Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 23, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
No spiritual dangers in Harry Potter seriesI am mystified as to how the Harry Potter series is spiritually dangerous, as suggested in the Charles Moore's opinion article (Oct. 2, "Disturbing news about Harry Potter"). Whatever else Moore knows, he doesn't know Harry Potter.
Moore claims Harry Potter promotes a Wiccan perspective. That is like calling Satanic Verses Muslim propaganda. My small experience with Wicca - an acquaintance who practised it - is that Wicca is essentially a feminist, anti-patriarchal spirituality, concerned with much New Age divination and the revival of paganism.
If the Harry Potter books were Wiccan, Hogwarts (Harry's school) would be run by a woman (it isn't), the protagonist would be a girl (Harriet Potter?), the school would not celebrate Christmas or Easter, the stay-at-home mother character with six kids would be scorned (she is respected), and Harry Potter certainly would not have a godfather (wizardfather?).
The book also makes considerable fun of divination, representing it as the fraud it is. Tea leaf reading, crystals, astrology are presented, very effectively, as a crutch for the shallow and weak-minded.
In the fourth book of the series, Harry and Ron must astrologically forecast their future as an assignment given to them by their flaky divination teacher. Knowing the teacher's fondness for tragedy, they make up a particularly unhappy chart and get an excellent mark for it, with the teacher "commending them for their unflinching acceptance of the horrors in store for them."
Moore judges the book through a black and white, defensive prism, through which few books could pass. Shakespeare (sorcery, sex and suicide too!), fairy tales, Greek myths, Song of Songs would be removed from school libraries, and we'd be left with nothing but Strewl Peter and the Compiled Articles of Charles Moore.
Oh, and Narnia Chronicles are okay too, according to Moore, because Narnia has an explicitly Christian message. Where? Do the characters go to Mass? Do they pray?
There are hardly any books - whether they are classics or not - with an explicitly Christian focus. Rather the "Christianity" of most books is implicit, with the reader drawing parallels with the Christian Gospels and recognizing the Christian virtues. If we were to do that with Harry Potter, we might find considerable good there, perhaps even a Christian message.
First, Harry is not superhuman. He and all the wizards and witch characters, despite their powers, struggle to get their homework done, keep their jobs, make dinner for a large family. And Harry's not a very good wizard, after all he's just started wizards' school. Actually Harry depends a great deal on his friends to get him out of the trouble he always seems to attract.
In the first book, Harry defeats the bad guy through the power of his mother's love. In the second book, he defeats evil Lord Voldemort with the help of a phoenix, who helps Harry because Harry had defended his headmaster even after the headmaster was sacked.
In an interview recently, the author J.K. Rowling was asked if she was Wiccan. Quite the contrary, she is Christian and attends church regularly, and I would say it shows, if you have read the books and judge them through a Gospel focus.
Instead of fearing witches and seeing evil around every corner, I think we celebrate Christ and see the truth, beauty and love he has given us in this world (even if he is not always given the byline.)
And I am thrilled that the Christian virtues of faith, hope, honesty, charity, bravery, loyalty . . . of goodness, are reinforced in such an entertaining and well-written way as the Harry Potter series.
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