I’ve ignored writing on all things Harry Potter over the years, but this weekend forced me to change my mind. With my wife’s sister’s family down for the weekend, we were looking for things to do. Unfortunately for us, the city we live near was in the grip of Pottermania and half the activities in town were geared to the release of the latest book.
I’ve written a few posts about the world of fiction in the last couple weeks, but this isn’t going to be a diatribe about J.K. Rowling’s billions or the quality of her writing. The problem is not one of literary aspirations. To me, Harry Potter is a symptom of the much larger problem.
When I was a kid I watched Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and any host of shows that featured magic. Some Christians would say that I was leaving myself open to all sorts of negative spiritual forces for doing so, but what no one could claim then is that they knew real witches. I certainly didn’t at that time. There weren’t any girls in my school that fancied themselves to be a witch (or even sympathetic to the witch’s cause.) The worst thing you could say about some young woman was that she had the lousy ’70s and ’80s fashion sense to dress just a little too much like Stevie Nicks. But witches? Nah. In fact, it was more likely that guys could be accused of witchcraft because Dungeons & Dragons was insanely popular by the time I graduated from high school. At Carnegie Mellon University in the early 80s I knew guys who skipped all their classes just to play D&D, sitting around getting high and drawing arcane symbols on the walls of their dorm rooms.
While some of the signs for a groundswell were in place even when I was a child, it can be argued that the later syndication of those TV shows I mentioned above lowered the defenses for witchcraft for the generation that came after mine when added to later societal changes. Today, everywhere you look, you can’t seem to get away from all things Wiccan or pagan. In fact, I have to believe that the fastest growing religion in the United States is not Islam, but the same one that has captured so much of the British population in recent years, Neo-paganism. Sorcery, vampire cults, an affinity for the goth lifestyle, even postmodernism—all of it has roots in paganism. Couple this with a societal outlook that is rational but growing more irrational by the day, and Neo-paganism looks ready to explode in the West.
Why? Nature abhors a vacuum. Especially human nature. With Christianity on the down side in the Western world, people who are searching for answers, particularly those answers that cater to humanity’s fallen need to have power and control, are finding what they want in paganism. Earth religions are picking up adherents left over from the New Age movement, the children of the Haight-Ashbury crowd, and the rise of “organic culture.” (My wife and I are trying to get an organic farm going and it is shocking how much the “religion” of some organic farmers is rooted in goddess worship and fertility cult thinking.)
Earth religions have been around nearly as long as there has been a planet with that name. The Bible contains numerous commands of God to keep trees and natural distractions away from His altars lest they be construed to have anything to do with the worship of nature (Deut. 16:21 is an example.) The entire religion of Astarte/Ashera/Ishtar that bedeviled the prophets and kings of the Old Testament is the same earth goddess worship we see today (much of it penetrating Christianity in the form of the Roman Catholic Church’s Marian cult.) There truly is nothing new under the sun.
With the desire to worship the creation rather than the Creator comes the desire to control the creation; this leads us to witchery and the rise of Wicca as a religion to be reckoned with in the United States. While the number of self-identified witches, pagans, and Wiccans is wildly variable (anywhere from 100,000 to over three million adherents in the United States), the one truth is that their numbers are growing rapidly.
But nowhere has there been greater capitulation to Neo-paganism than in the UK. With studies showing that less than 3% of the population of Great Britain attends church on the weekends, Neo-paganism has filled the void left behind by the abandonment of Christianity. Even some high-ranking church officials in that country have been linked to the ancient Druid religion, and druid gatherings have been picking up in number, with more and more people flocking to see druidic ceremonies performed.
So it comes as no surprise that Britain gave Harry Potter to the world. Say what you will about the books, they are certainly a phenomenon we’ve never seen before. The problem here lies in the fact that Harry Potter could very well be the poster child for Neo-paganism. As a recruiting tool par excellence, nothing will break down the walls to the further acceptance of Neo-paganism than a boy sorcerer intent on saving his friends, his school, and the confused, non-“gifted” Muggles from evil machinations that threaten the world.
The problem then of Harry Potter that separates him from other books featuring magic is not only the craze that has developed around the books, but that reality is being blurred. When I was watching Bewitched I knew that witches weren’t real. People didn’t go around saying that they were witches. It put a kibosh on anyone thinking that being a witch was a likely choice of religion. But not so today. In my county alone there are several recognized covens. Elsewhere I had mentioned that a young couple came into the Christian bookstore I worked in many years ago and told us they had just left a coven that was actively attacking the bookstore via prayers and incantations. Needless to say, I was naive to this modern reality.
We cannot afford to be naive. If Harry Potter had hit the scene in the 1940s, I believe his impact would have been negligible compared with today. But given that the environment into which he’s flown is primed for his brand of Neo-paganism, I believe the influence of Rowling’s books is far more dangerous. While some might claim that I’m cutting my own throat as a writer of speculative fiction, I can’t keep silent while a generation’s defense against Neo-pagan thought is being systematically disabled by what many Christians consider a harmless story. Fantasy novels of all kinds are some of the bestselling books in bookstores and it is safe to say that the most rabid fans are the ones who are most likely to self-identify not as Christians, but something more akin to Neo-paganism.
Although this may seem like a broad brush, the fact remains that the Harry Potter generation will be the backbone of Neo-paganism in the next dozen years. They’ve been groomed with what on the surface was a mere gripping read, but which planted a seed that will grow into a noxious fruit that we Christians of 2020 will have to confront. We must fight it now and work to deprogram kids before they grow up as enemies of the Lord.
43 thoughts on “Not So Wild About Harry”
I failed to mention an important article written by the director of YWAM’s European headquaters, Jeff Fountain. His article “Harry Potter and the Future of the West” is essential reading and goes much deeper than what I’ve discussed in my post here. I think that Jeff nails it in that article.
I don’t know, Dan. Harry Potter seems to be fairly innocuous, even to grade-school children able to read the books. I don’t see a whole lot of relationship between Hogwarts magic (which I’ve read all about) and Wiccan paganism (which I’ve experienced first-hand).
The biggest threat from the Harry Potter books is probably like most other worldly distractions—no mention of Christ. This weekend, for example, after reading Book 6 in 24 hours, I found myself thinking briefly of morality in terms of WWDD (What would Dumbledore do).
As always I find your comments interesting, Dan.
I want to hold off on forming an opinion about the Harry Potter series until I read more (I’ve read only the first 2 books and a thimbleful of articles).
What I find fascinating is that some other philosophies that are less obvious, because they don’t have the trappings that shout danger, fly openly and freely in the literary world without opposition. For instance, years ago James Mitchner was hugely popular, and hugely evolutionist, yet I was unaware of a Christian reaction to his anti-God worldview.
Since the Harry Potter books seem to have an equally divided number of Christians in the pro and con camps, I can’t help wondering why we aren’t more concerned with the unchallenged works that are unequivocally opposed to Truth.
Dan, I find Christian motivational speakers/authors like Joel Osteen and politicized Christian speakers/writers a greater threat to the Gospel than anything outside of the sanctified world of litany.
That said, I would feel much more comfortable with a child reading the Potter books in the home of a Christian than Potter in the hands of a child in a non-Christian home. There’s a comfort in knowing someone in authority can put it in perspective for the child — explaining Potter’s magical world as a metaphor for technology, for example (which I understand as the author’s intent) — than a place where there is no Biblical perspective.
100 years ago, the church would have stood up as one against this evil. Not to mention society as a whole. There would have been a book burning like no other. It truly breaks my heart to see Christians even thinking about giving such satanic influences a semi-thumbs up.
I don’t even know what else to say, other than: Apostacy is upon us, see that you are not deceived.
Ouch. I’m a Potter fan myself. The books are a riot. Then again, I like 3D shooter video games. : ) Gather the wood . . .
Dan, this is why I like your blog – because you make me think.
That being said : ), where do we draw the line? My favorite author is Shakespeare, but there’s a lot of offensive material in his writing. It’s rife with sexual innuendo and, as in The Tempest or Macbeth, filled with the supernatural: spirits, witches, spells, and magic. What keeps me reading Shakespeare? Should I be reading Shakespeare? Obviously, I think Shakespeare should be read. Now, I’m writing in extremes – Rowling is no Shakespeare – but what should be our guidelines for accepting literature or rejecting it?
I think when literature takes us on the same path that a warlock or wizard takes to harness the powers of darkness, we should definitely draw lines. What did God teach the Jews to do to a witch? I am pretty sure they were to be stoned. Why then would God want us to give our minds to witchcraft???
There are many testimonies by former witches and warlocks that testify that these are indeed more than just fairy tales being spun. Do Christians not read their bibles at all anymore??? It is simply dumbfounding that we have to have discussions like this.
I wonder what Moody, Torrey, or Spurgeon would have to say about this? We must wake up, before it is too late.
I think that Gaddabout has good points on this when he says that Potter in the hands of the non-Christian is more dangerous than Potter in the hands of the Christian. Still, if we were honest with ourselves, we’d have to ask as Christians if the possibility of something occurring within us that is dangerous is worth the small satisfaction we might receive from toying with it. The M-80 firecracker makes a loud noise when it goes off and for a moment it is worthy of attention, but what about a day later? Does the bang still matter? Well, it does if you held it in your hand and it blew your fingers off!
Worldview does make a difference. Francis Schaeffer routinely pointed out that Christians should not fear what the world has to offer. Though I would add that we shouldn’t be rushing after it like the worldly do. All worldviews outside of Christianity have set themselves up in opposition to Him—the Bible plainly teaches this. We Christians have to know the competing worldviews and how those set themselves up against Christianity.
The soulish man can have an appearance of good, but his self-created morality is trumped by the spiritual man’s reliance on Christ alone. In the same way, nothing considered “good” has any source other than Christ. When the good is portrayed, I believe it has to have its rooting in Christ or else it is a fallen, man-made system of good that will pass away.
This is why mere portrayals of good versus evil are always lacking unless the good is rooted in Christ. While the Lord of the Rings movies were entertaining, I did not go nuts over them like some Christians did because I see their desparate desire to have that link be self-evident as a longing for the world to have a Christian presence that withstands ridicule. But this is a pipe dream because true Christian practice will always brings ridicule. It was like, “Hey, this is OUR movie. Isn’t it really well made? See, we Christians aren’t always cheese-mongers.” And because of our deep desire to say that very thing we ultimately promoted a good that did not point its way clearly back to Christ. That does nothing to advance the message of the Gospel.
I’m greatly disturbed that at the recent Christian Booksellers Association convention the call was put out for grittier fiction with fewer overt heroes and happy endings. I think that is conformity to the spirit of the age. It is that same spirit, I believe, that has plowed the soil of the 2000s in a way that was not there in the 1940s. When I was little I could say, “Witches aren’t real”—the fantastical element stays fantastic. But you can’t say that in 2005. I think this is why the Potter books are more threatening now than if they had been released at the time of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. The worldview of today says that witches are out there and it’s okay to be one. The CBA keynote said that we have to be more like what is out there, too. In the end, nothing rises out of the gravitational pull of the fallen worldviews we see promoted by the world. God help us if we try to cheapen the hope that Christianity offers a better answer.
You said so much here, Dan, I’m not sure where to start. First, have you read the Harry Potter books? If so, I think we read different versions. While I agree with you on your points about good versus evil (this is the key component in my plea for Christian fantasy), I don’t see the “dangerous” in the Potter fantasy elements. There is no platform 14 and 1/2 (or whatever the number), no real Hogwarts. These are as fictitious as Oz ever was. And the stereotyping of witches and wizards links them far more to the literary tradition than to any modern claimant to Satan’s power. (And the fact is, there is no attribution in Potter to the source of power, for the side of good or the side of evil. The lack of a higher power is much more troubling, I think, than the non-existent link with a Satanic power).
As far as drawing children into evil, I would be more concerned about the lying and disobedience and belief in self as the final authority in moral matters—all of which CAN be emulated, whereas flying on a broomstick or making frogs come out of your friends’ mouth is make-believe and will never be something children are able to do.
My point is, Satan doesn’t need children to desire the life of a witch. Before all else, he is the father of lies, so his best attack is to speak lies and to draw people into living in deception. I think he’s pulling a fast one, a magician’s trick, getting Christians to wring our hands over pointy hats and moveable staircases when his real work is in the hearts of kids, questioning whether they in fact have to obey the authorities over them.
Even saying that, I think it is so much more important to think critically about what we read than it is to burn books that have characters God has said are anathema. (Let’s face it, adulterers were to be stoned, according to God’s law. Where is the cry to burn all the books that depict adulterers? Which does the most damage in the church today, witches or adulterers? But Satan, with his slight of hand, has us worried and fearful and raising danger flags at something easily recognized as not real, while the very real dangers run rampant in our lives and homes and churches.) The worst thing we can do for the next generation is to teach them xxx is bad without equipping them with the ability to understand and apply Scripture; discern evil; call sin, sin; and stand up to the world because of their own beliefs.
How is it that we have come to believe God called us to sanitize the world? He didn’t. He called us to live here, be salt and light in a dark and dying world, and make disciples.
I guess when it comes to the CBA, I also think we read different speeches. I don’t recall a plea for grittier fiction, fewer heroes, or unhappy endings. I saw a call for realistic fiction that has a place for God Incarnate, not escapist fluff. My own personal belief is that there is a wide middle ground. Not all fiction has to show the realism of today. Some might be the realism of yesterday or of tomorrow or of the fantasy world I create. The key, however, is that in whatever world I choose to write about, I must not only make it real, I must make it True.
Thirty years ago, when I was 12-13, there were no Harry Potter books, so I read things like The Exorcist, The Godfather, Dracula (Bram Stokerï¿½s unabridged), and pornographic science fiction by Robert Silverberg. Later, I was introduced to Carlos Castaneda in a tenth-grade modern fiction class. Having already renounced Christ, I was then led on a long journey through Eastern religion and philosophy before I accepted Jesus at 26.
Iï¿½m not saying that Harry Potter is any better in comparison to what I read, or that things were just as bad 30 years ago, but on balance, I donï¿½t know if things were really all that different in the realm of the occult. I wish my reading had been a little better directedï¿½even with all the reading Iï¿½ve done, I really havenï¿½t delved into the classics as much as most people whoï¿½ve spent as much time reading. With all of Shakespeareï¿½s and Tolkienï¿½s faults, theyï¿½re a lot more rooted in Christ and things that point to Christ than Harry Potter or the things I spent my time reading. Who knows, thoughï¿½maybe they do ultimately point to Him. When the soul has wearied itself searching in Harry Potter or Dracula, where else can it turn?
In fact, I should really be reading the Bible, Shakespeare, or doing my Spanish homework instead of blogging! 🙂 The time that each one of us has on earthï¿½including the kids who are reading Harry Potterï¿½could be much better directed. I pray that what men meant for evil, God means for good, and I know that He can redeem the time.
I might be persuaded to rise against Harry Potter, but then I would feel compelled to also stand against Lord of the Rings. Not much difference in my eyes.
A few things:
Witchcraft is always linked to Satan’s power, whether it is explicitly noted or not. Nowhere in the Bible does it attribute witchcraft to any positive source. Lucifer tries any means possible to divert people from truth. Your diversion may look different than mine, but there are not an infinite number of diversions. Witchcraft’s diversion is that it seeks to worship the creation rather than the Creator. This also lines up with Romans 1 when a powerful delusion came over those who rebelled against God by reversing the order of worship. And we know that witchcraft and rebellion are linked in the Scriptures also.
I’ve encountered an increasing number of kids since the release of the Potter books who have become deluded into thinking they have magical powers. And these are kids at the abstract reasoning stage of life who should be able to distinguish fantasy from reality. I will bet you that in your public school district there is an organized group of kids practicing legitimate witchcraft. They may even meet as a recognized coven at the school. Now, does this match your high school experience? Probably not if you’re my age. So what is happening here? We MUST ask if these kids were weaned into this by Potter. I don’t understand why some Christians are so loathe to ask that question.
One of the reasons Jesus came was to destroy the works of the devil. That legacy continues in Christians as we shine the light of Christ on the darkness, no matter what form that darkness takes. If the darkness takes the innocent form of a gripping story, we are still called to shine the light on it. There is no darkness that is supposed to get a pass. Whether it be postmodern manglings of truth or books, we are doing what we are supposed to do by warning those who are being led away to death because of them.
The difference between now and thirty years ago is the explosion of people practicing Neo-paganism. I did a lot of research on the Web about this and most experts inside and outside of Neo-paganism put the number of practitioners in the United States at more than two million people. Thirty years ago, that number was estimated at being less than 100,000. That’s a twenty-fold increase in just thirty years, much of it coming in just the last decade. In those last ten years there have been increasing numbers of lawsuits brought by Wiccans attempting to mainstream Wicca. There have been several cases involving Wiccans trying to get access to minister in prisons just like the Christians, Jews, and Muslims get. Same goes for military chaplains. Wiccans have fought to open city council meetings with pagan prayers. All these would have been unheard of thirty years ago.
You raise a very intriguing point. I raised it, too, on WORLD Magazine’s blog and was basically hounded off of it by asking whether Christians should be advocating The Lord of the Rings series in the way that we have. The connection between Neo-paganism and LotR is very strong, particularly when the books hit the Unites States in the mid-1960s. They spawned a renaissance of sorts within the pagan culture and even the larger culture of the time. A Crowley-ite like Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page embraced the books and immortalized them in their song “Ramble On.” If Page, as steeped as he was in the occult, had thought (as we Christians have advocated) that LotR was a powerful source of light, then why would he and others in the occult pushed the books so much? That would run counter to the occult objective. I’ve already talked about Dungeons & Dragons and the occult influence it had on guys my age back in the 1980s. Well, the creators of D&D have many times said that if it wasn’t for LotR, there wouldn’t have been any D&D.
There is an outstanding critique of the Lord of the Rings series from a Christian worldview here. I would recommend that everyone read it. I know it will step on the toes of people who have elevated LotR to the pinnacle of Christian art, but we need to be discerning because the days are evil.
I have to agree with Senior Hendrick. I rather think Tolkien and C. S. Lewis would have enjoyed the Harry Potter books.
Over at The Boar’s Head Tavern, Michael Spencer (of Internet Monk fame) says nice things about my blogging (Thank You!), but then insists I’m deluded on the Potter issue. You can follow the Tavern’s take on this starting here.
I can’t wait to see what happens now that I’ve questioned LotR. I suspect The Thinklings will be jumping into the fray any second now. Perhaps a unified front between the BHT and The Thinklings against me will end the turf war between these two rival Web gangs and restore peace to the blogosphere.
But then again, I’m delusional.
I’ll tell you what’s scary. Whenever I see someone write what you wrote Dan (and I agree with you 100%), it absolutely chagrins me to see how many Christians think Harry Potter is fine and don’t have a clue. In other words, the level of discernment in the Body of Christ is abysmall. I can kind of understand that a little in non-Charismatic people (as they don’t hear about the spiritual realm that much), but when Charismatics don’t have a clue….I get real worried about the future state of the church.
What we’ve allowed in the UK has returned to be reaped. We sowed liberal thinking and pluralism, we allowed these things to undermine and breakdown our country.
Now we live with the postmodern search for meaning in life.
How can this be avoided? Evan Roberts in the Welsh revivial of 1904 here in South Wales gave a 4 point sermon which I think is timeless in our world today:
1. Confess all known sin.
2. Dis-associate with anything of a dubious nature.
3. Respond instantly to the leading of the Holy Spirit
4. Proclaim the gospel.
What we dwell on in will be manifest in our lives. You’re on the clock in the USA. Guess what? We’re not far ahead of you…so change it or look at the UK to see the direction the USA is heading.
Put the wrong books down, pick the right books up, and stop wasting time in comfort, pleasure reading…whose are we anyway…are we purchased by the sacrifice of Christ?
Dan keep heralding these warnings, keep watch…it’s not a good place to be where we are right now….
See Dan, proof that I’ve been here. Excellent post and comments too, I’d add in a bit more if:
1. everything I was thinking hadn’t all ready been said
2. I felt I met the obvious requirement of a 150 or higher IQ to comment here
I did find more prodigious blogs to read though. Thanks!
How do we bring God glory when we write? Do we put a nice little altar call at the end of the book? Of course not. Eric Liddell brought glory to God by running well. J.R.R. Tolkien brought glory to God by writing well. Writing does not need an explicitly Christian message to bring God glory. God created one man to run fast. God created another man to write well. To imply that LOTR is “devil fiction” is one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve heard for a while. Who cares that a group of pagans picked it up and championed it? At least they were championing something worthwhile for once in their lives.
1. Milton wrote an epic poem on creation and he got a lot wrong. A lot that shaped the church’s thinking about the Fall. Yet Milton was a writer without parallel and his writing glorifies God.
2. Dante wrote an epic poem on hell and got a lot wrong and he too misshaped the way many think – this time about hell. But Dante was a master poet and he glorified God in his writing.
3. Augustine of Hippo was slightly misguided in his view of Scripture – too much a product of Aristotelian thought. Yet Augustine glorified God.
4. You’d have to be ignorant of Shakespeare or smoking something to say that Shakespeare was a Christ follower. And yet his writings have influenced our culture – in good ways – more, perhaps, than any other writings than the Scriptures. But Shakespeare’s writing, in its excellence, glorifies God. (And I don’t mean in the way that all things ultimately will be used for God’s glory – I mean that he used the talents he was given and he became a little maker [poet], created in the image of the Maker.)
Harry Potter and the witches and wizards within it never try to “control” spirits to create magic, to manipulate reality. The magic is an ability inherent within them – comparable to our intellect or the “mundane” gifts we may have. They are used for both good and evil. The same is true for the magic in LOTR – it is inherent within the beings within that fiction. It is not power from some other source. That is the difference between these fantasies and reality. In reality all such power comes from the devil. In fantasy it doesn’t have to. Neither does it have to in other forms of speculative fiction. In speculative fiction, we can fly simply because we were made to fly.
We can glorify God without preaching the Gospel. Some of us were created to.
You know Scott, that’s a very broad argument. I’m not here to burn books and I believe in teaching children how to understand language and literary techniques (such as a metaphor) at a very young age.
However, I put Potter in the very clear category of on the fence, and possibly questionable. In the last movie there was a scene about divination and spirits were summoned. It was startling, since I’ve always viewed the rest of the books and movies from an absurdist point of view. I would not let my pre-teens read or watch that. There is no possible way God could be glorified in that.
The more I read arguments in favor of Potter, the more I find myself hedging back towards Dan’s side of the argument.
I’ll be honest in saying that the Harry Potter thing stayed off my radar for years. When my wife’s sister’s family was down for the weekend I was trying to find interesting things for us to do. But when I was looking through the calendar of activities in my area, there were almost 90 Potter-related activities out of the 178 activities listed for the city near me. That’s half of all activities listed for the city of Cincinnati.
Just think about that. Half the public activities listed in the guide were related to a book about a boy wizard. The scope of that just blew me away. It was so weird that when our vistors returned from the huge Kings Island amusement park (on a Friday, one of the busiest days) and told me that hardly anyone was there, I wondered if people were staying away from the park that day becaue they were planning on going to one of the many Potter parties that were being held in prep for the midnight release of the book. I’m not sure I had any other explanation.
“Mania” is the best word I have for this. It’s very strange. I can’t say that in my 42 years that I can find anything like this. Now I’m not ready to ascribe some spiritual delusion to it yet, but it makes me wonder.
What is it about these books? It has to go beyond the story. I can think of better stories. It has to go beyond character, because I can think of better casts of characters. Why the obsession?
Another thing that gets me about this is that Harry captures the imagination of kids more than Jesus does. Think about that. What have we Christians done to fail children so that those kids want to be like Harry and not Jesus Christ?
Just a few things to think about.
Just to let you know where I stand, here goes: Lord of the Rings is satanic, it does not glorify God, it glorifies satan.
Christ, and the preaching of Him, glorify God. It is in Christ that the Divine pleasure is gratified. We must preach and teach Jesus plainly, this is what the bible teaches. How many people after reading or watching LoTR dropped to their knees and cried, “Have mercy on me a sinner!”
Come on people, wake up! I am still bewildered that this is an argument with those that consider themselves sincere Christians.
Be honest man, just becasue Rowling don’t come out and say she worships Satan should we give her our childrens’ minds. Also, when they cast spells, and work their magic, what exactly is the medium by which they are enacted if not for demon spirits.
The devil is not going to come out and say, “Give me your children so they will deny Christ and go to hell.” He shall appear as an angel of light. Do we not read our bibles anymore???
Gaddabout – You are right, it is a broad argument, though I think I probably misrepresented myself. The majority of my post was more of a response to Dan’s ruffling my feathers about Tolkien (thanks, Dan). It wasn’t my intention to throw Rowling in with some of the classics. (I talked about Harry more in terms of speculative fiction than about glorifying God. It’s difficult to communicate sometimes through blogging. Well, it’s difficult for me regardless. : ) ) I believe that Tolkien glorifies God in LOTR because of what he achieves. That’s my point.
By the way, I’m not aware of anyone calling up spirits in the third Potter book, or any of the books. Maybe I’m wrong. I have seen Rowling’s books to simply be, as you said, absurdist. But feel free to change my mind.
Rick – I just don’t have a problem with magic in fiction. I like fairy tales. Literature to me is art (some greater, some lesser). Art glorifies God by being excellent art. Do all of the arts have to be a proclamation of Christ’s redemptive work or can they revel in the wonders of God’s creation – including the creation of our imaginations? Can we glorify God by being poets who write poems that don’t include the Roman Road? Absolutely. Everything we do is an act of worship. That includes mowing the lawn and scrubbing the floors. Yet I don’t do those things with a sandwich board on my back that proclaims John 3:16 in big letters. I can write and never mention God and still bring glory to Him. After all, God has (e.g., Esther and Song of Songs).
My children are God’s. I will not give them to Rowling or to Satan or to anyone else, and I am very cautious around angels.
I am a Christ follower, not a Potter follower, not even a Tolkien follower (though a great admirer). And I’d hate for there to be any division between me and a brother or sister over a silly book. I just love fiction. It’s one of my great passions. And I get a little twitchy when people start poking around in my backyard. I don’t mean to offend anyone.
As a brother in Christ, however, let me say something about how we treat one another. We would better serve Christ by not condemning people for what they read – calling them spiritually obtuse or Scripturally impaired. We need to be more careful how we speak what we perceive to be the truth (and what may indeed be the truth). Love needs to be what motivates and flavors our speech/writing, not judgment.
Dan – Kids are all about fun and pretend and imagination. Harry is fun. And who hasn’t wished he could fly or be invisible? Most kids that I know would rather do those things than be beaten, scorned, and shamefully killed. You know? Many of them will get to the point where they realize that Christ far outshines any other hero they could hope to imagine. They’ll get there.
Hey, aren’t you supposed to be working? : )
Dan, I’m surprised you don’t understand the obsession—you were the one who wrote so eloquently about our longing for heroes. That’s what Harry is to those kids—a hero who looks sorta like them. Not the strongest, not privileged. Bullied. Misunderstood by the adults in his world. A good kid trying to do his best. And suddenly, he is empowered. He is important. He figures out a way to make a difference.
And therein is the real problem of these books—the slight of hand thing I referred to in my earlier post. There is no calling on Satan for power. For all intents and purposes, Satan (Valdomort) is the enemy. But Harry fights him. Harry wins. And where is God? Unless Harry becomes a Christ figure or one of the other characters does, I see the series teaching a belief in self as the final moral authority. Each person becomes his own idol.
But maybe he’s no different than Robin Hood or Superman or the Lone Ranger—a law unto himself, fighting for the good. A hero who makes us long for The Hero. I don’t know.
As to the issue of witches, in real life, Dan, I agree with everything you said. But as a sci fi writer, you should know that in the world you create, in the world of make-believe, all that the writer needs to do is to be consistent—bound by the rules you establish. So if I wanted to establish a world where cow pies are prized above all else, that can work, as long as I don’t inexplicably make them worthless later in the story.
If I want to write a story where dragons are good, in my fantasy world, that can work, too. Same thing with “witches” and “wizards.” What I cannot do is show a witch calling on Satan for power, then call her good.
Rick, the idea that LotR is satanic is laughable. Yes, Christ, and preaching Christ, glorifies God. But preaching Christ can be through symbol, too. Think about the story of the prodigal son. Who did the father represent? Yet, Jesus never TOLD us the father is a symbol of God.
Jesus told stories in which He or Father God was a shepherd, the owner of a vineyard, a bridegroom, a slave master, even an unrighteous judge. In those stories, some truth about God or Christ came through, often without any further elaboration on Jesus’s part. Are we so much more obtuse in this day and age that we can only see Christ when He is spelled out for us?
Have we stopped using our God-given intellect? Are we becoming the mindless community the media makes us out to be? God forbid.
what is laughable is comparing the LoTR to the parables of Christ. Did Christ ever use any dark, evil. and satanic figures to portray things like the Lord of the Rings does. He used seeds, and occupations, and family relations.
“Are we becoming the mindless community the media makes us out to be?”
My answer is yes when we accept these satanic works as being something a Christian should enjoy.
I am not questioning your relationship with Christ, only your understanding of the bible and it’s many exhortations to be separate from the world and it’s systems. Disagreeing is not so much division at first, but can lead too it. But if two people are at odds, both cannot be right. Maybe neither one of them are right, but without debating, how would you know.
To Whom it may Concern,
I am not advocating the abandonment of intellectual and artistic expression. I am refusing the expression of these by occultic mediums as being of God or glorifying to God.
Php 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Do you not agree that this should be a checklist of sorts when we plan to accept or reject works of art, literature, music, etc.???
of Good Repute/Report
Meditate on these things.
Do I think this should be a checklist when we approach literature? No. I do, however, think it ought to be a general guide for us as we examine what is in our lives. We need to be asking ourselves, What are we meditating upon? What do we spend the majority of our time thinking about? (By the way, LOTR is all of those things.)
That’s different, however, than using this verse as a checklist, as a sieve. If you do so, I imagine that you have no TV, pay no attention to the news, and watch no movies (or very few movies). You read very little fiction (none of the classics), all of which is overtly Christian and excessively didactic. Mostly you probably read non-fiction theology books. You probably can’t justify trips to the beach. Sieves can be dangerous utensils.
Now let me give you brief summaries of three stories: (1) An Israelite man kills a couple hundred Arab men. He cuts off parts of their bodies to prove that he’s killed them – all for a woman whom he later discards. (2) A man, looking for some action, finds a prostitute where prostitutes are to be found, and has sex with her. Only to discover later that she is his daughter-in-law. (3) A man and his daughters escape the violent destruction of their country by superior “alien” force. His daughters, thinking they are the only people left on the planet, get him drunk to have sex with him in order to conceive children. One on one night, one on the next.
Do these stories fit Philippians 4.8 more than a story about two nobodies defying all odds, hoping against hope, to destroy something evil in their land and to stop that evil from enveloping their world? Not because they want glory, but because they inherited the evil?
I understand your rejection of the occultic. And I agree with you. Witchcraft ought to be rejected. Let’s just make sure it is witchcraft before we reject it and start burning books, or witches.
Rick, maybe we ought not to be taking up Dan’s blog on this discussion. Would you like to continue the discussion elsewhere? Or do you want to let it lie?
I’m not resposible if a glutton sees me eating a twinkie and then gets himself killed by overeating twinkies.
I’m completely forgiven of my sin, and I’m not going to be held accountable for others.
I don’t think the Potter books is a moral issue on a whole. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.
If one of you is going to be satanic worshipers after reading the book, then don’t read it for God’s sake.
But don’t blame your shortcomings on thsoe who want to read it.
Now, children are the responsibility of the parent. If the parent can guide the child in a righteous Godly way, allowing them to read Potter, then that’s their business, and not any one elses.
Again, this isn’t a universal moral right or wrong, reading the Potter books. It’s personal. I say we all agree that we have different faults, and weaknesses in our walk with God, and that some will be best not to read the books and some can read it with no problem.
I have to ask parents, how many times has your child sat down to read his bible compared to Potter et al? Have they read through these books more than they have read the bible? I keep hearing that we have all these bible translations in everyday language so people can understand the Word of God, but it is seems that people go out of their way to read anything but the Scriptures. Everyone spends time trying to find questionable nuggets mixed in with the occult when we have the inspired Word of God full of truth and righteous. God warned us a long time ago of what was going to happen in the last days:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
[2 Timothy 4;3]
Other timely scriptures:
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
[1 Thessalonians 5;5]
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
“…18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.”
[Acts 19:18-19 – KJV]
“…16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
[Galatians 5:16-17 – KJV]
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
GAH! Augustine was a Platonist to the extent that he was anything pagan and philosophical; Aristotle was obscure and unfashionable at that time and would not see a resurgence in interest for hundreds of years.
What *do* they teach in these schools, I wonder?
IMO, we should thank God if our kids are safe and sound at home reading LOTR or Harry Potter. They could be out on the streets selling their bodies for drugs, etc.
If we don’t teach our kids spiritual discernment by reading some pagan works with them and showing them what we as Christians accept and not accept, what will happen when they leave home?
Dave C., et al.,
You wrote: If we don’t teach our kids spiritual discernment by reading some pagan works with them and showing them what we as Christians accept and not accept, what will happen when they leave home?
If a parent has been exposed to it—as most parents will—it is the parent’s responsibility to approach that topic from his or her own experience and to filter it as necessary.
Let’s be frank here: you could teach a child about sex by sitting down with them and watching hardcore porn. You could unpack all the things that happened and discuss them bluntly. But only a sick parent would do such a thing, right? When you talk to your children about sex, you don’t throw them into the midst of all of its realities, but you filter what you tell them through the lens of your own discretion and experience.
Why then should we not do that with EVERYTHING out there that has a potential for great harm. There are things out there I NEVER would try to sit down with my kid and discuss on the kind of level I depicted above. You don’t have to shoot up heroin with your kids in order to get them to understand that drugs will ruin their lives or kill them. If we filter here, why would we drop the filters entirely on things that are just as damaging to the soul?
You wrote; If one of you is going to be satanic worshipers after reading the book, then don’t read it for God’s sake.
The problem with this is that it is only revealed in hindsight. By then, it’s too late to undo the damage. Better to never have gone there at all then to have to undo the mess. Like I wrote above, you don’t have to try everything out there to know that some things God says to avoid. Truthfully, the very act of trying things that God say to avoid is the oldest sin the Book—literally.
Want a Google search that will spin your head around?
Adding the quotes around the keywords doesn’t really change anything, either.
Scott, thanks for your reasoned response to Rick re. Phil. 4:8. I think your closing statement about being sure it is witchcraft before burning books and witches, hits at the heart of the matter. People assume a thing without varifying the facts—I know because I’ve been there, done that.
(BTW, Oxford American College Dictionary definition of wizard: “a man who has magical powers, esp. in legends and fairy tales.”)
Dan, you said, “Witchcraft is always linked to Satan’s power.” So is lying. Satan is the father of lies. Among the 7 things God hates, lying appears on the list twice.
The fact is, a heart that rejects God in favor of witchcraft is no more lost than the heart that rejects God because of self-enthronment. Both are lost.
So I ask again, where are the campaigns against stories that depict adultery? Or disobedience to parents? Or lying? Or greed?
These are temptations people face every day. Perhaps they have so rotted our core, we don’t even see them any more, much less campaign against them.
Becky, your comments here make me want to jump up and shout “HALLELUJAH!!!!”
Why don’t you have a blog?
Seriously, Becky: Why DON’T you have your own blog??
Comparing Harry Potter to porn and heroin seems a little extreme to me.
Also, I’m obviously not talking about not filtering reading material, note that I said we should read this stuff with our kids.
I can’t help but think that some of us are trying to introduce legalism of the Don’t look! Don’t touch! Don’t taste! variety that St. Paul warned about. As he noted, those type of prohibitions don’t work well. Perhaps I shouldn’t let my kids read Harry Potter if it would make my brother stumble in his faith? 🙂
Considering that kids have to read something other than the Bible once in a while, I’d like to ask a question. What’s worse: a child reading Harry Potter, a complete fantasy that at least never bills itself as anything else, or the Left Behind series, a complete fantasy that masquerades as “Christian” fiction? It seems Potter would be least damaging to true Christian faith to me.
I have to agree with most of what Dan has said. My concern is that the Potter books may seem harmless, as in “just fiction nonsense” but what is it giving our children a “taste” for? If they are reading Potter books at the age of 10 or 12 what will they be looking for as reading material at the age of 14, 16 or 18?
I had a brief stint as a Christian school librarian and organized a fund-raiser book sale with a well-known book seller of children’s books. (non-Christian company)
I choose this company for their excellent “incentives” to raise money and materials for our library. When our books arrived for the sale, we were appalled at how much of our selection was Harry Potter and related books (even though we told them we wouldn’t sell them). The most disturbing to me was the related books, one a book of spells, very colorful and fun looking, just for kids. The bookseller knew that the interest in the Harry Potter books would lead kids to make more choices that “looked like” the books they loved reading.
Here is a great post against Harry Potter.
Dan and Becky,
Just reading through your comments, I think both of you are right. Dan, the thing that I think is most frightening about Harry Potter is the subtle implication to Christians that goodness/ righteousness comes through doing good things and is apart from faith.(for the non-christian I guess that’s kinda mute). In my opinion, it’s the easiest of all heresies to fall into. Now a bugillion kids get to soak up a “savior” character who is a hero because of his good works, which ironically are done through magic and divination. If Harry was the naughty little magician who screwed up everyone’s life at Hogwarts, then came clean in the end; This wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe, only .001% of the people who read the books actually take up magic because of the direct influence of Harry? That’s still a lot considering how widespread the phenomenon is. It’s implausible to be most if not all of the evil characters in a Steven King novel. Any “Carries” out there? Wicca and paganism are real unfortunately, and a good pagan is the most deluded one of all.
Becky, your right about Christians not getting worked up about lesser forms of “worldy influence” in the media. Maybe the majority of us are so tuckered out and overwhelmed by the task at hand, we’ve sorta thrown up the white flag, except in the most obvious cases?: Issues like, abortion, Prayer in public schools and so on. If J.K. Rowling hadn’t made multiple billions of dollars, this discussion wouldn’t have happened. Maybe it shouldn’t be considered equivalent to drug use/porn? My feeling if that analogy works, then Harry Potter is more of the “gateway drug” that is influncing the culture; It’s just that we don’t see it’s effect until years later.
I think I can see the well thought out arguments and defences of everyone here. But I want to include my thoughts as well if I may.
We picked up LOTR from the Library one day. We I’m studied somewhat in occult, Satanism, and other things for apologetical reasons. I don’t take pleasure in it, I just know about some of these things. When I pushed “play”, imidiately one of the first things I saw was 9 rings. And a little intro. regarding them. I took it out right then because from the start I could see sorcery appearing to look “good.” 9 is a highly Satanic number in the occult. 9 is one of the highest for Coven ritualistic stuff. It was obvious that evil was being made to look good from the start. I recommend that you all read http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org or .com I can’t remember which. But brother meyers who writes there used to be HEAVY into the occult. Read what he has to say about the significance of numbers and you’ll see my perspective immediately. “woe to them who call good evil and evil good” the Bible says.
Here’s where I draw the line. I don’t care if it’s “white magic” fighting against “black magic.” It’s all magic. Yes, I understand the motivation of some fiction that envolves magic. But there’s a difference from simply talking about it, and actually making it look good. Revelation talks about some pretty Satanic plans etc., but God does not make it appear good! God condemned witches to be stoned in deuteronomy, because withcraft is evil. What do you think Israel would have done with a book like harry potter if they would have read it? No doubt they would have burned it. Imagine this book is back in the day of Israel. Do you think God would have sactioned this book in old Testament Israel? Yeah right. 10 people are stoning a witch in a pit, while a scribe over in the corner is making a novel about the witches craft, and making it look good? Would this have been accepted by God and Israel? Now, take the book of Revelation and do the same thing. Revelation talks about some pretty Satanic stuff in it. But it doesn’t make any “white magic” or evil medium look good. It defines it for what it is [evil] and tells of how God will overcome it. Not with good looking witchcraft [no matter how innocent you make it appear], but with the power of the Spirit. You can draw what good metaphors you want, but the line should at least be drawn when something makes evil look good instead of just talking ABOUT it. There’s no such thing as “good” evil vs. “bad” evil. Harry’s magic is no better than the adversary’s magic. It’s all magic folks. You are all intitled to your opinion. You gave yours, I’m just giving mine [with biblical logic]. If evil is evil, and harry potter is innocent enough to take pleasure in, then that is no different than making a novel about “Jack the ‘good’ sodomite” is going to over come Jim’s “bad sodomy” with his “good” sodomy. It’s all perversion, isn’t it? It’s all sin isn’t it? Will you condemn something like that, but not take witchcraft with the same spirit even though God ordered witches to be executed in the Bible it was such a serious sin? Com’on, that’s just double-mindedness.
Nevertheless, everyone is intitled to their own opinion. Just make sure not to call it Biblical, because you’ll find the far opposite side in the Bible.
The bottom line is this: Sin is made to look good, and people read it/watch it to have pleasure drawn from it.
okay, that’s my 2 cents. You may all burn me now. =D
Gerry, what planet are you on and how can I avoid going there?
I’ve been a pagan for 16 years and what you are relating about the number nine, etc. is the kind of stuff that immediately discredits so-called apologists. Are you claiming to be an “ex-Warlock” (whatever that is) perhaps as well like other famous Christians?
What is the legacy of Christianity? This comments thread seems to encapsulate it pretty well. You have a few relatively reflective people pointing out that acts of excellence glorify the divine and it isn’t a matter of particular books being evil.
Then you have others spouting off about the “occult” agenda. I hate to break it to you guys but every pagan that I have ever known has seen themselves working towards all that is wholesome and right in the universe. In the pagan view of the world, Christianity, especially in its historical, institutional form, personifies all that is evil and base in human nature, twisting a spiritual belief in the most evil of ways.
What is the difference between the Christian zealotry that I see above and the Christians who bomb abortion clinics and shoot doctors with rifles while they sit in their homes? From a non-Christian point of view, it is a short step from Christian zealotry to the zealotry of other faiths that leads to suicide bombers.
I see people denouncing the fact that they are forced to tolerate Wiccan groups, prayers, etc. in public and calling for the days of book burning and the stoning of witches. This legacy of hate is the Christian legacy.
You want to know why most of the previously Christian world has dropped your faith? It isn’t the evil power of Satan or spells cast by witches. Look in the mirror and see the hate.
The “Christian” reaction against Harry Potter has done far more to damage the cause of the Gospel than Harry Potter itself.