Beyond Harry Potter. Literature and Movies in General

Hi all,

We have argued and discussed Harry Potter to death.

I think it is time to move beyond Potter. It’s time to more the discussion to a deeper level. Harry is just the tip of a deeper issues.

What are your personal guidelines for evaluating film and or literature in general?

What books/films do you find offensive?

Is their any forms of entertainment you think fellow Catholics should avoid?

Does the church give any special guidelines regarding literature?

Besides Harry Potter/Da Vinci Code/Golden Compass what other books would you advise Catholics to avoid or to read for that matter.

And lastly does anyone here have any thoughts on ‘The Hunger Games’. It’s quite popular and has some aspects which could be very troublesome.

Harry is not the only book worthy of being discussed.

I look forward to your profound thoughts. :D

I have migrated over several years to reading and watching only the best material I can find for helping me make it to heaven. This means all the religious videos, bible studies, great books on saints, sacraments, doctrine, church history, etc.

As you can imagine, I have no desire to see the HP or other films from the secular world. I know where they all lead. They lead to little progress in the spiritual life. By the way, they are getting worse every year.

Stick to orthodox media. You never know when your time is up.

For myself, I look for good plot lines, interesting characters, and good mythology, or if I can't get good mythology, then good psychology or social commentary. (For example, I enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire for the social commentary - I also enjoyed Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland for the same reason.) I don't enjoy heavy-handed morality plays - I'd rather watch Blood Diamond than the preachy stuff that Michael Moore puts out.

I strongly dislike movies that solely glorify stupidity in any form. (Stupidity as a means to an end is kind of fun - I enjoyed The Italian Job - but pretty much anything with Will Farrell or Sacha Coren in it, no - I won't watch that stuff - even though objectively speaking, it may be less offensive than something like The Italian Job.

When choosing movies for kids under the age of 12, I look first of all to Disney, since they seem to manage to balance complexity with a kind of innocent wholesomeness - the movies have action and adventure alongside a healthy outgoing attitude toward the world. I try to avoid anything that is utterly simplistic, unless it's less than ten minutes long.

Some kids' movies simply bludgeon home their moral point while failing to present any kind of coherent plot - Happy Feet springs to mind - I know that lots of people like Happy Feet, but I thought it was just overly moralistic (yes, yes, we get it - everyone's gifts are unique and we have to love each other the way we come, without trying to change each other into some concept of "normal" - could the movie please end, already ... ), and I kept getting hung up on the gaping holes in the plot.

Alice in Wonderland had the opposite problem - too many plot lines, and then the moral was just kind of thrown in as an afterthought at the end. I would never show either of those movies to a kid.

But classics such as The Jungle Book or Pinocchio, definitely - and of course, The Incredibles, I would definitely feel comfortable to show to kids of that age.

My son is going into AP English and over the summer he had to read 2 books, The Crucible and The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, both fine books on their own but both very critical of religion....I am very concerned with what this shows what the class will be like. I think these books are more dangerous than outright anti catholic books because these books chip away at faith......if only Pope Paul VI kept the index of forbidden books........

[quote="lrcatholic95, post:4, topic:250365"]
My son is going into AP English and over the summer he had to read 2 books, The Crucible and The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, both fine books on their own but both very critical of religion....I am very concerned with what this shows what the class will be like. I think these books are more dangerous than outright anti catholic books because these books chip away at faith......if only Pope Paul VI kept the index of forbidden books........

[/quote]

My kids were in AP english as well in a Catholic college prep high school, and they also had to read the Crucible. The drama dept. also put on the play.

I read a wide variety of books. Quite a bit on religion, but I also enjoy history -- lately I've been reading mostly "wild West" era history -- and fiction.

I see nothing wrong with enjoying fiction for relaxation. Mysteries and suspense are my favorites. I want to see believable characters, a well-thought-out plot line, and not a lot of explicit blood & gore. If the overall story can hold my interest, I can even forgive a few plot holes.

My daughter is grown and out of the house, so I don't really keep up with current children's lit/movies, and won't attempt to speak to them. I did like "Alice in Wonderland," though.

As for "warning" fellow Catholics against particular books -- I'm not going to try to tell someone else what they should or shouldn't read. Maybe because my first reaction when told "You mustn't read/watch/listen to that!" is to do exactly that.

It is good and wise to read good Catholic material. But some secular material is quite good and we can learn some things from them. A good novel can convey certain truths that straight teaching cannot. Recall that both Augustine and Aquinas borrowed from ancient (non-christian) philosophers. It is also good for evangelistic purposes to understand the culture in which we are living. This was true of the early church fathers as well.

Anyway here is an interesting article regarding Christian filmmakers vs. secular.

Do any of you enjoy Christian made films?

Why Heathens make the best Christian Films.

catholiceducation.org/articles/arts/al0294.htm

[quote="agnes_therese, post:6, topic:250365"]

As for "warning" fellow Catholics against particular books -- I'm not going to try to tell someone else what they should or shouldn't read. Maybe because my first reaction when told "You mustn't read/watch/listen to that!" is to do exactly that.

[/quote]

I agree. I find it more productive just to say, "That's an interesting choice. What's your favourite thing about it?" It usually turns out that whatever you were worried about, the person never even realized that that was in the book or the movie - they just like the cute actors, or they are attracted to some perfectly harmless aspect of the story.

[quote="agnes_therese, post:6, topic:250365"]

As for "warning" fellow Catholics against particular books -- I'm not going to try to tell someone else what they should or shouldn't read. Maybe because my first reaction when told "You mustn't read/watch/listen to that!" is to do exactly that.

[/quote]

Me too! Just try and tell me NOT to look, and I will look. Usually it is not a big deal.

I read a lot of genres. Right now I am into true crime, murder stories, etc. I like fantasy fiction, historical fiction.....

I was wodnering if anyone is bored with the whole Harry debate? The same arguments are presented again and and again and again. :eek:

What more can be said about it? :shrug:

I am bringing this thred to the forefront again in hopes that we can go beyond Harry Potter and talk about liturture in general.

What particular liturture do you recomand for fellow Catholics. I'm speaking more of novels here. Be it secular or Catholic?

Does anyone really like the classics like Jane Austin or Charles Dickens?

How about Mark Twain. I'm starting to read him more?

What about other modern literary books such as 'The Hunger Games'.

When the movie hits their might be more discussion. Some interesting and disturubing things in the book.

I would love to hear people's list of books that might make for a good discussion in general about books other then Harry Potter. :)

[quote="Catholic90, post:5, topic:250365"]
My kids were in AP english as well in a Catholic college prep high school, and they also had to read the Crucible. The drama dept. also put on the play.

[/quote]

I liked the Crucible much better than Death of a Salesman. Willy was such a whinny non-sympathetic character. The Crucible is good too if you understand the analogy being made ;)

I really like the narratives of Bernard Cornwell and Vince Flynn. Cornwell writes great historical fiction (the Viking invasion of England, Hundred Years War, the American Civil War) that often includes the great battles of the times, and most of the times it's normal people (except for Uhtred, who sometimes borders on "invincible hero").
The only problem I have with Cornwell is that he doesn't leave enough breaks! Sometimes it goes on for 20 pages with the same scene. I can't break it in the middle, I always have to finish it. :D

Flynn writes thrillers set in the present day. It's about terrorism and the CIA's fight against it, staring a CIA agent who is sort of like Borne. I first started reading it because it was like 24 (Flynn apparently worked with 24 for one season or something, so no surprise).

I read a couple Tom Clancy books, but I don't anymore (the books were literally too good, and I had trouble putting them down and it was impacting my sleep :p). I might pick them up again when I have a break (...which hasn't been for a while).

I'm also reading a couple more theological books (Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict, and a couple by Scott Hahn).

For me, it's like drinking alcohol. And like evaluating alcohol, it ultimately boils down to a matter of taste. Taste is relative and all that time I've spent stretching my brain to comprehend a whole world history of literary reading techniques has lead me to the same conclusion about fiction.

Like alcohol also however, it depends on how well you can take it without getting into sin. I admit that I myself am not a good example. :o Still, the problem remains to lie within me and my incapacity, not in the story.

With all that said, I usually prefer fiction with so-called fantastic elements. Fantasy of course, ranks numero uno on my list because of that. :p Strangely though I am not so fond of space-age science-fiction as there are times when it reminds me too much of the subjects that gave me a whopping headache (math, physics, chemistry shivers). On the other hand, I tend to have a strange attraction for stories that depict urban decay, dystopias run by crime bosses, and the anti-heroes that rise from such settings. At times, I have a similar fascination with post-apocalyptic ones.

As for storyline, it's actually hard for me to put my finger on it. I do know what I don't like though (and in no particular order):

  1. Cheap class-struggle themes - I get enough of that junk from my country's trashy telenovelas. :mad: They never fail to offend me when the storyline predictably goes "OMG, he/she is rich and speaks English (or some other fancy foreign language), that means they're ALL evil! Oh no! He/she is poor and struggles to make ends meet! Underdog FTW!!" Gimme a break... I mean sure, class-struggle can be a nice premise but it certainly won't kill some writers to at least stick a little less closely to the black-and-white dichotomy of rich vs poor.

  2. Cheap preachy segments - Here folks is the reason why Narnia will always rank second to LotR. Virtually anyone can enjoy LotR and appreciate the world of Middle Earth. Not everyone can read Narnia and go to sleep giddy. I'd bet Muslims and Atheists would be the highest in the ranks when it comes to not wanting Narnia on their shelves. Make no mistake, I have nothing against character monologues or speeches but please, puhleeze do not make them reference to an easily recognizable belief system. (And I don't just mean Christianity. This applies to other belief systems, atheism included.)

  3. Blatantly religious stories - Possibly an even worse evolution of #2. In a nutshell, I would say these are the stories of authors who treat their audience like they're little children and they're like oh-so-holy priests/nuns giving them a sweet lecture on how baaad the world is and stuff like dancing and merry-making are temptations of the devil. :rolleyes: (Examples range from Chick Tracts to literature published by fringe traditionalist groups.)

  4. Exceedingly anti-religious stories - In contrast to #3, you have garbage where the villains or group of villains coincidentally resemble real-life religious institutions. (Yes, Golden Compass, Priest, and Da Vinci Code I'm looking at you.) When it comes to pigeon-holing and generalizing, it has a lot in common with #3. Good God, can I please have a story that is not focused on spreading the joke that is anti-establishment and non-conformism?

  5. Any story with an obvious agenda - I'm probably just summarizing all 1-4 here but I think the one thing that would really make me hate a story is by presenting itself with an obvious agenda to convert me. People, fiction is supposed to entertain you not educate you. That's what we have textbooks for. For us Catholics, that is what our Bible and Catechism are for. On the part of the authors, know that when you write, you are supposed to express not preach your ideas (yes, there's a difference). This is not just my view. This is a view that is being taught to me countless times by many of my mentors (all who have left their mark as far as my country's literature scene goes).

If you know any story that doesn't have any of the above, there's good chance I might like it. I'm pretty confident that my taste is very open as far as storyline and plots go (perhaps with the exception of tragedy but I wouldn't include it in my list seeing as how a preference for happy endings can come off as childish :o).

Frankly, I find the people who fear fiction are people who are either looking for the weakest of excuses or simply miserable souls who wish their bitterness upon others.

There are bigger things in real life to be afraid of than the things you read in fanciful tales. In fact, the reason why I like to escape to fiction is because I'm forced everyday to ground myself in the misery of real life.

In fiction, I often depict myself as a powerful warlock, feared by the world and capable of caring for himself to the point that he can survive in complete solitude.

In real life, I'm just a literature geek who's about to graduate but whose hopes of job-hunting and living on one's own are often put-down and haunted by a family who thinks I'll never amount to anything.

Despite knowing that my fantasies will never come true, they at least make for a soothing, mental ice-bag with all that I have to put up with reality 24/7. :rolleyes:

Some people think that religion does that for them. If ask me? Whatever. I don't really mind or even care. It's only when they start preaching that I should be like them that starts to tick me off :rolleyes: I mean my lifestyle is the last thing I would wish on anybody.

P.S.

Sadly, my library is that short on fantasy fiction geared towards young adults (or even just contemporary young adult fiction in general). I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I've read more manga and watched more movies that suit my preferences compared to books. :blush:

Looking back at my wide range of reading once, I concluded that I like stories with heros. This is why my favourite writers are people like "Louis L'Amour", "Alastair Maclean", "Tom Clancy" and, of course, various fantasy writers. My favourite type of hero is the one who determinedly struggles to do the right thing, but sometimes isn't sure it is the right thing. A prime example is David Feintuch's "Nicholas Seafort" series. I don't usually read sci-fi but picked it up in the college library when I had an hour to kill. I was really taken with the main character. Plus, the alternative future was very well done. But it was the character that caught me, it could have been set anywhere, the Sci-fi was just edging. Obviously, Atticus Finch is another favourite hero. Whether I like a story hinges on the characters and on how the story is told; some people have a wonderful scenario but just don't draw you in, others have no real story but you are caught up into the characters.

I don't have much of a chance to read fiction or watch movies anymore, but it bothers me that more often than not, shows and books seem to cheapen everything about family life, including motherhood, fatherhood, faithfulness in marriage, sexuality, etc. I realize that people are perfect and that perfect people aren't entertaining, but I do wish that the traditional family unit could be portrayed more positively in the media.

[quote="Allegra, post:14, topic:250365"]
I realize that people are perfect and that perfect people aren't entertaining, but I do wish that the traditional family unit could be portrayed more positively in the media.

[/quote]

Methinks that would depend on what would you define as 'traditional family'. A basic core of a mother, father, and children who all value the bonds they share still leaves plenty of room for innovative add-ons.

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:15, topic:250365"]
Methinks that would depend on what would you define as 'traditional family'. A basic core of a mother, father, and children who all value the bonds they share still leaves plenty of room for innovative add-ons.

[/quote]

It just doesn't seem like there's alot of books with that going on.

[quote="Allegra, post:16, topic:250365"]
It just doesn't seem like there's alot of books with that going on.

[/quote]

While technically the families I've seen aren't complete (usually it involves either one or both parents being dead), the bonds they share seem pretty strong. :shrug:

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:17, topic:250365"]
While technically the families I've seen aren't complete (usually it involves either one or both parents being dead), the bonds they share seem pretty strong. :shrug:

[/quote]

Which books are you referring to?

[quote="Allegra, post:18, topic:250365"]
Which books are you referring to?

[/quote]

Not technically books, but I've seen a fair few Japanese comics with positive family portrayals.

[quote="Lost_Wanderer, post:19, topic:250365"]
Not technically books, but I've seen a fair few Japanese comics with positive family portrayals.

[/quote]

Oh. I haven't spent much time with those.

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