Reactions Pour In Regarding Harry Potter Icon

September 7, 2009

Reactions poured in to the Dallas News regarding the recent Harry Potter Icon used in an article illustration (see the full reactions here — — regarding the Harry Potter Icon story first reported here —

A sampling of letters written in response to this Icon controversy included this one by Orthodox Beacon editor, Stan Shinn:

The front page of the Points section displayed a traditional Orthodox icon with the image of Christ replaced by Harry Potter.

Many who do not hold icons sacred — as the Orthodox do — may not see this as a big issue.

To the Orthodox though, this is sacrilegious and offensive in the extreme. Orthodox Christians are trained from an early age to read icons. The halo with a cross background is iconography’s way of saying: This person is God.

While the illustrator may not understand the theological ramifications of this image, educated Orthodox do.

Icons are sacred, and a sacrilegious illustration like the Harry Potter icon is — wittingly or unwittingly — a mockery of Christianity.

Stan Shinn, Wylie

And this letter:

The depiction of Harry Potter you ran steals a sacred iconographic form reserved for the unique God-man Jesus Christ for use in prayer and worship to apply it to the likeness of an adolescent human actor.

Was it necessary to misappropriate a sacred Christian icon, to take what is holy and reduce it to what is common in order to advance public dialogue? The Dallas Morning News may have the freedom to do this under the First Amendment, but true freedom is not license to do whatever is possible. It requires responsible self-limitation (self-government) out of respect for the freedom of others.

Journalists already exercise such self-restraint via style manuals, which dictate modes of expression to avoid giving unnecessary offense. Why was such self-restraint not exercised here?

One wonders whether The Dallas Morning News would have so easily published Harry Potter depicted as Mohammad.

The Rev. Justin Frederick, Denton

Read the other letters here — and see the illustration here —

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