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.