The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Christmas without God – the Jewish Objection to Harry Potter

with 2 comments

  1. As soon as I had recovered from denouncing Harry Potter as derivative tripe (ie as soon as I stopped talking about it and started reading it) I found it a powerful and absorbing work, with a moral tone that generally made it ideal escapist literature to fill the odd hour or two in the bath. But after a while something started to bother me, and as the bubble bath subsided I worked out what it was.
  2. Harry Potter is the ultimate secular novel. It sanitises moralilty and attempts to divorce it entirely from any kind of religious tradition. It is, in fact, the second important literary work which is all about good and evil and manages to avoid all mention of God. We have Christmas scenes – without God. We have a portrayal of the after-life – without God. We have all kinds of ethical and moral issues – without God.
  3. The other major literary work that studiously avoids the G-word is the Book of Esther in the Bible. But rabbinic tradition has it that although the name of God is absent, every time the word “The King” (one word in Hebrew) appears it is to be read as referring both to King Achashverosh and also, in some way, to God. The point is that while the story operates at a secular level, God is never far away. He is hovering underneath every line of the story, and challenging the characters to find Him in their everyday lives. And the characters seek Him out through prayer in the dark times and acknowledge His kindness by showing kindness to each other in the good times.
  4. Jewish thought teaches us to trust in humans only in so far as their moral instincts derive from the imagery of God in which we were created. To guide and fashion those instincts we need to look for God all the time, trying to find different ways of uncovering His influences in the world and enhancing His influence on our lives. We should not try to write Him out of the story, abandoning long-standing religious traditions for pure secular self-reliance.
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Written by Daniel Greenberg

December 4, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

2 Responses

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  1. well said abba. very interesting. oh and hello at work if you are checking this there.

    avi greenberg

    December 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

  2. Glad to see you writing again, I thought you’d gone soft!

    Daniel Ehreich

    December 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm


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