Heroic fantasy (letter)

Heroic fantasy (letter)

Hal G.P. Colebatch

John Doherty seriously misrepresents my comments on The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter (May AD2000). I did not say the Harry Potter stories were Christian, but that they contained hints of Christianity, a quite different thing.

Doherty says it is "nonsense" that heroic fantasy will lead people to Christianity. This was not the experience of C. S. Lewis, the greatest popular Christian writer of modern times, who set out that that was what had happened to him. It was also, if I can link myself with so great a figure, what happened to me. I spent my childhood and adolescence incarcerated in a somewhat grotesque Anglican boarding school, which I left very nearly an atheist.

As a young journalist and university student I was exposed to no religious influences. I was led back to belief (I am non-denominational, not an Anglican) by following what is now a well-trodden path for many young people: Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton.

Rowling and Lucas, stimulating young appetites for Wonder, may also start young feet on a path that leads back to the greatest Wonder of all.

Tales of this type do not exist in all cultures. They are from the Western Christian heritage, like the Arthurian quest stories. Anti-Western cultural combatants, recognising this fact, are now setting out deliberately and purposefully to subvert them. The British Daily Telegraph of 24 January 2002 describes a recent atheist "answer" to Lewis's Narnia tales.

As for the claim that "there is not one shred of evidence to indicate Shakespeare was Catholic," the evidence is nigh-overwhelming. On one level this is shown by his concept of Cosmos, but more immediately by the fact that he wrote political plays under a fiercely Protestant Government when Catholic-Protestant conflict was the paramount - in a sense the only - political issue of the day.

Shakespeare was under huge pressure to attack Catholicism and could have gained patronage and fortune doing so. He was happy to put references in his plays which the Queen might take as personal compliments. Yet in his huge output he never wrote anti-Catholic propaganda, never attacked post-Reformation Catholic figures as Catholics, set his political plays before the Reformation and portrayed Catholic cultures like Venice and Verona favourably. To anyone acquainted with English Reformation politics this cannot be chance.

HAL G.P. COLEBATCH
Nedlands, WA

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