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Religion Last Updated: Aug 6th, 2007 - 00:35:15

Damning and burning books, a theofascist tradition
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 6, 2007, 00:33

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The Dominionist Christian Right has been damning Harry Potter since the first book appeared. Rabid evangelicals have staged literary autos de f� for every new volume.

The frenzy surrounding the release of the last book in the series brought renewed, more hysterical warnings about the �dangers� posed by Harry Potter. As The Guardian�s Michelle Pauli noted, �the view from the lunatic fringe of American evangelism . . . remains as rabid as ever.� Ms. Pauli was absolutely correct.

James Dobson, the self-appointed spokesman and lobbyist for �God,� reiterated what �he said a few years ago on his daily [Focus on the Family] radio broadcast that �We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products.� His rationale for that statement: Magical characters -- witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on -- fill the Harry Potter stories, and given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it�s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.�

Based on those criteria, presumably FOF chairman Dobson would also advise people against reading Malory�s Morte de Arthur and several of Shakespeare�s finest plays including Hamlet, MacBeth and A Midsummer Night�s Dream. Other likely candidates for Dobson�s �Dangerous Books� list would be nonfiction, academic studies about the roles �witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists� have played in various cultures and belief systems throughout human history.

But no doubt Dr. Dobson would encourage everyone to read his book Marriage Under Fire in which he claimed that if gay and lesbian Americans ever gained full civil equality and were able to legally marry, �God� would destroy the world as �in the days of Noah.�

What�s more dangerous, fictional �witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists� in a Harry Potter or other book presented solely for the purpose of entertainment, or the real-world ranting of a megalomaniac hell-bent on promoting bigotry and discrimination by claiming a capricious, vengeful �God� so hates some of his creations that he would destroy the world if they were treated equally by his other creations?

Linda Harvey of �Mission America� also denounced the Potter books in an article by Kevin Jackson on �Christian Post Reporter, Mon, Jul. 23 2007 03:34 PM ET.�

One of Ms. Harvey�s �reasons� was �Harry does not think like a Christian . . . He nurses and feeds grudges against his relatives and his rivals at school, and revenge is portrayed as justifiable.�

According to Dobson, �God� certainly �nurses and feeds grudges against� gay people, and the first two commandments make it pretty clear that Jehovah�s intentions were much more vindictive than those of the young wizard Harvey denounced. After all, Jehovah is defined by his �justifiable� revenge, beginning in Eden and continuing throughout the Old Testament. But then again, Jehovah wasn�t �a Christian.�

The most asinine objections were voiced by evangelist Tim Todd, head of Revival Fires International, when he claimed: �The Harry Potter books present a Godless universe -- one in which the most powerful wizard wins . . . The Harry Potter series -- it promotes sacrificing animals; it�s emphasizing power regardless of good or evil; offering up blood sacrifices . . ."

Consider Todd�s assertions one at a time.

�Godless universe -- one in which the most powerful wizard wins.� Again, the first and second commandments come to mind: �Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them . . ."

Would true Divinity be jealous?

Would true Divinity punish innocent children for something their great-great-grandparents had done?

Or are those the characteristics and modus operandi of maniacal humans embodied in �the most powerful� wizard-god they created in their own image?

Such a vengeful, wrathful wizard-god and the religious sects its creators spawn proved very useful for scaring believers and, thereby, maintaining power and control over them and their lives. The most powerful wizard-god and his creators �won� by using fear and threats. Todd claimed that �the Harry Potter books present a Godless universe.� But the �God� he had in mind conjured �a universe� devoid of Divinity.

Let�s be blunt. If people totally unfamiliar with Western theology read �The Bible� -- Genesis to Revelation -- as a literary work, undoubtedly they�d characterize it as �fiction: fantasy/horror.� Those readers would probably advise that children not read the entire book. As Dobson said, �it�s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.�

�Animal sacrifices.� Throughout the Old Testament the �most powerful� wizard-god demanded animal sacrifices: Exodus 29:38-42, Leviticus 1:1-17, 15:15, Numbers 28:9, see also Jeremiah 6:20 and Malachi 1:7-8. These �burnt offerings� were of course accompanied by various incantations invoking supernatural powers and requesting �magic� be performed.

I�d be willing to bet that before their evening meal James Dobson, Linda Harvey and Tim Todd offer some sort of metaphysical incantation. As they chow-down on that medium rare filet mignon, or the roasted pork loin, or the succulent chicken breast -- do you think these twenty-first century metaphysical practitioners think about the helpless sentient creatures who were brutalized before being viciously slaughtered to provide those �burnt offerings�?

Todd�s remark about �animal sacrifices� highlights the hypocrisy in America in relation to our �animal� relatives. And for those who are going to quote the Bible about animals being put here for humans to use as they wish, please review �The Bible & Jesus.�

�Emphasizing power regardless of good or evil.� Was setting up Adam and Eve in the Eden scenario and then damning all humans for the �sin� that Jehovah -- being all-knowing -- had to know the two fledgling humans would commit �good�? Or was the story simply meant to emphasize the wizard-god�s power �regardless of good or evil�? Noah�s flood seems of a kind: the wizard-god emphasizing his power, vengefully and irrationally yet again. And then, of course, there was what Jehovah did and allowed to be done to Job.

No doubt this is where evangelist Todd would invoke the �We cannot understand the mind of God� truism. But isn�t claiming to know what �God� thinks and wants exactly what people like Dobson, Harvey and Todd do for a living?

�Offering up blood sacrifices.� In a word, �Jesus.� Father wizard-god demanded the bloody sacrifice of his �son� be offered up, to him. So much for �family values� . . .

The attacks on the Harry Potter books are just another manifestation of the Dominionist agenda. Theocracy Watch offers extensive information about Dominionism, its history and its advocates:

The theocratic right seeks to establish dominion, or control over society in the name of God. D. James Kennedy, Pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, calls on his followers to exercise �godly dominion . . . over every aspect . . . of human society.�

At a �Reclaiming America for Christ� conference in February 2005, Kennedy said: �Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.� [link and italics added]

The more Dominionists rant and rave against everything that doesn�t feed their hunger for social and political power, the more the word �theofascism� comes to mind . . . and not in any literary or metaphorical sense.

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