Harry Potter’s success explained

1 September, 2006

The reasons for the success of the Harry Potter books is apparently something other than good writing and a fun story. Something more sinister lies behind that lightning bolt scar on Harry’s forehead.

“Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil,” Father Gabriele Amorth, the Pope’s “caster-out of demons”, said.

The books contained many positive references to the satanic art, falsely drawing a distinction between black and white magic, he told the Daily Mail in London. Father Amorth also said he was convinced that Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler were possessed by the devil.

Father Amorth is a little bit of a marginalised figure in the church, with the idea of exorcism not quite so popular as it once was. Although it should be noted that Ratzinger in his pre-pope days also thought Harry was a corrupting influence.

I always wonder why they even feel the need to comment on the books.


The Defenestration of Prague

23 May, 2006

Today, the 23rd of May, is the 388th anniversary of the second defenestration of Prague, one of my favourite historical events. The day that Calvinist Bohemians revolted, seized the ministers of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor and flung them out a 15 metre high window in Prague Castle. The event triggered the terrible Thirty Years War, left parts of Germany devastated and depopulated for several generations and ultimately culminated in the Peace of Westphalia the first international agreement to acknowledge countries sovereignty over their internal affairs.

C. V. Wedgewood in her classic The Thirty Years War described the incident like this:

A hundred hands dragged them towards the high window, flung back the casement and hoisted them upwards. Martinitz went first. “Jesu Maria! Help!” he screamed and crashed over the sill. Slavata fought longer, calling on the Blessed Virgin and clawing at the window frame under a rain of blows until someone knocked him senseless and the bleeding hands relaxed. Their shivering secretary clung to Schlick for protection; out of sheer intoxication the crowd hoisted him up and sent him to join his masters.
One of the rebels lent over the ledge leering; “We will see if your Mary can help you!” A second later between exasperation and amazement, “By God, his Mary has helped,” he exclaimed, for Martinitz was already stirring. Suddenly a ladder protruded from a neighbouring window; Martinitz and the secretary made off under a hail of misdirected missiles. Some of Slavata’s servants, braving the mob, went down to his help and carried him after the others, unconscious but alive.

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Pell on Pagans

5 May, 2006

Cross posted from Larvatus Prodeo

Archbishop Pell made a speech to US Catholic business leaders, which is reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald and can be found in full here. While most of the content was about his opinions on Islam, which I don’t want to go into here, I was struck by this quote:

Some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature. Belief in a benign God who is master of the universe has a steadying psychological effect, although it is no guarantee of Utopia, no guarantee that the continuing climate and geographic changes will be benign. In the past pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

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Last of the Magicians

3 May, 2006

Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo.

In 1936 Sotherby’s auctioned a large collection of manuscripts of Isaac Newton. These manuscripts consisted of papers that had been donated to Cambridge but were discarded as “non-scientific”. The papers principally focused on Newton’s writings on alchemy, theology and biblical chronology. The auction had little interest and most of the papers were dispersed to dealers. Much of the collection was eventually bought and put back together by John Maynard Keynes who began a study of their contents, what they told us of Newton’s less well known researches and the man himself.
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