Megapolis, USA: St. Mark the Evangelist's Church didn't see it coming.
"We're proud to be the only church we know of that held a release party celebrating the latest novel from the greatest living writer who employs Christian themes or love, time, evil and redemption," announced Fr. Martin Wolff, pastor and professor of literature at RBCU*.
Harry Potter? No, it's called The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard, a Catholic poet and novelist. The novel examines the meaning of absolute love and betrayal through the life of a marriage.
Unfortunately, given the proximate release dates between The Maytrees and another long-anticipated novel, many party attendees were confused.
"I noticed the party was kind of low-key--no costumes or quidditch matches--but I got really confused when they began to do a reading from the book. I mean, where's Harry? And Voldemort? Were these Maytree and Lou characters under the Imperius Curse or something? But then I began to really listen to the reading...and wow, it was amazing. No one wanted her to stop," explained 16 year old Veronica Marcel.
"Yeah, I didn't know words could sound like that. I don't know some of them, but I'm looking them up," said Nathan Traut, 25. "I mean, Rowling keeps harping on love saving the day, but this book actually explores what that means in the details of real life, not fantasy escapism. It's radically deep stuff."
Not everyone was pleased. "I don't care if she's the greatest living Catholic writer on earth; I'm not resting until I find out whether Snape is good or evil," said RBCU sophomore Christopher Rittmann.
Fr. Wolff was unperturbed. "Sure beats handling questions about The Da Vinci Code all summer," he said.
*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University
p.s. One of our ilk (in Catholic blogdom) has posted on this new novel quite a bit, with a Dillard excerpt here.
p.p.s. Fr. Wolff may be approve of the hint I tried to give J.K. Rowling here -- The Harry Potter Series Revised After Rowling Became Catholic.
p.p.s. Lest you all think I'm being "More Literary Than Thou", I will spend the weekend reading the latest Harry Potter book. And The Maytrees is up for August.