A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Potter Time!

Today's the day. What day, you ask? The day dissertations must be officially submitted to the graduate school by those who plan on graduating in August? Well, yes, it is that, but it is also so much more. It is the day Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released!

Technically, tomorrow is the day Harry Potter 7 is going to be released. But as we all know, bookstores start handing out the book at midnight. And, for the first time ever, I will be there at the midnight release party. (No, I will not be in costume. Sorry to disappoint my fans.)

Since this is Potter day, I wanted to take the time to share some last Potter predictions. Here goes:

1) Hagrid will probably die.

Years ago, I read an interview in which Rowling talked about how she had the whole series planned out, all the way to book seven. And she mentioned that there some parts that she knew would be hard to write; some parts that she thought she'd cry writing. My immediate thought was: "She's going to kill off Hagrid!" Other people have shared this prediction. Maybe we're wrong. But I predict that Hagrid will die.

2) Harry will suffer great losses.

Here I can only be vague, because I don't have any strong feelings about what form this loss will take. I can only predict that the ending of the book may be bittersweet, with unexpected and perhaps unnecessary losses.

At various times, I have speculated that his not-quite-girlfriend might die, or that Harry might lose his two best friends, Ron and Hermione. Others have suggested that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley may be among the deceased, and I'm sorry to say that I think this is a good guess.

Personally, I think Harry himself will live. I can, however, see a number of reasons why he might die. The most obvious one is that killing Harry would prevent anyone else from writing sequels. But there are other ways of preventing this.

My pet plan (which I doubt Rowling will use) would be for Harry to somehow lose his magic. In other fantasy fiction, it is possible for a magician to temporarily or permanently have his/her magic taken away. Rowling has never really suggested that this is the case in her Wizarding World, which is why I think she won't go with anything like this direction. But think: if Harry had to give up his magic in order to defeat Voldemort, that would certainly constitute a great sacrifice on his part. (We know, after all, that he is like his mother. What did his mother do? She sacrificed herself for him.) Such an ending would also be a twist: most people wouldn't be expecting it. And it would prevent anyone from writing further adventures of the Boy Who Lived.

3) Goodies and badies will be hard to tell apart.

I've already shared that I think Snape is going to end up being on the side of good. I suggest, though, that we can expect surprises from some other characters as well. People we thought were trustworthy may turn out to be working for the Dark Lord. Other people who seemed staunchly evil-or at least disreputable-will turn out to be fighting on the right side.

4) Goats will be important.

Didja notice the goat in the Hog's Head in The Order of the Phoenix movie? And do you remember that Dumbledore's brother was prosecuted for "practicing improper charms on a goat"? I don't like to think about what constitutes improper charms, but I think the goat is significant. And even if I'm wrong, I think we can expect to see something of Aberforth Dumbledore in the final book.

5) Petunia Dursley may have a moment of redemption.

I don't have any real reason for thinking this. I'd just like to see some good come of the Dursleys. What I'd like even better would be for Harry to save all their lives, and them to actually be grateful. Admittedly, it would also be satisfying to see them all die horribly BECAUSE they don't listen to Harry, but I'd like to think that Rowling will have a better (more charitable) fate for them.

6) However the final volume ends, there will be redemption.

Rowling has indicated in past interviews that her faith (she is a member of the Church of Scotland, IIRC) and the ending of the series are connected. In the past, I thought this would manifest itself in Dumbledore's resurrection. Now I'm not so sure. But I predict that however sad this book may be, it will have a good ending. It's not just that Voldemort will be defeated. Virtue is going to triumph. And (per #3 and #5) we may see redemption in unexpected places.

7) Finally, to look at it cynically, I predict that however the book ends, it HAS to be better than this conclusion!

I'm still waiting to find out what was in the sugar bowl. Lemony/Daniel, how could you do this to us? Curse ye and your postmodernism! You call that an "end"?

"Grave concern for our souls?" Not really

Occasionally I hear comments from conservative evangelicals along the lines of "I am anxious about the salvation of my Catholic friends, just as they are anxious about my salvation." More recently, and less polemically, Al Mohler wrote (in a much-linked-blog entry) that "The artificial and deadly dangerous game of ecumenical confusion has obscured issues of grave concern for our souls." In contrast, the recent CDF statement on what does and does not constitute a particular church appears to Mohler to be evidence that Benedict XVI "believes that Protestant churches are gravely defective and that our souls are in danger."

Mohler's response to the CDF document was charitable and rational (unlike some other responses), and I don't want to pick on it too much, all mistakes aside. I do, however, want to distinguish between the two claims above:

1) the Catholic Church believes that Protestant churches are gravely defective

2) the Catholic Church believes that Protestants' souls are in danger

It's important to realize that these ARE two separate claims. The first claim is true, though it might demand some qualification about the relationship of "ecclesial communities" to the universal church. The second claim, however, seems to me to be inaccurate, or at least deceptive. Do Catholics believe that the health of the soul is better sustained where all seven sacraments may be found in valid form? Yes. Do Catholics fear for the salvation of individual evangelicals, because of their lack of access to all the sacraments? No, not usually. Not unless you're talking to the RadTrad wing.

Don't believe me? Well, let's look at the work of John Henry Cardinal Newman, perhaps the most important Catholic theologian of the nineteenth century. Long before Vatican II (decades, in fact, before Vatican I), Newman denied the charge that believing the Catholic Church's claim to be the one true church meant believing that the majority of other Christians were lost. On the contrary, he wrote:

. . . the remarks I have been making suggest much of comfort, when we look out into what is called the religious world in all its varieties, whether it be the High Church section, or the Evangelical, whether it be in the Establishment, or in Methodism, or in Dissent, so far as there seems to be real earnestness and invincible prejudice. One cannot but hope that that written Word of God, for which they desire to be jealous . . . is of incalculable blessing to their souls, and may be, through God's grace, the divine instrument of bringing many to contrition and to a happy death who have received no sacrament since they were baptized in their infancy. One cannot hope but that the Anglican Prayer Book, with its Psalter and Catholic prayers, even though these, in the translation, have passed through heretical intellects, may retain so much of its old virtue as to cooperate with divine grace in the instruction and salvation of a large remnant.

[. . . .]

There is but one set of persons, indeed, who inspire the Catholic with special anxiety, as much so as the open sinner, who is not peculiar to any Communion, Catholic or schismatic, and who does not come into the present question. There is one set of persons in whom every Catholic must feel intense interest, about whom he must feel the gravest apprehensions; viz., those who have some rays of light vouchsafed to them as to their heresy or as to their schism, and who seem to be closing their eyes upon it; or those who have actually gained a clear view of the nothingness of their own Communion, and the reality and divinity of the Catholic Church, yet delay to act upon their knowledge. (Anglican Difficulties, Lecture 11)

Notice that this passage does not come from a work with an ecumenical orientation. On the contrary, it's from a polemical work intended to convince Anglican members of the Tractarian Movement that they should become Roman Catholics.
This is pro-Catholic propaganda, not some game of ecumenical confusion. Newman's language isn't really conciliatory, either: he uses words like "heretic" and "schismatic" with a freedom that would make most of us whince. Nevertheless, he looked with "interest and pleasure" at the faith of most of his compatriots, even the most anti-Catholic among them, and he hoped to meet them in Heaven.

Newman, as a theologian, did not speak for his church in an authoritative way, of course. Nevertheless, current Catholic teaching on this matter is far more generous than many outsiders -including many of the journalists who reputed on the recent document- seem to realize.

Friday, July 13, 2007

But I wanted to be in RAVENCLAW!

Want to Get Sorted?

a Hufflepuff!