Apocalypse Smackdown II

One more thought on the smackdown between Tim LaHaye and Hank Hanegraaff.

This from an email sent by a friend who studies pop lit:

I guess I'm happy to see some LaHaye-bashing possibly get publicity, because it seems to me that the Left Behind series inculcates and promotes some of the very worst aspects of fundamentalist Christians: especially their secret rage against non-believers and their desire to see them suffer and be destroyed in lurid ways.

I'm of two minds about Left Behind--I believe that <God is more powerful than the evil in our world, and that's one message of Left Behind.

The other side is this: Left Behind promotes a kind of vicarious persecution. By reading Left Behind, readers get to identify with persecuted Christians from the comfort of a Lazy Boy, and then smile as Jesus wipes out the heathen hordes.

But my friend hit the nail on the head--it's the sense of glee in the death of millions of "our enemies" that so appealing, and so unChristian.

Now I really am off for a few days. Promise.


Harry Potter's Christening

Is Harry Potter Christian? A student in South Africa says no. John Granger (is he related to Hermione?) says "Yes."

Granger may be right, at least according to this interview with JK Rowling :

Does Harry have a godmother? If so, will she make an appearance in future books?

No, he doesn’t. I have thought this through. If Sirius had married… Sirius was too busy being a big rebel to get married. When Harry was born, it was at the very height of Voldemort fever last time so his christening was a very hurried, quiet affair with just Sirius, just the best friend. At that point it looked as if the Potters would have to go into hiding so obviously they could not do the big christening thing and invite lots of people. Sirius is the only one, unfortunately. I have got to be careful what I say there, haven’t I?

Since a "christening" is an infant baptism, (and we knew this because Harry has a godfather, DUH) that makes him a Christian. Wonder when he's going to fit in confirmation?

The real reason that Harry Potter is "Christian" is Rowling's insistence that love is more powerful than death, and that death and evil are overcome by self-sacrificing love.

I don't make predictions often, but check back in about 2006 when the last HP book is out, and see if I'm right. Harry Potter is going to lay down his life for his friends and find that death is not the end.

For those of you who are fans of the book, Rowling had these two questions to ponder in her interview:

The first question that I have never been asked—it has probably been asked in a chatroom but no one has ever asked me—is, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” Not, “Why did Harry live?” but, “Why didn’t Voldemort die?” The killing curse rebounded, so he should have died. Why didn’t he? At the end of Goblet of Fire he says that one or more of the steps that he took enabled him to survive. You should be wondering what he did to make sure that he did not die—I will put it that way.

I don’t think that it is guessable. It may be—someone could guess it—but you should be asking yourself that question, particularly now that you know about the prophesy. I’d better stop there or I will really incriminate myself.

The other question that I am surprised no one has asked me since Phoenix came out—I thought that people would—is why Dumbledore did not kill or try to kill Voldemort in the scene in the ministry. I know that I am giving a lot away to people who have not read the book. Although Dumbledore gives a kind of reason to Voldemort, it is not the real reason. When I mentioned that question to my husband—I told Neil that I was going to mention it to you—he said that it was because Dumbledore knows that there are two more books to come. As you can see, we are on the same literary wavelength. [Laughter]. That is not the answer; Dumbledore knows something slightly more profound than that. If you want to wonder about anything, I would advise you to concentrate on those two questions. That might take you a little bit further.

OK, now I am really off for a few days.


Stem Cells--the Real Wedge Issue

The three G's--"God, gays, and Guns." That's, according to Senator Bob Graham, why John Kerry lost.

How about this list of "nonnegotiables", from Rick Warren : Abortion, Stem Cells, Gay Marriage.

It's not as snappy as the three G's but it's probably more true.

Before the election, there was a lot of speculation that stem cells was a wedge issue that could lead Republicans to cross over to Kerry. Instead, it backfired--driving even more Bush supporters to turn out.

Peter Canellos, in today's Boston Globe, holds out hope that stem cells will be the wedge issue of the future. In this election, he points out that California approved a 3 billion dollar stem cell fundfing in this election. If real results come from the California initiative, he reasons, that may prompt Republicans to cross over. (Thanks to the Revealer for pointing out the Canellos piece.)

If the research seeded by California shows progress, Bush will come under increasing pressure to lift his federal restrictions -- something he almost certainly will not do.

That would provide tangible evidence of the price of Bush's religion-based politics, a demonstration of how policies based on religious values are impervious to the usual political constraints, be they scientific evidence, changed circumstances, or growing popular opinion.

Maybe. That's a big "if"--there's not a lot of realistic hope that cures will be found in the next four years from stem cell research.

I'm no expert on this, but I think Canellos is missing the point--for the Bush voters, stem cells were a non-negotiable, despite their promise. It's not California voters (who went for Kerry in droves) that the next Democratic hopeful has to convince. It's all those red state voters who think that Rick Warren is right.


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