Gryffindor Tower #7: Fantasty vs. Reality: Why Harry Potter is Good for Christians
(Disclaimer: if you have ever been called simple, traditional, status quo, close-minded, or a narrow-minded, foolish zealot dingbat, stop reading this right now, and go read about the Crusades.)
To Do List:
8:00 a.m. Wake up, shower
9:00 a.m. Go to grocery store, buy oregano
10:30 a.m. Kidnap next door neighbors newborn baby
10:45 a.m. Boil next door neighbors newborn baby (dont forget to add oregano)
11:00 a.m. Finish newborn stew, sell it to local gang members
12:00 p.m. Go to noon mass; frequently interrupt sermon with outbursts containing words like douchebag
1:30 p.m. Lunch
2:30 p.m. Make voodoo doll of brother. Buy lots of pins.
5:00 p.m. Walk through downtown, randomly punching people in the face and/or setting them on fire.
7:00 p.m. Dinner
8:00 p.m. Sacrifice stray cat in front of local mosque
9:00 p.m. Go to woods to participate in satanic rituals
10:00 p.m. Read Harry Potter to get more ideas on how to be an atheistic hellion
11:00 p.m. As I fall asleep, realize that, in all actuality, Harry Potter has never made me question my faith, and acknowledge that this list is ALMOST as ridiculous as the accusations made by many Christians about what Harry Potter is really about
Now, before I even get started, let me say that I fully accept the fact that, tomorrow morning, a group of nonviolent Christians will be waiting next to my car to beat the living hell out of me. That’s ok. I accept whatever backlash I’m gonna get for this.
As we all know, many Christians have taken aim at Harry Potter, as many of the emails I’ve received have pointed out, because The Boy Who Lived is extremely popular, it must be sacrilegious. First, let me say that, as many of you seemed worried that I was going to rip your religious background, I myself am a Roman Catholic, I go to a Jesuit university (nickname: Stormtroopers of Christ), and I am well aware that not all Christians are against HP. This is for those who are. Just so were clear, I will be offering excerpts from various Internet articles on the Christian view of HP, as well as my analysis. Lets see if we cant break some ground here.
From Harry Potter and the Antichrist, Joseph Chambers says:
The mystery of the Antichrist is using the many and varied forms of divination and witchcraft to prepare the world for the coming mastermind. This mastermind will possess a level of divination powers never before manifest. He will become the god of this earth for a short season. The Harry Potter series is a giant step in this scary direction The Harry Potter book reveals a very enlightening picture of the coming days for those left behind after the Rapture of the saints It is Satans day to say the least
Riiiiggghhhttt… looks like SOMEBODY is scared of the coming of the demons –maybe questioning his own faith? Come on dude, look at what you’re saying! Did you go this crazy on Lord of the Rings? The Chronicles of Narnia? This clearly isn’t as brutal and bloody as LotR– I can’t even say anything more yet– I’m in shock.
Further on, Chambers says, ‘It all began on a train ride in which the whole idea just dropped in Rowling’s head. The very manner in which the series came to her would suggest spirit influence. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head. Her description of herself certainly suggests a person open to inspirations from mystical influences. She said, I have a very visual imagination. I see it, then I try to describe what is in my minds eye. Such language sounds familiar to the world of the occult.’ Dude –you kidding me? It’s not occult, it’s not spiritual influence, it is called IMAGINATION. [Harry is at Hogwarts] to learn how to be a successful witch as his father and mother were before their death by the ultimate evil person, Lord Voldemort. Right, so Voldemort could actually represent Satan, making Harry represent wait wait for it THE FORCE OF GOOD! Wow, I surprise even myself sometimes. Wormwood contains thujone, a hypnotic drug, which is banned by the FDA, and wormwood is used to make Absinthe, a hallucinogenic liqueur. First off, I didnt even know wormwood was real. And even so, Rowling never says that they actually ingest it, its simply something they use. My best friend John uses a chemical called phenol in his college Chem class, which can be fatal even to the touch. Just as Harry must use certain things in his potions class (which, by the way, is way more like a Chem class than anything Wiccan, because the magic comes from correct procedure, and they have NEVER had to utter incantations during the mixing of any of their potions), so does my friend John. Doesnt mean either of them are drug addicts.
He goes on to astrology. The entire idea of astrology is that we get our direction from the heavenly bodies and their alignments with each other. Nothing connects to sorcery more directly than this idea. He of course refers to the encounter in Book One between Harry, Bane, Ronan, and Firenze. If you noticed, Mr. Chambers, Firenze actually goes against the stars to show Harry that his destiny is NOT controlled by astrological foresight. Again, you offer only half-truths.
He makes this too easy.
There is no good and evil, there is only power The latest book in the Harry Potter series and the Goblet of Fire makes Lord Voldemort the main character of the first chapter. I read the first chapter as it appeared in the Newsweek magazine (July 17, 2000). This dark character kills the keeper at The Riddle House with nothing but a stare. He has a gigantic snake as a talking key associate. It is almost impossible not to see the glorification of the devil in this key character, Voldemort.
First off, Voldemort, Mr. Evil Bastard himself, speaks that quote about power. Hes the bad guy. Kids dont listen to the bad guy. Next, Voldemort is NOT the main character in Chapter One of GoF! The Tom Riddle they speak of is Voldemorts father, not Voldemort himself. Again, try READING THE FRIGGIN BOOK. He also doesnt kill Frank Bryce, the keeper of the house, with a stare, he kills him with a spell, which of course represents EVIL. Read the book, moron. You are right about the REPRESENTATION of Satan in the Voldemort, but not a glorification.
Chambers attacks the quote, To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. See, son, that doesnt mean anything at all. That could be talking about eternal life with the Lord in Heaven. See, again, you only get what you want out of things. Try understanding. I know its asking a lot, but try.
Our world continues to look for a hero. Most of todays citizens have rejected every great hero of the past. The name of Jesus is so hated that it is politically incorrect to ever pray publicly in His name. Our Supreme Court is determined alone with much of the liberal world to make the mention of His name unacceptable.
Yes, it is incorrect to FORCE people to pray to Jesus. Everyone on this earth is entitled to their beliefs. And the Supreme Court, albeit a little radical on their own side, still has the duty to uphold everyones right to belief. You sit here, Mr. Chambers, and mock non-Christians, fans of Harry Potter, and Im sure gays too. How soon you forget what the Bible teaches you: Do not judge, so as not to be judged. For by the judgment that you judge, you shall be judged, and by the measure that you measure, you shall be measured (Matt 7:1-2). Apparently that teaching means nothing to you.
(Here, Dan typed a good 5 paragraphs tearing apart a review of the first HP movie posted by a religious zealot. It was great, it really was. What Dan didn’t know was that the whole review was satire, so it basically cancelled out his analysis. Poor Dan. -Emerson)
Ok. Now that thats done, lets be realistic for a minute. Harry Potter and his friends are not, in any way, shape, or form, sacrilegious, blasphemous, or precursors to the coming of Satan. First, as many GT readers pointed out, they celebrate Christmas and Easter. If Rowling was trying to bash Christianity, she would have excluded those two holidays.
The true test of any story is the themes involved. What are the themes of the Harry Potter books? Well, to anyone who has half a brain (and anyone who actually has READ them before criticizing), Harry Potter promotes love, friendship, kindness, and the willingness to fight against evil, no matter how daunting or impossible the odds seem. Strangely enough, another book comes to mind that shares those same themes. Anyone know what book that is? If you guessed the Bible, youre right.
Now, lets take into account that the Vatican, the highest order of Catholic faith, has OKed the Harry Potter books, and actually promotes them. Check out this article on BBC Online. Father Peter Fleetwood, a spokesman for the Vatican, said at a press conference, I don’t think there’s anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world [JK Rowling is] Christian by conviction, is Christian in her mode of living, [and is Christian] even in her way of writing. The books are fantasy, written to easily show the very confused things that happen in our society in a more enjoyable way, so that the reader can more easily distinguish good from evil. In life, its not always easy to tell if someone is a good person, and it makes life difficult when one wants to put trust in another. But in, for instance, Harry Potter, take an overtly horrible person like Voldemort or Peter Pettigrew, and we know that our trust shouldnt go there.
The biggest thing to remember, however, is this: Harry Potter is about good fighting evil. In this article from the National Catholic Reporter Online, The US Bishops Reviewer said Harry Potter is so obviously innocuous fantasy that its fiction is easily distinguishable from real life. Harry uses his magical powers for good to fight evil. An MSN report concurs, citing Father Fleetwood saying [The Harry Potter Books] arent bad. They arent serving as a banner for an anti-Christian ideology. If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potters author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. And she is very clear on this. There should be no doubt in anyones mind: if anyone is getting any anti-religious ideas from Harry Potter, those ideas were there long before Harry Potter was.
So whats left? Only one thing, and this has bugged me for years. Why is it wrong, in Christians minds, to have an imagination? As Matt Tarrant pointed out in his MuggleNet editorial, Harry Potter and the Radical Christians,
Yes, a child may innocently say to his or her parents: I want to be a Wizard. or I want to play Quidditch. In my day I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but by the miracle of puberty and early adulthood (not to mention a better understanding of genetics) I had grown out of that phase. My point being, that young people today may well like to imagine themselves living in Harry’s world, casting their spells and pretending to fight evil. It’s a phase, which they will go through, but I hardly think they will grow into adulthood with pointy hats, a wand and a tendency to curse the boss with boils or turn people into ferrets.
Mr. Tarrant is totally right, and you should all read his editorial. I also encourage you all to read the newest editorial, by Father Abraham Arganiosa, which can be found here. Both are wonderful reads, and surely complement those Christians who defend Harry Potter.
I cant really go anymore. This is it. If you really still want to say that Harry Potter is bad, then go for it. But trust me, if I could write a Harry Potter book, it would be called Harry Potter and Why Im Not Going To Hell For Loving Him! Thank you all for reading, and I hope you all enjoyed my two cents on what, as a Christian, Harry Potter means to me.
Just a quick note. I write my columns by Sunday, but they may not always be up on Sunday. If they are delayed till Monday, please dont hate me, as I am not a webmaster of MuggleNet, and have no way of posting my columns. (My fault! -Emerson)
Since my next post will be the last one before the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I will tell you now that it will simply be about my personal predictions for Book 5. I will offer my predictions on a number of topics, including Snape’s role in Dumbledore’s plans, what role the Dursleys will play, Dumbledore’s now-famous “gleam of something like triumph,” Voldemort’s plans, Fudge’s actions, and of course, who will die in Book 5. If there are any topics at all that you would like me to address, as far as predictions go, feel free to email me here. Take care of yourself, and see yall next Sunday!