What would Harry (Potter) do?
Can the Harry Potter books be used as a type of moral compass? Yes, says Andrew Slack, the 20-something boy-wizard enthusiast who calls himself a "Harry Potter rabbi." His nonprofit Harry Potter Alliance is now tackling the job of making the world a better place.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Harry Potter Alliance, which was founded by Slack in 2005, uses "parallels" from the Potter books "to educate and mobilize Potter fans around such issues as workers' rights and combating genocide."
So far the group's achievement's have included "registering new voters at Wizard Rock the Vote events, collecting more than 13,000 donated books to give to local community centers and a youth center in Rwanda, and raising $15,000 for the Genocide Intervention Network's civilian protection program for displaced Darfuris and Burmese."
It could be easy to poke fun at Slack. Writing for the Huffington Post, he compared Harry Potter character Dumbledore (whose pronouncements in the books are at the core of Slack's belief system) to Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama.
And yet author J.K. Rowling sees Slack's efforts and the work of the Alliance as very much in line with the spirit of her books. "What did my books preach against throughout?," she asked a Time magazine writer, speaking of the Alliance's fight against genocide in Darfur. "Bigotry, violence, struggles for power, no matter what. All of these things are happening in Darfur. So they really couldn't have chosen a better cause."