Rev. Rehill’s Fantasies

Rev. Dan Rehill removed the Harry Potter novels from the library at Catholic St. Edward School in Nashville:

These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the book are actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.

The media report that Rev. Rehill consulted with a parent and a couple of exorcists before taking one of the world’s most popular book series off of the K-8 private school’s book shelves. “Due diligence,” indeed!

WC doesn’t want to rain on Rev. Rehill’s parade here, but could he point WC to one, just one, example where one of author J. K. Rowling’s spells actually worked, let alone conjured up an “evil spirit”? In your own time, Rev. Rehill. Or how about a single example of a successful conjuration of an evil spirit, ever.1 Book banning is a pretty serious business, or should be. Wouldn’t a modicum of evidence be appropriate before banning a book, let alone seven books?

An unkind person would suggest Rev. Rehill has other problems. Perhaps Ms. Rowling’s books, if he actually read them, made him laugh, or made him cry, and Rev. Rehill was so unfamiliar with those emotions that he mistook them for “evil spirits”? Or perhaps we have an instance of the psychological principle of projecting? An unkind person would say that the Catholic Church has larger, more urgent problems than imaginary risks from literature. Pedophile priests, would be one example. Covering up the actions of pedophile priests might be another.2 Instead of getting his knickers in a wad over fantasy, maybe Rev. Rehill could work on getting his own house in order before banning random books.

WC reminds Rev. Rehill that fairy tales like the Harry Potter novels have been endorsed by much better Catholics than Rev. Rehil. The late G. K. Chesterton wrote,

Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him for a series of clear pictures to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.

WC’s hero, Terry Pratchett, said the same thing, if more succinctly:

The objection to fairy stories is that they tell children there are dragons. But children have always known there are dragons. Fairy stories tell children that dragons can be killed.

Rev. Rehill doesn’t have to invent imaginary terrors in the form of evil spirits, eager to seize the hypothetical souls of young readers. The world is more than scary enough as it is. Kids already have enough terrors. What they need to learn is that terror can be overcome. Which, of course, is the lesson of the Harry Potter novels.

Maybe Rev. Rehill shouldn’t be using his personal fantasies to justify denying children the knowledge and skills they need to deal with a scary world, filled with pedophile Catholic priests and other terrors, far worse than Voldemort?

Just a thought.


  1. Donald Trump doesn’t count. 
  2. Nashville hasn’t been spared the agonies of pedophile Catholic priests. The diocese recently published a list of 13 known pedophile preachers. 

5 thoughts on “Rev. Rehill’s Fantasies

  1. People fighting imaginary demons are really fighting much more concrete, inner monsters… as you well said: projection, projection, projection.
    It seems that fighting virtual wars is the new fashion.

  2. “Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.” You might have overlooked that one from your Blogger’s Code of Ethics.
    How disrespectful of a faithful man of God whom you know nothing about. You’ve read a few reports from the religion-hating media and assume you know everything you need to know. You have no idea what transpired here, yet are happy to assume the worst intentions and consider as stupid and ignorant a holy man thousands of miles away. You know nothing about what he has endured in life, his unconventional road to the priesthood, the miracles great and small that he has witnessed, and likewise the very real evil that he has seen. You know nothing about his visits to Rome, with whom he has consulted, and what he might know firsthand about demonic influence, oppression, and possession. In a situation in which he was not being held to ridicule he could indeed explain real instances of children impacted by this real evil as a result of reading aloud the real latin incantations in the books that in some cases can and have initiated demonic attacks. Is it any surprise that the crowd who cheers taking God and prayer out of schools so quickly and viciously attacks one of God’s faithful shepherds at a private Catholic school for trying to protect his young flock from evil?
    Please excuse Father Dan if he does not take educational advice on religious matters from Hollywood or Leftist bloggers or a mass media whose personal mission is to destroy Christianity and poison the minds of children at every turn. They only want what is best for children, I’m sure, except for those times when the particularly helpless ones need to be murdered before ever having the chance to read a Harry Potter book.

    • If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know that proof is what matters here if you want to advance an argument. Not anecdotes or unsubstantiated claims. Provide one, just one scientifically documented instance of J. K. Rowling’s “real latin incantations” initiating a demonic attack, and WC and his readers will take you seriously.

      And rather than “destroy Christianity,” WC wants only to hold it to account. Book banning is very serious business, the stuff of tyrants and despots. And folks like Rev. Rehill are part of a centuries-long tradition in the Catholic Church of banning books without a shred of evidence, because the ideas are inconvenient, or new, or challenging. Ask Galileo.


    • I suspect there is no amount of evidence or eyewitness accounts that would ever satisfy your requirements. It’s easy to smugly say “prove it” regarding matters of the spiritual world, and happily dismiss the claims as nonsense. If a random woman told you she had been date raped, I’m sure you would wholeheartedly accept her claim as fact, especially in the social media courts of today. If a priest speaks of demonic encounters he has witnessed or knows of through a network of other priests throughout the world whose primary job is to exorcise demons, you simply scoff. There is plenty of evidence in the world of demonic encounters and possessions. You seem to dismiss the notion altogether, so certainly there will be no convincing you that some were initiated as a result of these books.
      Book banning is indeed serious business, and that is not what Father Dan did. Children at his school can still bring their own HP books to school if they desire, but the library will not provide them. There are far more instances today of book banning on the Left as they judge authors of another time as unfit under today’s social media standards. He did not seek this attention. A few disgruntled parents sought the attention. Based on the international attention and overwhelming ridicule that has resulted, it’s almost prima facie evidence of the demonic.

    • Friday’s blog post will respond to some of your points.

      As for your others, some comments:

      (1) It’s interesting that you chose “a random woman told you she had been date raped” as your comparison. I am a lawyer. I have dealt with date rape victim claims. I have defended men accused of date rape. You have no idea what you are talking about.

      (2) I understand there is a network of exorcists. Not that long ago, most members of the Catholic hierarchy thought the world was flat, because they inferred the fact from the Bible. The world isn’t flat, not matter what they thought. Facts trump belief, every time.

      (3) Here’s an experiment you cant try. Get yourself a “magic wand” and stand in a corner and recite, as many times as you want, each of the “spells” Rowling invented in the seven novels. Repeat as many times as you wish. If any demons appear, if any “magic” happens, if you get anything for your efforts but a sore wrist and a hoarse throat, report it here in detial.

      (4) You said, “He did not seek this attention. A few disgruntled parents sought the attention. Based on the international attention and overwhelming ridicule that has resulted, it’s almost prima facie evidence of the demonic.” You realize that’s a logical fallacy? It’s a non sequitur. Conspiracy enthusiasts use it when they seize on disproof of a conspiracy claim as proof there is a conspiracy. The “international attention and overwhelming ridicule” isn’t proof of anything, certainly not of demons. It does suggest Rev. Rehill did something pretty stupid and got called out for it. But that’s an inference. A stronger inference than imaginary demons, but an inference.

      When the Bill of Rights was adopted, Americans determined it was better to have the free exchange of ideas than to censor or restrict speech. The First Amendment only applies to governments, but the principle has general application. Let the kids read the books, and teach them what you think the books have wrong. That might be the point those “disgruntled parents” were trying to make. Teach them not to fear evil, but to confront it. To face it down. Not to hide it.


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