Wednesday, August 15, 2007

About Harry Potter (Part 2)

First off... You may be wondering why this seems to be such a big deal to me.
Actually, it's because Rowling has done just what Youssef has said he wants to do as a writer. Rowling is a christian who wrote a series of books to a secular society. The books were filled with a christian world view that became more and more obvious as the series progressed. She affected our culture towards a mindset that could be more open to accepting God.

Now before any of you freak out about that statement and think I'm being unholy and believe that we should all live in a christian getto and never affect the world around us, I would like to point out that other religions and ideas have been incrementally affecting our culture and most of the time we don't know it! When you next watch a movie or read a book really try to look for those underlying messages that have small references to accepting homosexuality or humanistic ideas. When you realize how much of that is affecting our culture what is wrong with a christian doing the same thing? (And *shock* people even liking the books. Perhaps there is a desire for that world view in our society... maybe people are seeking God in some fashion and don't realize it?)

A really good web site to look at in regards to Harry Potter is He wrote a book called "Looking for God in Harry Potter" the only christian book that I could find that actually sounded reasonable and well thought out. (The few that I found who were against the books didn't really have any real reason and mostly sounded like every thing they said came from fear and an unreasonable stretching of issues that wheren't really there... in my opinion.)

Someone who commented on that website said the following that I found to be very helpful.

-In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, look up “witch or witchcraft” and it refers you to “sorcery” which is the Greek word pharmakia, from which we get our English word pharmacy. This word “primarily signified ‘the use of medicine, drugs, spells’; then ‘poisoning’; then ’sorcery.’ In ’sorcery,’ the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc, professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.”
I worked with Wycliffe Bible Translators (publications) and I assure you that the shamanistic power among indigenous peoples is real and Satanic, and is used to control and terrorize. There is a world of difference between such sorcerer/shamans and the mechanical or technological “magic” in Harry Potter. There is no sorcery, occultism nor incantational magic in the Potter books (the first is actually called Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone, but American publishers changed it).

Therefore, if we as christians assume the books are evil because there are words such as witch, magic, wand, and so forth aren't we doing a disservise to the truth? The Bible does not condem a person for holding a stick and (pretending as the books are fiction) that they can say a word and their glasses will come zooming to their hand from wherever they lost the glasses in the house. Is "magic" like that a sin? My point was that if you tell people that "Yes any 'magic' is sinful" and they can see that that kind of magic isn't actually wrong couldn't they possibly not understand what the truly evil magic is? When Eve said that they couldn't eat the fruit on the tree and not to touch it either (going a step farther than God told them), but when she did take the fruit "and saw that it was good to eat" perhaps noticing that touching it didn't do anything bad to her she thought eating it would be all right too, but it wasn't. The sin wasn't in holding it or looking at it in this case it was exactly what God had said, "Don't eat it." I'm not saying that you should look into incantational magic and test the waters, but not actually do it. The Bible says that is a sin. It does not say however that pretending that you can fly or turn a mouse into a teacup is a sin. Problems happen when we add to what God says.

Youssef feels called to write books for a secular audiance, and I would love it if he was able to write something that would become as popular as the Harry Potter books. Then be able to share his faith with so many people who would listen to him! That is why this topic is important to me. I'm sure that at some point he will recieve critisizm from christians about what he writes just like Rowling did (and does), but does that mean that he should write books for a christian getto and never attempt to reach out to our society at large and incremetaly bring some minds into an openness to hearing God?

That is why I liked the Harry Potter books. That's why it bother's me when Christians reject them without knowing what the Bible says about incantational magic. Not understanding that what the Bible condems, Harry Potter does not promote.

(To which my origional post could have been title "Let's stop shooting down people on our side" or something to that effect.) :)


Lynne' said...

I've been reading opinions from both sides trying to see if there is a reason not to read the books. A lot of people who don't like it seem to be trying to make a case against the books because they think then that no one should read them. And I've come to realize that, though the problems they see aren't a problem for me (as the arguments were taken out of the contexts of the literature they were invalid in my opinion), I have come to the realization that certain things in the books can be a real problem with people. Just like some people don't have alcohol in their homes for personal reasons or beliefs, some people might feel the same about Harry Potter. Having alcohol in your home is not a sin, but I understand that for some people it's a problem. I've realized that I should be more sensitive to people who feel like that about Harry Potter. I hope I've shown what I intended to, that it's not a sinful book or of the devil, but that it is good literature with christian metaphors.
So, I won't say any more about it. :)

Heather said...

Hi Lynne,

I read with interest your first and second posts (and subsequent comments) on the subject of Harry Potter. I actually did read the books (at least 1-5) and have seen some of the movies as well. Though I agree with the point that we do have Christian liberty and can read these books and have our opinions about them, I don't agree that it is the best representative of the classic good vs. evil stories. David and I both have issues with movies that make the good guys people who actually practice some form of evil and the reverse is true also. Most people would not make a distinction between incantation magic and invocational magic as you so thoroughly researched. To them magic is magic and most people without researching would associate this with evil practice. In the following link
the author says, "For in our world—unlike Rowling's—there is no such thing as a “good” witch or wizard." So the caution would be especially to young believers or for those who don't have the foundation perhaps that you and Youssef have. The same author from the link also talks about the positive elements of the last book and says that although they talk a lot about love, "Unfortunately...this book takes cues from humanism in that it makes it seem as if Harry’s ability to love comes from within himself, forgetting the fact that we humans can only love because God first loved us." So really it is not that there aren't perhaps Christian themes that can be picked out from the books, but rather where does all the "good" in the books come from? That is pretty unclear and I did read them to know at least that. Harry never addresses a power greater than himself...and we can all recall that Satan takes great pride in all that he can do as well and look where that got him. :) Anyway, I did find them entertaining at the time, though got annoyed with the constant repetition of information throughout the series (though I understand it was written for children). I lost interest when the themes became increasing darker and had time to reflect more upon the things I just mentioned.
To change the subject: How is your pregnancy going by the way? I have had a few bumps (a trip to the ER with the worst headache of my life on Wed.) but all is well now other than some pain when walking (which the Dr. said is something I have to live with).
Blessings to you and yours!
Cousin Heather

Heather said...


I thought of a further comment after my nap. I see your point regarding the use of "magic" in other movies/books like "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Lord of the Rings," but I think the main cause for concern around the Harry Potter series has been that "magic" has been the primary focus of the entire plot. Harry is going to "magic school" for instance and is constantly learning more and more about how to "use magic". In the two above mentioned flicks, the magic used is almost an afterthought and/or is not thoroughly addressed as to "how" it came about. Technically though, is chanting "there is no place like home" considered incantation magic as Glenda waves her wand? Not sure, really, however, in the Oz story, we discover in the end that she dreamed the whole scenario. In Lord of the Rings, there are a few magical things also, but again the focus is not on how to do them, they are just done without an understanding of where they came from. We do however, get the sense that this "power" that Gandalf has can be corrupted because Saroman shows us that wizards are used for Saran's power also. I think also that it has been very clearly documented that Tolkien was using his "myth" of these books to convey Christian themes, whereas, Rowlings doesn't seem to have made her message as abundantly clear. She may claim to be a Christian, but nowadays, you can't always assume because people claim to be Christian that they are. I may be intersted to see if she writes a book about the "theology" behind Harry Potter, though I doubt she will. Anyway, it is ultimately a judgment call on what we choose to read or watch, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying the books. My only caution would be to promote them as an exemplary case of Christian ethics.
Cousin Heather

Lynne' said...

I probably overstated my case as I've heard the other side way over stated and a lot of this a reaction to that. It's to bad you didn't finish the series as 6 and 7 are "lighter" (the 5th was the darkest).
For a more realistic review (the most acurate I've come across, and it doesn't emphesize one thing or another but is really truthful is at
Do read it! It's a very well thought out and acurate review.
Just a few other things. In the "wizard of oz" books it wasn't just a dream at the end (the movie is better than the book in my opinion even with its flaws).
About Lord of the Rings, most people would agree that those books were a big influance in the 60s for people to get involved in "dungeons and dragons." These were no doubt people who misunderstood Tolkeins intent, and they were probably people that got too wrapped up in their entertainment. All that to say, we shouldn't take any of our entertainment too lightly. Everything we read or watch has an underlying message and sometimes those things that we think are ok really aren't and my point about Harry Potter was that people took the setting of the books (wizards and magic) and took that to mean they were bad without seeing the message in the story and setting. I just saw the cartoon "Atlantis" the other day and was shocked to see the crystles heal people cause unatural long life, and especially to posses people because it grew to have a "will of it's own" from all the hosts that it had posesed in the past (this was all said in the movie). Now I know at least 4 family's just off the top of my head that have allowed this in their home, but who also wouldn't read Harry Potter.
I think many christians have allowed "christian morality" to govern their lives rather than the truth of scripture
Should we accept any entertainment without carful examination and discussion with our family? Most of you I'm sure would agree that discussion is best....

Lynne' said...

...but it's easier to say "all magic is evil" or that hero's shouldn't have flaws or show weakness or sin. Our only hero who was sinless was Jesus Christ. How much can we ask of our entertainment? Are the characters realistic? Do they struggle, but choose good? If they sin, do we read about the consequenses?
Would it be better for us to read books were no one ever struggles, were the good guys are flawless and the bad guys are bad and get their just desserts? Christian morality would say yes, but the Bible says that all have sinned. We all sin whether we know it or not. So, I ask, is it better for us to entertain ourselves with stories that emphesize relying on ones self, or others. That show romantic love conquering all, or agape and brotherly love saving the day. That are full of surface morality, or show a realistic struggle between good and evil with the character choosing good.
Really, what should we expect from our entertainment?