Christian writers continue to misunderstand 'Harry Potter'
#1
Yet another gratuitous attack on the book from people who don't understand fantasy. I am a lifelong Christian who has spent many years studying the Bible. I also studied occult-related topics for several years.

The contention in misleading articles about Harry Potter is that the books advocate the use of occultic practices.

The premise of the books, however, is that Harry and people like him are born with God-given gifts the names for which have been confused by normal, giftless people with false practices that Biblically lead people away from God.

The Harry Potter books in no way imply that you can simply begin practicing spells or studying witchcraft and sorcery and become like Harry Potter and his friends. Rather, they stipulate that Harry and his people are born with these special abilities and that they, like ungifted people, have the same freedom to choose to acknowledge and love God as the rest of us.

It's unfortunate that some Christian writers choose to be sensationalist journalists, or to speak out of ignorance, rather than to seek the truth and recognize the true message of the Harry Potter books -- that we are each responsible for the choices we make, and that unconditional love is a powerful force in our lives when we are blessed enough to experience it.

Although the Harry Potter books are in no way allegorical, the symbolism inherent in the storyline is equally application to Christian teachings as the symbolism in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, who also writes about "gifted", "magical" peoples who are not mentioned in the Bible or sanctioned by Christian teaching.

It's disappointing to see that Christian writers continue to misconstrue and misrepresent the Harry Potter books. They would do better to practice seeking the truth rather than burying it under misinformation.
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#2
Or perhaps they should just try reading the books.
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#3
Rhadamanthus Wrote:Or perhaps they should just try reading the books.

It appears that the author of the article, Dr. Tom Snyder, unlike a number of other "outraged" folk, actually did read the book. It's clear, however, that he was looking for, and found, what he wanted while reading Deathly Hallows. He constantly cite Harry's "confusion" over the Biblical citation, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (1 Corinthians 15:26) I myself was not aware of the direct connection of this passage and the Bible, but then I'm not a Biblical scholar by any measure. However, Harry's confusion (without returning directly to the book), seemed to be from the connection between his parents and Dark Wizards, rather than a Biblical confusion.

It was nice to see that the Snyder referenced the other, and more obvious, Biblical/Christian connections in Deathly Hallows. To me, the sacrifice that Harry makes, and his "resurrection" in addition to Rowling's final solution for the Voldemort question, were and are more important (and far, far more deeply parallel to Christianity) than Harry being "confused by the Christian elements" in the story.

It is interesting to note that Snyder constantly uses the terms "witchcraft" and "sorcery" but that the Potter books, which do reference "witchcraft" never reference "sorcery" (AFAICR). They do cite "wizardy", and make this distinction gender specific (female magic users are witches, male magic users are wizards) but without the connotations of evil that Christianity likes to attach to one, witches, and not to the other, wizards. In general, this is, as Michael points out, a misalignment of the Biblical statements to the concepts in Rowling's, and Tolkien's, works. Biblical "witchcraft, sorcery, divination, and other occult practices" seek to draw on powers outside the recognized mainstream religion of the authors, or more specifically of God. If the power is inherent, just like someone who is gifted athletically, then it is God-given.

In short, we don't burn runners for being fast, boxers for being strong, basketball players for being tall, so we shouldn't burn Harry and his world for being natural magic users.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#4
I have never seen similar criticism of C.S. Lewis' works, of similar vein, oddly enough; when a recent movie adaptation of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was made, our local churches endorsed this as wholesome 'Christian' entertainment. 'Aslan is Jesus" etc.

Sure, the witch is bad; and in Narnia, it is always Winter, but never Christmas, and so on.

But still. There's plenty of magic about, and the kiddies aren't branded as in league with the devil.

BTW, Rowling's use of traditional magical definations and terms can be confusing. Of course terms vary, but my general understanding was that "warlock" was the male counterpart of a "witch"; but Rowling clearly had "wizard" as the male Magical person vs the female "witch", but references "warlocks" too, yet never explains the distinction.

As for the Christians "take", of course it varies. Some will take issue with anything "not in the Bible", or, things that they can find reference to in the Bible which are branded "bad", and so they can pick on Rowling, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis too for that matter, for referencing magical terms.

An open-minded reading of any of these authors {keeping in mind each writes fiction} would result in the conclusion that each Author addresses the human condition, life choices, values, and the struggle between "good" and its opposite .......... "the dark side", "evil", whatever you name it.

I would think that people who claim "Christian values" would appreciate that Rowling makes a point of some very basics:

* That no one is "perfect"

* Everyone makes mistakes

* Even imperfect people try to serve 'the good'

* Family values are at the core of a decent life

* Our choices may define us, but

--- good people sometimes make bad choices

--- people deserve forgivness and second chances

* Good outcomes depend upon people working together, and trusting one another [Harry Potter was not The Lone Ranger - even Neville destroyed a Horcrux!]

And so on.

But you know, lots of people gain their 15 minutes of fame attacking someone else, tearing down what others have done.

I say, if you think that Rowling, Tolkien etc do a disservice to "Christian society" by the literature they have produced, because it isn't acceptable to Biblical values, then, you should ignore them, say nothing about them, and write your own works with "proper" ideas, references, etc {and see how well they sell}.
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#5
Christians today are very confused by a plethora of messages from ministries in all directions. Some of the best known so-called Fundamentalist Christians have preached doctrines of hatred, intolerance, cruelty, and barbarism -- totally ignoring the virtues that the New Testament teaches.

The Harry Potter books are no more advocating the practice of occultic ideas than the Bible itself.
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#6
Michael Wrote:The Harry Potter books are no more advocating the practice of occultic ideas than the Bible itself.

Along that theme, the Bible, and specifically the stories about Moses, actually supports Harry Potter's witchcraft and wizardy. Consider divination for water: Moses used his staff to find water when it struck a stone. Or transfiguration: when Moses's and his brother Aaron's rods were changed into serpents.

Interestingly, Pharoh's magicians could work similar efforts, calling forth frogs and changing their rods into serpents.

It seems that "witchcraft" and "sorcery" are ok, so long as they're done "on our side". If the "other side" does them, then it's an abomination. :bounce: It's kinna like, "No fair, you're cheating the same way we're cheating!"
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#7
Well, actually, Moses was disobeying God when he struck the stone. He was supposed to command the water to flow from the stone, rather than strike it. But there are God-given abilities displayed by prophets that do resemble the abilities of magical folk in Harry Potter's world.

So I agree that the complaints are very unfair.
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#8
Has to do with claiming exclusive access to 'supernatural' powers does it not? The idea being expressed {my take}:

"Our god" and his direct servants may do wonders {'miracles', defy natural law; in other words, magic};

"The rebel angel" {Lucifer; the 'devil'} and those who serve him also have such powers, granted by god in the beginning;

But all such 'powers' come only from our god;

For you to claim such powers and yet be "good" is presumptious, because you are unworthy to represent god;

So, if you have such powers, you must have got them from 'the devil'; hence, you are evil, not good.

And if you write about such 'powers', all those you depict as having such powers must likewise be evil.

btw, the ancient world of the day that produced the Bible texts took it for granted there were many Powers That Be who could do 'magic'. Gods, devils, and many other spirits unseen; but also persons who walked the fields we know, but who could do wonderous things the mere mortal could not ....... witches, wizards, shahman, priests and the like.

The god of Moses could work wonders, as could his servants .......but so could Pharoah's gods, and their servants {priests, shahmen}. "My god is more powerful than your god" was a common claim.

Certain fundamentalists today want to claim that Moses and his people were very firm in thinking there was only one god {theirs} and that all others were false ..... but its pretty certain that isn't so.

*sigh*

JKR's "take" on morality is pretty grounded in a Christian viewpoint, and the ethics she seems to advocate seems very wholesomely Christian to me. [I'd call her a Calvinist]. But hey, some groups thrive on pointing fingers at who their followers should hate, shun and condem.
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#9
Michael Wrote:Well, actually, Moses was disobeying God when he struck the stone. He was supposed to command the water to flow from the stone, rather than strike it.

See, showing my lack of Biblical scholarship! :fright:

Quote:JKR's "take" on morality is pretty grounded in a Christian viewpoint, and the ethics she seems to advocate seems very wholesomely Christian to me.

Almost every major religion has similar "Christian viewpoint[s]" at their foundation. :bg:
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#10
I agree that religion in general has certain characteristics, no matter its name or outward trappings.

However, christian notions of forgivness and salvation are not universal {as I see it}.
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#11
Darq Ali Wrote:However, christian notions of forgivness and salvation are not universal {as I see it}.

No religion, in practice, is what it should be as preached. The problem generally stems from "the faithful" rather than the founding principles.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#12
RobRoy Wrote:Along that theme, the Bible, and specifically the stories about Moses, actually supports Harry Potter's witchcraft and wizardy. Consider divination for water: Moses used his staff to find water when it struck a stone. Or transfiguration: when Moses's and his brother Aaron's rods were changed into serpents.

Michael Wrote:Well, actually, Moses was disobeying God when he struck the stone. He was supposed to command the water to flow from the stone, rather than strike it. But there are God-given abilities displayed by prophets that do resemble the abilities of magical folk in Harry Potter's world.

I agree with your point in general, but I think you're reaching beyond clear Biblical implication in it's defense. The supernatural acts 'performed' by God's people in the Bible do not indicate any power on their own part. The power and the execution of the act comes from God.

As I recall, God was consistently giving Moses instructions while in Egypt and on the exodus. God told him what to do, and Moses did it. Moses did not conceive and execute these acts with some innate holy voodoo, it was all God from start to finish.

With regard to Harry Potter leading people to witchcraft, it's entirely possible. Just as watching a Highlander or Three Musketeers movie invariably leads me to seek out local fencing lessons, Harry Potter could lead some to dabble in witchcraft.

It is an understood fact that media has certain influences on the consumer, and, IMO, none more so than film. It's important to remember that fact, and to deny it is true ignorance.

However, the segment of those who will be lead to mess about with it are a tiny minority, vastly outweighed by those who take it for what it is. It's the same principal as those who blame a murder on a heavy-metal group because a convicted murderer owned one of their albums. It's just not conclusive.

The overall concern that conservative, traditional Christians have, I think, is that their values are being eroded by an "anything-goes" culture that instills tolerance of just about everything, and an attitude of "hey, it's all relative,right?"

In the end it's all about responsible consumerism. If, god forbid, I ever have any children, I don't think I'd be ok with them watching something like Harry Potter until they were at an age where they could distinguish fantasy from reality and and a solid understanding of right and wrong.
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#13
But the message of HP isn't "anything goes".

Bad acts have bad consequences; doing the "right" thing may be difficult, but there are standards of behavior that are expected, and those who ignore the "right" do so at their peril.

Nothing about the HP books suggests that Muggles can decide to "do" magic and be successful at it. The Magical people and creatures are born with their abilities, and they require training to make them controlable and useful, as well. I cannot see how anything in JKR's writings could lead anyone to think they could "dabble in witchcraft" and succeed in doing anything. The point is made over and over that regular people are Muggles who cannot do magic; Potterverse, Hogwarts, Platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley ......... they're all invisible and inaccessable to Muggles, and magic is out of our reach.
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#14
Boomstick Wrote:As I recall, God was consistently giving Moses instructions while in Egypt and on the exodus. God told him what to do, and Moses did it. Moses did not conceive and execute these acts with some innate holy voodoo, it was all God from start to finish.

Not in every case. For example, the aforementioned rods of Moses and Aaron turning into snakes was not God telling Moses what to do, but, more or less, Moses calling on God's power and God giving the okey-dokey via the magic/miracle.

Quote:But the message of HP isn't "anything goes".

I believe Boomer's point wasn't in regards to Harry Potter specifically, but the general conservative Christian uproar (if such a thing actually exists) which is symptomatic of the article at the head of this thread. The concern being that Harry Potter, or any similar indulgance, is a slipper slope that will cause down fall, ruin, etc.

That being said, I agree completely with your statements. Magic is only done by those with the innate ability. It cannot be learned without the initial spark.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#15
Ok, I wasn't sure about the rod/snake one, but still, you acknowledge that the change wasn't as a result of any power of Moses', right?


RobRoy Wrote:I believe Boomer's point wasn't in regards to Harry Potter specifically, but the general conservative Christian uproar (if such a thing actually exists) which is symptomatic of the article at the head of this thread. The concern being that Harry Potter, or any similar indulgance, is a slipper slope that will cause down fall, ruin, etc.

Yeah, that was my point.


Quote:That being said, I agree completely with your statements. Magic is only done by those with the innate ability. It cannot be learned without the initial spark.

Yes, in the books, but that's got nothing to do with real life. Just because the individuals in the books are born with magical ability doesn't mean people in real life won't try to meddle with magic as a result of being influenced by the books/movies. That's the view that the conservative Christian crowd would take, anyway.
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#16
Boomstick Wrote:Ok, I wasn't sure about the rod/snake one, but still, you acknowledge that the change wasn't as a result of any power of Moses', right?

I'm not Biblical scholar enough to make that statement. Same with Moses striking the rock and getting water. Apparently, as Michael stated above, this was in a kind of defiance of God, as Moses was trying to show that he actually did have power (and it worked). The upshot being that God wasn't too pleased with Moses afterward.

Quote:Yes, in the books, but that's got nothing to do with real life. Just because the individuals in the books are born with magical ability doesn't mean people in real life won't try to meddle with magic as a result of being influenced by the books/movies. That's the view that the conservative Christian crowd would take, anyway.

That's why I said, "The concern [of conservative Christians] being that Harry Potter, or any similar indulgance, is a slipper slope that will cause down fall, ruin, etc." :bg:
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#17
If you kid wants to visit Mme Levoe's gravesite and starts making gris-gris bags, I'd worry. Reading Harry Potter books, not so much.
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#18
A God-given ability doesn't have to come with birth. We are born with certain talents and abilities that make us "human", and those are natural abilities. In Harry Potter's world, he is born with certain abilities.

Of course, he also retained some of Voldemort's powers after their first encounter, but Harry's "magic" is no different from our sense of balance, our ability to see, our ability to speak.

He doesn't acquire his powers through rituals or interaction with spirits.

Christian writers who criticize the Harry Potter books assume that these abilities must come through practices proscribed by the Bible. But the stories use completely different ground rules.

Someone like Harry can see and interact with Nearly Headless Nick simply because he can, not because he attempts to contact spirits, is possessed by a spirit, etc. In the imaginary world of Harry Potter, someone born with the ability to see the spirit-memories of other special people isn't engaging in the occultic practices that Christians are taught to shun.
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#19
Again, I feel you're missing my point. I agree with you that as presented in the books, Harry Potter et al. aren't doing anything wrong or evil. The ultimate issue here, for those presenting the argument, is that should one be influenced by the films to have a go at magic in the real world, then they'll be dealing with evil powers, etc, etc.
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#20
Boomstick Wrote:Again, I feel you're missing my point. I agree with you that as presented in the books, Harry Potter et al. aren't doing anything wrong or evil. The ultimate issue here, for those presenting the argument, is that should one be influenced by the films to have a go at magic in the real world, then they'll be dealing with evil powers, etc, etc.

Right, you're looking at it from the other side of the question, in that if conservative Christians tolerate this, regardless of the logic behind it, then what else could come along. Is Harry Potter a gateway for more serious concerns that could lead to real probing into dark magic, conjuration, possession, etc.

It's the same concept/question raised by conservative Christians in the gay-marriage and gay-adoption debates.

I don't buy it, but I get the argument.
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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