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Harry Potter and the Last Crusade

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]catvincent)

Lovely piece by Sara at Orcinus on why Fundamentalists (and, though not mentioned specifically, Dominionists) have such a violent knee-jerk reaction to fictions like Harry Potter.

The first reason she suggests is that these people have a deep-seated unexpressed doubt about their religion. Makes sense to me.

"The second thing (which several commenters touched on) is the observation that fundamentalists reject almost anything that takes people's mindshare off God, bible, and church. They're not fond of popular culture in any of its forms; and many live in carefully-constructed personal bubble zones within which everything they read, hear, see, touch, buy, and use is Christian-oriented. Anything secular is "of the Devil," and therefor unfit for someone seeking to live a godly life. It was easy enough to predict that they'd reject Harry Potter on these grounds alone.

But that, on its own, doesn't explain the extreme hysteria we see in the video Dave linked to. Harry Potter, like Dungeons & Dragons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina, Magic: The Gathering, Kiki's Delivery Service (which also got its share of this) or Pokemon pushes some extra buttons that can't be rationalized by a mere desire to avoid all things secular. So, what's that about?

The common thread that runs through all of these is magic. And that, I think, is the real burr that gets under fundamentalist saddles. In fundieland, magic is the most frightening and legitimate of all the competing myth systems -- the Devil's own preferred alternative to prayer and submission. Other belief systems (Buddhism, Hinduism, the Greek myths) are viewed as sad and rather pathetically delusional; but anything that smacks of magic is feared as actively Satanic.

Why is magic such a hot button? The reasons go to the heart of fundamentalist theology. At their core, fundamentalists believe that humans are wretched creatures who aren't really even human unless touched by God's grace. (And, yes, this does mean that those of us who are unsaved can rightly be considered subhuman.) We cannot do anything right; we do not deserve to have control over our own affairs; and any notion that we have intrinsic power to achieve good in the world (or even the authority to define "good" or "bad" on our own terms) is a diabolical delusion. Left to our own devices, we will not only screw it up for ourselves; we will ultimately ensure the Devil his victory over the world -- including them -- as well.

Implicit in this is the idea that all authority is necessarily, rightfully external. The fate of the entire world depends on how completely we can give up our desire to control our destinies, and submit to God and his appointed earthly overseers. This obsession with the need for external authority is, in a nutshell, is why fundamentalism is a form of religious authoritarianism.

Stories about magic openly defy this whole belief system. Magic-using characters like Harry usurp the supernatural power and prerogatives of God -- a sufficient heresy in its own right. But it's worse than that: they're also exercising their own internal authority, and acting out of their own agency. And that's the last thing fundamentalists want their children -- or anyone else -- learning how to do."

As a lifelong non-Satanic magic-user, and doubter of external authority, I can only applaud.

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