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‘Harry Potter’ and The Issues Beyond Fiction, Part 1

Does thinking Biblically about “Harry Potter” matter beyond story-discernment practice? At issue are how we define “witchcraft” the Bible forbids, where we believe sin really comes from, and whether we tell the truth even about perceived bad guys.

Just when you were disappointed — or perhaps rejoiced — that the very last Harry Potter film releases next Friday, along came author J. K. Rowling to quoth, “Pottermore.” Even before that, surely the Boy (Wizard) Who Lived isn’t dying anytime soon.

Yet recently I’ve concluded that thinking Biblically about Harry Potter applies to more than just how Christians respond to that series and its popularity.

First, it matters because people will have similar questions about other popular books. More recently that included Twilight and anything else with angsty vampires and other critters on the front covers. Now it’s dystopian or post-apocalyptic themed novels. The questions will be the same: Does this honor God? Doesn’t He hate witchcraft? What about all this dark stuff? Can one really “redeem” stories like this? What if others use them to sin?

Not to spoil the ending, but I am a Potter reader, a film viewer, and do consider myself a fan. However, I don’t want to practice a behavior I’ve seen in myself and other Christian Harry Potter fans: as if their loudest battle cry is “Those legalists are coming to ban our Potter books!” Instead of reaction, our goal should be proactive honoring of Christ.

Yet Potter discernment questions also count beyond personal fiction preferences, or what parents decide to let their children read, or what pastors may say about this particular series.

This issue matters because of how we live our faith. Who’s truly in charge of our universe? Can Satan call “dibs” on an object, a Thing? Is “garbage in, garbage out” a true axiom? Is practicing discernment only “legalism,” or always Biblical?

Here are the first of 14 reasons why the Harry Potter debate matters.

1. Because we need to define “witchcraft” Biblically.

Most Christians concerned about books like Harry Potter love Jesus, love His Word, and very rightly see that too many professing Christians are not even trying to apply Biblical discernment in their media choices. That’s a real problem, worth Gospel-based response.

Yet the prevalence of others’ failure to practice Biblical discernment does not mean that any concept (or the strictest practice!) of discernment is thus Biblical. Some “discernment” is based not on God-exalting thinking, but “folk theology” that only seems Biblical. Many talking points about Harry Potter fall into this category.

Of course, it does make perfect sense to avoid Harry Potter or other things if you truly have a personal-background, Romans-14 conscience issue about anything labeled “magic.” Occult practices and rejection of Christ are very real and risky. God warns against them, and not only in an Old-Testament, Law-of-Moses, so-called “legalistic” way. Thus, true Christians, if they want to be like the Christ Who saved them, will avoid practicing mystical junk. That could involve throwing out books of magic arts (Acts 19). Don’t get into that stuff.

But how should we understand witchcraft? Any definition shouldn’t come from “folk theology,” or passing resemblances, but Scripture itself. And throughout both Testaments, Scripture always defines witchcraft as actual pagan practice of false religion and even idol-worship that dishonors God. That includes trying to talk with spirits. Favoring mysticism above God’s Word. Cutting up or tattooing your body like the Canaanites did.

One might ask: do the following concepts fit inside the Biblical category of actual witchcraft? Or do they originate from popular culture, historic folklore, or perceptions of “magic”?

  • Whimsical flying broomsticks.
  • Cauldrons and potions with magical effects.
  • “Wizards” who wear pointy hats and dress in long, shining robes.
  • Disappearing from one place to appear almost instantly in another.
  • Creatures such as werewolves, trolls, baselisks, centaurs, elves, goblins, and dragons.

With care, I would suggest that if you, even subtly, consider these things as exactly the same as Biblically defined practice of pagan occultism, you may have accidentally bought into some pop-culture notions yourself — and then have read those back into the Bible.

2. Because of where Scripture says sin really comes from.

True in computer programming, maybe even for Community Standards. But apart from Christ, the human heart is the real garbage producer (Mark 7).

Throughout many admonitions to reject Harry Potter books, or some kinds of music, or “the appearance of evil” (an out-of-context twisting of 1 Thessalonians 5:22), is this assumption:

To honor God and keep yourself pure, avoid the bad Things. “Garbage in, garbage out.”

Oddly enough, this is one of the few common beliefs shared by conservative and liberal professing Christians. It’s the idea that sin comes from your Environment, outside yourself, while you personally are Neutral or even Basically Good.

But what does Scripture say about sin’s true source? It certainly doesn’t come from a Thing.

[Jesus] called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”  (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

— Mark 7: 14-23 (boldface emphases added)

Though I can appreciate the intent behind a phrase like “garbage in, garbage out,” Jesus Himself might voice disagreement with that. Sin doesn’t come from a Thing. It comes from the human heart. To believe otherwise is not only to agree with the Pharisees — and who wants to do that? — but to contradict Christ.

So if I’m using the Harry Potter books or any other Thing to sin, I can’t blame the Thing. I can only blame myself and my heart desires.

Sure, a Thing’s author or creator may be an unforgiven sinner, and very likely was sinning even while making the Thing. Apart from faith, everything is a sin, as says Romans 14:23.

But I can’t use that person or Thing as a “scapegoat” for my own sin. Similarly, if I have a sinful thought after seeing a scantily clad someone — yes, that person may be responsible for dressing with wrong motives, but I can’t blame her even partly for that sin. It is just as much a sin to make her a scapegoat. I’m responsible for that sin.

And only One true sacrifice took that sin on Himself, suffering God’s wrath in place of all people who would then become His children.

3. Because of God’s commands for Christians to practice truth.

“Witchcraft manuals,” accuses one site. Elsewhere the same writer calls Harry Potter “Satan’s books.” Similarly, “These books were taken into homes everywhere with a real evil spirit following each copy to curse those homes,” wrote one “discernment” blogger.

Bypassing the question of how anyone but God can know what the Devil is doing, why do so many Christians , surely even with good intentions, tell lies about Harry Potter?

I’m not sure how to soften that point. It’s simply bearing false witness to say that the books are “witchcraft manuals” (unless you believe the “apparating” or riding a flying broom really is possible and thus the books’ instructions about these practices are real). It’s at best bizarre to claim special knowledge of the Devil’s specific agenda. It’s slanderous to say the stories contain descriptions of wicked activity and “human sacrifice” without also saying it’s the bad guys who do that. And, again, it’s Scripturally squishy to say that Satan can own a thing.

Yes, some may ignore real enemies. Still, we must tell the truth, even about the bad guys.

Would you also be surprised to learn that in the Harry Potter books, no one tries to talk with or use demonic spirits of any kind? Or that “divination” as a school subject is viewed as absurd and ridiculous, hardly worth bothering about? Or that no main-character “wizarding” family is shown as divorced, but in fact Family Values shine surprisingly bright in the series?

Next week: what kind of rules help or harm Christians? Is “someone else used it to sin” a Biblical motive for discernment? How might mysticism sneak into even Potter avoidance?

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Carole McDonnell
Guest

So true… I mean… what’s wrong with being teleported or translated? Philip was translated and even now many Christians are translated as God wills. I’m often amazed at what some Christians believe to be true Christianity and what they believe to be sin. They don’t realize they aren’t seeing things clearly.

A coupla weeks ago a Christian accused me of not being a liberal Christian (therefore not a Christian at all) because I said drugs should be decriminalized and folks should do community service or be fined as we do to folks who drive drunk. Although I tried my best — over and over– to tell him that in the Biblical Levitical model, God seemed to prefer the community service/reparations model over imprisonment, he was convinced that putting people in prison to “pay” for their even the smallest sin was the “Biblical” thing to do.  It’s very hard when one has all these zealous people who think they take their Bible seriously when what they’re doing is really mixing up American culture and world folklore with their faith. In the story I’m currently writing I have characters doing all sorts of Christian supernatural things and I KNOW I’ll be accused of being satanic because so many Christians nowadays are convinced that if something is supernatural it’s of the devil. JK is a Christian church-goer. She contributed her talents to this genre. -C

Bruce Hennigan
Guest

Stephen

What a great post! I can’t wait to read the other points. I just talked about this on my blog. My upcoming book has “demon” in the title and one of my very best friends told me he “couldn’t” read it. When I asked him why he said because the Bible forbids witchcraft. Even though my book has nothing to do with witchcraft, he equated the word demon with the concept that any book with demon in the title is honoring Satan and somehow this is tied in with witchcraft.

So many Christians, myself included, have this broad, generic ideas of what constitutes “truth” in the Bible. And yet, we haven’t bothered to truly study the scriptures to back up these “truths”. Your case in point about witchcraft is right on the money.

How do we handle this as authors of speculative fiction? I’m not sure. I can’t sanitize the evil in my books. The subject matter is spiritual warfare. It would be like doing a story on the war in Afghanistan and not talking about anyone getting shot or hurt. Evil is necessary in order for good to be truly seen. That is a disturbing statement, but it is true. God allowed evil into the world and it is evil that caused Joseph to be sold into slavery so he could save his nation during the famine. It was evil that drove Moses out of Egypt into exile in the desert so he could see the burning bush. And, it was the ultimate evil of nailing Christ to the cross that brought us redemption.

I guess for those of us who struggle to write speculative fiction, we have to accept the fact we will alienate some readers if we include these elements of perceived “witchcraft” or the “occult” in our work. What we must strive for is to never glorify such behavior and show the ultimate downfall of all things evil and  the triumph of all things good. 

Morgan Busse
Member

Great post Stephen 🙂

Esther
Guest

This IS a great post, Stephen–one of your best, and I’ve read many! I’ll be looking forward to reading the follow-up posts. I do want to open the following for discussion and your take: you said:

“Though I can appreciate the intent behind a phrase like “garbage in, garbage out,” Jesus Himself might voice disagreement with that. Sin doesn’t come from a Thing. It comes from the human heart. To believe otherwise is not only to agree with the Pharisees — and who wants to do that? — but to contradict Christ.”

But we do have scriptural mandate for putting good stuff in our minds. See Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10, and the infamous Philippians 4:8. So there has to be something to the “garbage in>garbage out” thing. What do you think it is? How does it apply to Harry Potter, Twilight, or Chronicles of Narnia, for that matter?

Jill
Guest

This is why I love studying history–because I have a basis to understand the significance or lack thereof of superstitious notions and practices.

Fred Warren
Member

The bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes to mind…



VILLAGER #1:
     We have found a witch. May we burn her?
CROWD:
     Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
BEDEVERE:
     How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2:
     She looks like one.
CROWD:
     Right! Yeah! Yeah!
BEDEVERE:
     Bring her forward.
WITCH:
     I’m not a witch. I’m not a witch.
BEDEVERE:
     Uh, but you are dressed as one.
WITCH:
     They dressed me up like this.
CROWD:
     Augh, we didn’t! We didn’t…
WITCH:
     And this isn’t my nose. It’s a false one.
BEDEVERE:
     Well?
VILLAGER #1:
     Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEVERE:
     The nose?
VILLAGER #1:
     And the hat, but she is a witch!
VILLAGER #2:
     Yeah!
CROWD:
     We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah!

Bruce Hennigan
Guest

Ah, but she was a witch after all! I’m not sure what that means!

Leanna
Guest

Kinda nit-picky but people do talk with the dead in Harry Potter:
-the ghosts (technically they’re dead although they haven’t passed on)
-the photos (They aren’t really the people, just talking representations, but I’m being nit-picky here ‘cuz someone might seriously question it)
*some SPOILERS*
-in the last book when Harry uses the you-know-what, he talks with his parents and two other dead friends
 
I do like the Harry Potter books and don’t think they’re evil, btw. 🙂

Kaci Hill
Member

Well, and those are the parts that are legitimate concerns. Like or not, there’s a class on seances and a couple other things that now escape me. But as it’s not the only story with a ghost in it (Hamlet, anyone?) I don’t think that argument can work without throwing out other works people don’t challenge much. Oh, and Macbeth has not one but three witches; and I think the Tempest (?) includes both a wizard and a ghost. Just sayin’.

Literaturelady
Guest
Literaturelady

I love your posts!  They challenge my thinking and help me to ponder through an issue that often I’d taken at face value!  Thank you for this.
I’ve never read the Potter books.  Is there a Supernatural Supreme Good Being in the story?
This occurred to me as I was reading your bit about flying broomsticks.  You said that we often subconsciously label such things as “witchcraft” when the Bible has clearly said what witchcraft is.  (I’m guilty of this myself. :-))  However, I do have a problem with flying broomsticks and their magical relatives.  My question is: where does the supernatural power to fly the broomsticks come from?  Is it from God or a representation of Him, or from the Devil?
In real life, supernatural power comes from either God or the Devil.  The Bible is clear that there is no middle ground.  I believe this truth applies to stories because they are mirrors of reality.
In stories, I don’t have a problem with gifts of prophecy or miracles given by God or a representation of Him.  But if the ability to fly broomsticks in stories does not come from God or a representation of Him, the power is demonic.
And I guess this is where the connection (at least in my mind) between flying broomsticks and evil comes.  All the stories I’ve read had true witches on broomsticks, and the power to fly those floor cleaners must have come from the Devil or a representation of him.  It’s not the objects themselves that I have a problem with, but where the power to fly them comes from.  Often as not, in stories it comes from evil.
If you’ll pardon my lecture, I did want to bring that point up and hear your thoughts on the matter.  I’ve found several of your posts helpful in rethinking my preconceived notions and seeing matters about truth and writing in a new light!
Blessings~
Literaturelady

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Lit Lady, I’ll take a stab at answering your question. As I understand the Harry Potter books (and I have read them all and seen the movies), the magic that occurs is not supernatural in the way that you’re describing it — as a not natural power that must therefore derive from either supernatural Good or supernatural evil. Rather, it is the condition of the fantasy world J. K. Rowling made up. The magic derives from the people who are born with it — people she calls wizards — who must learn to control it and to grow it and to use it for good. It’s no different really than being born with athletic skill or the ability to sing, though it clearly has the potential for great power.

 

Consequently, the school has classes to teach the pupils how to fly a broom. It’s not instinctively an acquired skill though it is an inherent ability.

 

In other words, the fantasy world Rowling built shouldn’t be equated with our world any more than Narnia should. Was the ability of the Pevinse children to pass through a wardrobe into another world derived from God or from Satan? Well, actually Lewis never said. He let the fantasy world play out and the good or evil show itself by its actions.

 

So too in Harry Potter — readers should let the fantasy world play out and let the good or evil characters show themselves.

 

To judge Harry Potter to be evil because it involves wizards is not consistent with enjoying Narnia despite the fauns and Centaurs and other creatures from mythology.

 

Of course, there are those who say Narnia is just as evil as Harry Potter. I credit those folks for their consistency but not their imagination or discernment of truth. Stephen has done a wonderful job exposing how the “witchcraft” of Harry Potter is nothing like Biblical witchcraft. The same can be said of the mythical creatures in Narnia. Though once they represented something ungodly, Lewis re-imagined or perhaps “redeemed” them so that they took on a different meaning altogether.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Becky

Literaturelady
Guest
Literaturelady

Thanks for answering my question, Becky! I really enjoy the community here at Speculative Faith.
Blessings~
Literaturelady

Kaci Hill
Member

Is there a Supernatural Supreme Good Being in the story?

 
None that I’m aware of, but I’m not the person to ask. I think Becky pretty well answered the rest. It’s just something they’re born with, so it’s not really the same type of thing. Sort of like how in other religions, a “demon” is basically any non-human and/or immortal spirit (the dead can become demons) and can become good or evil, making it a bit different from the Judeo-Christian beliefs. (Yes, I’ve been watching weird stuff again. Someone just remind me to pull out occasionally.)
 
The trick with any fantasy world is that it’s really hard to separate supernatural powers from magic/occultism/paganism.  How the author approaches it, as a result, is important.
 
 
 
 

Jennifer K. Hale
Guest

Love this post!  I know many who think the books are “evil.”  I especially loved what you said about sin in your #2.  Great, GREAT point that I think many are missing!
Thanks!

Bruce Hennigan
Guest

Good point. How deeply do we want to go into detail about these kinds of “devices” in our storytelling. There’s nothing sinister about broomsticks in HP. They are just a method of transportation. So, the power behind them is never explained as anything other than magic. So, the real question is, “Where does the power behind the magic come from?”
 
When the first automobiles rolled down our dirt streets and frightened women, children, and horses they were attributed to the devil because they elicited fear. That which we don’t understand we tend to fear. And fear generally leads to the impression there is some kind of evil involved. That is, unless you are living in Old Testament times when the “fear” of the Lord was as powerful motivator as the fear of evil.
 
And this discussion brings up a very important point. Are we writing about “magical” devices for the sake of glorifying magic? Or, does the device serve a purpose in the story? If the “magic” is there as an important part of the story, then can it be tied to the evil of magic as perceived from the scriptures? Aslan talked of a “deeper magic” in Narnia. And, the entire kingdom was filled with magical events. Did C. S. Lewis question whether or not using magic glorified Satan or was merely a plot device?
 
I don’t know the answer to that question. In HP is magic inherently evil? It would seem that Rowling’s intent in using magic is to show that any form of power can be used by good or evil. It is not the magic that is evil. It is the mind behind the use of it. Many times, Christianity is blamed for outrageous atrocities over the years such as the Salem witch trials, the Inquisition, and the Crusades. Kenneth Samples, theologian of Reasons to Believe once commented that if you add all the people killed in those three examples you have just over 1 million. Now, that’s a lot of people to die in the name of a “good” religion. But, if you add up the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the 20th century alone, you get a much larger number, 150 million!
 
The point is, looking at the numbers, you could accuse the systems of being evil. But, it is the sinful nature of man behind the system that causes the evil. So then, are we promulgating evil by using magic in our books? I would say it depends again on the purpose. The purpose of all that activity in HP is to show how evil “Deatheaters” following Voldemort use magic in a sinister, dark way to unleash evil on the world. It is not the magic to blame. It is the mind behind the magic. And, magic can be used for good to overcome evil as it does eventually throughout every book in the entire series.
 
HP is not the Bible. Nor, is it scripture. But, the intent of the story should be considered. Which brings up the question, is it okay to use such devices that defy scripture as a means to the end? Does the end justify the means? Can we forgive the use of such devices if the ultimate story is redemptive? What do you think?

Steve
Guest
Steve

I kind of take the middle road. Sort of. I don’t care (mostly) of what the world does. Let them write, read, drink and be merry for soon they will die and their life will be laid before their eyes. What I do care about is my relationship with Christ and those who are my brothers and sisters. For me Harry Potter is a non-issue. I have no desire to read it and barely have enough time to read the Christ-centered fiction on my list. (My TBR list is at around 20 books. And the kindle isn’t helping.)

If a sibling in Christ wants to read the Potter series my question would be “Why?” Not enough Christians authors to read and support? Will it strengthen your walk with Christ? Is it purely entertainment? How many hours of your life will be spent reading the series? Is this good use of the money God has provided for you?

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

P.S. If I was an author I may read one of the books just to learn the techniques used to create such a popular series. 

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Hi, Steve,

 

I’ll give you a couple reasons I read the Harry Potter books (and I didn’t spend any money because I borrowed them). When they first came out, I was teaching teens. I wanted to know, quite frankly, what the talk was all about and on what side I should enter the discussion.

 

What I found was an engaging story. The more I read (and by that time I’d left teaching to become a writer) the more I realized that the good versus evil struggle was something important and could foreseeably have a big impact on our culture. Plus I wanted to read good fantasy to learn how to write good fantasy.

 

Did reading the books help me in my Christian walk? Most certainly. It made me think about a lot of things regarding good and evil — the willingness to stand alone and self-sacrifice being two important ones.

 

I’ll add one other thing, Steve. I think we Christians are to have an impact on our world. I don’t feel like I can turn in and pay attention only to my Christian brothers and sisters. I feel I have an obligation to make disciples, too. That means I need to be able to engage those in the world in the same way that Paul was able to engage the Athenians using their religious practices and their literature. Consequently, even if I didn’t grow as a Christian by reading HP, I think it would still be worth my time.

 

Becky

Shannon Dittemore
Guest

E. Stephen Burnett, will you be my BFF? 🙂
Great post. Thank you for sharing.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

Thank you Stephen for your reply. That’s a lot to respond to. With my speed of typing it would be much easier for me to verbalize my thoughts but in a nutshell here goes.

First let me say the Kindle is really nice. I can carry my Bible, fiction and non-fiction books and upcoming books all in one small unit. The best thing is that reading on the e-ink screen is clear and sharp and easy on the eyes (unlike back-lit tablets). One could read for hours. Battery life is great too. I have the DX only because I’m so used to the large paged books but it’s not necessary. My wife has the Kindle 3 and it’s just fine since the font size is adjustable. Even though I’m a fan of paper books (and haven’t given them up) the e-reader is a fantastic addition to my reading lifestyle. In many cases the prices for books are better too. Holds 3500 books which takes up no space in your home.
++

I do have some concerns with books like Harry Potter and most modern literature in ways that are a bit hard to explain in a short post. You say that good triumphs over evil. Is that God’s version of good versus evil or man’s version? In many ways they are different. For instance: Would you have destroyed Eden because your children ate fruit they weren’t supposed to? Would you blind a man just to get his attention? Would you allow most of the human population to spend eternity in Hell just because they didn’t follow you? Get my point? His ways are higher then our ways. Why do I need to get my version of good and evil from the world? I have a hard enough time weeding out the false messages that the church continues to dish out. 

I do care about people but the church is not the moral police. Sure we want a decent and safe society to raise our families in so we vote and do our best to accomplish that but when it comes to individual rights people have a freedom to do as they wish even to the point of self-destruction. It’s sad but God has given us a free will to do as we choose.

Quote: “Gnosticism that can result from avoid-the-world beliefs. God will not simply annihilate every Thing in the world in favor of saving souls; rather, He is in the process of redeeming all His physical creation, to bring it into the New Heavens and New Earth.”

By “the world” I do not mean the physical world. I strictly meant he world’s philosophies and religions. Of course this planet will be recreated to it’s original intent for all eternity. How can one really avoid the world’s systems? I’m a broadcaster for a worldwide media company so by no means am I sheltered from the world. However in my personal time I choose to surround myself with things that glorify God by not allowing mass amounts of the world to infiltrate my thought. Call it self-censorship. Not an easy thing to do. I still study apologetics and other fields so not all is rose colored. I was not raised in a Christian home and spent many years in the Godless sex, drugs and rock n’ roll world. I know what the world can do to a person and I don’t plan on going back. I also do not believe that saying a prayer is all it takes to be a Christian. Faith in Christ is an ongoing belief that one must do until the end and we can draw closer to God the more we walk with Him. If we spend our time eating the world’s food we’ll just get fat and lazy and if our relationship with God falters not only do we lose but also those around us we should be impacting.

1 John 4:4-10 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: 

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.” 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
++

Harry Potter may be fine for an adult that is grounded in Christ but is it profitable? I don’t need to read such things to be able to relate to the youth of today. I find the more I know the One who created us – the better I understand others. I don’t need to drink to understand a drunk or shoot-up to understand a drug addict. Drawing closer to the Creator equips me with all the heart and information I need to know.

Is Harry Potter good for kids, Christian or not? I say no. Sure it’s a Hollywood version of the occult but does it draw kids into it? Does it point the way to Christ or does it point the way to spiritualism and false religion? Christianity in the United States is shrinking. Why are their fewer of us then ever before? 88% of all kids raised in Evangelical homes leave their faith in Christ. Why is that? Are we dropping the ball on what we should be doing and embracing the things we should be avoiding?
When I became a Christian in January of 1983 everything changed for me. Growing up as an avid reader I immediately knew (without anyone telling me but the Holy Spirit) that I need to change my reading to things that glorified God. Of course this was way before Al Gore invented the Internet so my only option was going to a Christian bookstore. Not much to choose from and most of it wasn’t very good but I stuck with it anyway and am glad to say there are a lot better authors and stories today then ever before. If Christ can die on the cross in my place I sure can put up with some poorly written books.  

I want to clarify that something for pure entertainment is not a bad thing. I’m not legalistic by any means but I do believe that entertainment should be carefully monitored. Everything has a message, even toddler programs. I love classic movies but even when watching them one must keep the mind of Christ lest we fall into false beliefs.
We’ve been warned over and over in God’s Word about wolves destroying the flock. Who are these wolves and are they only in the church? Which is more dangerous to the Christian – Satanism or the prosperity gospel? I think the subtle beliefs of the world could hold a bigger danger to the Christian since we’re not usually gullible enough to fall for the seriously obvious crimes. Just a thought.
True sin is something in ones heart but what can a follower of Christ do to live a life separate from the world yet still impact it? But since the Word of God never contradicts itself I’ll close with this.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18  Do not be joined to unbelievers. What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends? How can Christ and Satan agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree?
We are the temple of the living God. God has said, “I will live with them. I will walk among them. I will be their God. And they will be my people.”
  “So come out from among them
and be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch anything that is not pure and clean.
Then I will receive you.”
 “I will be your Father.
You will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord who rules over all.”

—  Even though I am not a writer I enjoy this site and all it’s thought. Keep up the good work   
 

Christian Miles
Guest

Three years ago, I wasn’t allowed to read Harry Potter. My family believed lies told to us by other Christians, who said Rowling was a witch and that the Potter books were Wiccan teaching manuals. I don’t doubt that those Christians meant well, but none of them had ever picked up a Potter novel. They’d read e-mails like this one, and then forwarded those on. My parents got one of those messages, and immediately put a Potter blanket ban over our household. (Our pastor at the time ranted about the books, too, basically saying they were a gateway drug to the occult.)

So, I believed all those things about The-Boy-Who-Lived right up until my Sunday School teacher set me right. She’d read the books and loved them, and encouraged me to give the stories a chance to form my own opinions. So I watched the first movie, and was surprised that I really liked it. The characters, plot, and storyworld were engaging, and the magic wasn’t anything different from what I’d seen in various Disney movies and whimsical fairytales—meaning it held no semblance to reality. I didn’t learn how to hold a séance or summon demons to do my laundry for me (hardy har), which is what I’d been told I’d learn if my young, innocent brain stumbled upon the Potter books.

What I did learn was that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. After watching the five movies that were out at the time, I picked up the books and soared through them. They helped me through a difficult time where my family had just moved from Alaska to Wisconsin. We were making it paycheck to paycheck, and were living with my grandpa in his tiny house. I had no real friends at the time, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione filled in wonderfully.

The thing that most surprised me about the Potter books was how moral they were! My faith actually grew while reading them.What I don’t like to see now is Christians who hate Potter, but are more than happy to let Star Wars into their homes. I like Star Wars, but did anyone understand what “only a Sith deals in absolutes” actually means? Also, many of the Potter-bashers I knew had no problem with The Wizard of Oz, which has a “good witch” in it. What’s up with that?

I’d continue this comment, but I have to go mow the lawn before it gets dark out. But I’ll leave you with this excerpt from an interview with J.K. Rowling, which I wish I’d seen many, many years ago.

Q: Do you believe in witchcraft and have you ever done any witchcraft?
A: No.

Q: What are your feelings towards the people who say your books are to do with cults and telling people to become witches?
A: Alfie. Over to you. Do you feel a burning desire to become a witch?
Alfie: No.
A: I thought not. I think this is a case of people grossly underestimating children. Again.

Diana
Guest

Hello all! This is my first time on this site but the HP conversation caught my attention.
It’s always been really tough for me to say anything about this. I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed a lot of the ideas in the story and I never thought of it Biblically until I heard pastors start talking about it in sermons. My uncle is a huge Pentecostal pastor and he’s always spoken against HP.

I guess that makes me a black sheep.

I have to say, though, that I always agreed with the idea that what “sin” comes into your mind doesn’t stick unless you let it and you don’t have to live according to anything you see or hear from movies, books, etc.

Harry Potter, to me, had a clear interpretation of what was good and what wasn’t. Sure, Harry wasn’t always good himself but the point with him was his growth and change to become a better person, no? In my novels of Zirconya, one of the MC’s starts out as a horrid man that people just won’t like, but in him you see the majority of change in his thinking, beliefs and ideas of right and wrong/good and evil.

Sometimes, to get a message across, you need to show the evil side of things. You need to see dark to recognize the difference when light is introduced. If you’ve never seen dark, how do you know what it is?

blogged once about an idea that often gives me a nudge in my writing; using this sudden interest in the dark to shine a light. In my honest opinion, I’ve seen a lot of that in HP. Granted, I haven’t read all the books nor seen all the movies, but from the first 4 movies, it’s been clear to me. I used to be one of those, “HP? Pft. Spare me. Dumb witchcraft.” But when you see and try to understand the message, it makes a lot more sense.

Just my two cents.

~Diana Ilinca   

Ashlea Adams
Guest
Ashlea Adams

Thanks for the groovy article! I look forward to reading more.