Friday, June 21, 2013

Harry Potter and the Series Review

Harry Potter is one of those books that was a major part of my childhood. I read some of the earlier ones (1-5) multiple times when I was younger, but haven't re-read them since the seventh came out.

Of course, the books stirred up quite a bit of controversy in Christian circles at the time, and in fact still do. I've featured a guest post here before on why Christians can read Harry Potter, and I agree with all of those points, but those just touched on a few of the problems people have (or think they have) with the book. And my memory of the books is getting fainter and fainter, such that I find it hard to use specific examples to defend the books. All of which leads me to wonder if they are as good as I remember.

Another criticism I've heard is of J.K. Rowling's writing style. I remember loving it. My ten-year old self was very inspired by her writing. My fiction writing teacher, on the other hand, is apparently against her writing style, especially her use of psychological adverbs. Of course, he was against many things that famous writers did. (In case you're reading this, Mr. Jones *waving* hi! You were a fantastic teacher.) But a common criticism is that her book was popular in spite of her writing, and I just don't remember it well enough to lean either way. As I said before, I'm not necessarily reading to defend or apologize, but to judge for my (slightly more aware) self.

Instead of a book-by-book review, I'll just be reading the books and posting weeklyish about whatever section I'm on or have just finished, as well as other thoughts relating to the series. Possibly I'll also feature common objections to the Harry Potter series and work through them using the books and (if it's a Christian-based objection) the Bible. In fact, if you have a common objection to the series that you'd like me to address on my way through the series, go ahead and post it in the comments. If you have a strong opinion on the series and can condense it into 1,000 words, well, you know where to submit that idea....

So, to recap: this will be a summer series on Harry Potter that I'll be posting weeklyish. Since apparently Google Reader or Google Friend Connect (or something) is leaving July 1st, if you want to keep up with me in a way that is free from the whims of Blogger, I now have three options for you.

Take your pick. (Or, hey! Why settle? Follow all of them.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Silence the Enemy and the Avenger

So. Graduation.

Here we all are, on the brink, as it were, the unseasoned troops itching for battle. We’re all ready to rush the front lines, swords drawn, armor clanking, banners blowing in the breeze, accompanied by the sound of a distant battlehorn, Lord of the Rings theme playing in the background. But what we meet on the other side looks a lot less like orcs, and a lot more like a bunch of hardened soldiers standing behind their thirty-ton tanks, dressed in camo and holding M16’s. And one of them has a flamethrower.

You see, in this world and in this time we hear and complain a lot about the gospel being silenced. The gospel is silenced in schools. The gospel is silenced in our media, in our government, in every public place. The gospel is pushed back into our churches, back inside the privacy of our homes. The gospel is suppressed, smothered, and shut up.

We’re told that we need to change our faith; that our beliefs are outdated and old-fashioned; that we should hope that the next generation of Christians (and that’s me; that’s all of us here up on this stage) will grow up without the biases and prejudices of the past. It’s time to trade in the sword of Biblical inerrancy for the much more effective M16 of love and tolerance.

You hear that silence, that ringing empty silence, in your workplace, in the news, in the movies? Do you miss all the words that should be there? Do you strain your ears for the words of the gospel? Do you know why the good news is silent?

It’s silent because you are silent. It’s silent because I am silent.

But praise be to God. We all up on this stage here, we were all brought up with a Christian or mostly Christian education, where the gospel was spoken and breathed and sung and told to us over and over again. The good news, that Jesus conquered the world, that Jesus rules the world, and that we are His children, we are the saved and the sanctified and the justified and the empowered, to speak words of healing in this broken world.

Because sin, it broke everything. Sure, things look solid, look whole, but that’s because our eyes are broken. But the author of our story came down into the story and was broken like us, was broken for us. The world is not silent when the Word Himself is here, when He says “let there be light,” and there is light. How can the world be silent when the Word Himself reigns on high?

We each have our place to go, our own silence to fill, to conquer. I hear and have always heard it loudest in storytelling, in media and entertainment, in books and films, and that’s where I feel called to go. To speak the words of truth in one of the most gospel-starved places of our culture, the entertainment industry. Storytelling is power, because words are powerful, and the lies that are written in our culture’s stories are powerful. But God has spread the light to all corners of the earth, and Jesus has conquered every culture, every medium, every industry, so now we just go to claim the victory, to spread the good news. Jesus has won!

The gospel is only silenced when we are silent. And we have the power of Christ in us. The gospel cannot and will not be silenced, because

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have ordained strength,
Because of Your enemies,
That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Hunger, war, disease, and  poverty; liars and hypocrites; pride, arguments, sin; all the enemies of God, they are the ones who will be silenced. Sure, they think they’re part of the big army, they think they have the tanks and the bazookas and the grenades and the flamethrowers on their side, but what they don’t know is that they’re not an army. They’re not even a protest movement. They’re just a different head of the same old ugly, lying serpent.

And when they see us coming at them, rushing the front lines, sword swinging -

Man, they’re really going to lose their heads.
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