Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 2, 2000
Disturbing news about Harry Potter
Hypocrisy creeps in when schools promote Wicca books
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
I have resisted wading into the Harry Potter controversy up to now, although I agree with those who protest that these phenomenally popular children's books promote a spiritual perspective antagonistic to Christianity.
Of course that hardly makes them unique in today's literature and the entertainment media. It's hard to find content that isn't either explicitly or implicitly anti- Christian.
"Why pick on Harry Potter in particular?" I reasoned with myself.
My mind was changed about speaking up by a couple of media encounters last weekend. The first was a story on the local suppertime news about a bookstore that was holding a Harry Potter fair - inviting young children to dress up as Harry Potter characters and visit this store, where they could have their palms read and their fortunes told from a crystal ball, as well as viewing a display of purported witchcraft paraphernalia.
The second was reading a column by Douglas Todd of Southam News, who superciliously counselled those he referred to as a "fringe bunch" of "fundamentalists" to lighten up and look for "spiritual good" in the Potter books.
Todd notes that the evangelical magazine Christianity Today has endorsed Harry Potter, and also cites traditionalist Christian apologist C.S. Lewis's famous Narnia fantasy series, which included the title, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as does evangelical leader Charles Colson in his defence of the Potter books.
Well, I try, unworthily, to live by the tenets of traditional Catholic Christianity so I don't know whether that makes me a fundamentalist or not, but I suggest that a substantially broader constituency of Christians than Todd implies have problems with Harry Potter.
As for Lewis's Narnia tales, they had an explicitly Christian message, which Todd concedes the Harry Potter books do not. The issue is not that witches are mentioned or discussed - there are witches in the Bible - it is the context in which they are presented.
Like Todd and Colson, many modernist Christians will respond that Harry Potter is just harmless fantasy - that he is basically a good-hearted little wizard - while regurgitating the clich‚ about how great it is that the books are enticing kids to read.
This is surely a nonsense argument. Is reading now to be considered the virtue in and of itself, regardless of content? Would the same principle apply if it were pornographic or gratuitously violent literature stimulating the kiddies' reading interest?
The failure here is the inability to perceive that Harry Potter books are spiritually dangerous. That is to be expected of secular pagans, but it mystifies me coming from professing Christians.
In the Bible, God takes witchcraft and sorcery very seriously, and commands:
"Don't turn to those who have familiar spirits, nor to the wizards; don't seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am Yahweh your God" (Leviticus 19:31).
"The soul that turns to those who have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. . . . I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people" (Leviticus 20:6).
"There shall not be found with you anyone who . . . practices sorcery, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to Yahweh" (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
God removed King Saul as ruler of Israel for consulting the fortune-telling Witch of Endor. The prophet Isaiah condemns seeking out wizards. Moreover, there is nothing in the New Testament that indicates God has changed his mind about this.
There is no way that Christians, or Jews for that matter, who are serious about their faith and their children's religious education, should allow Harry Potter books in their homes, or be intimidated into silence and capitulation by scornful calls to "lighten up."
Christianity is not a "lighten up" sort of faith. Jesus said: "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:6).
I am not advocating a ban of Harry Potter books, or of any other books. I believe in free speech and expression in the public square.
However, I do not believe Harry Potter books are appropriate for public school libraries, nor should they be included as classroom material, unless it is clearly acknowledged and articulated that they are promoting a religious perspective.
Witchcraft, as any Wiccan will tell you, is a religion, and if Harry Potter books are to be present in schools, then the ban on explicitly Christian literature, or that of other religions, highlights a blatant double standard.
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