Recent Reviews

It is always good to think critically about that which our minds ingest.

31 July 2007

I was the 3rd in my household to lay my hands on the 7th and final installment in the Harry Potter series after my wife and eldest daughter. J. K. Rowling is, simply put, the one of the greatest fictional moralist of our day. Like the 6 which preceded this one Harry and his friends are faced with innumerable choices - hard choices: to fight rather than flee; to trust eachother even after mistakes; to resist a government which has be overtaken by evil; and the list goes on and on and on. I find myself wondering if Rowling is greater than Rand, who never portrayed family life as anything other than parasitic and dysfunctional. Rowling has shown families like the Weasleys and Dumbledores just how great families can be while hiding none of the foibles that are invariably present in such genetically tied communities.

The great irony is that many of the same groups which claim to support family values see this book as some satanic overture designed to ensnare their children. Yet what are the Harry Potter books if not steeped in christian mideval alchemy? Christmas and Easter are celebrated by name. People have eternal souls and death is inevitable. Good always trimuphs over evil through perseverance and self-sacrfice. I am reminded of my mother forbidding me to watch the Ghostbusters movies or subsequent cartoons because they were "satanic". Just pure silliness.

Flipping through the AM dial while driving home an evening last week I came upon a minister admonishing his flock not to let their children read Harry Potter, but to get them some more holy fantasy. Then he went on to suggest C. S. Lewis (no surprise their - magic and strange creatures are okay if you're a christian apologist) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Which made be bust a gut laughing to realize that this man had probably never read any of the books he was condemning or recommending. Tolkein explicitly set out to create an English mythology to replace the foreign influence brought by the invasion of 1066. I can easily imagine some future minister recommending the Harry Potter series over the newest literature dubbed satanic a few decades hence.

Sad though I am that the series has ended, I thought she was streching the story quite a bit to put it in seven books anyway. The ending, despite the excitement of all the wizards battling, was something of an anticlimax. But perhaps we were expecting too much of Rowling; she has, after all, written the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione solving a mystery which eventually leads to a showdown with Voldemort 7 times now. Sure, they were enchanting stories, but so were Michael Crichton's.

1 Feb 2007

Davy Crockett was one of the many backwoodsmen who braved the west in the early 19th century. Crockett enjoyed the plentiful bounty that the untapped inner continent provided in terms of land and game, playing no small part in the eradication of megafauna in eastern North America. But we must be careful not to judge the past by the sensibilities of today. Crockett was an honorable man who voted against Jaskson's removal of the Indians to Oklahoma, even though he knew it would cost him his seat in Congress. He later returned to oppose many of Jackson's propositions, but usually without success. Of course Crockett the Tennessean is best remembered for 13 days he spent in Texas resisting the tyrannical Santa Anna and his Mexican army at the Alamo.
Two years before that heroic end he penned A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee which is rather self-lauditory at points, but mostly a presentation of the events a man saw as important in his own life. There is very little discussion of his role in Congress but a whole lot about bear hunting. Crockett writes in the vernacular in a time before the southern dialect had fully developed and the reader is treated to archaic forms like "clomb" as the past tense of climb and newly loaned Indian words like "harricane" which meant the a place in the woods where a storm had caused much destruction rather than its modern application to a particular kind of storm. This is the kind of work that belongs in alongside Mark Twain in southern literature rather than the drivellings of William Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston.

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Last Modified: 31 July 2007 by Bradley James Wogsland .