Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series

If you ever need proof that Magic Is A Bad Thing, then try J. K. Rowling's series of books about Harry Potter.


In her books, remember, magic is something that requires innate skill, constant practice, and a horrendous amount of expensive equipment.

Kind of like golf.

(Speaking of which: in the final showdown, Mrs. Weasley demonstrates an awesome mastery of lethal spells -- in fact, she's so good that you're left wondering how she ever escaped getting a life-sentence at Azkaban. What does this suggest about her method of raising children? Discuss.)

And in return for all this hard work and cash, magic:
  • Doesn't give you friends.
  • Doesn't give you money.
  • Doesn't give you a just and equitable society.
  • And no, it won't even put food on your table.
(Speaking of which: how do they feed all those people at Hogwarts? Am I supposed to imagine vast pumpkin plantations, presumably worked by goblins? Or does Safeway have something going that its shareholders don't know about? Discuss.)

No, magic won't give you happiness -- but it does give you a nasty bureaucracy, a judiciary that is positively medieval, and an economic system that's just one step above hiding money in your mattress.

(Speaking of which: the fact that Hermione pays the owl for her copy of The Daily Prophet suggests that its subscription department hasn't caught on to the idea of sending her a bill. What would happen if someone introduced credit-cards at Hogwarts -- or even the idea of compound interest? Discuss.)

And in return for all this, magic supposedly offers . . . what?
  • The ability to talk with snakes -- all of whom prove to be lousy conversationalists.
  • The chance to play Quidditch -- a game that combines the worst aspects of hockey and catching butterflies.
  • And a handful of remedies for magical ailments -- most of which are inflicted by other magicians.
(Speaking of which: I'm supposed to believe these people have mastered time-travel, invisibility, and the art of making beer out of butter . . . yet Harry still wears glasses. Haven't they heard of LASIK eye-surgery -- or even contact lenses? Discuss.)

No, Rowling makes it clear that magic is not an option for the likes of you and me -- and even if it was, it's not one that any sane person would choose. The costs are too high. The benefits are too small. And the society it produces is nasty, brutish, and short-tempered.

In short, J. K. Rowling may have written about wizards and witches.

But the magic is definitely gone.


Ron Corson said...

I can't wait for the discussion on river rafting is a bad thing when you do Huckleberry Finn!

Pastor Greg said...

As I recall, they do get run over by a steamboat.