Will the Real Harry Potter Please Fly Away
Regarding “Mainstreaming Witchcraft? Parents Assess Harry Potter” (Dec. 2-8):
Your writers clearly show that they believe the Potter books are dangerous, and that kids will take the books seriously and start to show interest in practicing magic.
Harry Potter is virtually harmless children's fiction. There are other children's books out there that are far more dangerous, like Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, for instance, where violence is glamorized and glorified and made to look honorable.
In the Harry Potter books, good moral lessons are always taught, and the magic should be seen as a backdrop and not as a primary influence. While it is true that the books teach some lessons that are wrong (cheating, stealing), they are kept at a sustained minimum, and children know better than to follow them. I also find it interesting that most of the anti-Harry Potter people I know have never even read the books.
WILL GROSS, age 14
Burned by Wicca
I was disappointed at your “open-minded” treatment of the Harry Potter phenomenon. Do we Catholics have such short memories that we forget the disaster “open-mindedness” wreaked upon the post-Vatican II generation?
My young life was a casualty of lack of proper catechesis, which included absolutely no warning about the occult. Therefore, as a Girl Scout, I became deeply involved in the occult. I played with ouija boards and participated in séances, levitation sessions and attempts to imitate witchcraft. My leaders and mother were aware of this, and failed to advise us against it. Fortunately, the grace of God prevailed, but not until I lost most of my 20s to worldly conduct.
The appeal of certain aspects of Harry Potter is where the danger can be found, blinding even good mothers (like my own) to the insidious influence of the occult. Children near adolescence crave power over their own lives and even over the lives of others. Witchcraft (including astrology) seems to offer that.
Those who think it a reach to connect Harry Potter to interest in the occult should hear Steve Wood, president of St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers, speaking on this subject on EWTN. As a Protestant pastor, he was often involved with teens seduced into satanic activity. He says that the police, in investigating a satanic-type crime (animal or human slaughter with ritualistic markings, for example), would first go to the library and see who had taken out books about the occult to work up their list of suspects.
What began my interest in the occult? Do you remember the TV program “Bewitched”?
LETICIA C. VELASQUEZ
East Moriches, New York
In your Dec. 9-15 article headlined “The Hobbits Are Here: Catholics Hope the Movie Lives up to the Book,” you wrote, “Tolkien, a noted British scholar of myth, wrote the trilogy in part to communicate to his readers the Christian understanding of a fallen creation, where good struggles against evil and ultimately triumphs.”
But Tolkien had no intent of conveying any message at all in his books.
In his introduction to The Fellowsip of the Ring he specifically says, “As for any inner meaning or ‘message‘, it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical.”
He goes on to say, “Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference. But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and have always done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
I think that in your eagerness to have the trilogy be allegorical and Tolkien be a good Christian author, you extended his intent and achievement a little too far.
This might reinforce the stereotype of a narrow-minded Christian to others who might chance to read that article.
Bravo, Mass Guide
I gladly read the National Catholic Register weekly. The Dec. 2-9 issue has a marvelous catechetical aid on page 18 about the Mass. I teach in a Catholic school and work with 170 junior high students. I look forward to sharing this with my religion classes so they can better understand and appreciate the Mass. Thanks for this, and for your paper as a whole.
BROTHER EDWARD KESLER
The writer is a member of the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis.
Communion on the Tongue
For years I have heard raves about your paper. I finally received first issue yesterday and agree it's a wonderful resource for faithful Catholics.
I'm writing to bring something to your attention which needs addressing.
On page 18 of the Dec. 2-9 issue is a “How (and Why) to Return to Sunday Mass” guide. I was pleased to see its Quick Tip about how it's proper to “show a sign of respect before receiving Communion” by bowing, as suggested by the bishops.
However, what disappoints me is that the idea of Communion in the hand was promoted as the single way to receive Our Lord. This situation further saddens me, as I know the “norm” — or preferred way — is to receive the host on the tongue, not the hand. Too few Catholics are aware of this, as evidenced by the push in today's average parish to make Communion in the hand the “norm.”
Funny how Martin Luther pushed for this, too, as a way to decrease belief in the True Presence.
What solution do I have? If possible, for future editions of this guide perhaps you could let readers know that, although receiving via both methods is approved by bishops, the Church Herself prefers reception via Communion on the tongue.
San Antonio, Texas
Thanks for Two Thanksgiving Articles
Your Thanksgiving issue (Nov. 18-24) carried two excellent articles that we found very uplifting and inspiring. “How to Explain 'Spiritual’ Relatives to Kids,” by Jim Fair, hit the nail right on the head.
Yes, it seems popular to say, “I'm a spiritual person, but I don't believe in organized religion.”
Pride came before the fall, and the devil (who is also spiritual) has blinded many nowadays into thinking that it matters not in who, or what, you believe, as long as you believe in something. Jim Fair not only pointed out the stupidity of such nonsense, but pointed to Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). St. Peter, speaking of Jesus, said, “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12).
We hope that Jim Fair continues to write articles in the future which will draw people to Jesus Christ and his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which Jesus established.
The “Inperson” interview “What He's Fighting For” shows Mark MacKenzie's authentic and inspiring Catholic faith and his trust in God as he serves us in the military during these dangerous times.
We were glad to see that Mark MacKenzie believes and promotes tithing, the giving of 10% of one's earnings for the Lord's work.
Unfortunately, this biblical truth is neglected in our Catholic Church, and instead we scandalize many Catholics and other Christians by having bingo, Las Vegas nights, etc., to raise money for our parishes and schools.
Perhaps you will in the future publish articles encouraging Catholics to be more generous financially, supporting ministries in the Church which promote authentic doctrine.
MR. AND MRS.
Children of God
Thank you, Marilyn Boussaid, for calling attention to the often-misused statement “We are all children of God” (Letters, “All God's Children?” Nov. 18-24) when referring to non-Christians. I have actually heard this from the pulpit. In a discussion group, when I attempted to define “children of God,” as stated in Scripture and as you have so eloquently done, I was told to be careful of “exclusivity.”
All Catholics need to know who we are in Christ and the precious gift he has given us. All are called, but not all respond.
SUSAN R. RAMPACEK
The Real First Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Joseph Pronechen's fine article on Albany's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was just a tad wrong in calling it “the first cathedral in the United States dedicated to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.”
The Diocese of Mobile was established in 1829, and the parish church — dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in 1781 — was then officially designated the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The cornerstone for the present structure was laid in 1839, and it was consecrated for public worship in 1850. Come see us sometime!
(By the way: just now the old building — a minor basilica since 1962 — is receiving what should be, if the plans go as indicated, a great face-lift. That may be a story for you down the line.)
- January 6-12, 2002