Columnist Joel Stein thinks Harry Potter is ONLY for the younger set. He readily admits “reading is hard. I try to avoid it whenever possible.”
And he calls us, Hogwarts fans everywhere, “stupid, stupid, stupid”.
He just doesn’t get it. Well, no wonder. He says he read the first 50 pages of the first book, and he thought it was juvenile. 50 pages?? And suddenly he’s an expert?
For an intelligent analysis of the Harry Potter Phenomenon, see “True Sorcery”. Author Joel Garreau sees Harry as this generation's Dylan. Now that’s genius. He wrote:
“But now it has occurred to me that the prophet of our children's era -- the One who would speak of new realities that elders fail to grasp and offer a moral code in the face of lightning change -- is here already, in tens of millions of books translated into more than 60 languages and carefully tucked away in bedrooms all over the globe: It's Harry Potter, modern Magus, harbinger of today's cultural revolution.”
Moreover, Garreau, in his weekend opinion piece in the Washington Post, sees relevant themes that Joel Klein can’t even fathom:
“Our children have used magic wands all their lives, raising and lowering the volume on the story boxes that they watch, controlling the narratives. It's uncanny, the way they can intuit what technology wants.”
And what lesson could be more important for the youth of today and the adults that guide and love them? Garreau points out the power of the Sorting Hat:
" 'It only put me in Gryffindor,' said Harry in a defeated voice, 'because I asked not to go in Slytherin.' 'Exactly,' said Dumbledore, beaming once more. 'Which makes you very different'" from the supremely evil wizard Voldemort who threatens all of civilization. " 'It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'
Finally, Garreau writes:
Each day, our children wake up in a world that will have changed by sundown. They take incomprehensible change for granted and have absorbed the wisdom of the author Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And Harry Potter addresses the outstanding question that we and our children encounter as we face such unprecedented change. It is the problem of the moral use of our powers. As Bateson says: "Who teaches what's right is an issue in politics, it's an issue in religion, it's an issue in business."
Joel Klein, the “moral use of our powers” is obviously an issue for all of us, no matter our age. Grownups who appreciate Harry and his adventures understand this, and relish the chance to explore these themes, with our kids or without!