Thursday, July 12, 2007

Potter politics

“Anyone familiar with [author J.K.] Rowling’s personal story will know that when she started the Harry Potter series, she spent a period of time unemployed and on public assistance in Edinborough, divorced with a young child.

“Rowling’s personal story provides two insights into her feelings toward government. …

“First, in both England and the U.S. there is no quicker route to hating the government than dealing with the various bureaucracies that handle public assistance.

“Second, Rowling’s story smacks of success through self-reliance and sheer force of will. The Harry Potter novels likewise show a strong strain of self-reliance and stubborn independence, and Rowling came upon these themes the hard way. Anyone who has pulled herself out of poverty as Rowling has is likely to believe that self-reliance and hard work are the keys to success, and to be conversely wary of government intervention.”

Benjamin Barton, quoted Monday in “Law Professor: Harry Potter Has Hidden Message,” a University of Tennessee press release

Global boring

“You likely didn’t miss the media orgy that accompanied Al Gore’s Live Earth festivities this past weekend. With Live Earth’s seven concerts on all seven continents on 7.07.07 available on dozens of TV stations, both satellite radio networks, terrestrial radio and streaming live on the Web, the world rocked for global warming.

“Well, maybe not so much. To be fair, it was more like cleaning out the Augean stables of pop music in the service of some nebulous speculation about weather patterns. Originally, National Review Online thought that I might want to attend the North American concert and report directly, but I’m trying to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. Besides, the irony of traveling to New Jersey to support an environmental cause is a tad dispiriting.”

Mark Hemingway, writing on “Living Through Live Earth,” Monday at

Lapsed Latin

“When word began to spread last year that Pope Benedict XVI might release a document that would allow some changes in the ways Catholics worship on Sunday mornings, the reaction in some quarters approached giddy enthusiasm. …

“The long-rumored document … would allow for broader use of the Tridentine, or, as it’s commonly known, Latin Mass, by permitting any priest to celebrate it without first receiving permission from his bishop. The rite was the Catholic standard for nearly 400 years. … The Latin Mass may no longer hold a place at the center of Catholic life, but some Catholics never stopped longing for its return.

“Any hopes tradition-minded Catholics might have for a full comeback by the Latin Mass have to be tempered, though. … Even if the pope announces his support for more readily available Tridentine Masses, it remains to be seen whether many Catholics would attend the old-school service. The Latin Mass has become so marginalized in recent decades that a service that was once the quintessence of Catholicism must now seem exotic and foreign to many Catholics. …

“For four decades, Latin was largely neglected in the church (and in Catholic schools). How many Catholic priests — many of them, like me, having come of age after the reforms of the 1960s — could muster enough Latin to offer a convincing Tridentine service?

— Andrew Santella, writing on “Bene, Vidi, Vici,” Monday in

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