1. I think your questions are the best part of the post, Stephen. Thought-provoking.

    So how do Christians discern between Boggarts and Dementors? That’s the key question, isn’t it. I’d say, by looking into Scripture. I think the Bible is the touchstone by which we are to measure all things. If something squares or does not square with the Word of God, then we know what we should think about that said something.

    That doesn’t tell us categorically what we are to do, but certainly how we are to think. The What We Are To Do part needs to be guided by Scripture, but I believe in some instances obedience may look different from person to person. Case in point. We know we are to love our neighbors. But for one person that might mean carpooling to work and for another it means mowing their lawn for free.

    When it comes to magic and evil spirits and Halloween, I think Scripture can guide us and still we will come to different conclusions. I discussed this earlier this month in a series of posts about Halloween, particularly the two here, and here.


  2. Zoe says:

    This was a great article. Personally, I think taking things like Harry Potter seriously is to be deceived about what real witchcraft actually is. Waving a wand and saying a Latinized English word does not equal calling on demonic forces, and when we equate the two I think we completely undermine the darkness of the occult. Real-world magick lies in subtlety, deception, and manipulation – and oddly enough, you don’t have to participate in the occult to tap into those things.

    The Bible commands Christians over and over to walk in the light. Light dispels shadows and reveals things for what they really are. When I was a little girl and I thought there might be a monster in my closet, I could turn on a light and see that it was just a hat hanging on a hook. When we hold things up to the light of Scripture and to the presence of God, and ask for discernment, we can see things for what they really are – Boggart or Dementor. When we run from every shadow because it -might- be something bad, we don’t learn anything or fight anything.

    I don’t know all that much about the occult, although I know and have known people who were involved in it in one way or another. They don’t like to talk about specifics usually. Sometimes these things appear as darkness masquerading as light – Wicca, for example, is a very naturey, innocuous-seeming belief system (do what you will as long as it harms none). In other cases, occult practices do not even attempt to hide what they are – communication with the demonic and rituals related to that. Again, I don’t know very much specifically.

    J. R. R. Tolkien and other fantasy authors of his era invented a form of magic that became the norm in literature. This literary magic or “incantational magic” is supernatural creatures (elves, fairies, wizards, etc.) whose innate natural abilities are greater than a human’s. Gandalf, for example, is a Maia – a supernatural spirit inhabiting a physical form – and as such has powers over the natural world which other creatures – Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men – do not have. Elves are conditionally immortal and have abilities beyond Hobbits, Dwarves, and Men as well, but not to the extent that the Maiar do. Sometimes these abilities are accessed by uttering a phrase (hence the name “incantational” – such as Gandalf speaking the Elvish word “mellon” to open the gates of Moria), sometimes not (such as Legolas’ ability to see farther than any of the other members of the Fellowship). Real-world magic is what we call “incarnational” – it is acquired and accessed through harnessing the power of, or being indwelt by, another being (a demon). The closest fictional example I can think of to this is the Force in Star Wars.

    I only read the first four books of Harry Potter, but the overwhelming message of the series was this: you are who you choose to be. That is, having power does not make one good or evil, but doing things that are good or evil does. Harry has a lot of similarities to Voldemort; what makes them different is how they use their abilities. Voldemort desires power and achieves it through cruelty; Harry feels a deep sense of responsibility to protect others and uses his power for that purpose. However, Harry does – frequently – break rules and get into trouble and make bad choices. The only thing I could never figure out was why the Hogwarts professors threatened him with expulsion so many times and never followed through. I guess that would’ve been the end of the series.

  3. Zoe, great thoughts. I especially appreciate your example of turning on the light as a child to discover the “monster” is nothing more than some article of clothing hanging in the closet. How very true.

    The light of God’s Word shows us that we don’t have to be afraid (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Deuteronomy 31:8 come to mind). While we shouldn’t be running from every shadow, we are to recognize that Satan is a roaring lion, on the prowl looking for those he can consume. It seems to me all the commands to the Christian regarding Satan are things like stand firm, resist, be alert—not run, hide away, avoid.


  4. […] might mock Satan, as Lewis does in his book, even while seeing spiritual threats in biblical light. We might “cast” a “riddikulus” spell against spooks that should not actually frighten biblic…. Privately I might even make a dark-humor joke about some terrible event in a way that shows I’m […]

  5. […] Boggarts, Alistair Adversaria, July 24, 2007. Quoted in “Casting The ‘Riddikulus’ Spell On Halloween,” E. Stephen Burnett at Speculative Faith, Oct. 27, 2010. […]

  6. […] Boggarts, Alistair Adversaria, July 24, 2007. Quoted in “Casting The ‘Riddikulus’ Spell On Halloween,” E. Stephen Burnett at Speculative Faith, Oct. 27, 2010. […]

What do you think?