Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
“How do you feel, Georgie?” whispered Mrs. Weasley.
George’s fingers groped for the side of his head.
“Saintlike,” he murmured.
“What’s wrong with him?” croaked Fred, looking terrified. “Is his mind affected?”
“Saintlike,” repeated George, opening his eyes and looking up at his brother. “You see…I’m HOLEY, Fred, geddit?”
How much freedom should adolescents have in selecting books? If a book’s subject matter wanders into the supernatural is it off-limits? What about the recent popularity of Harry Potter or the Twilight series?
In Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me, Karen Swallow Prior says this:
I don’t want to be presumptuous in guessing how Milton might respond to current debates over controversial media and the banning of books, issues that go well beyond the doctrinal debates lurking in the background of Areopagitica. But I do suspect that Milton’s reaction to modern day anxieties over the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight might be something along the lines of a deep, resigned sigh. Harry Potter and Bella the vampire lover came along well after my time, but in my day we had Stephen King, and he has to be at least as bad as J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer, what with all his blood-soaked, blood-soaking teenage girls and their raving, Bible-quoting fundamentalist mothers; his decomposed pets coming back to life; his quaint, vampire-infested New England towns; and his evil-spirit possessed hotels, St. Bernards, cell phones, spacecrafts, and balloon-brandishing clowns. Stephen King’s novels and the like constituted the staple of my reading through my high school years. Indeed, it is largely because of those books that the love of reading cultivated by my mother in my early years didn’t dissipate, as it so often does once adolescence comes along and replaces the thrills of reading with other forms of thrill-making.
What criteria do you use to decide which books to read and which not to read? Has this changed over the course of your life? If so, how?
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Literature, Liturgy & The Arts
John Milton and Areopagitica
(1608–74), poet and controversialist. The son of a scrivener, he was educated at St Paul’s School, London, and at Christ’s College, Cambridge (1625–32), where he won a high reputation for his scholarship and literary gifts; his famous Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity (1629) belongs to this period. From 1632 to 1638 he lived on his father’s estate at Horton in Buckinghamshire. Having abandoned his original intention of taking orders because of the ‘tyranny’ that had invaded the Church under Abp. W. *Laud, he devoted himself entirely to scholarship and literature. Among his finest poems of this period are L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, which are sometimes taken as expressing the two sides of his nature, torn between the desire for pleasure and the love of meditation and silence. In ‘A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634’ [Comus] (pr. 1637), he sings the praises of chastity in a dramatic poem. In 1637 he wrote the monody Lycidas on the death of a friend, containing a sharp satiric allusion to the clergy, one of his main themes in later years. Next year he travelled in Italy, and after his return moved to London, where he spent many years in political and religious controversy. In 1641 he joined the *Presbyterians and took part in the famous ‘*Smectymnuus’ affair, and about the same time wrote The Reason of Church Government Urged against Prelacy, a fierce attack on episcopacy in which he saw only an instrument of tyranny. In 1643 he married Mary Powell, a member of a strongly royalist family. She left him shortly afterwards, and he returned once more to the question of the reform of the divorce laws, writing The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1643), in which he made a passionate appeal for the solubility of marriage on the grounds of incompatibility of character and declared the sanctity and sacramental character of marriage to be a clerical invention. The treatise, which roused a heated discussion, caused his break with the Presbyterians. Its publication without a licence from the censor led the case to be submitted to Parliament and drew from Milton his celebrated Areopagitica (1644) in defence of the freedom of the press.
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1095–1096.
A Speech of Mr John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parliament of England, pamphlet by John Milton, published in 1644 to protest an order issued by Parliament the previous year requiring government approval and licensing of all published books. Four earlier pamphlets by the author concerning divorce had met with official disfavour and suppressive measures.
The title of the work derives from “Areopagus” (“Hill of Ares”), the name of the site from which the high court of Athens administered its jurisdiction and imposed a general censorship. In a prose style that draws heavily on Greek models, Milton argues that to mandate licensing is to follow the example of the detested papacy. He defends the free circulation of ideas as essential to moral and intellectual development. Furthermore, he asserts, to attempt to preclude falsehood is to underestimate the power of truth. While the immediate objective of the Areopagitica—repeal of licensing—was not obtained for another 50 years, the tract has earned a permanent place in the literature of human rights.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).
Karen Swallow Prior
Karen Swallow Prior is Professor of English at Liberty University and an award-winning teacher. She is a contributing writer for The Atlantic.com and for Christianity Today, where she blogs frequently at Her.meneutics. Her writing has appeared in Relevant, Think Christian, and Salvo. She is a Research Fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, a member of INK: A Creative Collective, and a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States.
Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me
Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte’s Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story.