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Harry Potter Inspired

July 12th, 2011.

Andrew Peterson is one of my favourite authors and musicians.  He also blogs at The Rabbit Room and recently posted some comments about Harry Potter.  I was at bible college when the Harry Potter phenomenon began to mushroom – and, in particular, the debate in Christian circles as to whether Harry Potter was bad or good, became heated (I remember receiving a newsletter from a ministry family asking us all to pray against this evil work of the forces of darkness).

I decided that it was impossible to make a decision without reading the books.  And so I did – and was instantly catapulted to my place of childhood safety and serenity, the pages of Enid Blyton (I know, I know), Willard Price, The Hardy Boys, Capt. W. E. Johns and Biggles (Yay!), Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Tolkein and Lewis et al.  It was in those lands/seas/galaxies/moominvalleys that I first explored my own identity, pushed my own imaginary (yet real) boundaries, and faced defining challenges and conundrums.  I concluded that Harry Potter was only a danger in the same sense as all the rest – the risk of escape to the imagination – which can be such a rewarding risk.

So I agree with Andrew Peterson.  And here’s an excerpt from his post, but read it all.

…Of course the books aren’t perfect; of course, in a seven-volume saga, there will be inconsistencies, theological inaccuracies, moments of inconsistency; of course Rowling’s worldview isn’t going to align perfectly with yours. If you only read books that met those criteria your list would be short indeed.

But listen: we’re free to enjoy the good and the beautiful, even from the most unlikely places. We’re free—and this is huge—to look for the light in people (and things!), to give them the benefit of the doubt, to laud their beauty, to outlove unloveliness–in short, to love as Christ loves us. That includes billionaire authors like J.K. Rowling. She didn’t grow up in the Bible Belt of America; she grew up in England. And yet, in defiance of a culture that tends to snub its nose at Christianity, she wrote a story that contains powerful redemptive themes, stirs a longing for life after death, piques the staunchest atheist’s suspicion that there just might be something beyond the veil, and plainly shows evil for what it is—and not just evil, but love’s triumph over it.

As for the witchcraft debate, I heave a weary sigh. No, God doesn’t want us to practice witchcraft. Of course he doesn’t. I’ve read arguments on both sides of this, and believe we could spar for days without doing a lick of good. (By the way, no debate is raging over Glenda the Good Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. Most Americans have probably seen that film and/or read that book, and didn’t start conducting seances on the weekends—though the flying monkeys have creeped me out for years. And Oz, when compared to Potter, is practically bereft of Christian meaning.)

One comment for “Harry Potter Inspired”

  1. David Cole says:

    Hey Will – good comments on the HP series. It has fascinated me to listen to people at my own church rant and rave about the dangers inherent in HP yet fervently support Twilight or Buffy. We have a local Christian School which has banned HP but encouraging Twilight. And as you say, letters and pamphlets, some almost rabid in their opposition to HP. As a family we have loved HP – and not just my immediate family of 5 but 3 sisters and their families and my retired 70′s+ (retired from full-time ministry) parents who have devoured each book and movie. JK may be a billionaire but we probably can’t fault her for that, and despite all the criticism of her writing, clearly it fascinates and enthralls us in that wonderful fantasy world, so reminiscent of the scale of LofTRs and the relationships and fun of The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, and a whole raft of other British Lit. Where would Narnia be without the wonder of magic? We Christians can get so caught up in defending the faith from all attacks that we start to see attacks where there are none. I do wonder as well – how much of the concerns some folk have over HP is generated from a too great a focus on the supernatural world, especially as taught by some churches? Certainly at our church the people mostly opposed to HP are those who have been caught up in the Pentecostal focus on defeating Satan and casting out demons.
    Anyway – appreciate your comments. Enjoy the movie.

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