Proof J.K. Rowling Isn't Evil?
November 22, 2005 8:19 AM   Subscribe

So I've been on a couple of dates with this girl when she tells me she won't see Harry Potter because someone told her that J.K. Rowling said something like... 'If I can convince one child to disobey his parents, to not believe in God, then my books have done their job.' What's the real story on this?

To be clear she isn't opposed to it on anti-witchcraft stuff, she reads a lot of fantasy books, she thinks the author is actively trying to turn kids away from the church.

Now I've been poking around online and I am pretty sure that J.K. Rowling never said anything like that. At least I can't find any evidence of her having done so. I read over a lot of the anti-potter websites, and I figure if she'd ever said something along those lines then it would be on the front page of every one. Even her enemies don't seem to quote her. They only seem to be against the book because of it's magical themes, saying it will turn children into satanists etc.

What I am looking for is interviews with Rowling where she talks about the whole issue of people banning her book, especially any where she talks about her actual religious beliefs.

That is unless of course Rowling actually said something like I am quoting above, in which case send me a link to that?

I mean, Harry celebrates Christmas and Easter I think, right?
posted by shanevsevil to Religion & Philosophy (37 answers total)
 
I mean, Harry celebrates Christmas and Easter I think, right?

I don't have an answer for your question, but I think you have stumbled on part of your answer. Many, if not most, of the people who rant about the evils of Harry Potter have never read any of the books. Yes, Harry and his friends celebrate some Christian holidays in the series.

I am pretty sure you will find that the quote you found was made up in an attempt to influence others, and eventually will show up on the anti-HP sites. I look forward to seeing whether you find your answer. Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 8:24 AM on November 22, 2005


More info, as often is the case, on Snopes.
posted by occhiblu at 8:26 AM on November 22, 2005


I'm guessing that quote is from the Harry Potter article in The Onion.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't it be her responsibility to prove that the quote is real? You'll never be able to prove to your date's satisfaction that she didn't say it, any more than you can prove that she didn't say "I use magic in my stories to draw Satan out into the light where he can be cleansed by the righteous fire of the LORD."

It seems obvious to me and probably everyone else here that she didn't really say that, but that's not going to be good enough for this girl.

Also, maybe this girl isn't the best girl for you to be dating.
posted by BackwardsCity at 8:29 AM on November 22, 2005


J. K. Rowling is, to my knowledge, a churchgoing Presbyterian, who is infruriated that people think her books occultish and anti-Christian. See Harry Potter and Religion.
posted by brownpau at 8:29 AM on November 22, 2005


To be clear she isn't opposed to it on anti-witchcraft stuff, she reads a lot of fantasy books, she thinks the author is actively trying to turn kids away from the church.

Is she maybe mixing up Rowling and Pullman?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2005


Also, maybe this girl isn't the best girl for you to be dating.

Yeah, exactly. Take this as an early warning sign that you are probably incompatible at a fundamental level.
posted by mkultra at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2005


Rowling is a Presbyterian, a member of the Church of Scotland. Whether she is devout or not, I don't know, but she is obviously not anti-Christian. She has stated that she is a great admirer of C.S. Lewis, a famous Christian writer and author of the allegorical Christian children's books The Chronicles of Narnia. There is a book out now by John Granger called The Hidden Key to Harry Potter that claims Rowling is consciously writing in the direct tradition of Christian fantasists like Tolkein and Lewis.

In any event, the idea that Rowling and her books are anti-Christian is baseless and stupid, except for those grim and humorlous literalists who can't abide so much as the mention of magic as a fictional device.

Oh, and just ditch the girl, she's clearly a moron.
posted by nanojath at 8:41 AM on November 22, 2005


Also, maybe this girl isn't the best girl for you to be dating.

I see all this, I just don't want this discussion to spiral off into relationshipfilter.

She'd like to read the books if I can find some proof of something like what brownpau says.
posted by shanevsevil at 8:50 AM on November 22, 2005


shanevsevil: read occhiblu's Snopes link. The quote that the girl seems to be thinking of sounds pretty similar to the quote that the Onion made up in their article.
posted by antifuse at 9:03 AM on November 22, 2005


She'd like to read the books if I can find some proof of something like what brownpau says.

So she won't read anything written by someone who isn't a church booster? Anyone who might be a bit of an anarchist? Is she afraid of being unduly influenced herself? Sounds like she's eliminated most of the Western canon of great literature.
posted by availablelight at 9:06 AM on November 22, 2005


She'd like to read the books if...

Oh come on, it's a kids' book, not crack. Tell her to read a book and make up her own mind. The kids' book thing helps -- short words, easy sentences...
posted by londonmark at 9:12 AM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


It's only been a couple of dates??

time to run! Don't waste your energy into trying to convince her of anything. If she doesn't have the sense to buy the book, read it, and come to her own conclusions, she's probably not the person you want to spend your life with!
posted by HuronBob at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2005


Is she maybe mixing up Rowling and Pullman?

That was exactly my thought!

She'd like to read the books if I can find some proof of something like what brownpau says.

Rather than sending her to the Snopes link, show her how to put the quote into Google and determine its provenance. Maybe you can get her started on this minimal, meagre level of learning things for herself, rather than avoiding a movie based on some half-remembrance of an Authority.
posted by Aknaton at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2005


The Harry Potter article doesn't seem to be in the Onion's online archives, but you can find it reproduced here. I don't see a quote along the lines shanevsevil mentioned, but it might still be the article she's thinking of.

Show her that Onion article, and the Snopes article. And in case PinkStainless is right and she's mixed up Rowling and Pullman, show her this interview with Pullman--perhaps it will ring a bell. Although I don't see any quotes in it that are explicitiy along the lines in question, it does make it very clear that Pullman's works have an explicitly anti-Christian strain.
posted by yankeefog at 9:18 AM on November 22, 2005


No, no. Three step process:
1: Show her the Onion article. Explain, as needed, that the Onion--use a gentle tone here--isn't actually real, and is make-believe.

2: Show her the Snopes article. Explain, as needed, the deeper issues that sites like Snopes exist for--namely, that some things are actually made-up, but pretend to be real.

3: Dump her like a bad habit.

Leave Pullman alone. Not that there aren't legitimate reasons to dislike his work--tastes legitimately vary--but mostly because it's never a good idea to give the dimwitted an excuse for brand-new sparkly hate.
posted by Drastic at 9:27 AM on November 22, 2005


The bible gives us walking on water, duplication of loaves and fishes, crippled lepers leaping to their feet again, virgin birth and resurrection. It seems a litle churlish for one who ardently believes in all that to condemn the notion of magic in all other contexts.

I say find another date.
posted by rongorongo at 9:28 AM on November 22, 2005


Rongorongo, others: Read the original question. He doesn't ask whether he should date the girl. He doesn't say the girl has a problem with the magic in the books. I have nothing else to add to this conversation so sorry for the derail - it's not worth a callout in MeTa but read the damn question!
posted by Happydaz at 9:36 AM on November 22, 2005


I'd like to third (fourth?) the guess that if anything she may have mixed been mixed up with Pullman.

Disclaimer: I am Catholic and I ADORE the Dark Materials Trilogy.

And I know it was also already said that this was not a relationship question, but I would seriously reconsider dating someone who wouldn't read a book because of what they "might have possibly heard about" the author without investigating the literature themselves.
posted by like_neon at 9:38 AM on November 22, 2005


Here is an interview with Rowling from 2000, in which she is asked (1) if she believes in witchcraft and (2) what her feelings are about people who accuse the books of encouraging occultism.
posted by Gator at 9:49 AM on November 22, 2005


As much as you'd like it not to spiral into relationshipfilter, people are going to comment on it because that's honestly the best way of dealing with the problem. The issue is not how to get her to read Harry Potter books - that's only indicative of a much more serious problem, and people are going to point that out because everyone hates to see someone waste their time in relationships.
posted by odinsdream at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2005


Just to add my vote for Pullman - I half-remember reading that quote attributed to Pullman, somewhere. It sounds to me much more likely that he'd say that than Rowling, she is no-here near as political or philosophical or activist-inclined (in interviews anyway, read what you will into the books).
posted by MetaMonkey at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2005


What the hell is wrong with you people? It's not enough to trash God every chance you get on MetaFilter, you want to try to keep everyone from even dating people who believe in God? The disconnect between the alleged openmindedness of MeFites and the actual desire to live in a warm bath of self-affirming groupthink sometimes boggles my mind. "She thinks something we don't! Stone her!!"

shanevsevil, assuming you have reasons for dating this girl other than a desire to burn churches together, I suggest you ignore all the "dump her!" comments and focus on debunking the quote. It is amazing what people will believe because they heard it somewhere or read it in one of those pass-it-along e-mails, but that's what we're here for: to spread enlightenment. (And no, I don't think shunning Christians = spreading enlightenment, and no, I'm not religious myself, but I have friends and family who are.)
posted by languagehat at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2005 [2 favorites]


From the Onion article:

"I think it's absolute rubbish to protest children's books on the grounds that they are luring children to Satan," Rowling told a London Times reporter in a July 17 interview. "People should be praising them for that! These books guide children to an understanding that the weak, idiotic Son Of God is a living hoax who will be humiliated when the rain of fire comes, and will suck the greasy cock of the Dark Lord while we, his faithful servants, laugh and cavort in victory."

I'll bet that's the source of the quote, which was just changed overtime as it was repeated from one person to another, each person probably trying to make it sound a bit more believable, which it's not at all.

She must be dumb as a box of rocks, but really, really hot if you are willing to put up with this.
posted by xammerboy at 10:54 AM on November 22, 2005


She must be dumb as a box of rocks, but really, really hot if you are willing to put up with this.

Jesus, guys, she's just concerned about books trying to lure kids away from the church. So what? Those are her religious beliefs, and possibly shanevsevil's. Why the personal attacks?

I don't believe much in any church either, but I wouldn't agree with J.K. Rowling if she did say that quote.
posted by symphonik at 11:21 AM on November 22, 2005


LH, I'm usually with you, but I would tell him to dump the girl if she believed emails saying that Clinton killed Vince Foster or that a one day boycott would drop gas prices or that the Pentagon was hit by a missile or that the moon landing was faked. Religious or not, stupditity is a dumpable offense.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


As an atheist, I can't imagine dumping someone because she was religious, but I'm not crazy about her attitude towards children (not that I'd dump her over it -- I just don't like it). It sounds like she feels there are certain things children shouldn't read.

I agree with this in extreme cases only. I wouldn't want a child of mine reading anything that would give her nightmares for the rest of her childhood. But beyond that and obvious safety issues, I'm against censorship for kids.

So what if she is trying to lure kids away from the Church? Other books/people/etc will try to lure kids TO the Church.

I'm an atheist, and I would be thrilled if my kids read The Bible, The Koran, The Skeptical Enquirer, etc. Information is GOOD. Information will help kids make up their minds about what they want to do with their lives. I'm assuming a ton of stuff about shanevsevil's date, but it sounds like she wants to KEEP information/opinions away from kids. This offends me.

I hear people say all the time that kids aren't ready to decide about religion until they are older. I don't get this. Kids aren't ready to drive until they are older -- but religion? Surely one's religious beliefs are something that can (and probably will) change over the course of one's life. And surely one's religious beliefs are one thing that is totally theirs -- no one else should be allowed to control it. At any age!

And I've never heard of a religion that condemns kids for drifting away from the faith while they're really young. If they choose to drift back when they're older, the faith will accept them back. Forcing kids into a faith just increases the chance that they'll rebel later.

To me, this is not a religious issue at all. I grew up in a liberal family, but I'd hope that my children would be exposed to all sorts of opinions -- liberal, conservative, etc.
posted by grumblebee at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2005


Jesus, guys, she's just concerned about books trying to lure kids away from the church. So what? Those are her religious beliefs, and possibly shanevsevil's. Why the personal attacks?

Because thinking a fantasy book can lure you away from the church is stupid. And thinking that any best-selling author in America is actually a covert agent of the Dark One puts you firmly in tinfoil hat territory.

That said, languagehat's idea that education is the answer is key here. The world is a complicated place. We have to take a lot of information at second hand because there are not enough hours in the day to take it all at first hand. A tendency to believe things based on authority (especially the dubious authority of rumor) is a bad tendency. But we don't know anything about the girl, other than what's in the post. So enough with the guess work.

Turn her on to Snopes. Everyone I've ever turned on to that site has been better for it (and no longer sends me panicky emails based obvious on hoaxes).
posted by wheat at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


What the hell is wrong with you people? It's not enough to trash God every chance you get on MetaFilter, you want to try to keep everyone from even dating people who believe in God?

Oh, give it a rest already. That's not at all what's been said here.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2005


As one Christian, among others who disagree, I assert that media does not create action, but individuals create action. Whether inspired or not by any given media, Grand Theft Auto or Doom, for example, the fault for committing a crime or copycatting lies exclusively with the person, not the basis. Thus, while Harry Potter may stir up some new ideas (far from the actual witchcraft or satanism, HP is more on a tinkerbell level) under no circumstance can an action taken to move oneself apart from the church be blamed on it -- the person who moved away is at complete fault, not one's influences. The moment there exists someone who does not take the same action from reading the same book, the inspiration-fault is obliterated.
posted by vanoakenfold at 1:13 PM on November 22, 2005


To be clear she isn't opposed to it on anti-witchcraft stuff, she reads a lot of fantasy books, she thinks the author is actively trying to turn kids away from the church.

Get real. If you were trying to turn kids away from the church, would you ever tell people that's what you were doing if you think it had any chance of reducing the number of children that got to read your books/see your movies due to upset parents not allowing them to do so? That'd be ludicrously counterproductive.
posted by juv3nal at 1:26 PM on November 22, 2005


Here is another link to an article/interview that apparently appeared in the Vancouver Sun some years ago, in which she makes it very clear what her beliefs are. (I tried to find a more "reputable" copy of the article than something from a fan site, but the Vancouver Sun doesn't seem to archive anything online longer than a week, unless I missed it.)
posted by Gator at 2:09 PM on November 22, 2005


juv3nal has the best answer based solely in the territory of logic. If Rowling is writing books to lure people away from church, why would she publically say so, thus decreasing the chance that people would read her books and be lured away from church?

Good show.
posted by odinsdream at 4:55 PM on November 22, 2005


I just showed her some of the links, she now concedes that HP is not satanic, and it is now on the list of books she may someday read if she is bored enough.

Special thanks go out to everyone who didn't say to dump her!
posted by shanevsevil at 8:14 PM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]


I didn't suggest ditching her because she believes in God (hey, I believe in God). I'm just so freaking sick of people who don't research crazy bunk people tell them. But what the heck, shanevsevil, now you can do it for her.
posted by nanojath at 8:58 PM on November 22, 2005


Yay!

And suck it, ludwig_van. I got best answer!
posted by languagehat at 6:06 AM on November 23, 2005


And suck it, ludwig_van. I got best answer!

More like best strawman!
posted by ludwig_van at 7:09 AM on November 23, 2005


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