Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A new Johnny Depp Film - Sweeny Todd

If you have not seen the musical "Sweeny Todd" you probably won't understand all of this post. I know it seems dark and dirty, but Sweeny Todd actually is a very good musical. I know my dad would disagree with me, but I believe it has some beautiful music in it and that the story is wonderful. It is a dark show, but a beautiful one full of meaning. And it's not about how everyone should go around killing everyone. Nor is it about taking revenge. I know that vengence is the Lord's. I do agree with Sweeny's statement that we all deserve to die. However, as a Christian I realize that we don't have to fear death and we don't have to continue in our slavery to Satan. Christ will set you free!
Romans 3:22-24
"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
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The Great Potter Debate

I don't know why I get so worked up about debating whether Harry Potter has Christian symbolism or not and whether the series is evil or not. I do not think that your opinion on such a thing will decide whether or not you go to heaven. In many cases we'll end up having to agree to disagree. I don't want to become obsessed over the series, or anything for that matter. God matters. The Bible matters. Christ matters; He is our Savior. It is only by faith through Him that we are saved. Still, I can't help but defend poor Harry, so here's another conversation I am in the process of having at the following site: http://www.habitationofjustice.com/2007/07/23/christianity-gone-bonkos/i-hate-harry-potter-and-the-christian-morons-who-adore-him/

My reply to the post at the above link:
I’ve never been for obsessing over worldly items or things. In fact, the last book on the Potter series warns against allowing your weakness of wanting, taking, and using wrongly to control your life.

I do strongly believe that there is Christian symbolism in all of the books, especially the last one (I have posted serveral posts on the topic on my blog). Rowling, herself, claims to be a Christian. She refused to give details away of her faith because she knew it would spoil the ending.

I’ll never put the Potter books over the Bible, but I do not think that we should shun the books because some idiots go too crazy over them. The books were merely a series well written and highly enjoyed until I started looking at the Christian symbolism in them. I’ve found that they’ve given great menaing to my faith and pushed me forward. That is, my faith has made the books mean something to me. I do see the harm in making the books into a fad and joining that fad as you described, but I see no harm at all in discussing the books and learning from them.

The site you provided actually seems a good one to me. Besides, why should you hate Harry Potter? It’s a good series. Don’t hate it just because the world loves it and tries to turn it into something evil. Just because an interpretation is evil does not mean the books are evil. By the way, I forgot to mention that I was one of those who went to get the last book at midnnight (although I never did it for any other books). However, I made a promise to God that while I would be rushing through the final book to find out what happens, I would still take equally as much time out to read my Bible and spend time with the Lord as I did with the Potter book, and I did that. So, I think that the series is good and is full of Christian themes. I think that a love of the series can be tastefully measured. That we can still enjoy the series and get a lot out of them, but get even more out of the Bible and our relationship with Christ. If you are interested, the following link will take you to a post by someone other than me that has a similar opinion to yours (I commented in reply to that post as well). http://www.sicarii.net/2007/07.....s-hogwash/

Lincoln's reply to my reply:
@Harmony: There seems to be a trend today where Christians attempt to inject Christian symbolism into just about every secular genre there is, whether in literature or in films. Not even Star Wars survives unscathed, which is apparently so rife with Christian symbolism that one one guy actually wrote a book about it.

Are you suggesting that God is only worth 50 percent of your time, while Harry Potter takes up the other 50 percent? Do you really believe that God would be well pleased with how you’re setting your priorities here?

Regarding Rowling, she stated that she was a member of the church of Scotland. That’s like saying I’m a member of the human race. What does it mean really? In addition, you write that she did not want to disclose her Christian heritage so that the series ending for Harry Potter wouldn’t be spoiled. Remember that Jesus said whosoever would deny Him before men, him would He also deny before His Father in Heaven. It strikes me as odd that Rowling would refuse to proclaim Christ as her Savior just so a book’s ending wouldn’t be spoiled. Well THAT’s certainly a healthy perspective to have in light of all of eternity.

She also started a One Parents Group that seems to devalue marriage and the need for children to have two parents, and prescribes to leftist ideology that would seem antithetical to Christian faith (unless you’re one of them liberal type Christians who take umbrage at this remark of course). On the other hand she donates 1 percent of her billion dollar estate to charity. That’s nice of her.
I wonder about the naivete of Christians today. The Bible used very strong language in condemning witchcraft, equating it with rebellion against God. You would think those who become saved and “put on the new man” would tend to shy away from all appearances of evil. Why make an exception for Harry Potter? Because it’s pure fantasy?

Truthfully, I don’t understand how a work ensconced in wizardry and witchcraft, written by a woman whose Christian beliefs could be described as nominal at best, could lead any person into a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ. Isn’t that what the Bible is for? Why this endless need to supplant Scripture for what is sure to be an inferior alternative?

If you want to read Harry Potter purely for the entertainment value, that’s one thing, and I won’t begrudge anyone having a little bit of fun. But the degree of obsession that I’ve witnessed regarding the Harry Potter phenomenon leads me to believe that there is a much more deeper spiritual issue here than meets the eye. I only wish more Christians would see that.

My reply to Lincoln's reply to my reply to Lincoln's post:
I try not to put other things above God, but it’s human nature to do so. I don’t think God expects us to read our Bibles and pray 24/7. I know he expects us to live Godly lives and confess our sins, etc. I know he expects us to spend daily time with Him and to put Him above other things, to not let the world go to our heads, to live in the world but not of the world. And I don’t think spending time reading books that aren’t the Bible will offend God. I certainly do not believe that God is worth only 50% of my time. But to spend 100% with Him would be to read your Bible in your sleep. I still try to live 100% for Him, but I believe there is a difference between living 100% for Him and spending 100% of my time with Him one on one (although He is always there, He’s everywhere).

Regarding Rowling, even if she faults in that she does not proclaim her faith before everyone (don’t we all have faults. I’ve been scared out of witnessing more than once), and I’ll give you that (I agree that she should proclaim Christ despite spoilers), but just because she refuses to proclaim Christ does not mean we cannot proclaim Christ. And I think that one of the wonderful and amazing facts about God is that He places Himself and the greatest story of all time in so many places. Nature declares His glory. Christ’s story appears in literature. It appears that we cannot get away from Him, so why not use it to proclaim His glory. I’ll not put the Potter series over the Bible, but use it as a tool to introduce children and nonbelievers to the ultimate truth.

By the way, I am not a liberal. I confess I don’t know much about politics, and I wish I did, but it’s not my forte. However, I do consider myself a republican and conservative. I do believe that children should have two parents: one father and one mother. Some people, however, get themselves in a pickle and do divorce or their spouses die, should that mean they should not have support as single parents? I do not know much about the group you listed, so I won’t go any further on that. But it’s beside the point. To attack Rowling is to attack the person instead of the books. I used her in my argument and you have shown me another side of that and some of my views on Rowling have changed as a result, but that does not stop me from enjoying the books and learning from them. Separate the books from the author and you still have a great series full of Christian symbolism. Maybe some of that symbolism was intentional, maybe some it was not, but the fact remains that it is there, available to be used to promote the one true faith in Jesus Christ.

The Potter series is inferior to the Bible, I admit I believe that much, but that does not mean it cannot be used. There are children and nonbelievers out there who would never come to Christ if we focused on just the Bible and made everything else in the world evil. Do you hate the Wizard of Oz? Do you hate the Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings? You say that the Bible tells us to stay away from witch craft and wizardry. It does say that. You then say you can still get a little fun out of reading the series if you want. If you define the series as containing real wizardry and such and say that the Bible thus tells us to stay away from it, then you should not be reading the series at all, not even for fun. Even in reading what others belive to get an understanding of nonbelievers so we can witness better to them is warned against in the Bible. The Bible does not say not to do this, but it does caution that it should not be taken lightly and that it is easy to get involved in those things if you are not careful. I won’t get involved in witch craft because I choose to see the Christian themes in the Potter series.

And the wizardry in the books is not real witch craft. I’ve not heard of anyone going into real witchcraft because of it. I know real witch craft members try to promote their ways using the series, but that does not make the series evil, that makes the interpretation evil. Wby not fight back against that evil interpretation? It really is a fantasy series. It is not meant to be taken as real life events. I doubt that those who started reading the books at a young age still believe there’s a real Hogwarts. Will you begrudge a child for pretending there’s a real Santa Clause or Easter Bunny? You seem to not mind reading the books for fun. I certainly don’t approve of the high obsession of the books. You’re not going to die if you don’t get the next book right when it comes out. I see the same kind of obsession for movie stars and video games. I don’t approve of that. But that does not mean there cannot be a tasteful way to handle things and to read these series and get something out it.

The way you put it it seems like reading the Bible is the only way to learn morals, etc. I don’t take Harry Potter books as truth. I see the allegories within them and they add meaning to the books for me. But I’d never put the books up against the Bible. The Bible is the only source I draw truth from. However, I can take the Potter books and look at the evident themes and symbols and compare them to the Bible, put them against the Bible and say this is fact and this is fiction. The Harry Potter series implies this, but the Bible says this, and I follow what the Bible says. Sometimes people need something to get them excited about the Bible. It’s human nature. The Potter series does that for me. Once I look at the parallels, I go to the Bible and dig deep into God’s word.

Lincoln's Reply:
@Harmony: I wouldn’t expect anyone to live up to impossible standards, my point was to consider whether Christians give things like Harry Potter more time than it deserves.

I think Rowling’s actions are more of a devious nature rather than simply shortcomings in character, but that’s just me. If her charity group for single parents were simply to support single parents struggling with poverty, that’s one thing, but I get the distinct impression that it’s more about promoting single parenthood over that of the two parent family.

Truth be told, there’s Christian symbolism in even the world’s most anti-Christian religions, but that doesn’t mean we should be promoting these religions or use them as a tool to bring others to Christ. God specifically tells us to come out and be separate from the world’s many cultures, and touch not what is unclean. We have to apply that in our own lives, and if we continue to color our Christianity with secular fads and worldly cultures, the true meaning of the gospel would be polluted and even made of none effect if we’re not careful.

The fact is, if you find Christian symbolism in Potter, and you believe that’s a personal witness to you, fine then, but not in a million years would I support using things like Harry Potter as a witnessing tool to bring others to Christ.
BTW, I understand those involved in real witchcraft have confirmed that some elements of Rowling’s references to the craft were quite accurate. Make of that what you will.

Also, I don’t say that the Bible is the only way to learn important truths, rather that it’s the superior way. This is about getting our priorities right, not shunning alternative sources that could being us into a deeper understanding of God’s Word. But it’s my belief that the Harry Potter series should not be one of them.

My Reply:
I think I have to agree with a lot of what you’ve said, Lincoln. There are a lot of books out there that are better for witnessing than Harry Potter. If I had children I’d certainly rather they read the Bible or children’s books with Biblical stories and specifically referenced themes in them than Harry Potter. As they’d get older, though, they’d probably become more interested in more adult or young adult oriented reading, which there isn’t much of out there for Christian teens.

I liken the Potter books to Chonicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings in that they all have Christian themes, but were not specifically written to be Christian. They are all classics and well known books. They all have had movies made of them. I would not mind my children reading books such as these as they grew older, but I would still take the time to discuss the books. I think there are many Christian children we won’t be able to keep from reading these books and as long as they are reading them we should remind them of the true story of Jesus and other elements of the Bible that inspire certain parts of these books.

I, myself, did not like the Harry Potter books at all at first. Not because of my Christian beliefs but because I thought them confusing. But as I grew older I started to read them again and gain appreciation for the literary talent Rowling has. It was not until I read John Granger’s book that I started to appreciate the Christian symbolism within them. Such books can be read for enjoyment, as you’ve said, and can add meaning to a person’s faith. Actually, it was my faith that added meaning to the books. I wouldn’t be very interested in rereading the books if it weren’t for that.

I don’t suggest we go around preaching at nonbelievers that the Potter books are Christian and that readers should repent and turn to Christ because of it. You’ve convinced me on that much. After all, the Bible does say that certain things may be harmless to a believer (in the Bible it was things such as sacrificial meat) but if they are a hindrance to new believers or nonbelievers we should avoid them around those people.

Still, I do think it’s ok and a good thing to talk about the Christian themes in varous sources among believers and on the internet, etc. If a nonbeliever comes upon it, so be it. Maybe they will come to Christ from it or a seed will be planted. After all, I’m sure there are many nonbelievers who think Christians are close minded because they refuse to give any approval to books such as Harry Potter.

I do agree with you that we as Christians should stand out among all other religions because we have the one true religion. We should live in the world but not of the world. However, if we are to disassociate ourselves with all things we’ll end up being in our own little corner hidden away. I believe we need to stand up for what is right and stand up against what is wrong. You’re right. There are elements of Christianity in anti-Christian religions and in worldly things. I don’t believe in promoting these things and using them as witnessing tools, but I do believe in comparing them, learning about them, and knowing what they believe so you can show them to those around you and say, “see, this is what the world would have you believe, but I have the one real truth that is in Jesus Christ and let me tell you why.” It is also good to have a background in other religions so you can understand and relate to others you wish to witness to who are unbelievers.

I know you must be careful in this, though, because the Devil can easily snare you into a trap when you explore such things. I would never want to color my Christianity with secular fads or worldly cultures. Yes, the Bible is the superior truth. It should be our number one priority in everything: in life and in witnessing. I think the Potter series still has something to offer, though. I won’t go around using it as a witnessing tool. As you say, there are far better books and sources that can bring us to a deeper understanding of God. But if someone I know who is not a Christian starts talking about the Potter series, I won’t negelect sharing the reason why I enjoy the series so much. I won’t start right off with the Christian symbolism in the books. The conversation would most likely be mainly about the plot elements of the book and Rowling’s writing style. The first thing I wrote about the last book on my blog was a plain book review. But I’ll still bring up my faith in the conversation. I’ll still talk about it on my blog a little. No one really reads my blog anyway.

I know there are real witchcraft elements in the Potter books. I have read a little about that and addressed it in my comments to another post at: http://www.sicarii.net/2007/07…..s-hogwash/

As far as Rowling as a person goes, I agree with all the comments you’ve made about her and the groups she supports. I do not think the person defines the books, however. One of my favorite authors is George Macdonald, whose stories are full of Christian symbolism. But I disagree with most of the doctrine he preached. So I think that on much of this we’ll have to agree to disagree, but we have already found much that we do agree on.

Grandma's Verse: Isaiah 41:13

Every once in a while I'll have a small surprise waiting for me in the mail: a letter from my great grandma. I love reading her letters because they're so simple. She talks about her daily life and every day ordinary things. What grandma does not like to talk? She always leaves me with a verse to think on, so I've decided that whenever I get a letter from her I'll post her verse on this blog. Today's verse is Isaiah 41:13.

"For I, the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." Isaiah 41:13

God's Wrath - A funny half hour news hour video

The Power of Schmooze and Fechr

I have been given the honor of being an Award Winning Schmoozer. “The Power of Schmooze” award was created by Mike at Ordinary Folk and Danielle at Pink Reviews to help “recognize those people that were [are] exceptionally adept at creating relationships with other bloggers by making an effort to be part of a conversation, as opposed to monologue.” The rules: If, and only if, you get The Power of Schmooze Award, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think, or have schmoozed you into submission.Link to this post and Mike so that people can easily find the exact origin of the memeOptional: Proudly display the ‘The Power of Schmooze Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

This award was passed to me by Proverbs31WomanWannaBe. I'm new to the blogging world, so I don't have many readers yet. I chose to give the award to those who have left at least one comment on one of my blogs.

web site promotion

This is a great little traffic site. Pronounced "feature" you can be put on the home page for free, and get a guaranteed 100 visitors. Note this is free at the moment, but will soon be a paid service. The difference is you get more visitors. Why don't you check it out and tell me what you think?

Personal Monday: Questions for Believers and Nonbelievers

Why is is that I have such a hard time concentrating some times, especially when I pray. I barely pray at all (never out loud, always in private). I try to pray privately as much as possible, daily. It seems, however, that every time I pray my mind always strays to other thoughts and I get off track, especially at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. On top of that, I don't think I've spent enough time with the Lord lately, not even reading my Bible. How do you keep concentrating? How do you convince yoruself to read your Bible even when you don't feel like it? And another random question, why is it that when you're supposed to go to bed and be sleeping at night you never can get yourself to fall asleep, but it's so easy to take a nap or fall asleep for a long period of time in the middle of the day? It's really annoying me tonight. I just can't sleep, as evidenced by the fact that I'm up at 3:21 AM writing this and contemplating watching a movie or reading a book. It's still Monday on my clock. No worries, now that I've gotten these thoughts off my shoulder I'm sure it will be mutch easier to fall asleep.

Pictures taken from Blingo.com image search

Monday, July 30, 2007

Personal Monday: Obesity on the Move

I am obese. I admit it. But looking back at my own life and seeing the way obesity has affected our culture, especially in the US, I have to say that I know I need to eat healthier and exercise more, and so does the rest of the world. Now, based on that short and simple fact, I have to say I do agree that obese parents should get their act together and direct their children in a healthier direction. A recent study shows that birds of a feather stick together.
The more you hang out with plus-sized people, the more likely you are to become one. I'm not saying to go dump all your friends who are obese, but you could go on a diet and go exercising with those friends. Friends can keep friends in check, right? Besides all this and a very interesting study on obesity that has just been released, I found the following article on obese people trying to adopt versus homorsexuals trying to adopt. http://lists.christianitytoday.com/t/7775828/5972044/134860/0/
I do believe that in either case many things should be taken into consideration. I've always been against homosexual adoption because I believe homosexuality is wrong and is pointed out as wrong in the Bible. I also think that homosexual parenting affects children negatively and takes away the balance of having both a mother and a father in the home. Although, I have nothing against single parents. In the case of obese parents, I do not think children should be taken away from parents or guardians unless it is a matter of life and death. An obese parent who spoils their child so much that the child could die before they reach adulthood should not have the right to keep that child. In the case of the family in the article, I believe they should have the right to keep the child. Emotional effects and such should be taken into consideration.

Hogwart’s Hogwash

Hogwart’s Hogwash

Note to reader: this article (no spoilers) is shorter than my previous article (spoilers) on Christianity and Harry Potter, but it is not broken up into paragraphs and is more of a rebuttal to the post at the following link than an actual full length article on Christian themes in Harry Potter.


I'd first like to point out that Rowling herself is a Christian (I believe a Presbyterian) and claims that her faith defined much of what she wrote, specifically the ending. Second, I do believe that one can enjoy the series without knowing that it points to Christianity, but for me the series only adds to how much my faith means to me. I see the series as no worse than The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. I also see it no worse than letting your kids pretend there is a Santa Clause or Easter Bunny at a young age. I think that allegories are great ways to bring the true story to light for younger children who are not old enough to keep the attention span needed to read or take the Bible seriously or to even understand the Bible's story completely. Even if the series were evil, we should still explore it for the sake of knowing what the other half believes. And who's to say God can't use something bad to bring something good. Why ignore the Christian parallels when professing them could bring more to Christ? I know there is wizardry in the series, but that's where discernment comes in. We as Christians should have the Holy Spirit in us and should pray for the ability to discern fact from fiction. We should be able to discuss the parallels between the Potter series and the Bible, and we should be able to discuss the differences as well. Rowling takes much of her writing from the influence of the writings of Plato and other classics. She also bases the development of the story on the process of alchemy. The spells used in the series are not real; they are made up words that come from Latin roots. I do not think any of the wizardry in the series is real world witch craft and if real world witches choose to take it that way we should rebut them and show them its not. I do not know about you, but I have not heard about any children or teens going into witchcraft because of the books. Even if there are, that does not make the books evil, it makes the interpretation evil. People could interpret the Bible wrongly and use it to promote their own agendas such as the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses, but that does not make them right or righteous and it certainly does not make the Bible evil. I doubt that the many adults today who started out reading the series when they were 10 years old still believe in the truth of these novels the way they did when they were younger. But they do still believe in the magic literature can create in your heart. Not casting spells magic, but the magic that is a special feeling inside of you. The magic that makes you remember how the series encouraged you, got you to start reading, or other things. I know of several books that have done that for me and I certainly don't think that kind of magic is evil. I doubt you do either. Now, I certainly do not approve of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many of the dark movies that show up today on the big screen and on television, but I think these shows and movies are much closer to real world witch craft than Harry Potter ever will be. There is a strong difference between them. Most of these dark films are meant to entertain and nothing else. They have no morals and no positive elements, even with happy endings. They are just there and they suck you in. These are the films that are not appropriate for your children. But not Harry Potter. While the series does get darker as it goes it never reaches the level of evil, dark, just plain wrong content that other films have. I do not recommend the later books or movies to children. I did not start reading the books until the movies came out. I too thought they were evil until I sat down and realized how much I can learn from them. Even the dark elements, such as the end of the 5th movie, make me cry because I realize how similar my life really is to Harry's and how I too need to make a choice, among other things. The series means more and more to me because it helps make my faith more real. I know I don't need the series to make my faith real. It already is real and I trust in the Bible at the only ultimate truth and absolute truth. Still, that does not mean I cannot enjoy the Potter series and get something out of it. So maybe there are parts of the books that also parallel real witchcraft as you say. You point out that the hand of glory is used. But it is used by those who are evil. Perhaps you could look at it as the good wizard (Christians) versus the bad wizards (those who practice witch craft). That's a real deal in the real world. It's a truth and it's in the books. What's so bad about that? Looking at it that way, Christianity is the only true religion and witch craft is evil and under Satan. We should fight against the evil that presents itself to society. Putting it this way, it seems to be a parallel that we should take to heart. The drinking of blood in the series is also still presented as evil. It is Voldemort who drinks the blood of the unicorn and he is eternally cursed for it. If we view Voldemort as Satan, it seems obvious to me that both are evil and both are afraid of defeat. Both refuse to accept the fact that Christ (or Harry/Dumbledore's side) has already won or is winning. It's only a matter of time before his ultimate doom arrives and until them he scours the earth looking for people to possess and people to make stumble in their faith. Voldemort continually looks for ways to stay alive by feeding on those around him. He makes his followers do his bidding and he often makes his enemies stumble (for example, he uses Harry's weakness to draw him the Ministry of Magic to get the prophecy for him). Besides this, did you ever consider that the fact that Rowling uses binding and possessing curses could be a reference to such things in the Bible? I refuse to believe that these books are evil and that Rowling meant them to draw children to witch craft. I'll listen to further arguments with an open mind, but I do not see why we can't use the series to fight against others who would use them to promote evil ways. Despite all the parallels you draw between the series and real witch craft, I would draw your attention to all the Biblical parallels. The wizards even go to church in the 7th book and Rowling quotes scriptures on the gravestones in the church graveyard. I know that Rowling draws from countless other influences beyond the Bible, but I know that the Bible is one of those influences and there are many parallels to be found and discussed. Parents would not have to worry about their children thinking of the books as real witch craft and going into real witch craft if they would sit down and discuss what is fact and what is fiction, and what we can learn from the series, with their children. I do not think the series teaches children "the fallacy that they can solve their problems and become successful in life by invoking spells and spirits," but rather it truly does "teach the values in life that are important for personal growth and a good grounding in moral values."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Discussing Christian Themes in Harry Potter

This is a very long post, so be warned. I did break it up into sections with headers to you can skip read or pick and choose, but I think it's worth reading and discussing. Most of the parallels presented I thought of on my own, although a few I got off of this site and put them in my own words: http://hogwartsprofessor.com/?p=134#comment-11951

Before I get started, I want to know what you think of the Harry Potter series and other classic books such as “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Do you think they are similar? Do they contain Christian themes? Can a book with occult themes have Christian parallels?

If you have read any of my previous posts on Harry Potter (linked at the end of this post), you know I believe that the series imagined and written by J.K. Rowling is full of Christian symbolism. I do not claim that Rowling inserted Christian meanings in her books on purpose; I only want to bring out the Christian meanings I personally found within the books, specifically “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” I find it wonderful how you do not have to look very far to come across the great story of the Bible showing itself, even in secular media. I do warn that the following review contains major spoilers in the plot. If you have not yet read the seventh book in the series and do not wish to know what happens before you read it yourself, do not read more than the next paragraph.

Harry Potter became an instant hit the moment it was published. Ironically, the character of Harry Potter never wants to become famous. Content with becoming an average wizard, greatness is thrust upon him. I’m sure J.K. Rowling never expected a similar greatness to thrust itself upon her name. I wonder if a single person exists in America or Britain who does not know who Harry Potter is. What about this young wizard boy intrigues so many? Perhaps we find comfort in reading about a hero we can relate to. On the other hand, Harry’s popularity may simply come from the wonderful stories that abound in these books. Maybe we enjoy reading about a nobody becoming a somebody. The list goes on and on. I would like to suggest that one reason exists above all others: the stories and characters found in the Harry Potter series echo the greatest true story of them all, the story of Jesus Christ.

You may burst out laughing or completely disagree, but I think Christian themes and morals have a way of making it into literature without anyone realizing it. Everything seems to exist and to have come into being that way. No matter how hard you try to get away from the truth, it will still keep popping up. God created things so that they would point back to His glory. We can even find parallels between the Bible and Harry Potter.

Some Small Pieces
Although Rowling may not have intended the Harry Potter series to be "Christian," it nevertheless contains strong Christian themes. From the many sacrifice characters must make to keep friends safe to small characters such as the snake, Nangini, that follows evil Lord Voldemort around, Christian elements are everywhere in these books. George, trying to protect Harry, loses an ear to a spell cast by Snape, who actually cast it in an effort to protect Harry, but missed. This incident harkens us back to when Peter cut a guard’s ear off to try to defend Jesus. After Dobby the house-elf dies to save Harry and friends, Harry buries him outside Shell Cottage, which belongs to one of Ron’s brothers. Harry watches as Luna Lovegood, one of those saved by the elf, arranges “sea lavender” on Dobby’s grave three days after burial. Although a simple scene, the number of days since burial and the arranging of sea lavender points to an important point in the Gospels: When the women came to Jesus’ grave three days after burial to anoint Him with spices. During Christmas time, Harry and friends visit Godric’s Hallow. People are gathered at the local church and outside the church the graveyard where Harry’s parents are buried lays. On their gravestones are quotes from the Bible. When Harry walks to his death willingly towards the end of the book, spirits of those dead walk with him, including a James (Harry’s father), a Peter (Sirius), and a John (Lupin). Harry pretends to be dead until the right time to fight arrives. As the fight breaks out, he uses the invisibility cloak to disappear. Everyone wonders where his body has gone, a reference to the empty tomb of Jesus. These are just small Christian pieces in “Deathly Hallows,” there are much larger themes yet to explore.

The Theme of Good Versus Evil
When you think of themes in Harry Potter, one of the first topics to hit your mind will most likely be good versus evil. Lord Voldemort wants to rule the wizarding and non-wizarding world. Fate drops the job of destroying Voldemort on the shoulders of Harry Potter. As Harry grows from boyhood to manhood, he must solve the mystery of how to destroy Voldemort’s evil. This battle of good versus evil resembles the battle between God and Satan. Christians realize that God has already won, but Satan will never give up until God does Him in permanently. Satan continues to do his best to keep us from bringing others to Christ and to keep others from coming to Christ. Similarly, Voldemort refuses to accept his probable defeat and does his best to bring as many pure-bloods to his side as possible. He does not understand the meaning of love. In early books, he finds that he cannot harm Harry because Harry’s mother sacrificed herself to save Harry’s life. Satan does not understand the importance of the sacrifice Christ made to save us from the consequence of our sins. Once we accept Christ, he can only harass us; he cannot possess our souls.

Purebloods and Mudbloods - Jews and Gentiles
Voldemort’s agenda in the wizarding world also resembles the way many Jews treated Christians as Christianity began to spread. Some Jews were too proud to admit they were wrong. Others did not want to believe that Gentiles could have equal salvation with the Jews. The Jews were God’s chosen people, but many did not understand that God chose them to act as a light to the nations. Salvation was not just for the Jews. Even James and Peter had trouble understanding this, but God corrected them. Likewise, many of the pure-blood wizards in Harry Potter believe that only they should have magical abilities and the right to rule. They do not want mudbloods (wizards with non-magical parents) and half-bloods (wizards with only one magical parent) to have equal status with them.

In but not of the World - Snape's Example
The character Severus Snape originally pledges his loyalty to the dark lord; but once he experiences love (in this case, he loves Harry’s mother, Lily), he changes sides and risks all for Harry’s sake. We find more than one lesson in Snape’s story. Snape’s work as a reformed death eater parallels the way we as Christians must be in the world, but not of the world. He lives with the death eaters, but works with and for Dumbledore.

In another chain of events, at Dumbledore’s order, Snape kills Dumbledore. Some may think of this as another Judas betrayal, but I prefer to see it as another sacrifice. Voldemort has ordered Draco Malfoy to kill Dumbledore, who sees the damage his murder would cause to Malfoy’s soul. Dumbledore accepts his death willingly, forcing Snape into an unpleasant but necessary role reminiscent of the Old Testament priesthood. The Old Testament priesthood, in turn, should remind us of how God the Father sacrificed his only begotten son, the righteous for the unrighteous.

Dumbledore: God-like figure or Human?
In the first few books, Dumbledore shines as a God-like, father-like figure to Harry. I believe that this impression still exists, even if his character takes on a completely different meaning in the final book. First, in “Deathly Hallows,” rumors circulate about Dumbledore’s past. Is he as wonderful as he seems? Or does he have a dark past that changes everything? As it turns out, Dumbledore is not perfect. He has his faults. Still, not all of the rumors are true. In a similar way, Satan will circulate rumors in our world and put thoughts into our mind that make us question the truth of the Bible.

Second, Harry wonders why Dumbledore never told him the complete truth during their times together and finds that he cannot have a complete understanding of the mysteries until the very end. We can’t expect to understand everything in the Bible, but we can ask God for the ability to discern what we read in the Bible. As Harry learns, we must have patience. There would be little point to the mystery if it were unveiled to us all at once. Sometimes we must discover the truth for ourselves. When we’re ready, we’ll learn what we want to know and will be able to use that knowledge wisely.

Third, because Dumbledore has faults, we see that no one is perfect. The fact that Dumbledore has faults agrees with what the Bible tells us about human nature. All sin and fall short of the glory of God. No one is perfect.

It is worth mentioning that although Dumbledore does not resurrect in the final book, he does return a few times in two forms. His brother, Aberforth, becomes essential to Harry’s survival. Also, Harry meets Dumbledore’s spirit in a place called “King’s Cross.” Only here does Harry learn the complete details of Dumbledore’s past and how to defeat Voldemort permanently. Similarly, only in heaven will we learn the complete details of the mysteries of our roles in God’s grand scheme.

King's Cross and the End of the Story - The Afterlife
There are six (the anti-Christ’s number) main horcruxes, but Harry learns from Snape that he, himself, is a seventh horcrux. Horcruxes are pieces of Voldemort’s soul stored in random items. In order to defeat Voldemort, Harry must willingly allow Voldemort to place the killing curse on him. He faces death bravely, knowing that death is inevitable, and sacrifices his own life for the lives of his friends, reflecting the character and actions of Christ. When Harry dies, he wakes up at King’s Cross railway station, an otherworldly realm where he meets Dumbledore. Dumbledore explains an error by Voldemort that enables Harry to return to life. His sacrifice, however, defeated the piece of soul that attached itself to Harry, leaving him with a clean soul of his own. God attached our sins to Christ as the King of Kings died on the cross --Part of Voldemort’s soul was attached to Harry as he made his journey through death to King’s Cross. This sacrifice parallels the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us when he died on the cross (pun intended). Harry died so his friend could live, but also rose again to defeat Voldemort once and for all.

For a short period, Voldemort really does believe he’s killed Harry Potter. Satan probably thought he had defeated Christ when Jesus died, but instead, the resurrection defeated Satan. We find another example in this part of the book. At King’s Cross, Dumbledore tells Harry, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” This has a two part meaning. First, Dumbledore makes the statement in reply to Harry’s reaction to a crying baby nearby. He tells Harry there’s nothing they can do for the child. The baby represents the soul of the unsaved at death. Those who die unsaved cannot find comfort because they are separated from God forever. Second, we must not let the deaths of those we love keep us from shining as a light for Christ in this dark world. We are needed in the world. Harry must choose whether to heed that call and return to save his friends, or to run away. He chooses to stay. We will always have the comfort of Christ by our side while we go through trials, as Harry has Dumbledore to comfort him at King’s Cross. Second, with Harry as a Christ figure, as Harry comes back for those he loves his sacrifice places protection on his friends. Voldemort can no longer permanently bond any of those Harry died for.

Death and the Theme of Sacrifice
One of the main themes of the seventh book is death. Harry must die to himself in order to live. We must pick up our crosses, dieing to ourselves, and follow Christ. Without Christ, our sins pronounce our death sentence; but with Christ, we no longer need fear death.

The theme of sacrifice recurs throughout the entire Harry Potter series. Lily, Harry’s mother, sacrifices herself to save Harry from Voldemort. This leaves a mark on Harry and keeps him safe from harm for many years. Dumbledore sacrifices himself for the soul of Draco. In the fifth book, “Order of the Phoenix,” Harry saves his cousin Dudley from the Dementors. In the seventh book, Dudley finally pays Harry back for the service. Dudley pronounces he does not think Harry is a waste of space and leaves tea by Harry’s door as a present. At the beginning of “Deathly Hallows,” several of Harry’s friends risk their own lives to keep Harry safe and one of them, Mad Eye Moody, dies. When Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Luna are captured and imprisoned in the Malfoy mansion, Dobby the house-elf rescues them, but dies in the process. Countless others die throughout the book, mainly in the battle for Hogwarts.

The Battle - Community
The battle for Hogwarts reflects a theme that came out full force in the fifth book: community. In most of the book, Harry, Hermione, and Ron are on a secret mission. The three rely on each other; without any one, the other two cannot do well. Harry’s friends provide support and loving care to him, encouraging him in his fight against evil – not to mention his fights against his own hormones. Also, by the end of the book, they find that they still need the help of others to accomplish their goals. Members of the Order of the Phoenix and other good wizards join together to fight the death eaters, giving Harry time to find and destroy the last horcruxes without interference. Likewise, we as Christians have many battles to face. We find support in community. We pray for each other and treat each other as we wish to be treated. We find that we all have a part to play in the building up of the church, and no individual God-given gift can accomplish anything on its own.

The Decision is Yours - The Deathly Hallows
In the end, however, we cannot make decisions for one another. We cannot save another person by praying the salvation prayer for them. The individual must make the choice to accept Christ into their heart on their own, and Harry alone can conquer his own arch enemy. He must decide to run and stay safe or to confront death and sacrifice himself for all his friends.

The choice of the individual becomes important in more than one way. The name of the book is “Deathly Hallows,” but what are deathly hallows? The deathly hallows are three items that, when united, make the possessor a master of death. The items include a resurrection stone, a wand called the Elder Wand that always wins a duel, and an invisibility cloak. Dumbledore attempted to find the three items at a young age, but found that he could not trust himself with such power. The items are tempting and in the wrong hands can create chaos. From Dumbledore’s experience, we learn that gaining items we desire will never fill our empty spots. We cannot find fulfillment in earthly power or possessions. Only Christ can fill the holes in our lives.

The three deathly hallows carry individual significance, as well. Harry finds use for the invisibility cloak throughout all seven books. It serves as a shield that keeps him from the eyes of others. Faith serves as a shield for us. God always protects us, even when it does not seem like it. Harry must choose to put on his invisibility cloak. When he uses it, it protects him. Without it, his presence is discovered and he loses his shield. He must discern when to use it and when not to use it. Similarly, we must choose to act by faith, but we must do so with wisdom, not blindly.

The resurrection stone brings allows people to talk those they have lost, but users find that those they bring back often do not want to come back. We learn to let go of those we’ve lost. Also, there is always hope. As Harry finds in his short time at King’s Cross, we will one day join those we have lost. Dumbledore hides the resurrection stone from Harry in a snitch that he leaves Harry in his will. Only at death does Harry realize how to take the stone out of the snitch. He whispers, “I am about to die,” and the snitch opens. Now, Harry has become mature enough to use the item properly. He conjures up the spirits of those he has lost to encourage him and walk with him as he faces death.

On a side note, Dumbledore leaves a book that tells the story of the deathly hallows behind for Hermione and a deluminator, a device that controls light, to Ron. The story book resembles the Bible in that it contains the truth and the path to ultimate deliverance. Ron finds that his gift has more significance than he thought. At one point in the book, Ron does not expect the heroic voyage to take so much time and effort, and tires of waiting for the destruction of Voldemort. Realizing things aren’t going to be as easy as he hoped, he decides to leave Harry and Hermione. When he recognizes his error, a light from the deluminator enters his body and leads him back to Harry and Hermione. Similarly, Christians often expect that once they accept Christ, all will go perfectly well for them. They forget that many will persecute them for their faith and that the Bible will not always make sense to them. This misunderstanding often leads us to turn away from God, but God will plant lights and seeds in our lives that will lead us back to Christ. Ron’s journey also resembles Peter’s denial of Christ before returning to Christ and becoming an even stronger witness and missionary for Christ than ever before.

The final deathly hallows item, the Elder wand, has a long and dark past, but finds its ultimate significance in the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. The Dark Lord possesses the wand and believes he has gained its allegiance. As it turns out, the wand really belongs to Harry and will not kill its own master. When Voldemort casts the death spell on Harry, it backfires and kills Voldemort instead. Similarly, according to scripture, Satan attempted to use God’s Word against Christ, but Jesus used scripture to rebut and defeat Satan.

“Deathly Hallows” contains much of the great story found in the Gospels. We have more than enough reason to read and enjoy the Harry Potter books. Many may balk at my statement or laugh at me when I say I am both a Christian and a Harry Potter fan, but I say that this statement is not a contradiction. You may think that many are led astray by these books, but I say Harry Potter is no worse than the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause. We can teach our children what is fact and fiction in these books and discuss the evident themes found within them. By discussing them with an open mind, we can learn from the series. Harry’s story is full of Christian themes and is a great way to introduce others to the greatest story of them all: the story of Christ.

Previous Harry Potter Posts
Click here to read a short on a TIME Magazine article that claims Harry Potter has no God-like character: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/who-dies-in-harry-potter-not-god.html

Click here to read my book review on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/bookmobile-wednesday-harry-potter-and.html

Click here to read my joyous exclamation at getting the 7th book: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/finally.html

Click here to read a short on the leaked endings to the 7th book: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/ending-to-harry-potter-7-leaked.html

Click here to read my review of the movie "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/movie-review-harry-potter-and-order-of.html

Click here to read some random thoughts on Harry Potter and to watch a clip from the movie "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/harry-potter-week.html

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Two Roads

I wrote this a year ago when I was deciding where to go to college. Since I'm transferring this year to another college and the emotions are rising again, I thought it would be an appropriate post. On an extra note, I'm going to post my Christian review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows some time late tonight.

The Two Roads
I never knew I could paint abstract before that moment. One could assume I knew how to paint. I had painted other things, but I had never tried abstract before. I was never that good at painting realistic pictures. But I did paint. My heart and soul screamed out through my paint brush. Who can describe the feelings an artist had when he first puts paint to canvas? Paul Cezanne knew all about that. He studied his subjects for hours before putting one stroke of paint on the canvas. Even once he had painted one stroke, he would stop again to continue studying before applying any more paint. He must have had a lot of dedication and patience. I've never been that dedicated. Painting is just a hobby for me. Besides, I'm not very patient. Never the less, I am a painter, and on that fateful day, I learned to blend colors, lines, and shapes to create a painting with much meaning. It was of the country side leading into the city. Like much abstract art, it had great meaning to me. Or did it? Now that I look back, I'm not sure what it meant to me. Which college was I meant to go to? I know I chose the one in the city, but should I have gone to the one in the country? It stops me in thought, remembering what it was like. All the memories of college years, everything I had made myself. I am a city girl, I was a city girl then, I just didn't know it. I always told myself I was a city girl. I said, "I am torn between the country and the city." I am two different people in two different locations. But who am I really, as a whole? I sweetly remember the painting now. Every detail, every color, shape are vivid in my mind. The city was dark and gloomy. Just the presence of it darkened the sky. A main road led to the city, but there was a side road, a dirt road. It led t o the country, where everything was light and beautiful, pleasant. The sky was blue. It beckoned you to risk the old, dirt road for a better ending. I recall finishing the painting. I looked at it intently. It seemed unfinished, but I was happy with it and left it as is. I sat down on my couch to think. Did the colors represent my mood and the way I really felt? After all, the painting was nothing like I had first intentioned it to be. I had thought the road to the city was the rough road. Was the painting inaccurate? Was it just a painting? Or did it have meaning? Did it really come from my heart? I started to cry at that point. My tears ran down my cheek and onto the floor. I bent over and put my head in my arms, saying a little prayer. My tears hit the floor. That would be my next painting: a puddle of tears. Did I make the right choice? I'm still not sure. But God can use even the worst situations to His glory. Whatever His plan may have been for me, I'll never forget the day I painted that picture of the two roads, and which road I chose to take

Friday, July 27, 2007

Horton Hears a Who and Alvin and the Chipmunks


Here's a new film coming out that should be good: Horton Hears a Who. I liked How the Grinch Stole Christmas and hated The Cat in the Hat. Horton Hears a Who is animated. It looks good. Although I'm not much of a Jim Carey or Steve Carell fan, it still looks pretty good.

I'm also excited about this one:

Beginning of a Novel I will Never Finish

The Novelist

The day it all began clocked in long ago. October 5, 1940. The screams inside the small home echoed and resounded outside to where Jonathon Wheeler sat in a nearby woods hiding. The evil man would not hurt him, not this time. He would run away. Jonathan knew the only way to survive pointed away from home. It was not a real home, not really, just a place to live. The screams echoed again. He could not take it. His sister mattered too much to him. She and he were the only ones left, other than ma and pa. He ran back quickly to the only place he knew. He heard yelling, and the screams continued.

Jonathon awoke. Years had passed and he had run. The hands on the clock ticked. Sweat slowly ran down Jonathon’s face. He paced about the room in his worn out shoes and hole-infested t-shirt and jeans. With his dirty body that smelled of the wilderness, he hardly qualified as a professional writer. Most publishers would not talk to applicants personally, but something about this man intrigued those around him. Another author working with the publisher recommended Jonathon to the publisher; that got Jonathon the meeting. Jonathon walked into that office with a tired face. He placed his transcript on the publisher’s desk and quietly waited for an answer.

“I understand that you show potential as a writer,” said Charles, the publisher. “However, Janet did not warn me you would come in such style,” he chuckled.

“You must forgive my appearance, sir, but I do the best I can,” came the answer.

“Normally I would not take a new writer like you. If Janet had not insisted I meet with you I never would have considered you. The look you have chosen to sport does not match my expectations. I expect any writer to dress professionally.”

“Sir, if you would just read my manuscript,” Jonathon interrupted. His nerves began to reach their peak. Fidgeting with his fingers, Jonathon looked at the floor in embarrassment.

“Look. I do not judge based on looks. Certainly you could sue me for that. Give me a day and I’ll see what I can do for you. You may go. Come back the same time tomorrow.”

With simple resignation, Jonathon left the room. Closing the door behind him, he went to the reception desk and made an appointment for the next day.

“Jonathon,” a pure voice rang out.

“Janet, what are you doing here?” Jonathon asked.

“I have a story to pitch to the company. How did your meeting go?”

“He did not care much for the way I looked, but said he would read my stuff.”

“Oh, you’ll get used to it. He’s rough on the outside, but once you get to know him you’ll see how sweet he is.”

“And sour,” Jonathon laughed.

“Well, you seem in pretty good humor for coming out of your first meeting with him. You’ll do fine.”

“It barely lasted. I’m almost tempted not to come back tomorrow.”

“Oh, come on. You’re better than that, Jonathon. You have a story to tell. Don’t let anything keep you from telling it.”

They both paused for a moment. Janet grinned wide and Jonathon’s frown soon turned to an awkward smile. They stood staring at each other in silence. Eyes locked, a long lost connection seemed to reignite. Jonathon broke the silence.

“Anyway, thanks for recommending me, Janet. It means a lot to me.”

“No problem,” she quickly replied, coming out of the short trance the two had held. “Listen,” Janet paused, “if you ever need anything, just let me know. If this does not work out or something bad happens, you need to tell me.”

“I’m fine, Janet. I can take care of myself.”

“Do you need a place to stay tonight?”

“I’m fine,” he repeated.
With that, Jonathon moved away from her and headed for the exit. At the exit he stopped to look back, but she had already gone in to talk to the publisher.

“Great writer you sent me,” Charles told Janet as she entered his office. “Where did you find this cowboy of yours?”

“Oh, out of the middle of nowhere. Not some place you would know of,” she replied.

“Who is this guy anyway? His manuscript has no name on it.”

“He likes to go by the name of John to strangers.”

“Are you a stranger?”

“I know his real name if that’s what you mean, but I can’t betray his confidence. Once you’ve earned his trust, he’ll tell you who he is.”

“You really think he has talent, huh?”

“I know he does. Have you read his stuff yet?”

“Only the first page. It’s the most depressing thing I have ever read.”

“Depressing? In the times I remember he had the best fairy tales and happy stories to tell.”

“So he’s a story teller, not a writer. The point is, he’s not publishing material.”

“I think you’ll find he’s both. I know there’s a good story deep down within him. He’s not so depressing at heart.”

“Well, he does not seem so happy go lucky to me. He looked so sad in here when he came in. He had deep hurt in his eyes.”

“Don’t we all?” Janet questioned.

“I suppose.”

“He mentioned you hated the way he looked.”

“Oh, so you ran into him in the waiting room, I guess?”


“He looked like he came from a swim in a trash dump.”

“He’s mysterious that way,” Janet looked into the sky through the window.

“I don’t call it mysterious when a man enters a rich man’s office smelling like rotten eggs and looking like a homeless man.” He noted the dreamy look on Janet’s face. “Our own little love birds! How cute! No matter, I can’t publish this guy just because you say he’s good. The readers have to like him. He has to sell!”

“And he will!”

“Does this sound like something that will sell?”

Charles handed Jonathon’s manuscript to Janet. She read,

“I can still hear their screams at night. I toss and turn at the thought. If only I had been there, if only I had died with them that night. I do not know why it happened or how, I did not even see it happen, not even the last second of it. Still, my mind imagines every moment of it.

My name is John, and I have no middle or last name, at least not true ones known to the people of this world. As soon as I found out, I changed my name, only keeping my first. I tell no one who I am, and work in secret, writing novels under the name of Wicker.

I aspire to be a great novelist whose identity is a mystery. As for now, although I manage, I doubt many people read my books, which are my only way of showing others my life.

I am here to tell you my story. I must tell you of the screams that echoed the small house in the woods that night. I must tell you of what I witnessed. My brothers and sisters are dead. Only I am left. Perhaps I shall tell you of dark things that haunt this world. Perhaps I shall tell you the gruesome details of the blood that was shed that night. I saw the blood and I fled. Before I can tell you any more, however, I must start at the very beginning, where these terrible things all began.”

A tear dropped down from Janet’s left eye.

“Depressing?” Charles asked.

“He’s shared all this with me before,” Janet said as she began to bite her finger nails, “but I never thought he would open up this much.”

“You look like you need to recover a bit,” Charles remarked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Your friend shows promise, Janet. I can see it in his eyes. He’s proud and has lots to discover, but it’s not enough. You only cry because you know where the inspiration for this dark work comes from, but our readers are not guaranteed tears.”

“They’ll want to know the background of his story.”

“So it’s a mystery novel, then? I suppose it might work. I’ll need good editors for this, though. It needs a lot of work. Before anything is decided I need to finish reading his manuscript. At the way things are going in this office, I’ll never get to it.”

“I have faith in you.”

“You always do. Now, what’s this pitch of yours that you so desperately needed to tell me?”

“Charles,” Janet began.

“I know, you shall write a story about us.”

“No, Charles.”

“I see. You only made this appointment to make sure I considered this mysterious man! You must care very much for him.”

“Not as much as I care for you,” Janet replied as she left the office.

Charles chuckled to himself. How long had it been since he last wrote something.

“Maybe I’ll write something about a mysterious young author,” he thought to himself.

Work beckoned Charles back to reality and he started reading Jonathon’s manuscript.

“Charles,” an employee interrupted his reading about thirty minutes later, “your next appointment has arrived.”

Reluctantly, Charles pushed Jonathon’s writing aside. The rest of the work day he went back to the novel whenever he got a chance. The more he read, the better it got. Jonathon’s story became darker and darker, but kept Charles’ attention. It was not your typical horror story. It took on more serious subjects that meant something to the world. Charles’ wanted to know if justice would conquer all the evils served up in this platter of sad circumstances. The story drew him in and he could not let go. He felt emotionally attached to Jonathon. It all seemed so real. Charles did not go home that night. As the clock hands moved on, a light sweat broke out on his brow. Around four in the morning he came to the end, but found it unfinished.

“How could he leave the reader hanging like that?” he thought to himself.

Charles would have to publish this novel, but on one condition, Jonathon must tell him how it ends and agree to write a sequel to tie up the loose ends of the cliffhanger in this book.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Creative Thursday: Why the Sudden Silence?

Why the sudden silence?
Coming so swift and so fast.
Nothing to warn.
Just a quick entrance,
leaving all behind.
Show me your meaning,
dear sir.
I know not what it is.
This strange moment,
it fills my ears with nothingness
I hear nothing.
I see nothing.
I feel nothing.
I am alone in the world with you.
You who jump from around the corner.
You who bring fright to all,
and at other times peace.
So, why not tell me your meaning?
I am puzzled and befuddled.

Harry Potter Arrived and On its Way

A new Harry Potter article on its way! I'll post a Christian review of "Deathly Hallows" and its Christian themes within the next couple of days. Look for it! For now, content yourself with the following shorts I've written about the series:

Click here to read a short on a TIME Magazine article that claims Harry Potter has no God-like character: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/who-dies-in-harry-potter-not-god.html

Click here to read my book review on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/bookmobile-wednesday-harry-potter-and.html

Click here to read my joyous exclamation at getting the 7th book: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/finally.html

Click here to read a short on the leaked endings to the 7th book: http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/ending-to-harry-potter-7-leaked.html

Click here to read my review of the movie "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/movie-review-harry-potter-and-order-of.html

Click here to read some random thoughts on Harry Potter and to watch a clip from the movie "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix": http://atthestudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/harry-potter-week.html

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who Dies in Harry Potter? Not God!


According the article, "Who Dies in Harry Potter? God," (link posted above) written by Lev Grossman and published in TIME Magazine, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series aligns more with modern secular and atheist ideas and books than classic Christian based ideas and books (such as C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" series and J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy). I disagree.

If anyone wants any evidence of the presence of Christian themes in Harry Potter they should read the book "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger. Apparently Rowling is a professed Presbyterian. Separate from that, her books are chalk full of Christian themes. Even if she did not insert them on purpose, they came out. That's something that I find just amazing. The Bible tells us that even nature declares God's glory. I'm finding more and more that the great story found in the Bible also declare's God's glory in numerous secular accounts/stories that don't even try to bring up Christian parallels. It's just like how we find that Christian morals are often universal morals.

It seems to me that Lev Grossman has a habit of making things out to be anti-Christian or against the existence of God. I believe he has a right to state what he believes, but I also must state that I disagree with what he has asserted. In his article, "Harry Potter's Last Adcenture" he says that finding out that Dumbledore has faults cancels out any image we may have of a God in the series. Actually, the fact that Dumbledore has faults parallels what the Bible tells us about human nature. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. While in earlier books Dumbledore seemed a fatherly figure, finding out that he has faults as a human wizard goes along with this teaching we find in the Bible. No one is perfect.

Bookmobile Wednesday: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"

I spent two days reading this book. It only took me one day to read the sixth book, so I was surprised at how long it took me to read this last installment. I went to the midnight party at my local Borders. I had not pre-ordered the book, but I got lucky. I ran into a friend who had accidentally ordered two books instead of one, so I got her second order. We waited in line until 1:30 AM to buy our copy. It was worth the wait. See my review below. Don't worry, there are no spoilers. This is just a simple, quick review. I'll post a spoiler post later on Christian themes found in "Deathly Hallows."

Rating: four out of five stars

Plot: We discovered in the sixth Harry Potter book that the only way to get rid of Voldemort for good is to destroy the 6 horcruxes Voldemort created. Horcruxes are items containing pieces of a Wizard’s soul. As we enter the seventh book, we find that Voldemort has taken over Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic. Harry must go into hiding to stay safe. Hermione and Ron join him. Before Dumbledore died, he left the three of them the mission of destroying the horcruxes, but how ill they do that if they must stay in hiding? A new mystery complicates things even more. Dumbledore left each of them an item in his will, but not even Hermione can figure out the meaning of these items. On top of this unfolding mystery, Harry deals with unearthed facts about Dumbledore’s past. He struggle with discerning truth from fiction and begins to doubt everything he ever believed about Dumbledore. What’s the truth about Dumbledore? Is Snape evil? Will Harry and friends ever defeat Voldemort? You’ll have to read the 7th book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to find out (Or you can find spoilers on the Internet).

Analysis: As the series grew closer and closer to its end, you knew it had to get more complicated and darker. From the fifth book on Harry Potter became less of a child and more of an adult. While the fourth book was the first to truly have a darker element to it, it did contain its own plot. The demise of Voldemort was merely a subplot. However, once Voldemort rises again in the fourth book things aren’t so easy for Harry. Individual plots within the books disappear and the main story becomes the story of how “the boy who lived” defeats Lord Voldemort. In the last three books we see Harry developing as a character. We focus in on the connection between Harry and Voldemort. These three books are about the larger story, the ultimate story. Because of this, it takes a lot longer to get hooked on these three books. If you keep reading, however, you find it worth the time and effort. I’ll always be a Harry Potter fan, but just to be truthful for a moment I must criticize “Deathly Hallows” a little bit. The first thing that bothered me about the final installment was the way Rowling had Ron use the word “effin” several times. She uses other foul words in the book, but not very often and she never actually uses the F word. Style and language faults pop up often in the seventh book. “And then this happened” appears continually throughout the book. Also, more than once I found I needed to go back and reread passages several times to make sense of them. However, although Rowling’s grammar and style have worsened, making it harder to read, she is still a master story teller. In this area the seventh book does not fail. So much happens, I have no idea how they’ll choose what to keep and take out in the movie version. In fact, there are already events in the seventh book connected to pieces of the other books in the series that were taken out of their movie counterparts. It’s a long read, but worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Music Man fails again

I often go to nearbye shows for fun - even shows more than a couple of hours away. That being said, I did go see the show "The Music Man" which is totally overrated. I've been in that show, and this production stunk. Anyway, there was a review of it in the paper here: http://www.modbee.com/arts/reviews/story/13800559p-14378804c.html

I completely disagree with this review. I know a lot of people who aren't as experienced as I am with Broadway and Local shows would enjoy any show, even if it was the worst production in the world. Sometimes I wish I could be that simple, but I can't. MPA's production of "The Music Man" really is not that great. I hate to say it, but Paul is loosing his touch as he gets older. His sets are nothing special and his chorography is much too simple and boring to watch. Debbie was a mutch better chorographer. As for the costumes, they are very unrealistic. First of all, at the beginning of the show the costumes should seem dull and boring, reflecting the attitude of the townsfold. Sure, a little color would not hurt by the end of the show to bring out the transformation of attitudes, but having pastel colors for the entire show against the dull sets is just rediculous. Second of all, the costumes are inaccurate. For pete's sake, as much as I liked Grace Lieberman in this production, she was wearing Sandals for part of the show! They didn't wear neon green sandals back then. I was also dissapointed with the Well's Fargo Wagon, which was puny and small. Not much to it and not at all matching up to the excitement the song that builds up to its entrance. Marian and Professor Hill also have terrible looks. Hill has a mustache and little sideburns that are very non flattering. His jackets also seem way too big on him. Marian has terrible posture and her costumes blurr her out and give her no figure. She's just plain, nothing special or pretty. I would not mind that if it weren't for the fact that she has no figure. She's supposed to be pretty. At one point in the show a salesman says he'd like to spend m or etime with her, implying she's very pretty and he wants to make out with her. If I were a man judging on looks, I wouldn't want to make out with her. Another thing that bothered me was that her dresses did not touch the floor. It was scandalous back then for a woman to wear a dress that did not touch the floor (unless you were a youngster). I also have to disagree with the comments Lisa made regarding the acting and singing in the production. Many of the leads, including Marian and Professor Hill, were often flat. They were also boring in their performances and did not look the part. Jacob Bronson's high pitched voice also got on my nerves. The rest of the cast was so so, I did enjoy Barbara as Mrs. Paroo, but overall it was just a boring show. Not as bad as "Oliver." "Oliver" just plain lacked energy and any good quality at all. I must admit, however, that Tovi Wayne has improved, he was less distracted in "Music Man," although I still don't think he can sing very well. The only great thing in this show was the chorus. With so many people of so many different ages in your chorus and a musical director like Darrel Lingenfelter how can you fail? Still, I just could not enjoy this show at all. This is not the first review I've completely disagreed with of Lisa's. I'm not sure I'm going to trust her reviews any more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Personal Monday: Teeter Totter

This week has been a giant teeter totter. First off, I’ve been learning a lot about pride and prejudice this week. I love the Jane Austen book, but I’m talking about the real thing. More than once this week I’ve found myself torn in the middle of conflicts between people. When this happens, it becomes easy for me to let my own opinions concerning the people involved get in the way. If I’ve had differences with one person involved, they’re the one I dislike. It’s hard to learn to just back off and let things resolve themselves. I’ve found that I just need to listen to the people involved and support them without taking any sides.

Besides my own pride and prejudice problems, my emotions have gone haywire this week. I have not kept up with my food journal and have kept up my pigging out. I’ve been out a lot this week, and when you are out you eat out. Even so, at home I pig out on candy and chips. I get mad at myself every time I realize what I’m doing. I’ve cried more than once this week about it. At least I eat more fruits and vegetables now, but I have a long way to go. My doctor won’t be happy when I have no record of what I eat to show her. I’m hoping there won’t be much else for her to lecture me about. On the bright side, I found out I don’t have to get any moles removed, but I did start taking cholesterol pills, as well as acid reflux pills, yesterday. Tomorrow I go in to get my blood tested again, this time for Hepatitis A. Needles don’t bother me much; I’ve had my blood drawn so many times. Speaking of needles, that whooping cough shot gave me quite a flu, but after about 5 days it went away. Glad that’s over. Now I just hope there aren’t any bad results from the Hepatitis test so I can get that shot done and over with.

I lost my driving permit today. I’m really starting to worry because I don’t drive very well. I have to take the test within the next two or three weeks, but I don’t practice very often. Most of the time I am reading or sleeping and I never get out of the house.

The only really exciting thing I did this week was getting the 7th and final Harry Potter book. I went to the midnight part at my local Borders and bought it around 1:30 AM. Long lines. I’ll post a review of it tomorrow or Wednesday. I finished reading it last night at 11 PM. It took me a lot longer than I thought it would.

Since I didn't have much to say today or for the past couple of days (I've been reading Harry Potter since it came out) I'm posting some long lost weight journal entries. One today and another next Monday and so on until I run out. Here's the first one:

11-10-05 So, Wednesday I decided I wanted to go to the gym, even though I had a midnight flight to Indiana that same night. When I actually got to the gym, however I felt quite the opposite. For the first time I did not want to go to the gym. It was a strange feeling, knowing that I did not want to work out. I felt bad for not wanting to go. I also felt bad for making my dad take me, so I went ahead and worked out a little. I did 20 minutes on the elliptical, but as soon as I stopped, I instantly felt sick. I had to go home. It was not the best timing I guess. I needed to rest up for the flight anyway. Now that I am here, in Indiana, and have had about 2 hours of sleep, I have been pigging out. But what can I say? So far I love it here! I can't avoid food when it is offered. I know I should. I will have to take it a little easier tomorrow.

11-16-05 WOW! Vacations and sicknesses can only make it harder to keep up with this journal. Next time I go out of town or get sick I will have to persevere more. While I visited colleges last weekend, I didn't exactly do my best to eat right. In fact I did my worst. Now that I am sick and stressed back at home, I only eat more, especially popsicles. They seem good for a soar throat and do not activate my sensitive stomach. I like to eat. I admit it. We all go through trials. That is the beauty of a thing like this. It is all about picking yourself up again. I remember a line from the movie "Batman Begins" that asks why we fall. The answer is simply "so we can pick ourselves up again." That is so true in our society. I believe it has always been true. If we want something bad enough, we will do anything in our power to get it. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. It is hard on me to come to the realization of the truth. I have always been frank about it. Nothing has changed. But I don't want to die, and I don't want my parents to die either! My mom had to buy three seats on the airplane for the two of us because of our size. I just barely fit with the seat belt and my mom had to get a seat belt extender. People our size have been forced to buy a second seat because they are so big. Some of them have sued over it. I will never sue. Having that extra seat between my mom and I was worth every penny for the comfort it gave us. We were not squashed together. But I am sick of looking down and seeing a huge, floppy belly. I am sick of playing with my arms because they are like built in bean bags made of fat instead of beans and skin instead of fabric. I look at myself. I know I am big boned. I will always be bigger. But I can be healthier and I can get rid of these huge stretch marks that cover my body. I refuse to let go. I will be healthy, one way, or another.

Separate from all that, I just came up with a thought. Without all the pigging out on food, if one was to go visiting colleges several times, they would most definitely lose weight just from all the walking they do in campus tours.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


After hours of waiting, I have the 7th book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"!!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Footloose and other films


I'm not too crazy about them making another Footloose film. I'm glad that if they're going to make another one they're going to do the musical version, but I never liked the story of teens rebelling against their parents. Nor did I like the impression given that all Christians are strict people who only care about following the rules and are people who hate any kind of dancing. It's not true in all cases. I'm not keen on Zac Efron taking the lead role, either. He'll pull in fans of High School Musical, but, following the pattern of other Disney channel stars, there will most likely never be a High School Musical 3. Zac is not that great of a singer or actor, either, so I don't think he'll last very long or do a very good job in the Footloose film.

I am, however, looking forward to the new Batman movie in the making with Heath Ledger as the Joker. http://www.bww.cinematical.com/2007/07/15/dark-knight-update-new-joker-pics-eckhart-confirms-two-face/

Sources say the trailer for the new Batman film will come out with the Simpsons Movie. I guess I'll have to wait. I despise the Simpsons and will not be going to the Simpsons Movie. Just 30 minutes of that show brain washes you. It lacks morals and is just plain stupid. To think, kids watch shows like this and The Family Guy. No wonder why the coming generations are so full of sex and drinking.

One movie I am looking forward to is Underdog. It should be good. In future makings is "Speed Racer." I never watched that show, but ti's nice to see older shows being remade. http://www.bww.cinematical.com/2007/07/15/nayo-wallace-will-play-minx-in-speed-racer/

Last of all, can you believe they're making more Shrek movies. The third one stunk and they plan two more as well as a movie about Puss and Boots! UCK! The first two were good enough, but unless they change fast the next two won't do so well. http://www.cinematical.com/2007/07/17/shrek-will-probably-stop-at-five-films/

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Karaoke on TV

Has anyone noticed that both Fox and NBC have exactly the same show with different names, sets, and hosts. Fox airs "Don't forget the lyrics" and NBC airs "The singing bee." On both shows, contestants must listen to a song and complete it when the music blacks out. The concept is cute, but nothing special. I would love to be a part of the live audience, but I'm not so crazy about watching either of them on TV. If I had to choose, I would choose "Singing Bee" because it's cuter and has a better host. The colors resemble those of a bumble bee and there are dancers dressed in bumble bee colors. "Don't Forget the Lyrics" is more like a classic karaoke game with its boring sets and only so so host. Another thing I like about "Singing Bee" is that a lot of the songs are oldies, and I like oldies a lot more than I like old songs. They often have a cleaner, more innocent feel to them and aren't as dark, more fun.


Bookmobile Wednesday: I'm not Wonder Woman but God Made Me Wonderful

Rating: four out of five stars

Description on back of book: “Somewhere between being Wonder Woman and wondering what’s wrong with you is a great reality: God created you to be a wonderful woman. Instead of trying to live up to an unrealistic role, best selling-author Sheila Walsh invites you to take off your cape and boots, set aside your crumpled suit, and discover the authentic woman, beloved and valued by God. In this book, Sheila helps you understand that in God’s eyes, you are already a beautiful and creative woman. Heartfelt and delightful, I’m not Wonder Woman will encourage, inspire, and challenge you. Discover the real you, embrace life, and celebrate the joy of being a wonderful woman.”

Issues discussed: Sheila starts out where all problems started: the fall. Ever since Eve took a bite of that forbidden fruit humanity has been cursed. First, the blame game started. “Adam blamed God and the woman; Eve blamed the snake – but God would hold each one of them accountable.” Satan became our enemy. Women gained birth pains and desire their husbands, but their husbands will rule over them. The sex battles began. Men are cursed with the burden of providing for the family. They must work in a difficult and frustrating process to gain a living. Shame and guilt also entered the world. God still gave us hope, though. We feel guilt for what we’ve done and shame for who we are. God tells us we’re made for a purpose and have nothing to be ashamed of. While we may feel guilt from our past deeds, we can put those deeds behind us if we accept the hope offered to us through Christ. Although women are cursed with birth pains, they have hope in the new life that comes from the pain. Christ, the ultimate deliverer and our savior came from a woman’s seed.

“We used to be swans, but instead of a snowy white coat, we wear one that is brown and rough. We were made for more, and when we were displaced from Eden and turned pit into this earth, there was no way that we could ever feel at home. When Jesus came, He offered to take our filth onto His snowy white back and let us rest under His feathers so that when the father looks at us, He see us as we were always meant to be – swans!”

Sheila lists various emotions women go through and talks about how to deal with them. Pushing away the temptations Satan sends our way becomes a choice. You have to choose to have faith in Christ and choose to say no to Satan when he whispers in your ears that you’re not good enough. “We are asked to show up with whatever God has packed for us that day and trust that it will be enough.”

An example Sheila frequently refers to is “The Wizard of Oz.” Like the Wizard, we tend to cover our real selves with masks and costumes, pretending we are wonder women. Sometimes, God will have to send a Dorothy along to take the curtain away and humble us. Even broken, God uses us. We’re not perfect, but God is in control and will always be there for us. He loves us the way we are and all we have to do is lay down our masks and worship Him. God uses broken people so He can show that He is in control.

So, what do we do next? We ask god to expose our faults so we can become more Christ-like. That’s what David did. We take the trash out and offer everything we have up to God. We may not have much. The boy who went to hear Jesus preach with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish did not expect much to happen that day, but when he offered up what little food he had, it multiplied and became a blessing to many people. “When we are able to give the broken pieces to the Lord, the loaves and fishes of our stories, then Jesus will bless it, break it, and feed His people.” Once we accept Christ and allow Him to change our lives, we become lights in the darkness. Troubles will come, sometimes as attacks from Satan, sometimes as tests and opportunities from God for our own good. “Often it takes a crisis to reveal to us how hungry our spirits are.” Joseph found himself in the worst of places, but God always pulled Him out of the pit and used Him to bless others. We can’t save ourselves, only God can save us. Jesus is our hope, and although tough times may come now, we have a much better life to look forward to. “We can spend the rest of our lives beating ourselves up for being human or accept that Jesus loves and receives us in our humanity.”

Analysis: Sheila does a good job with this book. There are questions and prayers at the end of each chapter to help you develop your thoughts on topics and issues. Chapters are also short enough for anyone with eye trouble or who, like me, often get headaches from reading for too long. Using her own testimony (she has depression), Sheila gives the book even more credibility. She uses a lot of scripture and relates everything she says to the modern woman. Even men might get something out of this book. I was very encouraged by Sheila’s story. I never need to try too hard to become something I’m not. I don’t need to try to impress others. God loves me as I am. He’s in control and will take care of me. I can put my full faith in Him. Sheila communicates this all very well. There is much more to the book than what I’ve listed here. I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy read that you can get a lot out of.