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Harry Potter - a debateable debate

21 June, 2003 4:23 PM

Stumbled upon a Harry Potter discussion that makes me angry. Jake writes about how it will drive teens to become witches and rants agains parents letting their kids read and watch HP.

I guess Jake comes from a similar camp as the person who just wrote me an email complaining that my Gary Kotter entry was also 'flirting with one of Satan's favourite tools'.

I responded to Jake with this comment:

I think the debate over whether Harry Potter is good or evil is a pretty useless one.

You see I don't think such a discussion will ever stop young people from reading it - there is nothing you can say or do to stop the kids I teach in Religion class in the local primary school from reading the book or seeing the movie.

A more useful discussion to have would be how do we journey with kids who do read and watch Harry Potter? (which here in Australia is most of them!) If our stance is blatantly standing against something that they love do we cut off an opportunity to talk to them about Spirituality? I think that in each of the books that there are numerous entry points to a fantastic discussion about faith, spirituality and ultimately Jesus.

This doesn't mean we should endorse the occult, witchcraft. However if we spend all our time protesting about the book I suspect we've missed an amazing opportunity - an opportunity to dialogue, to interpret, to tell our own stories and to help the millions of Harry Potter readers to enter into a life beyond anything that the books will ever speak about!

So I say - get out there and read it - look for the Jesus themes - find the entry points for life giving conversation - don't be scared of it - God's bigger than anything it contains - and engage with the children of our world who are currently intrigued by HP but could potentially be obsessed with JC!

All I'll add is that I personally enjoy the books and movies and that as a result of reading them I've had some amazing conversations with the children (and adults) I have contact with. I believe that God can show up in the most unexpected and ordinary places in life - even in a Harry Potter book!

update: Randall says it alot better than me! Nice post mate.

Comments

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Thanks for your comments Darren. I think that the using Harry Potter as a entry into Gospel conversations is a great one..

That is what Paul did, in Athens ... He spoke the truth from a statue of the unknown God.

Duncan

Duncan » 21 June, 2003 5:29 PM

No reason to get angry. You know, I wold like to see a study of Christian kids.

How many hours this week (starting tonight since it just came out) will you spend reading HP and how many will you spend in the Word of God?

Now which one is more important? I bet most kids will spend more in HP this week than they will in the Bible the ENTIRE YEAR.

now, not getting into anything else but that, how can that be pleasing to God?

Also if this is not important to Satan, then why the huge outcry on my site. I have had 70 + responses just to the HP posts I did.

Now if it was no big deal do you think this many people would be irate?

I border on the side of caution, I do not look down on anyone that reads them. I know that the books would have no affect on me, but why waste my time?

I do not need anything but the Bible to be used by God to save the lost. His Word custs like a 2 edged sword, nothing cuts sharper than the that. That is what I know, and that is Truth.

Jake » 21 June, 2003 6:28 PM

Sorry Jake - angry is probably not an appropriate word. But I am very frutstrated with the amount of energy that Christians put into telling other Christians what they should and shouldn't do with their lives.

I like your survey idea though - I wonder however if you did the same survey on Christian adults and how much time they spend in the Word compared to how much time they spend at work making money or in front of the TV or shopping or eating or any other activity that most normal human beings do that could be unhealthy if done to an excess!

Perhaps it would be interesting to do a survey of Christians that complain about Harry Potter - and compare the amount of time that they complain and protest with the amount of time that they spend with children that might like to talk about the book and what it all means!?!? If we put as much time and effort into those sort of conversations as we do into this stupid debate then maybe we might begin to connect relevantly with our society!

Yes you did get alot of response to your posts on your site - maybe it is Satan - or maybe its just Christians obsession with finding ways to talk about issues but never actually do anything to connect with the world they live in in practical grass roots ways. I don't despute that Satan exists - however I'm cautious to find him behind anything and everything.

Yes the Word is brilliant for bringing people to Christ - but I don't see anywhere in it that says God can't use other things. In fact in the Word there are instances of God using donkeys to speak to people - and as Duncan points out Paul used a pagan idol to illustrate the gospel.

Christ himself used stories and parables to communicate his message using techniques that were from popular culture of the day to lead people into truth.

Darren » 21 June, 2003 9:57 PM

Darren great post and reply as usual. I wil link this to my blog at some stage along with my post about HP. I don't think I will comment any further for fear of not being as gracious as you are Darren...except to say, I brought it today, look forward to it and enjoyed it.

Rachel » 21 June, 2003 10:36 PM

Great post, Darren. I've been thinking similar thoughts after receiving an emergency prayer request eMail to pray "against" the launch of this "evil book". Sigh.

I have a hard time with the argument that reading HP takes away from Bible-reading time, as the same thing can be said about ANY book, magazine, newspaper that was anything but the Bible.

PS. Where were all these voices when Lord of the Rings was launched?

Mike » 22 June, 2003 12:41 AM

Darren - thanks for writing on this, both in your blog and in your comments. I read Jake and Rich's site a couple of nights ago and was surprisingly upset and angry about what I read. Your writing has helped me articulate some of what I was feeling.

I still feel very inarticulate on this subject and am not sure why. For me, I think it is the subtle condemnation that is coming out in these dialogues. While both Jake and Rich are very clear that they don't judge others for reading HP, I'm wondering why they (or should I say specifically those that continue to write against HP) give so much public time to what is essentially a private opinion. To me, it smacks of the conversational gambit "Of course I'd never tell you that in my opinion, your haircut is awful".

Peace!

Lisa » 22 June, 2003 1:16 AM

I've never been a big fan of fantasy genre, although I have enjoyed LOTR. I don't see a lot of difference between HP and LOTR.

There is a fundamental weakness in the church's strategy on this stuff. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. In the book of acts we don't see Paul or Peter "praying against" an act of the pagan government. Paul preached Christ crucified and walked in the power of God.

Leighton Tebay » 22 June, 2003 1:31 AM

You've said it very well, Darren. Those of us who work with children and teens can not afford to close any doors and any common ground we can find to build a relationship on will better our chances of being heard on the important stuff. Jesus met the masses where they were. We need to do the same.

Stacy » 22 June, 2003 5:05 AM

I tend to see it this way also. My son practically cut his teeth on Harry Potter books. He was in the second grade when he begged me to get him one of those big fat books, so I did. I didn't think he could read it, but he did, and he took an AR test and got 100 percent!

JK Rowling says that she couldn't find anybody to publish the first book for the longest time because publishers said it was too long for kids. She is right when she says that we grossly underestimate what kids are capable of.

I wonder, too, if we are forgetting the fun and magical quality of childhood? I think these books are pure fun for kids to read.

Laura » 22 June, 2003 7:14 AM

Darren, I could not begin to express how much I agree with you! Your post and comments, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head, as well as the comments of many of your readers. My only comment (since most of my thoughts have already been presented by others) is that people are acting as though HP is the only book/movie that uses magic or some form of "power" that -in real life- would be completely contradictory to the message of Christ. I mean, really... if Superman had lived in Christ's time, it would have been declared that he was possessed by demons or something, yet we have no problem with him! I know that's stretching it a bit, but my point is that people shouldn't direct such a huge amount of attention to one topic and completely ignore everything else. If you're going to complain, at least be consistant! Back off people! It's just a FICTION story anyway!

meg » 22 June, 2003 1:11 PM

Preach it brother!

Randall » 22 June, 2003 1:31 PM

Lisa.....you don't like my haircut??

:-)

Darren » 22 June, 2003 4:54 PM

I dunno, Darren. Post a picture and I'll tell you. I couldn't get a good view from Rachel's picture quilt. :)

Peace!

Lisa » 22 June, 2003 5:06 PM

It seems anytime Christians practically apply Scripture and insist that non-Christians convert and apply Scripture as well, that makes Darren angry.

Pieter Friedrich » 24 June, 2003 3:13 AM

I am 14 and a practicing Catholic, my opinion on God wont waver. I feel sometimes a young adults sense of reality and fiction, is underestimated. I am not going to renumber the stupid spells they do in the book, but I;m going to renumber the moral questions of right and wrong, and everything in between. Harry Potter is fantasy, its meant to entertain, and if someones kids cannot see it, then its there fault, not the Arthur's.

» 21 March, 2004 9:31 AM

Hey! If you'd like to know, I'm setting up a research for Harry Potter. I'm going to interview as many teens (Anti-Potter or Potter lovers) as I can. Firstly, I'm going to find out the psycological effects Anti-Potterism has on some teens. I had a friend who had to go to therapy because Anti-Potterist caused her to have a mental breakdown after harassing her so much. They took her fifth Harry Potter book out of her hands, tore it up, then burned it. It wasn't that that broke her, though! She was upset about having to buy a new one, but after they started writing "You're the spawn of Satan" all over her locker, she just snapped!

In my opinion, for the most part, it's the Anti-Potterists that are causing the damage! They're the ones acting evil, and I've experienced it first hand!

Jess » 18 June, 2004 2:41 PM

I personally don't think Harry Potter is
evil but I don't think you can find god in it either.I've read all 5 books and i haven't changed.I think kids like me should read it so we understand the trauma some orphans face,

Melanie Ketchum,11 1/2 » 16 February, 2005 6:55 PM

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