I’ve gotten so very swept up in A Song of Ice and Fire that the characters invade almost everything I do. Watching TV shows I’ll think “I bet Tyrion Lannister would handle this a whole lot better” or “She reminds me so much of Arya Stark”. I’m about halfway through the second book and I love it almost more than the first. I’ve now been to Pyke, which may the most romantically desolate place I’ve ever come across on my travels. (By ‘Romantic’ I mean the old-style. Not lurvey-durvey but imaginatively artistic. I hate it when words become so captive to newer meanings that the older, deeper meanings seldom get dusted off.)
But thanks to Pam Nail’s Facebook status update last week I’ve gotten a new reading passion that has me putting aside Martin’s epic and sitting in front of Safari weeping and laughing and smiling. And smiling.
Over on Buzznet there is a daily journal called Mark Reads Harry Potter. It is just what it sounds like. A 26 year old man who never read the books or saw the movies decided to read it, one chapter at a time, and write his feelings about that chapter daily. If you are a Harry Potter fan at all–not even a rabid ‘have the books memorised’ type like me–I guarantee that you will enjoy it. Because it reminds you of your first time. Of how it felt to find out this thing about that character and that thing about this character. Of how each twist hit you with literal shock (I didn’t see that coming AT ALL) and awe (J.K. Rowling is a plotting and character-development GENIUS).
Don’t get me wrong–there is nothing wrong at all with A Song of Ice and Fire. They’re still among the best books I’ve ever read. I rank them up there with the others that I praise and shove into people’s hands: Winds Of War, War And Remembrance, To Kill A Mockingbird. But after reading Mark’s journals it occurs to me that the Harry Potter series is more than books to me. It’s an experience of heartbreak and joy and laughter and friendship quite unlike every other thing I’ve ever read. That’s why I go back to them time and again.
My mom read the first one on a dare, much to my surprise, just before Christmas. We discussed at dinner with a gaggle of her friends. I was sad to think that one of those woman was a teacher, because she–and my mother’s other friends–had written the Potter series off without even opening one of the books. To their minds it was about teaching children witchcraft. Nothing else. Nevermind all of the rest of us daring (?!?) Christians who’ve read and re-read the series and can vouch for it’s outright CHRISTIAN messages, identical to those in the beloved-by-believers Narnia series.
I don’t mean to get into the whole “Christians hate Harry Potter” argument for the gagoogleth time. I mean merely to point out what marvelous and inexpensive joy people forego out of stubbornness and willful ignorance. I will say again–because it must be said–that it is odd for us to decry talk of magic when our religion is founded on the principle of blood magic and open communication with the Divine. Every time a Christian prays we are indulging in the greatest mystical experience available to mankind.