Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter Partway Thoughts - At the Ministry

(Semi-spoiler alert. I'm up to page 247.) Not much to add here in the way of speculation at this point. Glad to see that Harry has come to good terms with Kreacher. As I've said, I think this book will be a lot about redemption. Not sure what to make of the spat with Lupin.

Some thoughts on a broader note. With anything as big a cultural juggernaut as Harry Potter, people can't help but get into what larger messages may be in there (especially with a children's book). Much has been made of whether the books are anti-Christian. I'm decidedly in the camp of those who see good positive Christian values -- like love and sacrifice -- in these books. But I've recently become aware of a different current of thought -- perhaps it's just the sort of blogs I read -- about what lessons about politics and government can be drawn from these books. My generally libertarian friends are quite disturbed about the size of the government in the magical world. Indeed, it can seem like there are few good job opportunities for witches and wizards other than the Ministry. On the other hand, the Ministry from the top has never been portrayed in the best of lights. At best, it's been vaguely benevolent though uninspiring. Lately, we've had leaders in firm denial of reality, and more concerned about fixing appearances rather than real problems. For public relations purposes, they've even co-opted the press to create false enemies, diverting the public attention from the real enemy. And some high-level government employees have been willing to employ Unforgiveable Curses, such as torture, to achieve their ends. I'm not sure I see the big government propaganda in this that some seem to fear. I'd say Rowling has moments of channeling Orwell. In the latest development, the entire Ministry was taken over by the forces of evil. And some magical folks haven't even noticed.

[A note on comments. Comments are welcome on these Potter posts, but out of fear of spoilers, I will not be reading any of the comments until I've finished the book. So comment away...]

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