Wednesday, January 11, 2006

JKR and the Pope

Kelly at Big A Little a has a link to The Scotsman and an interview with JKRowling who talks about her disappointment with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's (now Pope Benedict XVI) supposed criticism of Harry Potter. I have posted about this in the past but I do have a different take on the comments.

When I first heard about Ratzinger's comment I was greatly annoyed. I am very protective of my boy Harry. But when I read more about the circumstances surrounding the quote, I formed a very different idea.

Have you ever visited one of those vanity press sites? A year or so ago I received a postcard from one of them informing me that someone I knew had just "published" a book with them and didn't I want to buy one?

When I checked out the site I was amused by the supposed testimonials. Actually they were perfunctory thank you notes from very famous people who had received these "books" gratis and their PR team had followed up with an acknowledgment. There were gracious thank you notes from first ladies, celebrities and business leaders all posted on the site to simulate laude and honor for the quality of the "books."

When I read Ratzinger's comments I detected the same "whiff" of perfunctory thank you note-itis. The book had apparently been "gifted" to him by the "author." His comment echoed the theme of the woman's book but did not directly reference HP or JKR. I think it is something that has been taken out of context and blown out of proportion.

The Vatican has actually gone on the record about Harry Potter in past years.
"If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil," said Fleetwood, currently in the secretariat of the European Episcopal Conference. "And she is very clear on this."

He said British author J.K. Rowling was "Christian by conviction, is Christian in her mode of living, even in her way of writing."

As Ratzinger is part of the machinery there I do not really believe he is advocating an about face in literary criticism.

JKR is understandably sensitive about Know-nothings and her books but I don't think the Pope has anything against Harry. Then again, I'm an Episcopalian; maybe I don't know what goes on in Vatican City.


Liz B said...

For a fairly complete examination of timeline & how the then-Cardinal's comments were misconstrued & misrepresented after he became Pope, see

Kelly said...

Hi Liz and Camille:

Camille--Nice post. It is great to get the complete story on this.

Liz--Thanks for the link. Turns out JK was right. The pope does have other things to worry about :)

Camille said...

Liz, thank you so much for that link. I had not seen anyone else discussing this before. I feel smart.