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March 2016

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Harry Potter in a Munich sermon

Last Sunday the parish priest used in his sermon Harry's entry into Hogwarts as a simile of the start of a spiritual journey transforming both the person on that voyage and his environment.
(No - probably because this was a sermon directed in good part at children aged ca. 9 - he didn't preach on the difference between sacraments and magic.)

What got me thinking was that the Harry Potter stories probably are one of very very few examples of literary texts well known enough to both kids and adults to permit their use in a se4rmon directed at children and adults at the same time. (Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Långstrump [Pippi Longstocking] stories and Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar were the only other examples which came to my mind, and both of them probably would have appealed less to the adults and some of the children.)

At least as of now HP is still something very special.

Unfortunately my crystal ball doesn't show me whether some 40 years from now HP will still be comparable to Pippi Långstrump and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But I doubt it. Not because I'd think that HP would not be "good" enough (I myself still like parts of these books very much [and PS omost of all]), but because the HP books are very much set in the 1990s and because part of their "moral load" (especially in DH: e.g.: "if you try to [re-]define yourself as a free person you'll die like Dobby", "marrying into the Weasley family is the highest bliss you can achieve", "admiring a monomaniac puppet player and acting as his puppet is a good thing") hopefully will be considered as outdated and absurd by then.

Comments

When I was a Catechist I used "The Lion King" because the movie was very familiar and there are many scenes that are very spiritual. The scene where Simba is presented to the den is quite obviously symbolic and was a perfect intro to the path to adulthood when he is prepared to assume his role. Since I taught during the year the children received Confirmation, the movie lent itself perfectly to the lesson.

I have some doubts the movie will be so commonly known 40 years from now, though it doesn't contain "the marrying into the Weasley family is highest bliss you can achieve," message either. There have been some who suggest the evil "Scar" presents a homophobic message. Disney has some worn out tropes interspersed in their animated movies. I will say though, they did a good job making the movies appeal to adults and children.

As for literary texts, I am drawing a blank on what might stand the test of time over the next 40 years. There is quite a bit in the HP books that hold up well. After teaching, I think it is key the story be quite familiar.


It is interesting that a minister would use the texts in a sermon.
I am not sure it is so much the Weasley family that is special as much as any family that is close and social like the Weasley's would be fun to belong to. I think many people wish they had a family that loved each other as much as this and Harry never had a family at all.
Well, Hermione did have a family and she also married a Weasley.

I'm not sure how to answer. Tentative something:
a) it's probably a question of personal preferences whether one considers living in a Weasley-like family fun or a nightmare (I myself would tend to opt for "nightmare" - far too close and social a family for my taste); but that's my objection to the "marrying into the Weasley family is highest bliss you can achieve".
b) My objection to the "marrying into the Weasley family is highest bliss you can achieve" is that it says not only "do marry into a good family", but also - probably more important even - says that humans are or at least should be primarily family animals, not social/political animals, nor seekers of knowledge, enlightenment, truth (Luna knows about this, the end of DH doesn't).


It is interesting that a minister would use the texts in a sermon.


I was not surprised: Markus Gottswinter is not Joseph Ratzinger, and the Obre Au is not a pious part of the USA [:-)] .
I haven't stepped inside a church in years. I have always thought they stuck to the straight and narrow but then my cousin who is a minister doesn't strike me as a fire and brimstone kind of gal.
I am not sure it is family as much as a tribal connection. After all, the Weasleys have a very large extended family too.

I am not sure it is family as much as a tribal connection. After all, the Weasleys have a very large extended family too.


Yes, they are that type of a family. (I married into such a family, and am extremely reluctant to participate in most of their tribal activities; it's just not my thing. Maybe it's just me who is strange here.)

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