Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For those Christians who don't like Harry Potter

(And for those people who do, and haven't read the 7th book, there will be spoilers in this post)

I just finished reading the last Harry Potter and as I observed the overtly christian themes and even a quote from the Bible ("Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also") especially the virtually allegorical christian themes in the last book I became quite sad to think of all the Christians who have shunned the books as evil and thereby directing children who liked the books towards the wiccin religion (which is nothing like Harry Potter... I have a friend who was a wiccin before become a christian and she loves the books and says they are nothing at all like what she experienced.)

In every book Harry has been the hero that was selfless, and loved his friends and family and was so loyal to them that the evil people in the books could not overcome him. He was brave and always thought of others before himself. Risked his life at the end of every book. Showed mercy to his enemies... even saving them from certain death.

The seventh book has proven what those of us who are Christians (and love the books) have suspected, Harry gave his life... he died for others, to save them from being killed and hurt by the evil person (Valdemort) in the book. He didn't stay dead however. Rowling actually explains why he doesn't stay dead because of all the magical rules she created, but the reason he was able to save them and protect them was because he gave himself up willingly... and his love and self sacrifice protected them. A magic that Valdemort (the evil character) did not understand and underestimated. I'm reminded of the magic that the white witch did not know about in the "Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" that was spoken "before timed dawned".

Why are Christians afraid to accept that Harry Potter IS a christian book? In fact the sacrifice that Harry went through was much more dramatic and powerful that Aslin's. So many children who probably aren't in christian homes have followed and read the Potter books and have wanted to be like Harry, and too many Christians have shunned these wonderful books! Pushing those open minds away from the religion that Harry demonstrated in the books! The main argument that I've heard is that children are using magic in the books unlike C.S. Lewis books or Tolkien, but why is that bad? Why would it be wrong for children to realize that they too can be over comers of evil and fight for the good and true and be like Harry loving other so deeply that they too would be willing to die for them.

Are we as Christians so narrow minded that we can't see past the wands and spell casting (not at all what wiccin's are about) and can't see the meaning in the books from the very beginning of giving your own life for the life of another...

"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." John 15:13

If you have previously shunned the Harry Potter books, because of what other uninformed Christians have said simply complaining about the magic in the books, I would ask that at least you would consider reading them for yourself. What a wonderful opportunity of ministry Christians could have if we accepted these books as they were meant to be without simply judging the cover, and could encourage those open minds to follow Harry's example...

....to love without restraint, to continue the journey set before them, to love their enemies, to stand for the truth, and be willing to die for their friends.


Lynne' said...

I just re-read this post because my mom thought it was harsh... I don't see why she'd think that unless it's to say that there are christians that just don't like or want to read the books, and therefore aren't necessarily narrowminded (though perhaps still uninformed if they don't read the books)
So, to clearify, when I wrote this I was thinking about those people who rant against these books while really knowing nothing about them. I've heard someone say, "Those books are of the devil" And I don't think everyone HAS to read them, but they ARE'NT "of the devil".
And I still do think it would be a good ministry for those Christians who are around non-christian teens. It would be such a great way to connect with them and then be able to tell them about how Jesus died for us.
And it really would be ok for any of you out there to comment if you disagree with me about anything I put on this blog (why would I post if I didn't want responses... I could write in my journal if I wanted to just blab to myself), but perhaps I sound too argumentative when I am mean to simply open discussions... or perhaps at least in regards to this post I was right and the christians I was talking about really are narrowminded and uninformed? Or perhaps no one who reads this blog likes fantasy and I am just talking to myself?

Youssef Sleiman said...

What purpose does retelling the gospel story in a youthful narrative have?

If the Bible is written as a narrative, what is God telling us about the nature of stories for conveying truth?

What can you do with a story that sounds stale, unrelatable, and irrelevant to make it seem fresh, present, and valid--aside from re-telling it?

What is the Christian reaction to non-believers who refuse to read the Bible on grounds of presumptive knowledge, "that only a child or someone of weaker personhood would read or believe in that"?

These are some of the questions that such a debate spark. Lewis addresses a few of them, but he's dead and no longer publishes. Anyone with thoughts, answers, or supposed ideas should take up Lewis's slack.

Lynne' said...

I did just notice that at the begining of this post it sounded like I was saying that all christians who dislike Harry Potter are therefore directing kids to the Wiccin religion... let me clearify... I knew of some missionaries in Europe that hated harry potter because wiccins would tell the kids that their religion was just like the magic in the books and these missinaries were frustrated and blamed the books for pulling those kids away from the christian youth group. Was this realy the fault of the book or could those missionaries have perhaps used those same books (written by a professed prespetyrion) to bring those kids into the understanding of how Jesus died for us?
If you are a christian who doesn't like the books and says so to non-christians you might not be directing them to a cult but I would say that if those people recognize the value in the stories and then hear christians saying how evil the books are ... wouldn't that cause a conflict in their mind and might they perhaps avoid what they might considar to be a crazy piose judgmental religion?

So in retrospect I suppose this post could seem a bit harsh, but sometimes the truth needs to be for people to realize the opportunities they've lost and for the fear and judgment they've laid against those of us who think these books are good.
Lately, I've been trying to look more closely at books and movies that I've read or seen and that were suppose to be good. It is amazing to me what that "wholsome" entertainment is actually implying. What world view it is advocating. (What with Lily being so into the Wizard of OZ lately it's got me thinking. ;)
To conclude, I would ask that any of you who think I am wrong about these books to proove and correct me. It took a lot of research for me to even start reading them though so I understand the hesitency for other people to feel the same way, and know that I haven't been caught up in a trend, but have thought very carefully about this ....I'm tired of ranting.

Lynne' and Youssef said...

One other correction... I said that the books were "virtually allegorical", but to be more accurate they are full of classical references that are christian symbols, but written in a post-modern style.

Daniel and Natalie said...

I can't say that I've read the books or have a desire to read them. I am always suspicious of things which are so popular in our culture. Who are we supposed to follow? Should we have open minds and follow Harry's example? What example is that? I do know that the ultimate example for us to follow is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus! I can point people toward Jesus example and the Bible. Is it being closed minded to desire to expose people directly to God's word instead of through a filter of a modern novel which contains hidden clues and hints to the Bible. I don't think that I would hand a brand new Christian a copy of Narnia and tell them to live their life, and follow the example of Peter or any of the other characters. All of this aside... God will use whatever means he wishes to bring His chosen to Himself no matter what I do or say His plan will be accomplished and I can be part of that blessing or not depending on how sensitive I am to Gods' leading.

On the subject of Magic.... This is an idea that is very prevelent and is embraced by the new age movement in our country. Their are very similar concepts Between Christian and New Age beliefs. A power within ones self? Is this a power that originated in you because you overcame and have prevailed or is the power from an external source that we would be lame aimless wandering blobs of sinful flesh without the hope of Jesus within us. Out of curiosity ask some New Agers (who generally claim that they are "Christian") about what they think about the book.
Just one last comment, simply because something uses Bible passages doesn't mean that it is Christian. What did Satan quote to Jesus when he was tempting Him? Scripture! Was it taken out of context? Most assuredly! Context context context! I'm not saying that Harry Potter is using scripture in or out of context but just to be sure that scripture is understood correctly within the context of the surrounding verses and the Bible as a whole. I hope my ramblings are taken as an encouragement to get to know Jesus better and not as a negative discouragement. In Christ, Daniel

Daniel and Natalie said...

Sweet! I actually love a good debate, even though I'm lousy at it. :)Okay, here's my say. Lynne' At first I was stopped short by your comment about the kids being led to Wicken beliefs if they were turned away by Christians from reading the book. I'm glad you addressed that again. Just because A Christian may not recommend reading the book does not mean that they will seek out such an evil option as a cult. Also, there are open-minded children out there who can appreciate a strong view on something, seeing as those structures, especially from loving Christian parents, can create security in a child's life. Now I admit that I've not read the books and have not done so mainly for lack of time and interest. Although I will admit to a certain stubborness against anything that becomes such a rage in our popular society. Having said that, my first response to the books used to be a comparison of them to Lewis and Tolkien in that the "magic" that occurs in their books was not something that a child would seek to do him or herself, but that Harry's magic could be assessed very easily by today's public through any research into witchcraft or dark magic. I still feel that that argument holds up somewhat. Another good point is that the magic used in Lewis' books, in particular by the white witch, was of an evil source and used for evil. The wand and everything was there and though that may not be the way a typical witch would show their powers today, it is the way in which Harry (the supposed hero and good guy) uses his magic (also including spells and incantacions which are definately used in todays cults of witchcraft and definately not seen as an example in the Bible). For some reason I am just not comfortable with that. Now I'm keeping in mind that I haven't read the books, these are just my thoughts in reading this blog and accompanying comments. I can see your point that the books could be used in ministry with teens and such, but it does bring to mind the story in the Bible about the disciples complaining that people were using the name of Jesus to cast out demons without believing on Him and Jesus replied that if they were not against Him they were for Him. His word is promised not to return void so if the subject of the gospel is being approached through discussions of Harry Potter, all the better! I would not, however, use the story of Harry Potter as another view or retelling of the gospel. The word of God is true and inspired directly by Him. Harry Potter? Not so much ;) Well, that's it for now. Perhaps I'll read the books and come back to this later. Natalie
P.S. Choosing not to read the books or recommend them without having read them does not mean that you are "narrow-minded" and being open minded to the things of the world can be hazardous. It's a fine line and we each must judge the best we can for ourselves. I have no problem with you or any other Christan having read the books and enjoyed them providing they've used wisdom gained from seeking God and the sound judgement of a Biblical perspective to make the descision to approve or dissaprove of them. Not all of us will reach the same conclusions. Our freedom in Christ means that's okay.

Lynne' said...

More comming about this topic on another post, but just to comment on daniel and natalie's comments... In the potter books the magic and theme of the books is never about the "power within" or anything like what you described, and I wouldn't give a new christian a potter book and say to follow Harry's example over Jesus. I think I said that it would make a good ministry opportunity (a door to open up a discussion about Christianity). The books were writen by a christian (with a christian world view) to a secular audiance. In an interview with JK Rowling she was asked what her religeous beliefs were (after the first or second book) and she said that if she told him that everyone from 10-60 would know how the book ended, and that once the 7th book was out he wouldn't need to ask her religeous beliefs.
Also, about Narnian magic... The witch using a wand and Harry using a wand does not meen the magic is evil. What does make it evil is when the magic calls upon evil spirits. That is sinful according to the Bible and that is what wiccens and shaimans do. There are evil people in the HP books that do evil things (not calling upon deamons however) but killing people and so forth and all of that is deffinately protrayed in a negative light, not glorified at all. Just like the difference made about magic in "Prince Caspian"... they use queen Susan's horn to call the children to Narnia (a certain kind of magic) and later when they don't think it worked a dwarf introduces a couple "friends" who suggest they call up the White witch to help them. If you remember this part of the book at all you probably remember feeling freaked out by the magic they described. That I hope helps to explain the difference between invocational magic (the good kind I described) and incantational magic (that is the sinful kind talked about in the Bible).
Also, I don't know why you would think I like the books just because they are popular? I'm not trendy or anything. (continued)

Lynne' said...

And why would popularity about something in itself stop any of us christians from enjoying good books or movies. Tolkien was and is popular (and the LOTR movies that came out) should we not enjoy it for that reason? I just really don't get the popularity comment. I understand that we need to not blindly follow society, but should we blindly reject it all too? I don't think that you think we should, but maybe you can see why I mentioned the narrow minded bit. If someone simply rejects something for an assumed fault when that fault has not been proven and infact is not there according to many trusted people... wouldn't you call that narrow minded for them to not investigate the said thing themselves to make an informed decision? If someone read the Harry Potter books and decided they didn't like them for what ever reason, it wouldn't bother me. I might not agree with them that the books are "of the devil" if they actually did come to that conclusion, unless they had some stronger arguments than I had with myself (and resolved). It all can be a very complicated issue in some ways, but I think all of this is good to discuss. :)

Lynne' said...

Oh... and Natalie it's interesting to me that you'd say that not every christian would come to the same conclussion about the books. I do agree with you there, but I've really only heard negtive conclussions from people who haven't read the books and only possatives from christians who have read them.
Actually I do know of three christians who don't like the books... all of which I think only read the first (which was writen for 10 year olds and is quite different in style from the others) and one of those Christians doesn't like any fantasy stuff at all anyway (he says he doesn't get it)
The other read it when it first came out and he'd just become a christian after being deeply involved with dungeons and dragons type things and just couldn't stand any magic of any kind (understandable at that point)
The third didn't quite say as specifically but she talked about how she was never taught the difference between pretend "magic" and sinful incantational magic so that she played around with palm reading when she was young not knowing that it was wrong and got burned and now avoids everything whether good or bad just to be safe.
I don't think in those cercumstances that they should read the books, and they have good reason not to... all of which are personal between them and God.

I suppose in that light if any of you reading this have personal reservations like the ones I listed above then perhaps rather than condeming the books you could simply say that you aren't interested in reading them for personal reasons. Or maybe you just don't like fantisy... or don't want to read them because they are popular (of course if you use that argument you probably should avoid other popular things to be consistant.;)
Anyway, I think I said before that Youssef and I have a friend who was wiccen and loves the books. So, for her it wasn't an issue (though certain jewelry and amulets are.) Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and is called to a different ministry too.
We probably should all stop judging each other's choices and and simply be seeking God ourselves.

Youssef and I were talking the other day about if it's wrong to see God in things.. that is, to see His love or craftsmanship or other things that remind us of him or stories in the Bible or whatever. Is it wrong or some how not really important to look for those things if it's not obvious to non-christians?
My short answer was that it's good to train ourselves to look for those things and to brings our mind to thinking about God and wanting to know Him more. (That's why I love flowers and plants so much, because every time I see a flower I think about how God made it and how it is a gift that shows His love for me.) If I read a book that has hidden or obvious simbals in it that make me think about God than, for me, it is a blessing and brings me closer to wanting to know Him.
I suppose that some people wouldn't understand that though. They might look at a sunset and just see a sunset... I always imagine that it is a new painting that God brushed on the sky to show the world that He is our creator. And when I was young I was mocked for saying that whenever I looked at my sparkly fingernail polish it reminded me of how we as christians can only shine the light of Christ when we are looking at Him and reflecting his light... and how dull the sparkles looked when they were turned away from the light... just like how we are ugly when we aren't reflecting Him... but when we are we are beautiful and can pierce the darkness.
I don't see why it would be sacreligious to think in that way? After all, Jesus gave us symbols to remember Him. The bread and the cup. I always wonder if He didn't mean "whenever you eat this bread or drink this cup, remember me" as in... any bread any time... not just the little crumb and tiny glass we get at church. What if we remembered him at EVERY meal... every time we drink something red and eat something bready.

*shrug* It's late and I think I've run out of rambelings, but at least you maybe know more of where I'm comming from, but do read the newest post it might help enlighten my comments too. ;)

Daniel and Natalie said...

I just wanted to clarify that I would never judge anyone, especially a Christian if they like this book. You are one of several of my friends and family who do like the books and that's totally okay with me! Also, I didn't mean that I hadn't read them only because they were so popular. Of course I enjoy many things that are popular with today's society. Sometimes I react strangely to things when I feel they are getting too much attention though. Perhaps its some sort of strange pride in me or something. Regardless of that I am very glad that they brought God to mind for you and I hope that they do the same for others, especially non-believers.