were no pictures in them other than the illustration on the covers.

And then, when i was somewhat older and went back to reread the Narnia books i remember the shocking realization that it's all one hyooge Christian allegory!!!!! eeeek!!! That was somewhat annoying. Explains the disappointingly crappy ending to the series, though.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...


I was surprised about Narnia too, but I did love those books.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Same thing with the Madeleine L'Engle books, Wind in the Door, and Wrinkle in Time. That has Christian allegory as well. Loved those books as a kid.

5:56 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I have a feeling that the Madeline L'Engle books wouldn't be as poorly received as the Harry Potter books. I think the backlash against the Potter series has a lot to do with the whole industry that has built up around it. The movies, products, etc. It's not like there was any big marketing push for A Wrinkle in Time. At least not that I remember...

9:47 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Where's the Christianity in L'Engle's books?
I don't remember them as well, and they were definitely a lot weirder, but i don't remember noticing anything significantly Christian about them.

Many Waters, where the whole book is about Noahh and the Ark, obviously drew on a lot of Judeo-/Christo-/Islamic traditions, but definitely didn't seem like it was written from anything like a 'traditional religious' perspective.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Could the heart of the matter be the fact that J K Rowling uses the term "witchcraft"? Maybe if she just called it all "magic", with "mages" instead of "warlocks/witches", it wouldn't be as badly received.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey ortho why was my comment deleted?

11:21 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Uh, bishul, it wasn't. You left it on the wrong thread. Check one down.

11:21 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I agree with your point. It definitely has something to do with that fact. I don't remember the Christianity in L'Engle either. And Lord knows I read them as a child, too many times to count.

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry ortho my bad

11:28 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Whatever next?

Will stories with Goblins and fairies be banned next?

5:00 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Re L'Engel, I didn't see that angle either but I have read that it's there. The books figure prominently in christian bookstores.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever read them? Who says that kids are able to tell that it isn't real? I remeber thinking that books I read as a child were really true to life. Kids have active imaginations. I can see why they wouldn't want their studenst reading the books.

3:09 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

It's been taken out of our school library too. I think it does have something to do with the popularity of the series putting it on the gedolim's radar.

Is Tolkein banned in your kids' school? There's plenty of magic and spells there too.

Narnia is definitely about Christianity.

And Battlestar Galactica is about Mormon...ology...

11:06 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Out here in the "Yeshivishe Veldt" (The yeshivish world), Harry Potter books have been banned for ages! Harry Potter costumes were not even allowed into my kids' schools for Purim!

I had some business to conduct recently in the basement of my local Agudath Israel synagogue. And I met a frum Dad trying to give an impromptu Talmud lesson to his sone. But his son had the latest Harry Potter book in hand and was apparently more interested in that than in his Dad's attempt to show off to the Conservative Kofer (me) what a talmid chacham his kid was.

The money quote: "Dad, I don't remember that sugya! We covered that last April!"

And they think that yeshiva education makes a difference.

3:14 PM  
Blogger narniafan123 said...

Just found some interesting stuff on the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia film. c.s. lewis

2:20 PM  
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