Monday, July 30, 2007

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."


NYCindividual said...

Just a quick sidenote that I randomly just now thought of:
The Devil used scripture against Jesus, but Jesus turned around and used scripture to defeat Satan and beat him at his own game. Taken literally this is an example of how we can use scripture to ward off the Devil when he comes to tempt us or to decieve us. However, I think this scripture can apply to our conversation on Harry Potter as well. Rowling claims that her Christian faith plays a large part in the Potter series. Real world members of real world witch craft occults try to use Harry Potter to promote their own ideas. We, too, should take up our swords and beat these evil ones at their own game. The Potter series contains tons of Christian symbolism, so why not use it against those who would promote it for their evil ways. Satan would use scripture to decieve us, but if we make an effort to discern the real meaning of scripture and what God wants for us we can turn around and use it against Satan. Let us then do the same with the Potter series. Show them that they are wrong about the series and show the audience of the Potter books the true story that is behind the books, the greatest story of them all: the story of Jesus.

Shalene said...

Hi NYC. I don't know much about the Harry Potter series, so don't have any view one way or the other. However, one thing I want to point out, which I'm sure you already know, being such an avid reader is that Chronicles of Narnia is intended to be full of Christian symbolism, because C.S. Lewis was a Christian. As with the Lord of the Rings. It too, though not as much symbolism, is intended to have Christian symbolism because the author of that work J.R.R. Tolkein was also a Christian. And in fact both authors were good friends and spiritual brothers. I'm sure you already know all this, but wanted to point it out anyway; because for some, that may be the difference in what is worse about the Harry Potter series. Blessings to you Sister.