21 October 2007

For Those on the Fence About Harry Potter

There is no surer way to generate blog arguments than to mention Harry Potter. And now, after the series should have ridden off into the sunset of irrelevance, we learn this tidbit:

Rowling Lets Dumbledore Out of the Closet
Some Angered as Rowling Reveals Potter Mentor Was Into Wizards, Not Witches

Oct. 20, 2007 —

Well, it's official. Albus Dumbledore, a hero of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter series and headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts, is gay.

That's right, Harry's mentor and father-figure would prefer a nice wizard to a hot witch any day.

In a surprising new Potter twist, author J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore at New York's Carnegie Hall in front of 2,000 Potter fans during a question and answer session Friday night.

After reading an excerpt from the seventh installment of her series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," one young fan asked if Dumbledore had ever loved anyone.

"Dumbledore is gay, actually," replied Rowling.

She was initially met with a surprised silence but ultimately the audience erupted in cheers for several minutes prompting Rowling to add, "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."

Rowling went on to explain that Dumbledore fell for Gellert Grindelwald, his childhood friend with similarly brilliant wizarding skills, who eventually went over to the dark side and became the predecessor to the infamous villain Voldemort. That love, explained Rowling, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."

Rowling explained that the issue of Dumbledore's sexuality came up in the making of one of the Harry Potter films.

"In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script, saying, 'I knew a girl once, whose hair--'"

The crowd laughed.

"I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter -- 'Dumbledore's gay!'" she said.

Die-hard Potter muggles quickly reacted to the news online. The Harry Potter fan site TheLeakyCauldron.org had no less than 1,048 comments posted on the story as of early Saturday.

Many fans were thrilled with the announcement.

"This is a victory for homosexuality the world over," one wrote. "Dumbledore is iconic, and I can't wait for all those little children to hear about this. I am so insanely proud of [Rowling] for doing this."

But, not surprisingly, others were appalled.

"Thank you for permanently staining my view of Dumbledore," read a post from someone identifying himself or herself only as "Concerned Reader."

One major anti-Potter crusader is Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Georgia, who made headlines earlier this month when she told the Gwinnett County Board of Education that the series was trying to indoctrinate children into the Wicca religion. In response to Dumbledore's outing, Mallory told ABC News that the Potter series has "an anti-Christian agenda," and, "this only further supports that."

"My prayer is that parents would wake up, that the subtle way this is presented as harmless fantasy would be exposed for what it really is -- a subtle indoctrination into anti-Christian values," said Mallory. "The kids are being introduced to a cult and witchcraft practices.
"A homosexual lifestyle is a harmful one," she added. "That's proven, medically."

Not surprisingly, conservatives at Saturday's Values Voters' summit in Washington also had some thoughts on the now controversial wizard.

"I feel like children's books shouldn't be political -- they shouldn't have political ties, they're entertainment," attendee Katie Beach said. "I think it's pretty ridiculous for her to say that or to do that."

But none of that has stopped Rowling, who said she considers her novels as a "prolonged argument for tolerance," and urged her fans to "question authority."

Rowling's last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," made history when it was released in July. Eleven million copies flew off shelves in the first 24 hours alone. And though the story chronicled the last of Harry's adventures, the renewed controversy may suggest Rowling's characters, muggle or wizard, gay or straight, will live on far beyond the end of the series.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures


I think the reaction of the crowd to whom she was reading says a lot about how far down the road to ruin we truly are.


Latinmassgirl said...

Twenty years ago children would have been appalled by a gay hero, if they even knew what gay was. Now through indoctrinaton, they think it is virtuous!

Hey Rowling! How about portraying some grown man being in love with a boy? Some gays are all for the young virgins!

Sadly, in a few years the children may applaud that too.

Delena said...

Well, here's my beef with the Harry Potter series: I think people have started to believe this wizard world, Harry and his friends, and everything about it are REAL. When they're offering Quidditch (apparently, it's a game they play in the book...flying around on broomsticks) at universities in our country and cheering for the statement of tolerance a gay wizard makes, it makes me wonder if people have lost their minds. These are FICTIONAL characters...FICTIONAL. I personally don't like the Harry Potter books because I don't like the subject matter. I find it boring. We have friends, though, who are appalled that we don't find Harry's world as fascinating as they do. Once again....they are FICTIONAL characters. I think our friends have forgotten this like so many other people out there...and that can lead to trouble.

Rae said...

I very much enjoyed the Harry Potter books, and was happily surprised to find in them concepts that accord with Christianity--for instance, the idea that an earthly consequence of sin is the fragmentation or compartmentalization of one's soul; and that integrity can only be regained through repentance and remorse.

That said, I think it's a shame that Rowling had to go ahead and turn Dumbledore's "orientation" into an issue!! While the books had hinted at it in a stereotypical way (for instance, giving Dumbledore an ongoing preference for colorful clothing), they never portrayed him as physically acting on his orientation. (His youthful infatuation with a friend had struck me as very Victorian!) Perhaps Rowling imagines that he did physically act upon it, but this was not an idea conveyed through the books.

Since it is the homosexual act--not the homosexual person--that is objectionable, I (again) really wish that Rowling had not decided to make this into a "gay pride" rallying point... Since the books seem to depict Dumbledore as celibate, if anything Dumbledore was an example of a homosexual character who had rejected the "gay lifestyle"! Why ruin this with unnecessary, polarizing announcements?

thetimman said...

Rae,consider the differing treatment of homosexual tendency in Brideshead Revisited vis-a-vis Rowling's attitude here. In the former, part of the conversion and redemption of the protagonist lay precisely in leaving that tendency behind; in the latter it is to be embraced and celebrated. Quite a different tone, I think.

Rae said...

Is it really "celebrated" or "embraced" in Harry Potter? Again, since Dumbledore is presumably celibate (and his one known youthful, emotional infatuation was with a man dabbling in the black arts), I'd say that Harry Potter novels scarcely advocate homosexual activity--which is what counts! As for "tendencies," we all have demons against which we must struggle. Just because a character has this tendency (a tendency manifested mainly in his choice of a periwinkle wizard robe over a black wizard robe), does not mean that this character cannot be good and moral.

A comparison/contrast with Bridehead Revisited? Homosexual culture is a major theme in Brideshead Revisited (and so understandably receives a thorough and insightful treatment), but not in Harry Potter, where--if not for Rowling's recent statements--it would not even register as a theme.

Again, if Rowling weren't so determined to bait Christians with this issue, I think that the whole matter--*as presented in the books*--would be inoffensive. Rowlings the author may celebrate homosexuality; but I would argue that her books themselves do not.

thetimman said...

Rae, that is my point precisely-- homosexuality does not register as any part of the Potter stories. It is completely irrelevant. So why this little piece of news? I don't think it was spontaneous at all. It advances an agenda.

The "embracing" to which I referred was to Rowling's statement and its effect on how we are to view Potter's world. It forces one to view the books through a depraved lens. Could you read it now without seeing every one of Dumbledore's actions in light of this so-called knowledge the author now reveals?

What is the point of this story? I don't know for sure, but it just bugs me to no end. To me, it may indicate that there are other little "easter eggs" hidden in there that take their roost in a child's subconscious to hatch later.

Why in the world does a children's book contain a major, postively-portrayed, homosexual character? And if the book itself provides no indication that he is, or that it matters to the plot in any way, why mention it?

I don't get it.

Rae said...

I agree with you that the announcement wasn't spontaneous, and that it was designed to advance an agenda! But I personally hope that the books themselves outlast the controversy--since I did enjoy them, and am generally optimistic about their possible influence on moral formation.

thetimman said...

Rae, this isn't nearly vitriolic enough to be a typical Potter blog discussion--we should try to call names or something.

Mindi said...

LOL, timman.:) This blog has been a pleasant surprise to me.

I agree with Rae, I'm troubled by the announcement, but I hope the books outlast the controversy.

The books may have a character now revealed (outside the book itself) to have a same sex orientation, but, within the books themselves, are the glorification of parental love, family love, and the goodness of having a large family. All so lost in our culture. There also are quite a few very prolife points in the books (very rare in any modern book, children's or adult).

I think it's up to us to point out these things, and the Christian themes, and not let the secular (and worse) take a bit that wasn't in the story at all, and blow it out of proportion- so much it overshadows the Christian themes and the wonderful virtues of family.

By throwing the books out due to the author's recent comments (which were no more than sound bytes), we also throw out the opportunity to advance some of the excellent moral points she's made (intentionally or not).

I'm not one to give in to the Culture Bluster like that. The books are out there, they are read, let's yell from the rooftops about the GOOD in them, so loudly that the secular press can't get a word in edgewise about the gay agenda.

Feel free to start calling me names.;)

thetimman said...

Mindi, pleasantly surprised? Thanks-- I am afraid to ask, though, what you expected-- you're not from novus ordo watch, are you? ;-)

Really, though, thanks. And I will leave the name calling to Rae.

I see a lot of good elements in the Potter series, as my former stance would indicate. I just think the problems outweigh the plusses. Also, and perhaps this is a non sequitor, two things stick out to me. One, with so many good books out there, if this one is even only potentially problematic, why do I make my cultural Waterloo here? And two, many people who defend the books the most treat them as though they were high literature, instead of merely entertaining teen-fiction.

I mean, I have a weakness for the Amazing Race. But if I can't watch it because my children might hear some vulgar language, I don't really feel all that deprived.

Anyway, thanks for the comments.