Monday, November 21, 2005

Harry Potter and Gobbledygook

I watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on Thursday.

By now, I am certain most of you would have already watched it.

Nevertheless, I would stick to general observations anyway.

Bringing a 700-over-page book to the large screen is a monumental task. The director, Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) managed to do so, but barely.

The book was fast-paced and exciting, with the Triwizard Tournament and Harry’s dreams of Voldemort as the main themes in the fourth year at Hogwarts. There were also other events which took place like the Yule Ball, Harry having crushes, Rita Skeeter, etc.

Understandably, none of the above could be fleshed out sufficiently. The initial idea of filming Goblet of Fire as a two-parter was discarded.

In hindsight, that may have been a better idea.

In addition, Dumbledore was, to put it bluntly, played poorly and out of character by Michael Gambon. Richard Harris is sorely missed. He definitely embodied the spirit and personality of a good headmaster, caring about Harry’s welfare and safety with a gentle sparkle in his eyes.

Gambon just doesn’t have that charisma and persona.

I also feel that the Triwizard competition was not fully taken advantage of. I would have loved to see any one of Cedric Diggory, Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour achieved the golden egg task. As it is, only Harry’s was shown.

Oh well.


Last Friday, I was having a conversation with some Muslim colleagues about the hottest wedding of the year.

According to them, the Quran only mentions that when someone is born a khunsa (hermaphrodite or intersex), that person can then choose which sex he or she wants to be.

In all other circumstances, one must stick with the body one is given by God and no alterations may be made to the physical body.

To me, that is not a sex change. That is merely a choice between two sexes. Heck, even choice is the wrong word, as his or her sexuality would have already been wired into the brain.

“Oh shit, I have a dick and a pussy. Which one should I be? Shall I become male or female? Arrgh, so confusing …”

I believe that the above is unlikely to happen.

Taken from wikipedia:
Some research has been done that indicates that gender identity is fixed in early childhood and is thereafter static. This research has generally proceeded by asking transsexuals when they first realized that the gender role that society attempted to place upon them did not match the gender identity that they found in themselves and the gender role that they chose to live out. These studies estimate the age at which gender identity is formed at around 2-3.

That study has been questioned for being biased. Though the ages may be a bit young, I do think that awareness of one’s gender identity is natural and not a learnt process. It’s not something that one consciously decides on.

For more information on gender identity, please go here.

Back to the conversation.

As only khunsa is stated in the Quran, they believe that God wouldn’t create someone who is misaligned in their outward physiology and gender identity.

Of course they are mistaken and I point them here.

It’s an article about Iran allowing a transsexual to have a sex-change operation because sexual ambiguity made it impossible for her to carry out her religious duties properly.

That woman is Maryam Molkara. She said:

"I told him (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini) I had always had the feeling that I was a woman," she says. "I wrote that my mother had told me that even at the age of two, she had found me in front of the mirror putting chalk on my face the same way a woman puts on her make-up. He wrote back, saying that I should follow the Islamic obligations of being a woman."

If a doctor in Iran can be broad-minded and understands that “Transsexuals aren't homosexuals. Unlike homosexuals, they suffer from a separation of body and soul where they believe their own body doesn't belong to them.” [Taken from the same article.]

Indeed, Islamic scholars are still trying to reconcile the fatwa with religious thinking. Hojatolislam Muhammad Mehdi Kariminia, a cleric based in the holy city of Qom, is writing a PhD thesis on transsexuality. "The basic humanity of the person is preserved," is his conclusion. "The change is simply of characteristics."

Which I believe is what matters. The substance and meaning of being human, such as dignity, love and respect, should override superficiality and forms like gender in the identification card.

All these talk about gender identity, same-sex marriage, trangenderism, etc miss one truly important point. The two people who got married are just that - two people who deserve to live a life they want and be treated equal, just like everyone else.

Is what is written in a book so important and powerful, that we let it do the thinking for us? That we should abandon our sense of compassion, empathy and love for another fellow human being?

I sincerely hope not. Though I do realise that often, common sense isn't that common ...

[Gobbledygook: In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, Gobbledygook is the language spoken by goblins. Also used to describe nonsensical language.]


MrBunnyBan said...

Carefull Derek. It's not easy to comment on another person's religion if you're not actually studying it very merticulously. But let's not get into that.

Thing about religion is, it exists separate from logic. Now, no offense is meant to religious people. Any religion asks that you accept as truth something that can not be perceived by any of the five senses in any manner.

'Because you have seen me you believe; Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.'
Unlike Thomas, 'those who have not seen' makes just about all of us.

There are many things we take in faith, religious people may argue. History. The Law of Relativity (come on, how many of us really understand it?). Even that the fact that the Earth is round. But the thing is, religion doesn't have to be logical. Take the example of the Trinity - three beings actually being the same being doesn't really make sense, logic-wise. But does it matter to faith? Not really. David Koresh claimed to be Christ, yet had sex with every decent women in his cult, married or not. Did it matter to his followers? Not really. Arguing logic in the face of faith *can* be like trying to chop down a tree with cutting wit.

And religious books are critically important to some beliefs. Protestants in particular go 'by the book', as their main beef with the Catholics is that the Catholics have deviated from the original teachings of the Bible. Commonly, all theology within the religion goes back to how the theologians understand the book. Asking a Protestant *not* to stick to the Bible and instead listen to compassion, empathy and love for their fellow man? Not likely- unless their is reason to cause that person's faith in the Word to falter.

'Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love'. Another bible quote that I don't quite agree with. Faith can very often be greater than love, or compassion. It's such a pity.

Having said that, I still want to know who the three Pastors at the wedding were, and what happened to them.

savante said...

Three Pastors at the wedding. I assume in the next century, they would be deified much as the Three Kings were :)