I thought you might be interested in a letter I sent my mother-in-law when she was having difficulties explaining to some people in her church why the Harry Potter books were so bad, worse than the Ring Trilogy or Narnia. It contains a bit of my testimony – God saved me out of witchcraft (and a whole bunch of other stuff too – He’s very amazing that way.)
This fascination with evil (and the belief at the same time that it is not really evil… or even real) is rather epidemic in Christians today. I would love to stamp it out. Perhaps the oddest thing I have found is people’s reaction when I try to discuss my view of it… they get offended, as if I just told them that they’re the scum of the earth, simple over a novel they have read. This indicates to me how deeply people identify themselves with these works of fiction… or is it something else? If I could find a way to tell people of the dangers of this evil without triggering this sense of offense, I would be very happy. So many of my friends are stuck in it and getting deeper, regardless of my warnings.
Anyway, just thought I would share…
All right, I will buckle down and make some time for the Harry Potter discussion… To preface this, I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, although I did see two of the movies. But here is my opinion, based on my experience and some study I’ve done. Please share it where and when you believe it is appropriate.
I believe all fantasy books involving magic are potentially spiritually dangerous, especially to the vulnerable, i.e. children and anyone who is not well-grounded spiritually and are on guard against the wiles of the devil – our very clever enemy. This includes books written by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. However, I do believe that the Narnia books and the Ring series are delightful, wonderful literature that should be read and enjoyed, with one caveat – the parents need to be involved, either 1) supervising the reading (or even reading it together) and discussing God’s view and the book’s view on magic or 2) making sure their children are spiritually mature enough to come to these conclusion on their own, i.e. previous discussions on magic and evidence in the discuss that their children comprehend God’ view of it.
With that said, I got into magic/witchcraft through reading the Fellowship of the Ring. It, in and of itself, did not make me go around casting spells, etc. but it was a good book . . . and I was too young (I think I was 12 or so) (and I did not have anyone around to tell me otherwise) to realize that it was because of the great writing, how the friendships in the book struck a cord in my heart longing for friendship, the battle between good and evil, or any of the many other reasons it is great literature. I just looked for other books like it… and found a whole new genre to explore.
Some of these books were quite “innocent” in the aspect that they did not contain specific details about how the magic worked and some were so specific that they could have been (and as I later found out, were) text books for magicians, witches, and warlocks. Quite a lot of them were “Young Adult” novels, in fact, the one that made me give magic a try was one. And this was only a couple of months after reading the Fellowship that I started practicing. I had no one to show me how; I experimented with what I read. It was fascinating, intriguing, and exciting. It was more than just play, it was a very real way to have control over my out of control life.
I was “discovered” by another witch in my sophomore year of high school when she felt me using magic on her. And so I became involved in her group and got deeper and deeper, as one always does. Witchcraft is like drugs – anyone who says they can use it and say they are not addicted is a liar. It draws you in, entangling you more and more until you are completely trapped and there is no out (aside from God, that is). I was increasingly tormented by the demons I sought to control, until I heard there voices taunting me constantly. And no, I was not mentally ill, I knew these creatures well, as I had called them to me through my magic, although at first I did not recognize them as demons. Later on, I did recognize them for what they were and still called them, seeking to control them as they did in the books I read.
I eventually left my group and tried to stop practicing to get them to stop, but by then it was too late, I had sold myself to them for a little power… (And yes, God did show up and save me, buying me back with His blood). All this because the enemy used the Fellowship of the Ring, a good book with a great moral, to draw me into an area God wants to keep us away from, to protect us.
I say all this to illustrate what can happen when one indulges in a little “innocent” childhood reading… and I was 12. Many of these children are much younger reading Harry Potter, and I doubt that many of their parents are supervising their reading and discussing its intent. And I know for a fact that many, when they finish the series, are hooked and want to read more magic books, some of which get very hard core, even the ones for children. And Harry Potter’s portrayal of magic is also fundamentally different than the Ring series or Narnia. Parents should be able to dissect a books view point on magic.
For instance: The role of magic in Narnia is only used for good by Aslan, and for evil by the witch. And the magic Aslan uses is the “deep magic” i.e. the sacrifice and shedding of his blood, which is stronger than the magic of the witch. It is more than good triumphing over evil, it is God triumphing over evil with the stronger greater power of his sacrifice. It shows God and His power triumphing over the magic. The children only use magical objects, not magic itself, and they are gifts from Aslan to concur evil and to heal the damage it does. You experience the story from the point of view of the children, one is drawn to the children – non magical creatures. The reader wants to be the children, not the workers of magic. This all takes place in a different world/dimension.
The role of magic in the Lord of the Rings – it is wielded by the wizards, (Gandalf, Saruman), who are not mortals (humans or hobbits), but are Istari, who were sent to Middle Earth to fight Sauron who is evil incarnate. But evil is not concurred by magic in the end, but by resisting magic and destroying it. When Frodo uses the magical object he has, it draws evil. Magic is only used in dire situations, and often does more harm than good. The point of view is from the non-magical creatures, the hobbits, dwarves, men, so you experience the story through that perspective. The reader wants to be the hobbit, not the wizard. This takes place in a different age, if not a different world.
The role of magic in Harry Potter (from what I’ve seen in the movies and reading articles and essays on the books) – Magic is common place and part of our world, albeit it is hidden (a very intriguing concept for a child). Children who are born into magical families are let into a magical school where they are taught to use magic in everyday tasks and play, while non-magical people (muggles) are portrayed as cruel, stupid, and oblivious to the “real” world of magic. Magic saves the day in all of the plots as far are I have seen. It is told from the point of view of the magician – the reader want to be Harry – the wizard.
A good analysis of the three can be found at: http://www.decentfilms.com/sections/articles/magic.html and is worth the read, although it is quite long, and comes to a slightly different conclusion than I have.
Here is my reasoning why it is wrong as Christians to have an interest books featuring magic:
1. God abhors magic/witchcraft and has specifically forbidden it amongst His people: Deut. 18:10
2. Therefore, magic is evil.
3. God has commanded us to also hate what is evil and dwell on what is good: Romans 12:9
4. By extension, we should hate magic as Christians, not a have a fascination with it as the world does.
That seems simple enough to me.
The idea of tolerating magic as a literary device seems odd to me – we as Christians try to shield our children from violence, profanity, vulgarity, etc. but all of those have been used as “literary devices” to get a point across. And yet magic is a sin we tolerate in our entertainment… And children don’t always get the concept of literary devices, anyway.