It's Banned Books Week, and one woman is living by the ideal of "celebrating" it. Grace Ann, or her online name proudhousewife, has rewritten the first seven chapters of Harry Potter to slant it toward her conservative Christian morals. The new name? Hogwarts School Of Prayer And Miracles.
But let's let Grace tell you her reasoning herself.
Hello, friends! My name is Grace Ann. I'm new to this whole fanfiction thing; but recently, I've encountered a problem that I believe this is the solution to. My little ones have been asking to read the Harry Potter books; and of course I'm happy for them to be reading; but I don't want them turning into witches! So I thought….. why not make some slight changes so these books are family friendly? And then I thought, why not share this with all the other mommies who are facing the same problem? So-Ta da! Here it is! I am SO excited to share this with all of you!
OK, so as someone who has always wanted to be a witch, this was hard for me to initially grasp. And I'm never on the side of censoring books, especially those literally written for children to enjoy. However, I'm not one to shut down anyone's religious beliefs or ideals, so I think it's crucial to take a look at the text before making any calls. But the text is not pretty:
"Answer the door, Harry!" his Aunt Petunia, a career woman, barked from her armchair where she sat with her feet up. ... Shouldn’t you be doing that? Harry thought; but he was a very obedient young boy, so he answered the door right away.
Whoa, Nelly. This is within the first 100 words and it's already gotten very weirdly gendered. Also, I gave a hearty LOL at "career woman." Damn those career women who sit at home with their feet up. But buckle up, because that's certainly not where it ends.
When Hagrid comes to the door, he's now cast as a religion-peddling salesman à la Book of Mormon.
Harry's aunt and uncle step in to send him away.
"Thank you very much for your concern, sir, but he does not need your religion, he has science and socialism and birthdays"
Just a suggestion, but if you're writing a book to bring children to religion, you might not want to throw out how you're taking away their birthdays. But let's back up to when we meet Hagrid. Reminder: This is what he looks like in the movies:
On the porch was standing a huge, muscular man with a big, manly beard; and he was dressed in a plaid, red shirt, blue jeans, and sturdy, leather boots. His chest was covered in a thick, unruly carpet of coarse, brown hair.
Wait a second ... is this a Christian retelling or the beginning of a Harry Potter porn?
The poor boy, being raised by two parents who were not Christian; and who both went to work and left him with a babysitter all day long. ... Five years down the road, Harry might have been a fornicating, drug-addicted Evolutionist!
Yeah, it's so, so sad to have two hardworking parents earning an income to put a fancy roof over your head. Shame!
But, you guys, it gets worse.
"I’d love to, daddy," Hermione replied obediently with an innocent, girlish smile; and got to her feet; and smoothed out the skirt of her becoming, pink frock. "Should I clean the kitchen first?"
Noooooooooooooooo! Don't you dare do this to our girl Hermione! She's the smartest, toughest student at Hogwarts and she does not have a girlish smile or a becoming frock and she doesn't clean the kitchen! No!
If that bothered you though, just close your eyes and repeat your banishing charm over and over for this next one.
His aunt had never taught him how to talk to pretty girls. She always said that pretty girls were shallow and not very smart and that a real woman put her career first and didn’t care about her looks; but it only took one look at this godly young girl to realize just how wrong that was! A woman taking pride in her appearance is honoring the Lord; because after all, it is the Lord who gave her a pretty face and nice hair.
Holy. Moly. I'm pretty sure a women's studies or sociology course could teach a whole semester on this one paragraph. But hey, Harry comes back to our defense! When the evil Draco Malfoy (some things don't change, of course) takes jabs at working women, Harry jumps in.
Women shouldn’t not have careers because women are stupid! “Women are not stupid at all!"
Hey, thanks, Christian Harry!
"Women should not have careers because women are nurturing and loving and their gifts serve them best in the home!"
But, look. we can just brush this all off as some silly project, but then we have to remember that her children are dealing with this, without being able to read the original Harry Potter. And there's one selection from the first seven chapters that stood out like it had been delivered directly to me via the accio summoning charm.
"Tell me how to get to this heaven place!" Harry cried wistfully, clasping his hands together. Sometimes, the wisdom of little ones is really amazing. We think we grownups know it all; but then God speaks through the mouths of little ones; and shows us how we are all mortals struggling along the path of life.
We think we grownups know it all. This is one passage that the author needs to read aloud to herself every night in the mirror. Telling "little ones" exactly what to read, how to be, and even how they should interpret what they read is telling them exactly how to think and certainly not following by the same code she sets forth. If you really believe children can teach us all something, then maybe stop shutting them out from the world and force-feeding your own beliefs to them.
This could be said for book-banners everywhere. By closing off a book and causing this huge hubbub, you are completely missing the point of engaging in the world in the first place. (Furthermore, making this big fuss will only make your child want to read it more. Haven't you heard of Go Ask Alice? )
It's sad how often books are banned by grownups who haven't even read them. Context matters. Closing out, for example, rape, as in Speak or I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, for being "sexually explicit" is wholly missing the point and frankly, part of the problem of rape culture itself. But shutting down Harry Potter for being anti-Christian when it teaches about identity, the power the youth has (which the author claims she believes in), and as J.K. Rowling herself says, tolerance (ironically) matters just as much.
If you believe that what a book showcases — sex, drugs, rock and roll, or wizards — goes against how you'd like to raise your child, isn't that a teaching experience in itself? Open your mouth; stop closing the books. Tell the youth in your life what you're thoughts are, and hey, crazy thought, listen to what theirs are, too. Children will say the darnedest things, and they're as smart and engaged as you'll allow them to be.