Wednesday, February 04, 2009

processing to irrelevance

In normal circumstances, in decent, civilized society throughout the West, a person who expressed the view that the Harry Potter novels, with their incantations and magical games and mythical beasties, posed serious dangers to our kids, and that hurricane Katrina could well have been a god's retribution upon the residents of New Orleans for such iniquitous activities as homosexuality and prostitution - such a person would be politely shunned or perhaps referred to authorities as a suitable case for treatment. Certainly such claims would, and should, cast serious doubts on that person's fitness to hold any responsible political or community position.
However, the values of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church are not those of society at large. It doesn't bend to mere public opinion, because it believes its values are eternal, given to it by its god - who is our god too, even if we know nothing about the fellow. Besides, the claim about Katrina is quite plausible, as this god has committed such mass murders before when he has been displeased by members of his specially created species. Indeed he once murdered the whole species apart from one small family, apparently for disloyalty - something dictators rather relish doing, or would relish if only they had the supernatural powers of a deity.
So it's not surprising that a person who would be rightly reviled by most reflective secularists should be promoted within the Catholic Church. Yet there are some good signs to note here. The promoted ultra-conservative pastor is Austrian, and his appointment to a bishopric in Linz will undoubtedly turn ever more people away from a rigid, backward, bigoted church hierarchy. The Catholic Church is completely on the nose in Austria, apparently, and the numbers of its followers have dwindled dramatically. It can only be hoped that Herr Ratzinger continues on this track.
The Catholic Church hierarchy's response to Ms Rowling's massively popular magical adventure series is in fact highly diverting, offering light relief from consideration of its campaign of intimidation, repression, misinformation and outright murder in many African countries in recent years. There seems more than a touch of jealousy in their critique of the books' effects on the young innocent minds who flock to them. Take these remarks by none other than the Vatican's chief exorcist:
"You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil. There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books."
We may well laugh, both at the primitive manichaeism of these remarks, and at the title of chief exorcist, but we would do well to remember that this gentleman, Gabriele Amorth by name, is the inheritor of a long line of murderers, rapists and torturers doing their all for the glory of their god and church. It should never be forgotten that this church has never never willingly given up an inch of its power to destroy any rival superstition. It has been dragged kicking and screaming to its current state of relative impotence. It lives and breathes solely for a return to its old medieval powers.
Herr Ratzinger is very much at the centre of these dangerous puerilities. In a letter written before he was 'elevated' to the popehood, he wrote to a conservative critic:
It is good that you shed light and inform us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable and precisely because of that deeply affect (children) and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it (the Faith) could properly grow
I can only commend the Harry Potter author for corrupting the Christian faith by means of a fun rival, and I'd urge other authors of imagination and verve to continue the process. The human imagination, and especially the deliciously bottomless imagination of childhood, surely deserves much better than the murderous bigotry of Catholicism.



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