Friday, October 26, 2007
Dumbledore is gay--should we care?
The big "literary" news all over the blogosphere is that J.K. Rowlings has outed Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts and mentor of Harry Potter. Dumbledore is gay.
So should we care?
There is as big a debate in Christian circles about the Harry Potter series as there is about whether Christian kids should be out trick or treating on Halloween. I confess I have waffled back and forth on that one myself. I enjoyed dressing up and going out trick or treating as a kid, back in the days when I lived in a neighborhood where you actually knew your neighbors. But I think our culture is sinking into an unhealthy fascination with death and horror. I digress. Back to Harry Potter.
Some argue the book has good underlying values, others, including the Pope, have warned the values underlying Harry Potter are anything but good. Some don't like the wizards and spell-casting in the books and that's enough for them to keep their children away from it. Others argue that C.S. Lewis had witches in his children's books, so let's not go overboard. Some parents are just glad to have their children read. Period.
I confess, I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, though I have seen some of the movies and found many marvels of the imagination in them. My nephew loved the Potter books. (He also loved N.J. Lindquist's teen series).
I have been disinclined to read them 1) because I don't think she writes that well, despite the fact that she had displayed a good imagination. I found myself distracted by her overuse of adverbs. 2) Author Michael O'Brien, who I greatly respect, has done considerable analysis of the series, pointing out the underlying dark side to these books.
So....seeing as I have a limited time for reading I want to preserve my time for writers who will either teach me how to write better (by their example) and/or elevate my spirit.
The fact that Dumbledore is gay.....well, some columns are arguing that whatever "backstory" Rowlings or any other author had in her mind about their characters, they have a life independent of the author once they are created on the page.
What I don't like about the announcement is that it sexualizes a character who did not need to be sexualized, especially for 11-year-old readers who do not really need to be thinking about these matters. It smacks of political correctness and of the kind of pressure growing across the Western World to push homosexuality and heterosexuality as equivalent. There's even a story about California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing a bill into law that prohibits the use of terms like mommy and daddy in schools so as not to offend same-sex parents. There is a not-so-subtle undermining of the biological basis for the family.
LifeSiteNews.com has a host of links on Harry Potter and all the controversies old and new here.
I don't know if these arguments would make me stop a child in my care from reading a Potter book, but it sure would make me have a deep and ongoing conversation with that child. And I would probably then have to read the book myself in order to make sure I could illuminate my points with the same kind of familiarity O'Brien has with the stories. I would not buy a Harry Potter book for a child.
Deborah Gyapong's novel The Defilers won the 2005 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award. She covers religion and politics in Ottawa for Catholic and Evangelical newspapers.
She blogs at www.deborahgyapong.com and www.themastersartist.com
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