Tag Archives: books

Yes, neo-conservative Christians, you SHOULD be afraid of Harry Potter- but not for the reason you think.

Yes, I know, this is ground that has been covered before. So why am I writing about it? Why now?

Simple. My Best Beloved sent me a link to an article from Americans Against the Tea Party about how a conservative Christian has rewritten Harry Potter so her children won’t turn into witches. And it made me angry. Spitting tacks angry.

This fear of witchcraft is something I have personal experience of. When I was 11, my parents got involved in my education. More involved than I wanted. But of course I was 11, what could I do?

It was October, in my English class. Season of a bunch of scary masks and stuff in windows that I still had to walk past with my eyes shut because monsters and vampires frightened me. My teacher announced that the following week, we would be working on ‘witch’s spells’. A bit of fun for Halloween. I was excited- creative writing was my favourite. Then I told my parents about it, and they told me in no uncertain terms that I would not be doing that, it was evil. It wasn’t Godly. End result? A letter to my teacher, who gets me to write some other poem, and an 11 year old girl already isolated from her peers gets even more left out.

To my knowledge, none of my class transferred to Hogwarts in their second year. And if they had, I’m certain an English class project wouldn’t have been the reason for it.

(Don’t even get me started on what happened when my parents found out about the end-of-year project my RE teacher had us doing involving making up a religion. That’s another blog post in and of itself.)

Harry Potter isn’t going to turn your kids into witches. But there’s plenty of other things in those books that I can see a Tea Partier like Grace Ann would be afraid of, going on the way she’s written the story.

The books teach us that being afraid of people who are different is very wrong. That being prejudiced against people because of their family background is wrong. That good people give others opportunities to make a good life for themselves, no matter if others might see that person as damaged goods.

Going on ‘Grace Ann’s version of Harry Potter, women are expected to fulfil the traditional roles of wife and mother and must make sure they take time over their appearance. Any woman who doesn’t is ugly. In the actual books, we’re shown women in a variety of capacities. We’re introduced to women who have chosen not to marry, but to have a career, and are both successful and admirable (Professor McGonagall, Madame Maxime). Women who are more interested in the life of the mind than in being pretty- but who still know how to do that if they feel like it (Hermione). We’re also shown women who are flawed, who get angry, who make mistakes, who are only human (Molly Weasley, Fleur Delacour). And we’re shown women who are as capable of evil as any man- Dolores Umbridge, Bellatrix Lestrange. If Grace Ann’s children read the Harry Potter books, they might get the idea that women can be many things outside of a wife and mother. Even more dangerous, they might get the idea that men and women can be friends.

I know, I know, the idea of men and women being friends doesn’t seem that dangerous. But I know married couples at evangelical churches who have been told they must not be friends with the opposite sex, because it’s dangerous for the marriage. I’ve even spent an evening alone in someone’s lounge when staying with such a married couple, while the husband was upstairs and the wife was out, because they had adopted this opinion.

It seems that what Grace Ann wants to teach her children is that they should hate and be afraid of anyone who is different, who doesn’t conform to the narrow stereotype being peddled by Tea Partiers of what people should be. She wants them to believe that not being a Christian, and a very specific kind of Christian, will turn you into a “fornicating, drug-addicted Evolutionist”.

Heaven forbid that Grace Ann’s children would learn to treat everyone with love and acceptance, no matter who they are, or what they’ve done, or who they love, or what they believe. Heaven forbid that they would learn that women and men can choose who they want to be, what they want to do with their lives, that their role in life is not dictated by their gender. Heaven forbid that they learn that there are people who think differently from them and that that does not make those people evil. That people are all different and that’s OK.

Be afraid, Tea Partiers whose children are reading Harry Potter (and be afraid- because you can’t actually stop them reading it- the wonderful thing about libraries is the free access to children’s books for children with or without parental permission) They won’t learn magic. But they might learn to be kind, caring human beings who reach out in love to those who are different and believe in them, instead of shunning them.

I know, I know. Terrifying.

Links of Joy: Witchbaby edition

The Magic Touch by David Blackwell (available under Creative Commons licence at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilestreetlife/5946319814/in/photolist-a4srHq-A1Q6c-4v2z6X-5Ja7rc-5KPeEc-9momvJ-kgEBNR-m8k7FP-f9sRmZ-9GroU2-drkeaz-4KZiVR-a7XvQ-8BnfeW-byfVsq-fp9VRx-6Jw3Pm-pnLtD-4C4T8f-fcnqee-6qKPtC-7iP9BW-fYGQ7h-5VuYC7-6gL5wV-e76NmE-51yLAe-a2hwox-6LVo3u-5EecKe-ar4qrC-aixxLe-7fpQSs-4pcs2B-eaqgL9-nhaRLE-5HLjAc-6darwk-bfSPEX-caJLSJ-eKkEpX-bTEYTK-kcSfsz-dEwiP7-bHTo3c-kZr69P-7CFr5m-7sw5Qi-5z4sxh-bCE8sX)

The Magic Touch by David Blackwell (available under Creative Commons licence at Flickr- http://bit.ly/1jU1gBP)

‘Witchbabies’ is the name that folks in the Parlour use to greet the group, and I love it, because Francesca Lia Block– I only came to the Weetzie Bat books 3 or so years ago, along with the rest of her writing, but there’s just something about the dreamlike quality of the way she writes that resonates with me. I especially enjoyed ‘Necklace of Kisses’ (a sequel to the Dangerous Angels series, set a few years later), though I haven’t yet managed to read ‘Pink Smog’ (a prequel). Did you know there’s now a Dangerous Angels t-shirt? Definitely on my list once I’ve bought furniture for my new room.

Speaking of t-shirts, this one of Artax made me want to go curl up in a ball and weep. I remember the first time I saw the scene in the despair swamp in ‘Neverending Story’ and how upset I was. But having experienced depression, it actually rings pretty true now.

With the Parlour (yes, I know, a bit of a theme for the week), I’ve been looking at tarot decks on Etsy- always dangerous. I love the TaRat deck from Bluedogrose, though I can’t put my finger on why, I just like it. I also like her Blue Dog Rose tarot using pets and domestic animals- the Hierophant is a goldfish! And death, appropriately enough, is a cat (anyone who has lived with cats will tell you this is accurate).

I’d forgotten about the fun and shenanigans of the AntiCraft until my bonus Friday Five from last week, but how can you not love an online craft magazine that had plushie gamer dice patterns and an entire issue devoted to bacon? (I made Baconhenge once. It was delicious.

Obviously with a new room come new decor ideas. I plan to get more seriously into those once I have the furniture, but obviously knitting inspiration is not to be controlled and I have a bit of a thing for throws. This magickal throw from Erssie Major is a lot of fun, but I don’t think I’d make it for me. I do know someone I could make it for though…because what I need, clearly, is another project. Yep.

Have you found anything fun on your internet wanderings? Link to it in the comments!

Friday Five: Five things that are better than ‘Twilight’

‘What We Do in the Shadows’, a New Zealand vampire mockumentary, was released last night. I went to see it at the Embassy and it was great. Gory in a funny way, fab performances, with the main characters likeable (especially Taika Waititi as Viago) but still monstrous. In honour of that, I’d like to present five great alternatives to watching or reading ‘Twilight’.

An alternative movie: ‘What We Do in the Shadows’, obviously- go see it this weekend. In the Q&A last night the directors, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, said that this weekend, being the opening weekend, is really important for them. So definitely go see it this weekend if you can! You won’t regret it. Also it has Rhys Darby as a werewolf and it’s everything you would expect from that.

If you’re a fan of vampires: Read ‘Sunshine‘ by Robin McKinley. This is a beautifully-written story, a masterclass in ‘show, don’t tell’. There’s the sympathetic vampire, under no illusions that he’s anything other than a monster. And a badass heroine. Also it will make you want to eat cinnamon rolls (don’t say I didn’t warn you).

If you love supernatural romance: Read ‘Lips Touch: Three Times‘ by Laini Taylor. Three short (but not too short) stories, utterly compelling stuff. ‘Goblin Fruit’ will break your heart, but you still won’t be able to stop reading. I got put on to Laini Taylor by my flatmate Jenni, and I’m very glad I was. Now I just need to wait for the sequels to ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ to be available at the library…

If you think Edward and Bella have the best relationship: Read the Women’s Refuge’s power and control wheel. I’m not kidding. Others have said it much better than I ever could, but the relationship between the two of them is unhealthy and abusive. He takes the spark plugs out of her car so she can’t drive anywhere, because he doesn’t want her seeing her best friend. Um…WHAT? It’s definitely worth understanding how their relationship is unhealthy. Love is not an excuse for mistreating another person.

If you love supernatural romance and want to be IN the story: get four friends together and play ‘The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon‘. As well as one person running the game, the four players play two sets of best friends. One pair are human, and one pair are supernatural (you can be any kind of supernatural being you choose). One of the humans falls in love with one of the supernaturals. Teenage angst and drama ensue. While I’ve run a session of this that went very dark and serious, most of the time in runs of this game you’ll be laughing your ass off. I know one friend who had to go and lie down for 5 minutes in the middle of a game because she couldn’t breathe, she was laughing so hard. Full disclosure, my flatmate wrote the game- but she wrote it long before she was my flatmate and I thought it was fab from the off. It’s got easy rules, it’s a lot of fun, you get to be in the story, and it involves candy!

How about you? What are your go-tos for supernatural entertainment (that aren’t by Stephanie Meyer)? Let me know in the comments

Links of Joy: Games and homes and glad wrap

Reading: The Good Creative by Paul Jarvis

I’ve read both Paul Jarvis’ other self-help-y books, ‘Be Awesome at Online Business’ and ‘Everything I Know’, and enjoyed them, so I was very excited to see he has a new book out on bringing creative ideas to fruition and building them into something more, which is what I’m aiming to do. And it’s a quick read, which I’ll admit I like, because there are few things more satisfying than finishing a book, right? Even better, he currently has some special offers for the book’s launch week.

Playing: The Three Things Game

I love Veronica Varlow. Her blog- the Danger Diary, is full of interesting stories and ideas. A while ago she posted about a game she plays on her tour bus, and I thought, why not? Admittedly, when I play it with my flatmates (and my Best Beloved, and my flatmate’s awesome girlfriend) we’ve been, generally, waiting for our takeaway order. But it’s KIND OF like being on a rock and roll tour bus, right? You know, if you squint hard… Anyway, you think of three connected things and each say which one of the three you are, and why. Simple but a lot of fun- and I recommend reading more about it at the Danger Diary- in fact as I said, I recommend the Danger Diary in general. The Tarot Horoscopes  are also a fun read.

Listening: Welcome to Night Vale (click the link and then click on Night Vale)

If you haven’t already heard of this, you’re missing out. It’s a seamless blend of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone style narration and HP Lovecraftian fantasy. It’s a simple idea- Cecil, the DJ on the community radio station in the desert town of Night Vale, presents unfolding events and community notices. But it packs so much into that premise. Some episodes will seriously creep you out, others will make you squee, all of them will make you laugh. “Wednesday has been cancelled due to a scheduling conflict”.  Scroll down the page for a list of places you can subscribe- for free- to this great creative project. Listen, enjoy, and do not approach the dog park.

Other links that have made me smile this week:

Curious Places– I’m a sucker for weird and wonderful houses, and this blog is full of them. Favourites of mine include this tiny Victorian cottage, and this leopard print house (one day, when I own my own place…).

Speaking of  houses, I’m definitely planning on staying at Cedric the Tiny House some time. I’d love to own a home like this some day.

Eco-friendly reusable glad wrap– it’s a thing!

RIP Maya Angelou

What about you? What have you found in your internet wanderings this week? Share it in the comments.