Should Christians Read/Watch Harry Potter? [the four w's part three]

8:47 AM

Hola readers!

I did it. I watched the last Harry Potter movie. If you're wondering why I waited to see the last HP movie, yet already wrote two posts in this series, it was because I felt I had enough information after reading everything but the last half of the last book (which I finished last night at the point of tears). But now. NOW I finally have my opinion on what I think of the franchise, the difference between Merlin BBC and HP and Gandalf. I really feel accomplished and after years of Christians arguing back and forth, I finally have an answer to my own questions. I'm really quite thrilled!

In this post I will be saying both good and bad and try to not allow biases to sway me: For instance I want evidence to back what I'm saying. So here goes (with a quick answer to those wondering the question below) the final part of this series...

(You can read part two here)

And what is the difference between Gandalf and Merlin compared to Harry Potter? 

One major difference from HP's wizarding world is the fact that Gandalf is in a whole new world and is - from Tolkien's creations - very much like a angel. He isn't seen with 'magical' powers per-say. As for Merlin BBC, the Arthurian legend is just that: a legend. The show begins saying, "in a land of myth and a time of magic," giving the impression that we are seeing simply a new version of a timeless legend. Also, magic is taken very seriously in Merlin, things such as mandrakes are done by evil and none of the magic is done lightly or whimsically like in the beginning books and movies of HP, so as not appealing as much to young viewers. 
This alone is a major difference, giving the illusion of strictly fantasy as well as something not to be taken lightly or made fun of. 

Now for the major question you probably have all been wondering my opinion on:

Should Christians Watch Harry Potter?

In my opinion, Christians in general either don't take witchcraft seriously enough or are overly dramatic. They either endorse HP completely and say it cannot harm anyone, or say it's of the devil and proceed to rant and rave about how it's bringing our children to him. The latter tend to draw people away from their view, creating a divide between HP fans and non fans. Both judge each other, both say they're right and there's no way around it. 
I find this highly foolish and it's one reason I went on this hunt for truth. When I read an article I want to be open just as I want others to be open to my opinions, and I really want to back things up with Truth, not with yelling and screaming or being irrational and overly dramatic. 
I've read way too many overly dramatic articles. 

One reason I think HP has been so controversial over the years is simply because so much of the franchise is based off real witchcraft in our world. Kids relate to the characters, their problems and laugh at the whimsical magic in the first books and films, making it look pretty, fun. Witches and wizards appear harmless. 

Witchcraft organizations are being besieged with phone calls and letters from young people who want to learn how to be witches and wizards. The pagan federation, which promotes Wicca (another name for modern witchcraft) in England, has had to appoint a special youth officer to reply to “the flood of inquiries following the success of the Harry Potter books” (Andy Norfolk, quoted in “Potter Fans Turning to Witchcraft,” This is London [magazine], August 4, 2000).

“Any time the dark side of the supernatural world is presented as harmless, there is the danger that children will become curious and find out—too late—that witchcraft is neither harmless nor imaginary.”—Linda Beam, Teachers in Focus, December 1999.

I'm not saying that HP has turned readers into Wiccans because honestly if they paid attention to the deep themes in the books and movies about good and evil, the power of love and sacrificing yourself for others, they'd have no desire to join an occult that celebrates neither good or bad, no sin or saving. At the same time I'm not saying it hasn't encouraged Wicca either. I read articles where witches and wizards were thankful that the franchise allowed their children to be more accepting of their beliefs. 
This is because these are young kids reading the books: not adults. I've seen evidence of kids being swayed by what they watch and read through my job last summer. They believe what you tell them and many kids have never stepped foot in a church.They're not backing up what they're reading or watching with evidence or Biblical truth, they're not seeing symbolic themes such as Harry Potter giving up his life in love in order to save everyone and vanquish darkness, as a true depiction of Christ and what He did for us on the cross. They're not seeing quite as strongly as an adult might, how love and only love conquers darkness. 

 I believe that HP can be dangerous, just as anything secular can be. Satan can use anything...but so can God. I've made friends through my love of the Robin Hood BBC show, friends that impacted my life and changed so much for me. 
Finding the BBC show Sherlock, changed my life more then any show I've seen. It was one major time in my life, as my love of mentoring began as well seeing the impact of being a friend to the friendless. This secular show, one with some content issues (such as language or violence), had some of the most Christian-themes I've ever seen in a show. When it came to forgiveness, self-sacrifice and love, I've never seen these themes as strong as they are in Sherlock. No Christian TV show could have done it.  
I'm not saying that Sherlock couldn't make people more acceptable to certain things, but I am saying God used two secular shows in my life, and I'm really all-in for secular TV, as long as we keep our eyes open and watch for dangers, leaving ignorance behind.
The same with HP: let's not go into the franchise with ignorance. God can use anything but so can Satan and I think Harry Potter is a slippery slope mainly because it deals with kids and kids are very impressionable. I remember at about the age of seven or eight, thinking I had magical powers and could make objects move closer to me with one word. I also believed in ghosts, the 'normal' monsters in the closet and the like. 
But I had parents grounding me in spiritual truth and kids from non Christian homes won't have that. And for those living in a home where a Wiccan is present, it can make witchcraft more appealing or something we as a culture should more readily accept.

But Harry Potter as well as movies such as Doctor Strange (this non-Marvel fan's favorite superhero) deals with issues such as a spiritual realm, making it more real and tangible, allowing for questions to be broached among non Christians.
The Bible warns us to do away with anything with deeds of darkness (see Ephesians 5:12), but as the Church we've ignored the part about 'exposing' the deeds. We yell back and forth, 

"Harry Potter is bad!" 
"No it's not!"
"Yes it is!" 
"It's fiction!"
"No it's not! It has witchcraft"
"But it's fake!"
"No. It's. NOT! G%&FH^"

And no side gets anywhere and we draw our lines and build our walls, neither of us researching what we believe and why. 
God hates witchcraft, but we've faultily said that this translates as even reading about witches and wizards. This isn't us 'doing' witchcraft however, though it does produce curiosity about the occult. As an article from Focus on the Family said, "it is what we do with that curiosity that makes all the difference."  
As Christians we are called to be Lights and be messengers for Christ in changing society, and we need to learn to not only have information on what our beliefs are but the beliefs of others. And we cannot do that by ignoring all secular TV, books, songs, and shunning the non Christian world. That's exactly what turns people away from us.
That doesn't mean you allow everything, but it does mean that you don't shun everything that isn't labeled Christian. It means discernment (as in with sex, profanity and violence in books and movies). This does not mean rejecting altogether. It means shining love, not hatred, not shunning, which is what most conservative Christians in the Church have done with Harry Potter: shunned the fans.
It means prayerfully considering your decisions - not deciding anything on your own.

I read an article about a lady who actually witnessed to a couple that weren't up for listening about Christianity but were all in for discussing Harry Potter and why this particular Christian family were OK with the movies and books. The Christian mother had read the books and realized she could use the deep themes about love triumphing evil and giving up your life for your friends as a conversation starter, and through long discussions with the non Christians, actually led the couple to Christ.

So should Christians watch and read Harry Potter?

I think those easily accepting of the the franchise need to really take the time to see how it can possibly be harming, how young children can be influenced since that is who we're dealing with. They need to see that the franchise isn't perfect and that Wiccans see a great stride forwards in their occult with the acceptance of the books and movies. 

And those completely against the franchise need to learn how to speak Truth in a loving manner, backing up what they believe and making sure they have all the info instead of leaning completely on just the little that they know.

 I personally think Harry Potter CAN be used for good and CAN be a huge witness opportunity if given a chance. There's nothing wrong per-say with the movies or books: Fairly clean, funny, and a BEAUTIFUL ending. It's why so many people see it's potential and have fallen in love with with it. 
 It also has strong, genius, story-telling, strong themes about light and darkness and love, and J.K Rowling is simply brilliant when it comes to creating a complex plot. If only I could be half as good as her as a writer!
I adored Snape from the beginning and his choice to sacrifice his life to see evil vanquished  in the end. I know fans love Harry Potter and what he did, but I'm a huge fan of Snape and what he stood for, showing that people CAN change and not to judge them by their past.  I also loved the adventure, the music, and I swear I was thrown through a loop with who was really on the good side and who wasn't. 

So I strongly believe that neither side in this Harry Potter "war" can afford to be ignorant about the franchise, neither should strongly endorse either way, because the franchise is out. Should J.K Rowling have written her books with such strong magical ties to the real occult? I'm positive that she shouldn't have.
And we all need to be aware of that, which is while I really enjoyed the last movie and book, while I saw HUGE Christian themes that I can use for Christ, I wouldn't recommend young children reading the book until they're mature  enough to be able to understand both the good and bad, and the real spirit world as it is. And it's up to the parents to make sure their children are equipped with the knowledge of the real world and the faults with HP, as well as to be aware of when and if they should allow them to indulge in the fandom.
If only J.K Rowling had taken magic more seriously - if only she realized that Wicca is a dangerous occult. The books could have been so different.
But  we can't turn back the clock and stop J.K Rowling from writing the series or changing the dangerous aspects of it.
However, because of that, we also can't pretend it's all OK and not up to harm anyone no matter how much you may love it, that it can't sway non Christians - because it has. 
But we can choose to make a difference, to bring light and to beat the devil at his own game. Not unlike Voldemort, he doesn't see the power of love, however

he soon will. One day the true definition of Love will vanquish the enemy for good.

But as of now, we're in a real war and constant battle: One between good and evil. Light and darkness. Satan for our souls, for our hearts.

 I think me watching this can bring up many conversations about the dangers of the real spirit world and why I think Harry Potter is either for mature tween and teens or to be left out altogether if you chose ignorance.
But I strongly feel that God can use anything to bring people to Him and towards the love of His Son - anything.

Even a a boy wizard who never thought he was special but through love, taught us so much.

Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. Philippians 1:18 

And for all those HP fans wondering: 
After a quiz I'm in House Hufflepuff (not my first choice) and I'm Tonks, who I was pretty happy about. 

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9 of your thoughts

  1. This is really thought provoking, Kara. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    1. Aww thank you - I really enjoyed writing these!

  2. I really love your thoughts on this! I love how you mentioned "I believe that HP can be dangerous, just as anything secular can be."
    We can have the best of intentions with a lot of "good" things, and depending on where our heart is, they can lead us to sin! It's not always so much the things, but the actions that come as a result of them. It's as slippery slope then because some things tend to lead to sinful reactions, whereas others are just correlations and not all people struggle with sin in one area. Perhaps shopping can become sinful to one girl because she does it in the wrong way, but even though it can potentially lead to sinful reactions, it generally isn't a problem for a lot of Christians.
    Thanks for posting this!

    1. Oh I love your illustration with the shopping because I know some people who struggle in this area but they don't see it as a struggle since it's 'just' shopping.
      It IS indeed a slippery slope and I think the devil can get us at the places most where things appear the least harmful.
      Thanks for sharing!

  3. BBC is a TV show right??
    So I haven't read HP or even Narnia yet. We don't agree with the witchcraft because I feel that it definitely would open a door to more serious curiosity of things in that world. (The spirit world) I think I'd like to read the books sometime and decide for myself. I love how you said both sides, good and bad. Personally I don't think that someone who doesn't have firm beliefs should read them, Satan DOES use anything to get people away from Jesus. Thanks so much for your thoughts on this! I was really happy somebody finally did something like this, a lot of people seem to just think that having an obsession with such things as HP is fine and all, so I've really enjoyed reading these series!!

    1. BBC stands for British Broadcasting and it's a channel (BBC America is what we here get). So Sherlock BBC is from Britain. =)

      Narnia is VERY different from HP so I recommend reading those first - Narnia is as harmless as they come because of the deep Biblical themes and C.S Lewis being a devout Christian. Narnia is more a fairytale with no witchcraft not counting the evil.
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Once again, your wisdom has blown me away. Thank you for being truthful!

    I also agree with you 100%, but that has nothing to do with my respect for this post. It was very well written. :)

  5. Kara, I really think it is amazing that you did all this research. Thank you for this post. Thank you! I really cannot thank you enough.

    (My mom's favorite character from the beginning was Snape.)
    (I'm in Hufflepuff too.)


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