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I'm Rooting for Harry
Mom with a View

I'm Rooting for Harry

J.K. Rowling can end the Harry Potter series with hope and optimism, or cynicism and disillusionment. Let's hope she chooses wisely.

by

If you're very clever, you could go to J.K. Rowling's website and work your way through the puzzle that leads to the name of the last Harry Potter book in the series (fastest time: 40 minutes). If you're less clever or less motivated, you could just open up your email from Border's.

Harry Potter has gripped the imagination of readers, young and old, for a number of years now. And millions throughout the world are anxiously awaiting the story's end.

How will the conflict between good and evil be resolved? Does Ms. Rowling have an obligation to her readers to make the ending a happy one?

An informal poll of family members and Shabbos guests led to a resounding yes.

Why? Although the fictional Harry Potter is a wizard, he has never yet succeeded through the use of magic. Instead he is always rewarded for good character -- for loyalty and friendship, for courage and perseverance and determination. This is a belief and value system we would all like to see reinforced.

J.K. Rowling has encouraged millions of children to reinvolve themselves in reading. She has an even greater opportunity in front of her now.

If the series would end with the message that trickery and evil triumph, our sense of justice and fair play would take a hit, and our deeply held values shaken.

But on an even more profound level (is Harry Potter and profound an oxymoron?), the opposite is also true -- the victory of good over evil feeds our sense of hope.

Most of us deep down believe that good will ultimately succeed, and to experience it emotionally -- even in story form -- helps propel us forward. Witness the success of Rocky-like movies. Crowds cheer when the good are triumphant. We smile and feel optimistic. We are encouraged in our own desire to do good and in our belief in the efficacy of behaving that way.

J.K. Rowling is a novelist, not a religious leader. Yet she does have the psyches of many young children (and not a few older ones!) in her grasp. She can choose to further hope and optimism, or cynicism and disillusionment.

Our fantasy world can be powerful. The more it helps focus and support our real world, the better.

Though the victory of good over evil -- on personal and national levels -- is rarely without cost, I, for one, am hoping that Harry succeeds. And that Voldemort, the embodiment of evil in its most sinister and vile, is vanquished. Now the question is: how long do I have to wait to find out? And who gets the book first?

The author has earned a lot of money. She has encouraged millions of children to reinvolve themselves in reading. She has an even greater opportunity in front of her now. She can impact (all of our) vulnerable hearts and minds with the hope with which the Almighty has infused our souls. Let's hope she's up to the task.

Published: January 20, 2007


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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Andy, January 23, 2007 12:59 PM

go harry be good

harry will stay good and triumph over evil or at least i hope.now if it wasn't for the kids and kid/innocent in us adults, it'd be interesting to check out the reactions if harry ended up alligning himself with the forces of evil and then killed himself when he realized his mistake.just a bad dream but not 100% certain.can't wait for the book.

(7) Chana Levi, January 22, 2007 2:08 PM

Not wild about Harry

I read the first Harry Potter book and got half-way through the second, then lost interest in it. I only read it to see what all the fuss was about and honestly couldn't see it. But even more, I do not consider it appropriate reading for a Torah household with impressionable children. It may not be actual 'avoda zora' but parts of it come close. Fortunately, there are plenty of good Jewish books available for children these days so they should not have to read this Harry Potter nonsense. And to have it as a topic of discussion at one's Shabbos table! I usually enjoy Emuna Braverman's articles but I must disagree with her on this one.

(6) Joey, January 21, 2007 6:09 PM

I disagree with all those who say "Harry Potter" is bad. While of course witchcraft is forbidden, what J.K. Rowling writes about is not the same as witchcraft as described in the Bible---those seemed to involve conjuring demons or dead spirits, while Harry and his classmates have done no such thing. The closest the books describe to things of that nature are what the villains do (Voldemort's resurrection has a definite satanic feel to it).

God bless.

(5) Eleanor, January 21, 2007 4:45 PM

Go Harry!

I enjoy Harry Potter like I was a kid. It is wonderful to have a non Christian non anti-Jewish morality story.

(4) Janice, January 21, 2007 12:47 PM

Harry's sorcery never succeeds?

The visions placed in front of every eye and mind is socery; it is the main thing. If there is every any good character over poor it is less know; you have to dig for it.

Wisdom is that there are many other great movies and books that don't require such great discernment, when in doubt throw it out. There are a host better to invest one's time in. What would be most dazzling to a youth socery or charater?

IF children need heroes why not take them to those who dedicate their lives to feeding the hungry or visiting the sick or building homes for homeless. Why invest our or their time in the drivel of Harry Potter.

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