Harry Potter and the Burning Times

 

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They have tried very hard to ban  Harry.  Time after time.  According to the American Library Association,  Harry Potter is the number one most often banned/ challenged book of the 21st century. Why all the hate?  Especially in a world where I personally have never met anyone who did not love Harry.

The banning craze that developed around Harry Potter books supposedly has its origin in the fear of witchcraft and sorcery. Apparently, many people are concerned that Harry is promoting the occult, and beliefs like Wicca and Paganism that have NO DAMN BUSINESS in the good old You Ess of A .  ( Call in the National Guard!!!!   Witches and Wizards and Students! OH MY! )

This hatred of witches, of course has its origins in the bible. ‘Thou Shalt not suffer a witch to live’. So says Exodus 22:18.

I read that in the original Aramaic language this passage should have been translated as ‘Thou shalt not suffer a ‘m’khashepah’  (translated as ‘evil doer’ connotation of murderer) to live’. No mention of the word ‘witch’.  The word ‘witch’ by the way, originally meant ‘wise ‘.)

But the good folks over at  Bible Translation Service, Inc. (also known as Puritans Rope ’em and Grope ’em  —  or  The Spanish Inquisition Burning Machine)  decided to throw in the word ‘witch’.  Just for fun.

 

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That one little mess up of a word caused the deaths of approximately 100,000 men and women throughout Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 -1700. Witch genocide still takes place in Africa and the Caribbean.

But back to Harry.  Is the fear of witches still so prevalent in the US that people go up in arms over a children’s book? Is America still that Puritanical?

Apparently, yes.

Personally I think there may be more to it. Harry’s story itself may be what upsets people.

Harry is a disenfranchised orphan who is left to the mercy of his evil relatives until he discovers his unique and special abilities at Hogwarts.  He happens to be taught by witches and wizards but that is not really the point. The point is empowerment.  Harry undergoes a fantastic transformation.  He becomes capable, powerful, whole.  And the idea of the disenfranchised becoming empowered is enough to scare the be-jesus out of the Powers That Be.

Harry is the every man, the working girl, the average Joe (or Jo) who somehow unleashes potential within him/herself.  And if Harry can do it, maybe we all can do it. This is the true gift of Harry and also the reason why they would ban him.

But in the end Harry wins! That is because you cannot keep the light down.   Go into any public library in the US and chances are you will see Harry. Go into any bookstore and you will find him, sitting on the bookshelf, peering through his little round glasses. Maybe even riding a broom in a game of Quiddich.  He says “Come with me. Do not be stifled by their small view of you!  Unlock your wizardly powers and be free!”

Yep. The most subversive stuff in America.

 

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46 comments on “Harry Potter and the Burning Times

  1. Nice piece! I never looked at it this way lol. We surely cannot empower the disenfranchised, even if it is only a book! Pretty soon they’ll be thinking about a People’s Revolution and using words like “bourgeoisie”. Ban it! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL! Of course!

      The Harry Potter banning thing has long bothered me (actually ALL book bannings have long bothered me.) When I got to thinking about it, this was the conclusion I came to…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel you!
        Do you think that the censorship is totalizing and effective for the ruling powers? Or is it always incomplete, thus leaving room for the growth of a rebellious faction that become more drawn to the banned item?

        I’ve never really been into Harry Potter – but now that I hear it was banned … I am interested! Banning it just admits it has revolutionary potential

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it is always incomplete, but also it is sort of like a fear tactic. ‘oooh you can’t see THAT, it is bad..’ You know.

        The thing that bothers me is a lot of kids love to read Harry — kids who normally would not be reading. So the banning is an insult.

        In some ways it was like — read Harry Potter or read some boring thing. Kids like Harry, so right away that is no good. But the kids are learning vocabulary and a whole bunch of skills by reading Harry. So there is a lot to it.

        You should DEFINITELY read the Harry books if you have not yet 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very paternalistic tenor to the banning. You’re right!

        Great perspective : children do love Harry and it is equipping them with all sorts of literary skills (and dare I say allowing them to imagine – which will soon be illegal, lol).

        Now I’ll have to check the series out! Good stuff as always 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post. I’ll never understand people who want to ban books. If you don’t like it, don’t read it! There’s more to life than complaining about things other people do. Harry Potter is an adventure story that actually makes children want to read and be entertained — and to not be out doing bad things. I wish I could have enjoyed it as a child but I was in my 20s when it was published, so I had an adult view on it. Still amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Harry stretches to children and adults, I think. A work of genius! People trying to ban it always bothered me.

      I agree, if you do not like something, don’t read/ watch/ listen to it. But don’t try to do away with it!

      Thanks for reading and for your great comments! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anita Lubesh says:

    ‘This hatred of witches, of course has its origins in the bible. ‘Thou Shalt not suffer a witch to live’. So says Exodus 22:18.

    I read that in the original Aramaic language this passage should have been translated as ‘Thou shalt not suffer a ‘m’khashepah’ (evil doer) to live’’

    We cause our own woes and yet more crap like that does not help Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John W. Leys says:

    Really good post! So many things to say, I’ll just focus on a few. Love Harry! Hate censorship! The whole thing about people worrying that Harry would turn kids into Satanic Wiccans shows that they know nothing about this book series, Wiccans or Satanism. And don’t get me started about inaccurate Bible translation. I have a BA in Religious Studies and an MA in Judaic Studies and, though my Hebrew I’d rusty, have been fortunate to be able to read the Hebrew Bible in the original. Nothing bugs me more than mistranslations, either through ignorance or purposefully.

    Anyway, thanks again for a good read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thanks John, glad you liked it!

      Well, my knowledge of bible translations would be very crude compared to yours — but, I do know a good deal of it has been mistranslated and misinterpreted to suit certain purposes. Especially nowadays! They have some bible justification for everything!

      True Paganism does not actually include Satan (Devil is a Christian concept) I too hate censorship!

      Thanks for the great comments!

      Liked by 2 people

      • John W. Leys says:

        And some refuse to hear it when the mistranslations are pointed out to them. I mean, some actually believe that the KJV is God’s official translation and is infallible!!

        Another pet peeve is people who, as Bob would say, criticize what they don’t understand. Accusing Wiccans or Pagans of Satanism misunderstands all three of those things!!

        And, as you say, Harry Potter is such a great, uplifting, empowering, entertaining series that got kids to jot just read, but to line up At Book Stores to get the latest volume!!

        Basically I’m anti-ignorance and anti-stupidity.

        🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, me too! And pro-enlightenment.

        Some schools did succeed in the banning, but it was not nationwide (never will be.)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. That’s a great post. You know, every kind of freedom for the average people or underdog sacares them

    Liked by 2 people

  6. G. B. Marian says:

    The idiots will never learn. Anton LaVey said it best when he formulated his “Law of the Forbidden”: by making something “forbidden,” you only make it more attractive to those you are trying to “protect” from it. Many a rock musician and many a rap artist has learned to capitalize on the lucrative commercial value of a “Parental Advisory” sticker. By trying so hard to ban Harry Potter, the protesters only add revenue to J.K. Rowling’s bank account. In many ways, getting your product banned is really the best endorsement you can possibly get!

    Also, Harry Potter’s pretty bitchin’. Just thought I’d mention that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hehe, yes! That is quite correct G. B. I was actually trying to find some way to express that also in this article. ‘All publicity is good publicity’. So, like I said, in the end Harry wins!!

      Thanks for stopping by and for your great comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. TeacherofYA says:

    I wrote a paper way back when…I think Harry Potter was only two books at the time. There was a lot of literature about the banning of Harry Potter and the people’s fears about what it would teach their kids. I wrote about the downfall of banning books: Fahrenheit 451, anyone??
    But fortunately, most of the HP fearmongers have quieted down: there are still those that are against it for the same reasons as always, but I find that there’s a bigger trend of banning books with LGBTQIA characters. Same problem, different group.
    When will people learn that:
    1. Banning a book only makes it that much more popular. Hello, cult followings?
    2. What you like has nothing to do with literature. As much as I hate Hitler, you can find Mein Kampf in many libraries and bookstores. Freedom of speech means the freedom to write what you want and put it out there. I don’t advocate for erotica in the schools, but you know what I mean.
    And
    3. It’s a slippery slope: ban one, ban them all. We are not the thought police. One of the great things about the US is our rights. When we become a dictatorship, then we can talk banning books. Here’s hoping THAT never happens, lol!!
    Sorry, I’ll get down from my soap box now. I was only going to make a brief comment but once I get started on this topic, it’s hard for me to stop. I’m obviously very passionate about the subject…can you tell? 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Stay on the soap box, it is a good thing to be passionate about! I agree with all you say.

      Banning books often does make them more popular, which is great haha. The banning attempts probably contributed to Harry’s popularity.

      Keep fighting the good fight for YA!! It is important to be aware of it — otherwise we COULD be headed toward Fahrenheit 451. They have successfully banned ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ in some schools around here, which I think is a shame and an outrage!

      Thanks for your awesome comments 🙂

      Like

  8. Marc-André says:

    How could anyone try and ban these books LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Harry Potter. Not Burying His Light Under a Bushel since 1997.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Burning Times… have you watched Antichrist? Interesting post, as is the reasons and rationale and madness behind the witch-hunt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have not yet seen Antichrist. Looks good! My opinion — I believe it all came down to the quest for money and power (one institution vs. another — in this case Church & State vs. free-thinking.) Luckily Harry came out on top! The 100,000 killed in the Burning Times were not so fortunate… But it is, to my thinking, essentially the same argument.

      Glad you liked it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The curious thing about the witch hunts was the timing…it wasn’t a medieval thing at all it was an early Modern phenomenon… the few cases of witchcraft trials from 500-1450 (roughly) were all of men, usually priests. And then the focused changed and affected both Catholic and Protestant regions, though in some parts more than others. Before folk magic was kinda tolerated, the church was after heresy which was a literate educated problem (problem to the church I mean. The only country in Europe where male executions outnumbered women was Iceland. Anyway a few thoughts there for you, I draw no conclusions, it is a vast subject beyond my learning.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, you are correct Mr. Cake! I believe what happened was, with the Protestant Reformations (around 1400’s) folks got very concerned about ‘corruption’ in the church, both Catholic and Protestant. Along with the great reformations came a huge wave of witch accusations. This lasted until roughly 1700’s when the Age of Enlightenment was upon them, and then they went more with scientific explanations, rather than superstitions. Interestingly, witchcraft was actually illegal in England until the 1950’s. Good thing Harry came later 🙂

        Like

  11. Vicky V says:

    The first photo looks like it was taken in Federation Square which is in Melbourne where I live!
    Anything promoting the supernatural bothers extreme christians. Your interpretation adds another level – one that is more powerful and more frightening than witches – the power of oppressed people to lift themselves up and succeed!!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. spudbudette says:

    I liked your point of view of the Harry Potter books. I recently bought the first book as the price FINALLY down and will be reading it soon. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had a bad experience about this once. One time when I was just an impressionable child, the church told me that Harry Potter and everything about Mythology was the devil’s work and that I have to let go of it if I wanted to be something with worth. And the way they spoke as if their opinion has the highest authority above all else. I was torn and I did not understand how the world worked. To kill something for a reason not because it was harmful or destructive, but because it did not conform to the moral construct they believe to be superior. I thought the experience was somehow similar to what the LGBT had experienced. To call their feelings, their being, those things that are beautiful and close to their hearts as something vile and ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. If only it was just America that thought like this. There needs to be so much more education around paganism ands it’s branches

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I had no idea there was any type of ban on Harry Potter books! Like you, most of the people that I know love the story of Harry Potter. If you think about it, many children’s stories use themes of magic, so it’s strange that the focus is on poor Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, they have tried for years to ban Harry. But as I say, I believe it somehow threatened the status quo. Of course, Harry got a whole generation of kids reading too, so that may have been his real power and threat 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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