The original topic was actually Harry Potter and someone said that Rowling was
another Tolkien or Lewis---personally, I don't think so, but to each his (or in
this case, her) own. Someone tried to defend Rowling by saying that Lewis was
anticatholic and we could therefore say that he was not appropriate to read (for
Catholics anyway) either. I don't like Harry Potter for many reasons, mostly the
poor writing and there is just much better literature out there. It seems
to me that some of Lewis' theology (through his writing) is Very Catholic, even
if he had reservations/social issues with the Catholic faith.
I've been thinking about the subtext of my friend's conversation over the weekend. The interlocutor (I don't know who it was), seems to have two basic points: Catholics should not read writing by anti-Catholics, and the Rowling is appropriate reading (in part) because she is not anti-Catholic.
For the sake of argument, let's give the assumptions: Lewis=anti-Catholic, Rowling=pro-Catholic. Yes, I'm very skeptical of these assumptions (and apparently so is the Pope, whom I've heard is somewhat of an authority on Catholic matters), but I'll grant them here so we can move on to the point.
Here we have someone struggling with an interesting question: collective ownership of an author. Ignoring Lewis's non-fiction writing (I assume they were comparing fantasy fiction -- if they were jumping genres, I've got no idea what they were thinking), I can't see any way that The Narnia Chronicles could be considered anti-Catholic; indeed, that does not even seem to be the argument. Instead, the interlocutor is saying that the author was himself anti-Catholic, and therefore all of his writings are to be avoided. Since Lewis is dead, this doesn't sound like a drive to send a message through boycott. It sounds more like they are saying that we can't claim ownership fo the author, and therefore we can't claim his ideas.
Rowling, on the other hand, can be owned by Catholics. Again, the interlocutor does not attempt to defend the ideas presented in the books, but rather the identity of the author as being pro-Catholic (or at least non-anti-Catholic). So long as the author can be at least nominally identified with the group, she can (should?) be read.
I'm trying to think of other examples of this phenomenon -- people judging the merits of works by the identities of the author -- and outside of the occasional hometown author or political writer, I can't think of any. You've got the occasional Henry James (who abandoned America for British citizenship), but I see Americans and Brits both claiming him. If James were in this mode, Americans would reject him as "not one of us."
Surely this must happen all the time. Why can't I think of any other examples?