What Harry Potter is Teaching Me So Far…

Voldemort

Don’t judge me. It’s been a couple of years since the last Harry Potter movie came out, and I’m just now watching them all for the first time. I read the books years back, and they were a bit underwhelming – I guess after all the hype I expected something more. Don’t worry – I’ll be revisiting the books soon enough.

Last night I finished watching the fourth one, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And I started thinking about all the Christian groups banning Harry Potter from the classrooms and churches. And I’m thinking: Why? I mean, the last scene is Goblet of Fire does get pretty intense. You know the scene: when Voldemort comes back to life… it’s kind of sick.

But here’s the thing. That’s what evil is, isn’t it? Sick? Twisted? Demented? I know the controversy was stirred up because the protagonists are witches and wizards, but I think that’s hogwarts – er, hogwash – since Narnia and The Lord of the RIngs are favored by Christian groups and the day is won by magic and sorcery. [Feel free to leave your comments below to weigh in on this discuss. I can leave room for a change of mind.]

Honestly, as a Christian, I think Harry Potter does right in its portrayal of good vs. evil. The evil is supposed to be scary. I think a lot of times stories, and Christians, downplay evil. I don’t think we really grasp how twisted evil is. And though I think it makes a great attempt, I don’t think Voldemort even touches the tip of the ice berg of true, raw, real-life evil.

Evil steals your joy, robs you of life, promotes rape and abortion and mass murders. Evil is the poisonous pot of sin stirred up by Satan himself, and Adam and Eve’s fruit had been marinating in it, thus its poison passed down to us, and our hearts are just as wicked and twisted, if not more.

Evil is everywhere. Evil ought to be dreaded and mourned. It is outside of us and it affects those we love and people we’ve never met. And it is inside of us; each one of us. And it is threatening to take over our lives constantly.

We would do good to remember that scene where Voldemort comes to life. Because until Christ comes, evil cannot truly die and stay dead. And Satan will always be on the prowl looking for souls to devour.

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31 Responses to What Harry Potter is Teaching Me So Far…

  1. Reblogged this on Writer's Conquest by Thomas A Fowler and commented:
    Really cool perspective from a Christian on the good and evil of Harry Potter as he goes through the movies for the first time.

  2. shreyapunj says:

    I am a Harry Potter fan borderline fanatic. I agree to what you have written. Potter makes you believe in the good. You KNOW that the good will triumph.
    Bad may be mainstream Voldemort or subtle Umbridge.

    Although the movies (4-7) don’t do justice to the books. Agree?

  3. Brian says:

    My children are working their way through the books now (just hitting the right age) and they get to watch the movie after they finish the book. A couple things that have stood out to me in so many “Christian” responses:
    1) The concept of a witch flying on a broom did not appear until the 15th century AD. So, when the Bible condemns witchcraft, this cannot possibly be what it means. Of course, never let facts stand in the way of a good fundamentalist book burning.
    2) Also, so many “good” parents were scared to death that little Michael or Emily might wave a stick in the backyard and pretend to cast a magic spell — something that they will never grow up with the ability to do. These same parents are more than happy to equip little Michael with a toy gun so he can pretend to shoot his sister Emily — something he might grow up to do.
    There is a big difference between “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and actual Persian witchcraft. In our family, we make a distinction between the things you can pretend to do and the things that you would not want to actually do. Obviously, my children will not grow up some day and learn how to morph into frog. If they want to play in the backyard as if they can do that, then they are welcome. My children could however, grow up (God forbid) with murderous intent, so I do not allow them to pretend to be assassins (as heroes). If they want to play cops & robbers and no one wants to be stuck playing the robber, then they are playing it correctly.

  4. Guess this Christian had her head in the sand… I never realized that this series was one that hit the hot button with religious groups. Then again, the fact that so many things seem to hit those hot buttons these days has been a bit disappointing to me.

    The lesson I learned from Harry and co is the power of love to overwhelm and overcome evil (and you’re right…evil is insidious and never goes away, much like it’s portrayed in this series)…. You know, the pure, unconditional love that’s given even when we don’t deserve it? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s kind of the message of the Father…

    Good post!

  5. There are SO many Christian themes in Harry Potter that you have to intentionally ignore them not to see them. Particularly the 8th movie and 7th book.

    • I’ve been picking up on a few myself, actually. That’s the thing with stories… unless they’re just blatantly shallow and promiscuous, they’re often worth looking deeper into.

  6. I never really understood the controversy, either. I grew up reading those books. If your kid wants to play witch or sorcerer after reading the books or watching the movie…so what? It’s nothing more than dressing up on Halloween-it’s fantasy and imagination. I think parents should nurture this in their children instead of criticize it. Even though it’s fiction, it gave kids something and someone to believe in. A group of ordinary kids who conquered evil. The moral of the stories are unquestionable. As a Christian, I believe some of my fellow Christians are close minded. What Harry Potter taught me as a child was to have an imagination…and that has served me well thus far. Thank you for writing this. I enjoyed your perspective.

  7. I loved the Harry Potter Books. I felt like they were very clear in a separation between good and evil there’s not too many ambivalent characters. And the overwhelming power of Love shines through in almost every book. I also think Harry Potter is a pretty clear Christ figure, which doesn’t happen often in children’s books. I understand not wanting a really small kid to read them. They do get dark. But I can’t wait until my daughter is 10 or 11, I will be handing her the whole stack!

  8. Excellent! I remember as a young Christian and hearing other parents say that it was not right to watch Mary Poppins… there is always something that is being blasted. I have come to realize that the key to it all is balance. Balance in what you read, watch, listen to for yourself and for your children. Teaching balance, practicing it and living it. Don’t open the doors of your heart (or soul) to evil. Don’t keep it unlatched where things not of the Lord can become squatters on your soul. Fill the greater portion with things that edify… but most of all, be balanced and make certain your foundation is strong and firm in the Lord.
    I haven’t watched any of the Harry Potter films, didn’t read the books, by the time they were out, so were our daughters…. Good post. We did, however read all the Chronicles of Narnia to our girls for devotions each night (along with a Bible story)…. we read those until they fell apart.
    Thanks for this post. DAF

  9. Cheri L. says:

    Absolutely right on target. Especially as the witchcraft, which is what most groups I’ve seen object to, is presented as something inherent, like skin and eye color, rather than something bestowed, aka dealing with the devil. I think the books are amazingly well written. I read them the first time with my daughters nearly a decade ago and want to read them again. The movies, I thought, were good and got better as they progressed, but didn’t measure up to the books. Still, that could be my love of literature talking more than a real comment on cinematic quality.
    Good post!

  10. Oh my word, you are going to LOVE the books. They have layer after of layer of lessons embedded in them. The movies couldn’t capture it all because there was just too much. Classic battle of good vs. evil, like every great story ever told. And all based on sacrifice and love. I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to read them!

  11. Jenn J says:

    Maybe the people who decided the banned fate of the books didn’t read them. Maybe they looked at the original book covers and thought, “This is about ‘magic’ and we don’t believe in/encourage ‘magic’.” If that is the case, then we shouldn’t read our children fairytales or fables either. It’s crippling to put an limit to imagination. There’s a reason why they’re called fiction. Thanks for posting! I think Harry Potter is a wonderful series full of good and awe and creativity and yes…magic! 🙂

  12. regan222 says:

    The problem, I suspect, is not the books or the story, or the magic, for that matter. The problem is that these books are marketed to the most impressionable people in our society. I am a high school teacher and I see every day, kids (teenagers) associating fictional things from these books with real life. There are several publicly documented cased of kids harming or killing themselves trying to live “Harry Potter”. (http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=23669) I have read the entire series and I think it is a great story and very engaging but I think that it, like any “imaginative” literature, should be consumed by people who are able to determine truth from fantasy.

    • I agree that they shouldn’t be for the youngest at heart, since they do get so dark. I A very interesting article you posted – thank you for that!

    • Perhaps I’m mistaken, but how many kids have hurt or killed themselves trying to emulate Superman or Batman? I personally jumped off of a second-story roof, with a sheet tied around my neck for a cape, because I watched Clark Kent do it and I just knew that I made a better Superman than he did. I feel like all literature is “imaginative” literature, in that it involves something that isn’t reality for the reader, and determining who’s able to separate truth from fiction is a pretty subjective exercise anyhow.

      • regan222 says:

        The difference is the way in which they are presented. Superman concerns an alien that everyone knows can’t be emulated. Even so, lots of kids have been injured doing the same thing. Harry Potter and similar genera are presented as people just like us, only they can fly or whatever. It always seems to be the younger ones who get hurt. If you do a bit of research you can find many articles and reports of children injured or killed trying to emulate a fictional character. What I am suggesting is to hold off on those types of literature until kids are fully vested in reality (at about age 25 or so) and then introduce them to fantasy. Children and adolescents have plenty of fantasy on their own without adding to the mix. At least control what fantasy they read. Talking Pooh bear = not so harmful. 8 year old kid leaping out a window to escape his room and landing in a flying car = something you don’t want an eight year old to do.

  13. Great article. I totally agree with your points. I think that before people knew the ending, they worried about what would happen with the evil and good.

  14. Benmo says:

    Check out “The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide.” Good and evil are important lessons to learn, and best learned with the help of parents. http://www.amazon.com/The-Mystery-Harry-Potter-Catholic/dp/1592763987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380084314&sr=8-1&keywords=catholic+view+on+harry+potter

  15. Barbeeznet says:

    I agree with you, but as adults we can define between the 2 sources. I agree that in today’s world we need to know what our enemy is capable of and how he operates. When we know this and can analyze our thoughts to line up with God’s WORD then we can defeat the evil that lurks with in.
    My only problem is that these movies are directed toward children. Their impressionable minds to not see things the same way as adults. So they can be influenced by the magic and this is what the enemy wants. He wants our children. Take a look around the world has it not grown darker? I have watched all of the movies and I do agree that Harry is fighting evil. He also is using magic to do it. What does the Bible say about this?

  16. rhchatlien says:

    By the time you get to the last book, I think you’ll be impressed by how Christian these books actually are. I agree with you that people of faith need to look past the surface trappings of things and be a little more analytical in their judgments.

  17. Jodi Lea says:

    Bravo! I completely agree that Evil is sick and demented and I like how J.D. Rowling portrays it. I know some Christians that won’t let their kids read the books or see the films because of the magic/wizards thing. Did these parents ban the Star Wars movies too? After all, they use ‘The Force” and there is a Dark Side to it (much like the Dark Arts in Harry Potter).

    I see nothing wrong with reading age children enjoying these well written and entertaining books. Like The Force, magic is used to defend against Evil. I always interpreted The Force as being a power from God.
    And that’s a good thing 🙂

  18. Pingback: Why Disney is Better Now Than When We Were Kids | adoptingjames

  19. Why do we as Christians like to be entertained with evil? We have become so accustomed to and desensitized to “magic” that we don’t care what the Scriptures say about such things. We don’t want to hear that it is wrong and we justify reading and watching and listen. We serve a Holy God. If he tells us that such things are evil and not to practice such things is it disobedience if we do so? How will it affect our minds and hearts spiritually? Is it an open door for the enemy of our souls to have a place in our lives and in our homes?

  20. To this, I remember what Sirius said to Harry: “Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us.”

  21. Pingback: Thought of the Day | Not Really A Blogger

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