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The Harry Potter™ books

More comments about the Harry Potter series
by Christians, a Wiccan, & book reviewers, etc.

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Sponsored link.


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This essay is a continuation of an earlier essay

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More comments by Christians:

bulletNicola Creegan wrote an article in the New Zealand "Reality Magazine" -- a Christian bimonthly published by the Bible College of New Zealand. She begins her article with some thought-provoking questions:

"What is magic, and when is it - or any other power - dangerous? Does a world have to be explicitly Christian to be religious in a good sense? Is our attraction to Harry Potter proof of our deception, or evidence of his goodness? Are the Harry Potter books in the same league as the fantasies of Tolkien and CS Lewis - a great favourite and model for JK Rowling herself - or are they different? If nothing else, Harry has caused us to ask these questions."

She believes that some want to ban these books because they promote postmodern reality, which involves "a blurring of categories," and a mixing and matching of images. She holds these factors responsible for the shootings at Columbine and elsewhere. She writes that her:

"... great enthusiasm for Harry Potter is modified only by an acknowledgement that even a word, at this time in history, can be an invitation to the blurring of lines that can lead to violence or to the occult or to madness. We live in a sea of images, very few of which we can control. ... the real drama of Harry Potter is moral rather than purely magical. Evil must be discerned, discovered and overcome, not on the whole with some clever magic, but with the fruits of virtue: courage, hard work, respect and love." 1

bulletJeff Fountain also wrote an article in Reality Magazine. He contrasts writers of Christian fantasy, like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien with J.K. Rowling. He states that:

"Harry Potter is a post-Christian creation set within an occult cosmology. And his phenomenal popularity with both young and old is a strong signal indicating where our western culture is headed."

He describes his chance meeting with a Neopagan, and a subsequent tour of a labyrinth. He concludes that over the past few millennia, Europe has sequentially embraced and then rejected Animism, Theism, and now Materialism.

"The sobering conclusion was becoming obvious to me: unless there was a revival of Biblical Theism, the future would be Animism in a new 21st century guise.  [Europe in the future] ... could increasingly resemble pre-Christian Old Europe - a Europe where Harry Potter would feel very much at home." 2

bulletRoger Lynn: It is unclear whether this is a spoof or a genuine letter by a person who has picked up some very strange beliefs. Roger wrote, in part:

bullet"Her creation openly blasphemes Jesus and God and promotes sorcery, seeking revenge upon anyone who upsets them by giving you examples (even the sources with authors and titles!) of spells, rituals, and demonic powers."

bullet"Since 1995, open applicants to Satan worship has increased from around 100,000 to now... 14 MILLION children and young adults!" 3

[Author's note: To our knowledge, none of the Harry Potter books mention Jesus, God, or Christianity -- except for a passing reference to Christmas. They condemn harmful sorcery. The total number of Satanists in North America has never been known with any accuracy. It may currently be on the order of 10 thousand.]
bulletBeverly Green is a Sunday school teacher from Eastman, GA, and mother of three. She appears to believe that reading Harry Potter books will lead to indwelling demonic possession. She said:

"Harry Potter is saying you can dabble in witchcraft as long as it's entertaining. If it's not good, it's evil. There ain't no in between. When you start dabbling in demonic spirits, that's dangerous ground. You're opening up your home, yourself to all kinds of attacks from the Devil." 4

bulletOther comments by conservative Christians: Some random thoughts found from the media and on the Internet:

bulletThe books contain secret Satanic messages.

bulletThe thunderbolt-shaped burn mark on Harry Potter's forehead is really a Satanic symbol.

bullet"These types of writings are nothing more than Satan's way to undermine the family."

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Sponsored link:

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Some book reviews:

bulletThe New York Times Book Review: Michael Winerip describes the books as:

"...funny, moving and impressive.... Like Harry Potter, [J.K. Rowling] has soared beyond her modest Muggle surroundings to achieve something quite special." 5

bulletThe Washington Post Book World: Michael Dirda commented:

"Obviously, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone should make any modern 11-year-old a very happy reader. The novel moves quickly, packs in everything from a boa constrictor that winks to a melancholy Zen-spouting centaur to an owl postal system, and ends with a scary surprise." 6

bulletBooklist review: Michael Cart described the first book in the series as:

 "... a brilliantly imagined and beautifully written fantasy that incorporates elements of traditional British school stories without once violating the magical underpinnings of the plot. In fact, Rowling's wonderful ability to put a fantastic spin on sports, student rivalry, and eccentric faculty contributes to the humor, charm, and, well, delight of her utterly captivating story."

bulletKirkus Reviews: They stated:

"This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons' eggs hatched on the hearth. It's slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school.

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Comments by a real Witch:

bulletChristopher Penczak is a Wiccan, a follower of Wicca which is an Earth-based Neopagan religion. Many religious conservatives have equated Wicca and other Neopagan religious traditions with the fantasy witchcraft found in the Harry Potter books. He writes:

"Ironically, conservative Christian groups in the United States have accused the Harry Potter books and J.K Rowling of promoting witchcraft in children. As a witch, I’d have to disagree. While the movies can stimulate an interest in witchcraft and magick, 7 the magick depicted in this world is nothing like mine. If you come into Wicca, Ceremonial Magick or any form of modern magick thinking that you will be Headmaster Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall (with their overt uses of magick), you’ll be really disappointed. For a few, they will see what is missing in Harry Potter and present in our traditions, and look to the spirit of magick."

"While magick is a science to many of us, because there are repeated patterns and theories, it is also a spiritual tradition. One of the first definitions I learned of witchcraft is that it is 'science, art, and religion.' Many traditions of magick, including the more intellectual and educated ceremonial magick traditions, emphasize the spiritual side of magick, if not the overtly religious side. For many of us, magickal talents are considered gifts from the gods, and particular talents indicate those blessed by particular gods. When speaking to a layman about magick and spells, spells are often described as a form of prayer, a petition, or supplication to the divine forces that rule over a particular area of life. If the spell is successful, the prayer was answered. Others look at it as a spiritual partnership with these forces, not necessarily a supplication. In either case, it deals with otherworldly and immanent divine forces that the magician communicates with to create change."

"Many traditions of magick also put a moral code to magick. In Wicca, we have the Wiccan Rede: 'An’ it harm none, do as ye will.' We believe that what you do, good, evil or otherwise, returns to you threefold. It’s not a judgment or moral code of the universe, but a mechanism of the universe, like gravity. But the results of it help us create a more pleasant magickal experience. Other traditions have similar traditions of karma, and reaping what you sow. Many magicians go by one of the numerous variations of the Golden Rule, popularized by Christianity, to '[d]o unto others as you would have done onto you.' ..."

"While The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, both classics recently turned into movies, have Christian associations due to the faith of their authors, no one mistakes them for manuals on how to practice Christianity. While J.K. Rowling is writing about witchcraft, she isn’t writing it from a modern witch’s perspective, so don’t expect it to be an accurate practice book.

He recommends Dion Fortune's book The Sea Priestess as a work of fiction that describes the mysteries of magick. 8

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Other comments:

bulletJohn Monk, an editorial writer for The State in Columbia, SC, said the claim that Harry Potter lures children into the occult is "poppycock." In an 1999-OCT editorial, he wrote:

"You might as well say 'Gone With The Wind' teaches young readers to be slave owners, or 'Treasure Island' entices children to be pirates, or 'Peter Pan' urges children to run away from home."

He stated that, contrary to the claims of some who are opposed to the books,

"The Potter books promote – through their characters – friendship, love, bravery, self-reliance, the importance of family and tolerance toward those different from us. They depict the quest for knowledge, wisdom and right action – the universal journey every human takes. The books condemn bullies, falsity, rudeness, greed and Nazi-like tendencies to denigrate and hurt those who aren't like us."

Monk does acknowledge Rowling's raw depiction of evil, and compares the characters to those in the Bible. He wrote that Rowling's characters

"... struggle within themselves. But no worthwhile book, the Bible included, has only plastic people. Life is played for keeps. Good books reflect that." 9

Elsewhere he wrote:

"The books are great! They're wholesome and fun. If we ban these books, a dark force stands to be unleashed. It's not the occult, it's ignorance. The best approach is for parents to read the Potter books with their children."

bullet

Judy Blume, one of the most successful children's authors, commented on the attempts at censorship of the Harry Potter series: She writes"

"It's a good thing when children enjoy books, isn't it? Most of us think so. But like many children's books these days, the Harry Potter series has recently come under fire. In Minnesota, Michigan, New York, California and South Carolina, parents who feel the books promote interest in the occult have called for their removal from classrooms and school libraries. I knew this was coming. The only surprise is that it took so long -- as long as it took for the zealots who claim they're protecting children from evil...to discover that children actually like these books. If children are excited about a book, it must be suspect." 10

bullet

The Luddite Reader views the books as a very effective reading tool. They write:

"... our fourth graders do not score well on basic reading tests...Recent news stories tell of schools buying laptop computers (approximate cost, $1500 each) for students to take home.  We have a better idea.  For a cost of only $6 per student...every fourth grader in America can be equipped with a paperback copy of the first Harry Potter novel, 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.' This will help close the great Harry Potter divide in America, where more than 60% of fourth grade students have limited or no access to Harry Potter, a proven reading motivation program that works particularly well with the difficult audience of young boys."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Nicola Creegan, "Harry Potter and the magic of Hogwarts," Reality Magazine, Issue 42. Online at: http://www.reality.org.nz/
  2. Jeff Fountain, "Harry Potter and the future of the West," Reality Magazine, Issue 42. Online at: http://www.reality.org.nz/
  3. Roger Lynn, "Harry Potter chain letter," at: http://urbanlegends.about.com
  4. Julia Scheeres, "The Trouble With Harry Potter," Wired News, 2001-NOV-15, at: http://www.wired.com/
  5. Alan Jacobs, cited in Berit Kjos, "Harry Potter lures kids to Witchcraft - with praise from Christian leaders," at: http://www.crossroad.to/
  6. Book reviews quoted in Amish Country Gifts' web site at: http://www.amishcountrygifts.com/ They refer to the first book in the series.
  7. PaganismWicca.Suite101.com defines "magick" as: "The use of energy and a person's own will and intent to cause change. It has a “k” added to the end to establish it as spiritually unique and to distinguish it as separate from magic tricks."
  8. Christopher Penczak, :The Spiritual Wisdom of Harry Potter?," Llewellyn Journal, 2007-JUL-16, at: http://www.llewellynjournal.com/
  9. Julie Foster, "Potter books: Wicked witchcraft?: New documentary claims tales lead kids to the occult," WorldNetDaily at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  10. Judy Blume, "Is Harry Potter evil?," New York Times, Op-Ed page, 1999-OCT-22. Reprinted at: http://www.judyblume.com/

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Harry Potter > here

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Copyright © 2000 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JUL-3
Latest update: 2010-DEC-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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