What About Harry Potter?
What do you think about Harry Potter?
Harry Potter has confronted the Christian culture in recent years alongside other sticky subjects such as Pokemon, homosexual marriage, alcohol, abortion and even the Democratic Party—all controversial and often inflammatory to discuss. I’ve found seemingly devoted Christian people inside every controversial camp, and many are Harry Potter devotees.
What we include in our belief system is a matter of spiritual sensitivity, education and exposure. We Christians align ourselves with the world’s offerings through our lens of Biblical understanding and level of relationship with Jesus Christ. While it may be cliché to say, “What would Jesus do?” our best recourse is to open our Bibles and take a look at our Christian plumb-line. Does scripture address the topic directly? If yes, (in the case of homosexuality, for example) there’s your answer. If no, (in the case abortion) what does it say about the general subject matter? This is my approach to Harry Potter.
The story goes that author J.K. Rowling created and wrote the Harry Potter world into existence on lunch breaks during her employment as a factory worker in Britain. She then published the first of seven books in 1997 which were launched as fantasy children’s tales. Today, Rowling’s Harry Potter empire spans the globe, garnering profits far into the billions in print, film and merchandise. Harry Potter is an entertainment phenomenon for some...but for others it is propaganda pointing at a spiritually dangerous agenda. Most people agree on one thing: it is wise to scrutinize the siege of media, entertainment and recreation pointed directly at our children. Is Harry Potter good for them? For us?
Like rivers and trees, we must assess the source or root of something in order to analyze the resulting fruit. While J.K. Rowling claims she is a practicing Christian, little is known about her spiritual habits and leanings, if they exist. (Hitler labeled himself a practicing Christian also, just to keep perspectives clear.) When people invent or create something, they bring to life ideas held inside them, right? Each of Rowling’s novels is focused on the supernatural world of all things magic; including spells, wands, wizards, chants and a menagerie of demons, ghosts and friendly spirits. Right away, we see a theme that flies in the face of biblical statutes: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, NASB.) Paul and Silas, in their New Testament journey through Europe, encountered a slave girl with similar powers embodied in the character of Harry Potter. What did Paul do? He cast out the demonic spirit behind her supernatural abilities and set her free of satanic influence (Acts 16:16-21.) That should give us pause.
“Oh for crying out loud,” you plead. “Lots of people create stories for kids with magic in them. Nobody was ever harmed by The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia.” Perhaps. Yet those two authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were renowned Christian men who wove a deeply Christian subtext in and through each of their works. The tree roots of their creations, in other words...the water source of their creative rivers...is rooted in Christ. Those men publicly espoused, demonstrated and wrote about Jesus Christ during their lifetimes. This is certainly not the case with J. K. Rowling.
My biggest problem with Harry Potter is what it teaches a young, formative mind about the supernatural world. Rowling’s perspective is anchored in deep darkness. Harry Potter doesn’t illustrate a need for God, he illustrates a work-around method of consulting wizards and crystal balls, waving wands and battling demons out of self-power alone. Not a hint of Christian thinking or worldview can be located. In addition, while well-meaning Christian parents may have read the Harry Potter books first, then approved them for their offspring’s reading list, they are rating the texts through their adult experience and not considering the empty slate of a child’s mind and belief system which will be crafted by flawed notions of the supernatural realms, at best. At worst, the demonic wiles of witchcraft will be soundly introduced by Harry Potter books.
In the end, we all have opinions. My Harry Potter opinion was formed one hot day in the summer of 2007. I’d returned home from a waitressing shift, exhausted and planning a few hours of rest in front of the TV. A Harry Potter movie-marathon took up one of my channels. I quickly changed the dial since my dealings with dark realms had schooled me not to dabble but to turn and run instead. “I want you to watch it,” said the Lord, quietly. “You need to know what the Devil is up to.” I obeyed and sat in shock at what I saw coming to life on the screen. And I spent the rest of the day in prayer for our children.