Why do some Christians believe that the Harry Potter books and movie are evil?
|Earlier this morning, I came across this well-written article:
and reading it has inspired me to write down some thoughts that have been going around in my head for a long time.
Let's begin by saying that, when I (along with countless of other Boomers) was growing up, most people found it just as natural to include Santa Claus with Christmas and the Easter Bunny with Easter as they did to celebrate Jesus in an extra-special way during those times.
And they didn't hesitate to allow their kids to dress up and go out to Trick or Treat on Halloween.
Believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy didn't make me come to the conclusion that my folks were liars.
I simply came to understand that this was a type of make-believe fantasy you shared with small children for the first years of their lives.
Once I knew the truth, I had fun being part of making this fantasy real for younger children I knew and loved.
Once I knew that the Easter Bunny wasn't real, I figured out just seconds later that the same was true when it came to Santa--even though, for some reason, I continued to believe in the Tooth Fairy for a few months after that.
When I first learned the news, I was rather disappointed--but my disappointment only lasted for mere seconds, because this was just a step in my growing up process, and it was time to be on the other side of the fantasy.
Not only did I not end up seeing my folks as liars, but learning the truth about these childhood fantasy characters didn't cause me to think for even a moment that God didn't exist.
Mommies, Daddies, and older friends and relatives might be able to put goodies & gifts in stockings, packages, & baskets and leave money under pillows in place of baby teeth, but they couldn't create the Universe and its contents.
I also watched magic shows on TV when I was a kid. One of my favorites was one called The Magic Land Of Alakazam.
And, when I was in grade school (from the fall of 1959 until I graduated from eighth grade in the spring of 1967--How many of you also remember when grade schools consisted of eight grades, and kids in every one of those grades had a milk break and four recesses?), we had a magician come to entertain us on at least one occasion.
I knew about wicked witches--after all, they were all over the pages of my fairy tale books--but I also knew about good witches, such as the one in The Wizard Of Oz; the nose-twtiching mother & daughter team of Samantha & Tabitha; and Wendy, the little witch who was always being given grief by her peers and elders because she wanted to be good instead of wicked.
And I also knew the sad stories of how, back in Colonial times, normal, everyday people were being accused of being witches because either people didn't like them or else didn't understand some of their behavior (e.g. having epileptic seizures or making up herbal medicines), and many were sent to their deaths for this "crime."
I also read and enjoyed mythology.
My folks told me that a lot of mythology was written before people understood about God, so they used it to explain things like lightning, thunder, birth, death, etc.
When I read the stories, I didn't see their writers as being evil. I simply saw them as people with a kind of child's point of view re: why things are as they are.
And, if you look closely at mythology, it really isn't that far off of the mark a lot of times, because it teaches some wonderful lessons.
One of my favorites is the story of Pandora's box where being told that she wasn't to look in the box just made her all that more curious as to what was inside of it.
When she opened the box just a little bit, evil--in the form of little, ugly creatures that flew around, biting and stinging people--escaped and went out into the world.
Even so, at the very bottom of the box was a sweet fairy calling herself Hope, and she flew out into the world to keep life from getting too bad for too long.
In scripture, the emotion of hope is one of the three greatest and lasting emotions, with the other two being faith and love--and love being the greatest of them all!
I grew up in an area where most of the other kids I knew were in the same place that I was almost every Sunday morning (or, in the case of Seventh Day Adventists, Saturday morning), and that was in Sunday School (Sabbath School for SDA families) and (when we were old enough and on special occasions) church.
And even the ones who, for one reason or another, weren't attending any particular church on a regular basis either were growing up in Christian homes or else, at least, in homes where the parents had no objections to having their kids say grace as a group, recite Our Lord's Prayer in unison, and recite the entire Pledge as we had been taught to say it back then.
They didn't object to Christmas plays, Easter convocations, and invocations being given at graduations (We had a graduation ceremony for the eighth-graders each year--my part in it, by the way, was to give the invocation after all of the Class of 1967 had marched into the gym and up onto the stage to the familiar tune of Pomp & Circumstance being played on the piano.).
Madelyn Murray O'Hair began to fight to have any reference to God removed from schools back when I was in the fourth grade, but those of us attending Fall Creek Heights Elementary found this suggestion to be offensive. At the time, it sounded like something the Communists might cook up.
Even so, I see us as a group of people who had much more compassion towards people who believed differently than we did than some of the people getting media attention today.
We never allowed ourselves to shut other kids out.
Sure! We sometimes didn't want to play with one kid or another at some given period in time, but it wasn't a sort of thing that just went on and on and on.
And there was no taunting of one or more students to the point of breaking their spirits until they snapped.
Some of us came to school in new clothes. Others came to school in hand-me-downs that had holes. And it was important to all of us not to leave anyone feeling left-out and friendless.
We might not have been a "Politically Correct" school by today's standards, but we were a close-knit bunch that looked out for each other--and extended that closeness and compassion for people in other places, too.
One of our most important classes was Social Studies where we would read little stories to find out how people in other places lived.
I personally have mixed feelings about prayer and other mentions of God in the schools of today.
Personally, I'm all for it.
I wish that the kids of today had it as good as I did growing up, where I could go to school feeling safe (except when being forced to play Red Rover on one occasion and things like that) and cared for.
And I recall those wonderful Christmas plays and Easter convos and wish that the kids of today had them in their schools.
But, then, I remember that schools now contain more of a melting pot of different beliefs.
How would I like it if I had kids and found out that they were being asked to participate in pagan rituals while feeling as if they didn't have much of a choice in the matter?
How would I like it if my kids were told to recite some sort of passage together that endorsed Satanism or proclaimed that there was no God?
In today's mix of kids, moments of silence are, likely, much more doable--but, at least, let's have those!
And let's not make it to where kids can't invite each other to church while on school grounds!
As for our Pledge. . .perhaps, the wording might need to be changed a little. . .maybe, to something like ". . .one nation, guided by faith. . ."
Which brings us back to all things Harry Potter.
Had Harry Potter materialized back in my day, all of us kids at Fall Creek Heights Elementary and other places would have probably met him with the same enthusiasm that we did Mary Poppins.
And our parents wouldn't have had any reservations whatsoever about our getting engrossed in the books--unless we were forgetting to do our homework, skipping our meals, or staying up past our bedtime on a school night while reading by flashlight under blanket tents.
But parents are frightened these days--and who can blame them?
It's so much more difficult to keep track of our kids during the course of a school day.
For one thing, the kids might be getting bused to schools that are clear across town. For another thing, work schedules makes it more difficult--if not impossible--for many of the parents to become room mothers, attend PTA meetings, etc.
Because of busing schedules, distance from school, and thinly-spread time, a lot of parents (and, especially, Christian ones) feel as if they're putting their kids into a "God-less" environment for several hours each weekday, and that they, themselves, just aren't able to spend the amount of time with them that they feel it would take to make their primary belief-system become well-grounded at home.
Therefore, they choose to become overly-protective.
Harry Potter books are seen as propaganda that will influence impressionable minds to think that all of this witchcraft business is normal--and normal by itself, because they're living on mere breadcrusts when it comes to being fed in a spiritual manner.
This suspicion has even carried over into normal Halloween activities to where these parents have decided that this holiday--for so long seen as fun, carefree, and a time to develop imagination and drama in your kids--is actually a form of devil-worship.
There are even some who no longer celebrate Christmas because it falls on the same day as a pagan celebration and is seen as something weaker members of the early Christian church came up with so that they could party right along with the pagans and still call themselves Christians.
Even if all of this were so, this isn't how it's been for us. When we celebrate Christmas and Halloween, we don't have evil or non-Christian thoughts going around in our heads.
I'm yet to read any of the books about Harry Potter or to see the movie (not because I think it will make my head turn around like an owl's while I spew the contents of my last meal across the room, but just because I haven't found the time), so I'm not really someone with the knowledge to say whether or not this is good children's entertainment or spiritually-harmful.
But, from clips I've seen of it, it seems to me to simply be good children's entertainment.
And, with that viewpoint in mind, I'm going to close by saying that we have very legitimate concerns when it comes to the subject of who's minding our kids and how are they being influenced?
We need to be alert, because there are people out there who love to corrupt young, impressionable minds so that they will join gangs, drug-rings, pornography stables, hate groups, etc.
Kids need to have a sense of what's right or wrong, and you need to keep communication lines open so that kids won't be afraid to come to you with their concerns.
Even so--although, again, I would encourage you to stay alert when it comes to media/entertainment messages and the like--it's also dangerous to decide to become super-suspicious of everything to where your kids can't even play make-believe.
Any feedback about this piece is welcome.