Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Enchanted Sabbatical

In case you haven't noticed, once again I've taken a bit of a break from my blog. I'll explain why in a moment; first I've got to come out of a closet of sorts.

No, despite the insinuations of an anonymous commenter that, since I write from time to time on issues related to the GLBT community, I just might be hiding something, I have no sexual closet to come out of. But sexuality isn't the only area in which people pretend to be one way, while privately harboring some forbidden love.

I pretend to be a sophisticated person of sorts, with refined taste. But, in secret, I am... (pausing for dramatic effect)... a (another pause tossed in for good measure - I'd do a drum roll, but I can't) Harry Potter fan!!!

I know that puts me in pretty good company. Given that J.K. Rowling just became the first person to ever make more than a billion dollars for writing books, there are more than a few Harry Potter fans in the world. And, I am one of them. I don't feel the need to either explain or defend my love of the Harry Potter books and movies, and I suspect that none of my dear, beloved readers would expect that from me.

That said, I grew up on fantasy. Before I could read, my mother read to me from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The first books I ever chose for myself were written by Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L'Engle, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov. As a teenager one of my mom's brothers became my favorite uncle (despite being the only Republican in the family!) by introducing me to Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, giving me Lord Foul's Bane as a Christmas present.

I think I've learned as much theology from great works of fantasy - imaginative works that create new worlds in which to explore existential and ethical problems in the midst of ripping good yarns - as I have from theology texts. C.S. Lewis' Perelandra or 'Til We Have Faces are both more interesting and more theologically responsible than his myriad non-fiction books. And while Madeleine L'Engle's Time Trilogy (which, like Douglas Adams' "increasingly inaccurately titled" Hitchhiker's Trilogy eventually comprised well more than three books) may be the only works of "children's literature" that I've seen appear in the bibliography of a theology text (Walter Wink said that they provide "an excellent starting place for understanding the Powers"), a great many of the books I read as a kid might somehow find themselves in whatever magnum opus I decide to write.

So, it is no accident that I like the Harry Potter books. I've been critical of them from time to time - the use of magic can be downright lazy, there is too great a dichotomy between good and evil and few non-violent methods for dealing with evil, and I don't think the wizarding community has any sense of how they have interconnected and interdependent relationship with the Muggle world. Ursula LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea books have a much better developed philosophy and ethic of magic. But the Harry Potter books are full of the most enchanting magic of all: they make children, raised in an age of television and video games, read again.

And this past week has been a great week to be a Harry Potter fan, with the new movie just out, and the long-awaited final book on its way. I've been downright giddy of late. And that, I'm afraid, is why I haven't been blogging. In anticipation of the new movie (I finally saw it this afternoon - Sami and I give it two thumbs up!) and the final book, I've been frantically re-reading the whole series. It's taken up all my time.

So I've been on an enchanted sabbatical, slipping off to the magical world of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry every chance I get. See you when I get back.

(And, if, like me, you are a Harry Potter fan, don't foget to check out my friend Heather's new temporary blog, The Muggle Tongue.)


Heather said...

There's no shame in it, Chris, no shame. :D

You know, I love it when you write a big blog post based on one of our weird, rambling phone conversations. It's like the original, only with better references. Taste it again for the first time!

crystal said...

I grew up on fantasy and science fiction too. Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever - great series! Right now I'm reading Camber of Culdi which combines magic and catholicism.

Kyle said...

I sure hope that's an acceptable excuse for not blogging, because it's also mine at the moment.