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Archive for June 29th, 2007

Potter Unspoiled

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Scholastic has undertaken a supreme effort to ensure that not a single detail of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaks out from between the covers to find its way in front of the eyes of readers before the July 21st release. 

This kind of effort usually keeps to the confines of Hollywood.  The tricks filmmakers employ to ensure, what Scholastic is calling, the “magic moment,” range between practical and absurd.  And someone still manages to smuggle out the juicy details—just pay a visit here, and you will never be surprised at the movies again.  Print, however, is a different animal, and easier to contain.  At least Scholastic hopes so. 

But again, I am forced to wonder just how much of a danger those galling “spoilers” really pose.  From the article…

People read books for any number of reasons; finding out how the story ends is one among many and not even the most important. If it were otherwise, nobody would ever bother to read a book twice. Reading is about spending time with characters and entering a fictional world and playing with words and living through a story page by page. The idea that someone could ruin a novel by revealing its ending is like saying you could ruin the Mona Lisa by revealing that it’s a picture of a woman with a center part. Spoilers are a myth: they don’t spoil. No elaborate secrecy campaign is going to make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows any better than it already is, and no website could possibly make it useless and boring.

I knew when I first opened Order of the Phoenix that Sirius Black was going to die.  Knowing did not in any discernible way detract from my enjoyment of the book.  If anything, it actually made the experience more enjoyable—instead of anticipating the shock of a character dying, my focus went to Harry.  How he would react and whether he would recover were the questions dominating my thoughts, and I hung on every word out of Dumbledore’s lips in the book’s closing chapters. 

No one can spoil a good story.  Yes, there are rare cases, but in general, I believe this is true.  I actually flipped to the back of The Lord of the Rings and read how the ring was destroyed before I had even made it through half of the first book, and I still kept reading.  I knew about the firebird in the lake at the end of X2 before walking into the theater, and I still watched the movie. 

People will still read Deathly Hallows.  Some will read it many times afterward with ever growing enthusiasm until the pages become too tattered and they have to buy another copy.  So much the better.  I hope my writing can one day earn so high a compliment. 

HT: MuggleNet

Written by taj

June 29, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Thoughts on “The Beginning is Near”

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I have a friend who, in a greater display of boldness than I am capable of, tries to share his faith with at least one person on the bus each say.  That’s quite a feat.  When I ride the bus, I keep to myself—I read, I stare out the window, and I will not speak until spoken to. 

My friend told me this week that he had an encounter with one of these people with whom he shared his faith, and that it changed his entire perspective.  The man told him that he could understand what my friend was offering; he could see that Jesus loved him and that he needed that kind of love.  What drove him away was that he did not believe my friend really loved him.  He said that he could not believe it unless he could see how it had changed my friend’s life first. 

Evangelism sits in tension between two ideals: conviction and relationship.   In the videoThe Beginning is Near—we see both ends of the dichotomy placed side by side, and we are given a clear victor. 

The church spends much of its time fostering a sense of imminent doom.  You won’t find many pastors on street corners condemning people as they walk by, but the desperate plea for the reversal of our immoral culture hits many of the same notes.  “Just look at this,” we say, “it’s getting worse all the time.”  We react much like the first fellow does in the video.  And we shake our heads when people return to the bottle. 

In my very limited experience, a desire for real change finds strong rooting in a firm sense of hope.  For instance, I used to struggle with severe depression.  The motivation to seek healing came during a seminar I attended where one of the men stood to give a testimony of how his life had changed in recent years.  He talked about how he always felt oppressed and uncertain; he had alienated his wife and his kids, and lived in a constant state of deep morose.  Then he told us about the healing that had taken place in his life; he had become a good husband, at home with himself, and secure in his sense of worth and calling.  And I found myself wishing I was as lucky as he. 

I am reminded of that scene in The Shawshank Redemption just after Andy Dufresne is released from solitary for playing Mozart over the prison PA system.  What do you need with Mozart in a place like this? one of the inmates asks.  Here is where you need it the most, Andy says.  You need it to remind yourself that there are places in the world that aren’t made of stone. 

Many of our efforts of evangelism have left people trapped inside the stone walls of their inner prison cells with our message that The End is Near.  We have neglected to deliver the message of rescue, and forgotten to allow the space for that hope to prove evident within ourselves. 

Much of this, I suppose, depends on perspective.  Yes, the culture is awash in the exploitation and glamorization of various sordid affairs, and this is not, by any means, a good thing.  Our first instinct is to react rather than relate. 

Yet, within all this mess, if you look close enough, you can find a piece reaching out, aware of some unnamable need.  Tyler Durden even gave it a voice—“We’re the middle children of history, man.  No purpose or place.  We have no Great War.  No Great Depression.  Our Great War’s a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives.” 

People want hope.  Hope is something Christ offers in limitless provision, and if we were a true testament to this hope, the world would look much different. 

Written by taj

June 29, 2007 at 12:00 pm