Harry, top of the list to the bottom of hell
By LEE McDOUGALL
IF YOU pick up a copy of Angus and Robertson's latest Top 100 book list you will find the first five Harry Potter books listed.
No doubt the only reason the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is excluded from the list is that the book was launched close to the list's compilation.
So, given the enormous popularity of this delightful children's series, it will undoubtedly come as a complete shock to the millions of Harry Potter fans globally that they are all going to hell.
'Come again?' I hear you ask. Well, brace yourself.
Harry Potter is the latest book to be branded as 'Satanic' by the Vatican.
Reports from the Vatican this week quoted the Vatican's chief exorcist ? seriously ? as stating that reading Harry Potter could lead children into Satanism.
"You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil," Father Gabriele Amorth said.
"There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books."
Father Amorth, who has reached the tender age of 80, has an impressive CV, having carried out more than 3000 exorcisms since 1986.
"By reading Harry Potter, a young child will be drawn into magic, and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil," Father Amorth said.
Hang on a minute. 'A simple step' from Harry Potter to Satanism? I must be reading a different set of Harry Potter novels than those found in the Vatican.
Father Amorth is not the first member of the Vatican to attack the popular JK Rowling series.
Pope Benedict XVI was quoted three years ago, prior to becoming Pope, as saying the stories contained 'seductions which act unnoticed and, by this, deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly'.
And here was I thinking that Harry Potter was a great little series with all the ingredients necessary to entice and enthrall young readers.
Given this day and age of electronic entertainment ? be that anything with Nintendo written on it to computer games and the television ? trying to encourage your children, especially young boys, to read, can be very difficult.
Titles such as 'A Series of Unforunate Events' and 'The Day My Bum Went Psycho' race my 11-year-old son's bookshelf and he loves them as much as he loves Harry Potter.
To an 11-year-old boy, Harry Potter represents a very cool kid who has had a tragic past and horrible carers but can at least escape with his best mates to a place where he faces danger and excitement and where he can become a hero.
What young boy doesn't want that?
According to a spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education, the Harry Potter series is viewed in a positive light by teachers and educators.
"It is a very popular series used in many schools, under supervision, for that particular age group," the spokesperson said.
"Books of such enormous popu- larity encourage children to read and we support any book that encourages a child to read."
And as for escapism and the world of magic ? has Father Amorth heard about 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'?
The lion dies and magic brings him back to life, yet CS Lewis ? known as a good Christian ? does not endure the same Satanic infer- ences. Two sets of rules, perhaps?