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Mike Schilling

Geez, Manion; you say a lot of stuff that begs for a response, but there's no way to give one without spoilers. Finish the damned book already.

latts

Did the bit from the PoA movie with Hermione knocking over the crystal ball come from the book?- Harry has some reason to return to the classroom & hear the prophecy about Pettigrew. Anyway, I'm quite sure Trelawney has several crystal balls in her possession, and I also remember them being part of the O.W.L. exams in the fifth book.

Sabutai

I also remember that the most hateful, spiteful character in the book is never seen doing magic. She campaigns against magic being taught and spread. Of course, I'm talking about Dolores Umbridge. Voldemort never completely scared me, as he seemed like a Megatron or a Cobra, someone too cartoony to really frighten while sitting on my couch, reading. Whereas I've met, worked with, and dealt with Umbridges, as well have. I detested her, and frankly of the seven books my favorite dynamic is the quiet rebellion put up by the students and professors while she is in charge of Hogwart's. She is instrumental in the attitude that weakens the forces of good, and she does it all without magic. Frankly, she uses methods not unlike those of some of these selfsame fundamentalists.

Of course, referring to Bush as "that wretched man" with the scantiest of cover in one of the books probably didn't help either.

Painini

latts, the crystal balls are in the books (though that particular scene is not-so-much) and... it's difficult to resist spoiling here. I'll just say they show up in the last as well, and I'm chortling to myself about it.

As it happens tarot cards are referenced, too (when she's muttering about 'the lightning-struck tower', she's talking tarot).

And I have to jump in to defend feng shui as a practice - mystical explanations aside, it does have a bit to say about making a room psychologically healthy. (Mirrors spread light, plants (barring allergy) make us feel good, reverse-corners jutting out look a bit unfriendly and intimidating.) Well, as I remember it from high school, anyway.

Deborah

Many years ago I taught in a Lutheran school in Dallas. I got my hands slapped because I included in my recommended reading list for fifth graders books that included magic and fantasy (one of them was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Le' Engle). I was astounded that anyone would view those books as anything but imaginative fairy tales. Instead they saw them as works of the devil. I thought it was sad and pathetic that I was forced to remove them from the classroom. Things have gone down hill from there.

Mike Schilling

That is weird, Deborah. A Wrinkle In Time is almost as Christian in its worldview as Lord of the Rings or the Narnia books. I guess some people can't see past the trappings.

Ken Houghton

What Mike Schilling Said. You're making us scream out here.

I note for the record that that clip from Jesus Camp is followed in the movie (I am told, and I believe TDS confirmed it) with the kids themselves at lunch, discussing the books in depth.

This book will not make anyone inclined to think that way any happier.

Remember, though, "The greatest trick the Devil ever did was convincing people he didn't exist."

djangone

It's interesting to see how the Ministry behaves in 'Hallows.' Just to leave it at this without going into spoiler territory, it revealed Rowling as someone who probably tuned in closely to our 2004 elections, especially the Rovian 'go at their strengths' tactic.

As someone who's had to look over the astounding amount of props and set pieces from the Potter films in daily work, yes there were crystal balls--I had to model one (not hard obviously, except for the brass base) and animate the smoke inside for a video game. But what you see when you get the full set of items in the Potter 'style guide' is just how huge a world Rowling has created. Nobody will remember the singing frogs that appeared for 10 seconds in the filmed version of 'Goblet,' I believe, so to discover that a prop modeler had spent what appeared to be months designing them to be used as animatronics blew my mind. To recreate the small percent of the items, creatures and personages that sprang from her mind--just the ones that appear in films--required a small army.

This last book was the best in the series for me, certainly the most well-written along a number of dimensions, though to justify that claim would wander far into spoilerland.

velevet goldmine

"Flying saucers, the healing powers of crystals, angels---not every believer in angels is a Right Wing Christian or even Christian at all---feng shui, horoscopes, the Force, ancient weapons and hokey religions, are all signs of a general human tendency to believe that some mystical power controls our destinies and that if only we learn the trick we can tap into that power and save ourselves from...Well, from the awfulness of being human."

That may be a bit reductive. I think much of your list, for many people, stems from a sense of wonder about the mysteries of life and the universe, as well as the yearning to become...damn! all I can think of at the moment is Oprah's nauseating term "your most authentic self." It has nothing to do with escaping humanity at all.

Book Seven itself is such a fantastic achievement. Not least because it deals so movingly with questions of faith, and using free will to serve that faith.

If there's one unifying theme to the fates so many of the characters, it's the possibility of redemption, from the trivial to the terrifying.

Finish the damn book! The secret is to either invest in several hardcovers or to read it aloud. For five days, mine hauled me out of bed, poured coffee down my throat, and then sat there looking angelic until I opened the book. Not that it took much persuading.

howard

Last time I checked, free speech was still an option in this country. There are 9 short films based on actual Jack Chick Tracts over at www.316now.com. You will find them challenging, I am sure!

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