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Friday, July 29, 2005

Harry Potter

Posted: 2005-07-21T01:50:37Z

Source: Very few things make me as angry as Christians jumping on the bandwagon for or against something that they have never read or experienced personally, simply because "all the other Christians are for/against it, so they must be right". (I am speaking here of areas that are unclear from a scriptural standpoint -- times when we are not sure whether something is unbiblical or not. Obviously, I do not advocate going out and experiencing various sins so that we can speak out against them with authority!) The release of the new Harry Potter novel has brought this frustration again to the forefront of my mind and I'm going to rant a minute.

My pastor strongly came out against Harry Potter a couple years ago. When I asked him if he had read any of the books or seen any of the movies, his response was, "Oh, I would never do that!" How frustrating - and how sad that this response is all too common among evangelicals.

I personally have not read any of the books, but I LOVED each of the movies so far and am eagerly waiting the release of the next one in November. I also plan to read the books to my kids when they are old enough. My oldest is 8, but she is more easily scared than her brothers, so I will wait for a while. Not because I think they are evil, but because she's not ready for them yet.

Aside from the fact that many Christians who come out against Potter have not even read one book, the hypocrisy involved also irks me. These are the same people who embraced the Lord of the Rings trilogy as "finally a good Christian-worldview movie". Good vs. evil? Check. Wizards -- good and bad? Check. Scary monsters? Check. Heroic quests? Check. Love wins out? Check. All of these elements are evident in Lord of the Rings -- and each one of the Harry Potter movies that I have seen so far. So why is one okay and the other not?

I believe part of the problem is that many Christians got sucked into believing a phony article posted on The Onion. This article stated that Ms. Rowling had published the Harry Potter novels for the specific purpose of converting children to witchcraft. This article was then forwarded -- and forwarded, and re-forwarded -- throughout e-mail-land from Christian to Christian. Unfortunately, not many of the people who received this e-mail bothered to check out The Onion's site and read this:

The Onion is a satirical weekly publication published 52 times a year on Thursdays.

Notice the use of the word satirical. Satire: use of wit: the use of wit, especially irony, sarcasm, and ridicule, to attack the vices and follies of humankind. (Definition from Microsoft Encarta Dictionary) The very people this article was ridiculing were the ones who believed it was true! How's that for irony?

I have lost count of the number of forwarded e-mails I have received from well-meaning people that turned out to be entirely or partially fabricated. There's a great website out there called They have a wonderful search engine. The next time you receive an e-mail that is not verified from some other source -- check out their site. You can search by keyword. Then you will know whether you should hit that forward button. Usually, you shouldn't.

Anyway, in the interest of people thinking for themselves, I am listing some links to articles on both sides of the Harry Potter debate. But remember, it's not fair to speak out on something unless you've experienced it yourself. So don't just read the articles -- read a Potter novel. Or rent one of the movies. (I promise you won't go to hell.) If you still feel it is inappropriate for your family, great. I respect you for that. Just don't judge those of us who believe it's fine.

Media Q&A; - Teens

Saint Frodo and the Potter Demon - Books and Culture

How to Handle Harry

The Return of Harry Potter
A quote from this one:

"The Bible clearly condemns witchcraft and tells Christians to "avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). But for the most part, Christian experts agree that the world of wizards and spells created by Rowling is not the same as the occult-type practices Scripture condemns. "The magic in these books is purely mechanical," says Charles Colson, Christianity Today magazine columnist and head of Breakpoint ministries. "Harry and his friends don't make contact with the supernatural world." The magic serves as a framework for the story, a technique used by writers as far back as Shakespeare, Tolkien and de Troyes (the creator of the King Arthur tales).

According to Italian theologian Massimo Intovigne, "Magic is the main metaphor for life in fairy tales. If one should ban Harry Potter, one should also ban Peter Pan, Cinderella and Pinocchio. Harry Potter, unlike a number of cartoon superheroes, doesn't win because he's more proficient at magic than the bad guys. He wins because he's intelligent and brave, and more human than his opponents. What the bad guys utterly lack is human feelings and basic human values.""

another one:
"As Christian parents, it's important to be aware of the things our kids are reading, watching and listening to. The best way to determine if Harry Potter is right for your family is to read the books for yourself. Then filter their content through your own family's value system."

Dick Staub Interview with Connie Neal, author of The Gospel According to Harry Potter

Frodo Good, Harry Bad

Matters of Opinion: The Perils of Harry Potter

Virtue on a Broomstick

Children's Literature: Parents Push for Wizard-free Reading

Opinion Roundup: Positive About Potter

Harry Beasts


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