Bleats

A Catholic School Has Banned Harry Potter Because They Reckon It’s A Satanic Textbook

And it's a weirdly common misconception.

Turns out that Voldemort isn’t the only enemy that Harry is embroiled in a great Wizarding War with – now a school in Tennessee has become the latest to brand the Harry Potter books as satanic.

The school’s pastor, Reverend Reehil, claimed that “the curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells,” because fantasy novels about teenage wizards who play broomstick football definitely seem like the Devil’s M.O.

He’s far from the first to decry the series for its alleged dark magick – ever since their popularisation, the Harry Potter books have been banned (or worse) by concerned school boards and religious groups. Sometimes, that’s due to the violent scenes, but mostly it’s the witchy content that raises alarm among the hand-wringers.

The series topped the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books in the Noughties, and though the hostility has cooled a bit in the years since, schools are still doing the dumb thing. And it’s not just the US being all worked up about it – earlier this year, a bunch of Polish priests burned copies because they thought the Christian bible told them to.

Australia hasn’t escaped the overblown moralising either. One school asked kids to forego any Harry Potter-themed cosplays for their book week celebrations, and more recently, a WA school put a temporary suspension on the series. Although that was more about the Hogwarts teachers being “portrayed in a negative light” apparently.

Sounds likes it’s time for a good old debunking. Rev Reehil reckons that chucking out a casual ‘accio’ might inadvertently summon Satan, but even if you suspend your disbelief of the demonic for a sec, these ‘evil’ Harry Potter spells are clearly not legit.

For a start, J.K. Rowling made them up from Latin roots, which is about as scary as they get. ‘Patronus’? Obviously from ‘pater’, AKA ‘father’. Just cause the Pope speaks Latin doesn’t mean it’s an inherently spiritual language – the Bible itself was a patchwork of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. You might as well just say that yelling any word is a potential curse, which is great news for peak hour drivers. Even Catholic.com is calling bullshit here.

Just try not to imagine how much worse it would be if Catholic leaders were following Rowling on Twitter.

Texas Just Legalised Lemonade Stands And Outlawed Nudes, But Guns In Schools Are OK?

Go crazy, go stupid.

America is a very wacky place by most Aussies’ standards, and the one thing we absolutely cannot get our heads around are their gun laws.

Amongst a bunch of laws that came into effect at the start of this month are ones that will increase the number of guns in schools significantly.

There is also another new law which states that “the occasional sale of lemonade or other nonalcoholic beverages from a stand on private property or in a public park by an individual younger than 18 years of age” is no longer prohibited.

Which must mean that it was illegal before? Kids these days, always trying to evade taxes and sell unregulated products. Bizarrely, this only covers drinks, so I’m guessing a sausage sizzle is out of the question.

So Lucy is probably still a criminal.

Thankfully, it seems that amongst the new laws, there is one the Texan government have gotten right – they’ve made sending unsolicited dick pics a crime. The new law is pretty clear about what constitutes “sexually explicit visual material” too – it doesn’t have to be naked to be illegal.

But as always, it’s a case of two steps forward and a hundred steps back. Because instead of trying to get guns as far away from schools as possible after more than 22 school shootings this year alone – one of which was in the titular state – the government is basically making is easier for accidents to happen.

Real footage of a Texan lawmaker trying to figure out how more guns could possibly increase gun violence.

House Bill no. 1143 permits licensed gun owners to keep their weapon in their car in a school carpark, and the school isn’t allowed to do anything about it. As long as the car’s locked, and the gun isn’t “in plain sight” it’s legal. Anyone who has had their stuff stolen from their car can attest to the fact that those safety requirements are hardly foolproof.

Meanwhile, House Bill no. 1387 removed the cap for the number of armed guards a school can hire. In theory, that means they could end up with more guns than students, which seems more than a little problematic, no? The previous restriction was one marshal per building or 200 students, which already seems very extra. Especially when there’s not a whole lot of evidence that they do anything except terrify students.

Go figure.

Another legislation loosened in this new batch includes an end to the restriction that forced gun owners in foster homes to store the weapon and ammunition separately. It’s also now legal to open carry in places of worship. Have the Texas lawmakers totally forgotten about the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting already?

In short, sending nudes is not cool, but your backyard beverage enterprise is good to go, and apparently, so are guns in school. Go figure.

The Trick To Reading More Books Without It Feeling Like An Assignment

Bust your way through that sad stack or die trying.

Do you look at the stack of unread books by your bedside table and feel a creeping sense of existential dread like I do?

The knowing that I probably won’t make much of a dent in it til at least 2025 is soul-crushing, and then I start spiralling – panicking about how I’ve only got a handful of books left before I die and what if these ones aren’t even good am I wasting my life and…

Okay, so the one thing I’m certain of is that stressing out like this is not a good use of time. Presumably you’re here because, like me, you’ve got a vigour for reading and you want to clear out that dusty pile of tomes once and for all. Don’t feel ashamed, we’re all in the same boat.

It’s a problem so common that the Japanese even have a word to describe us – tsundoku. I’ve done the research, so here are some nuggets of advice to transform you back into the voracious reader you were as a kid.

The most obvious strategy is to make it a habit, but that’s easier said than done. Behaviour scientist BJ Fogg says that there are three key factors in making behavioral change – ability, motivation, and a trigger. If you don’t have the ability, you’ll fail – you can fix that by reading to your linguistic level. Don’t start with Shakespeare is all I’m saying.

The next time you’re in a bookshop wrestling with yourself to avoid the ‘new releases’ section, consider that your ‘trigger’. Once all that’s sorted, you can start taking action, and Fogg says that the best approach is to take tiny steps and work up, like brushing your teeth and flossing one tooth. When it comes to reading, the parallel application of this theory would be to start by reading one page a day.

And if this method works for you, then great. If you want to calculate the precise number of words you can read in an hour and calculus the heck out of it to read 1000 books before you kick the bucket, then you do you.

But the Tim Urban approach of doing crazy math doesn’t work for everyone – sometimes, ambition gets the best of us and if we get busy and break the chain, it can be demotivating enough to give up altogether. Not to mention the fact that every time I’ve tried the ‘one page per day’ approach, I’ve ended up reading the same thing eight times over because it makes it way more difficult to follow the narrative. In my humble opinion, it’s better to look at your diary, and find a few gaps in your week for a more extended intimate encounter with a novel.

The next tip is to stop pursuing books that don’t interest you. You might feel like the clout you’ll get for referencing classic literature is a priority, but I’m going to be straight-up with you: no one is going to pin a medal on your chest because you read War and Peace. Get over yourself. Just dig into a copy of Twilight like the heathen you are – you’ll have a lot more fun reading if you indulge in things that aren’t ‘high culture’.

If you’re really suffering through a text, don’t let that feeling of resignation become the thing your brain associates with reading – that’s a recipe for disaster. The best thing you can do is thank the book and Marie Kondo it out of your life. Swap with friends and family, go to a book swap event, or (if you’ve kept the receipt) take it back to the store you bought it from. Most of the time, if it’s been a short period of time and you haven’t crushed the book at the bottom of your back, the store will let you exchange it.

*reads 4 pages of A Tale Of Two Cities* me:

Read paperbacks not ebooks wherever possible, or you WILL drift off into cyberspace. Tablets and smartphones are way too distracting to be conducive to full immersion, with pop-up notifications constantly vying for your attention. Can you honestly say you’re not going to be tempted to check Instagram fifteen minutes in?

Admittedly, ebooks are more affordable and convenient, so if those are priorities, invest in an ereader that doesn’t have other apps or connect to WiFi, like the Kobo range.

And not to sound like a broken record here but use *clap* the *clap* library *clap*. The prescience of a return date looming might just be the pressure you need to power through, and there’s absolutely no commitment to whatever you borrow.

And finally, there’s finding the right environment. What you really need is a comfy, quiet space to always go to, because then you’ll rewire your brain into prioritising reading whenever you sit there.

Do NOT make that place your bed. I get that everyone loves reading before they fall asleep and you’re all warm and snuggly but all it achieves is having your brain turn on the snooze button the second you flick the page over. If you struggle to fall asleep and reading helps with that, try having a second book for bedtime that doesn’t require as much critical thinking – it’s better for your brain and your reading habit.

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