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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Harry Potter & Christianity...

Harry Potter has been a discussion point in our house recently and not because the last movie has just come out, but because our son is reading the first HP book. For us, we were never going to ban the books or movies as both my husband and I and our oldest daughter have read/seen them anyway, before our renewal of faith and before it was even an issue for us. So now my 7 year old is at the age when he is reading for himself, he has asked to see the movies and of course HP is everywhere. And even if it wasn't there would be something else. We feel that we cannot 'protect' him in cotton wool, or our other children. That they are in the world but not of the world. It would be foolish for us to ban them (even if we felt so inclined) as they would resent it and us, and would end up watching them with friends or when older. We take the approach that our children are brought up in a Christian home, they get Christian teaching from us and at church and we monitor what they read and see anyway so if any issues arise we can discuss with them.

I have Christian friends who would not allow their kids to watch anything witchy or wizardy including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, HP and others. I also have Christian friends who let their kids watch whatever they like. I don't think there is necessarily a right and wrong. However we do find ourselves saying to our son that he can't take the book to church (not that he would have time to read it anway!) because some people would be offended by it.

It is true that some Christians are very anti Happy Potter, even now. I was looking up some references for this post and the links below show a range of opinions, from the 'it's all satanic' to teaching Christian imagery in HP at Yale...

MTV:  In an interview for MTV, JK Rowling discusses her faith and the links between Christianity and HP.  An interesting read and one that seems to debunk any kind of Satanic theories as she herself professes to be a church going Christian.  In a reference to scripture on tomb stones, she says:
They're very British books, so on a very practical note Harry was going to find biblical quotations on tombstones," Rowling explained. "[But] I think those two particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric's Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series.

and this is a very interesting quote about her own faith..

The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return. It's something I struggle with a lot," she revealed. "On any given moment if you asked me [if] I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes — that I do believe in life after death. [But] it's something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books.

This just makes me think she is an intelligent person who is not just accepting all she hears and reads, but questions and challenges where necessary.

The Bible and culture blog:  This is mostly a review of the new movie, but I liked this:

Magic by definition is the attempt of humans to control forces larger than ordinary life, something humans have always been trying to do since Day One. Miracle, by definition is a top down view of things, believing God is in control and will intervene and help, even in stupendous ways at times.

Indeed, wouldn't we love it if we had our own way all the time! And actually don't a lot of us attempt to control what is around us, and yet we don't get all uppity about that do we?

e church blog: Links to another article, which is worth a read.

Ms. Neal, for her part, is not worried about anyone reading the books. Rather than being a means for corrupting the youth with witchcraft and the like, she says, "The Harry Potter phenomenon was the greatest evangelistic opportunity that the church has missed."

This quote refers to Connie Neal, an author who received death threats via email after praising the HP books back in 2001. Death threats... how Christian is that? And I agree with her too, the church has missed a trick, much of the HP series uses Christian analogy and just the fact that Harrys life was saved through the strength of his nmothers unconditional love seems a sermon in itself... and if anyone did have an issue with whether it is Satanic or not, what a great way to turn it around and use it for furthering Gods kingdom...?

Christianity Today blog: Looks at a guy who teaches theology at Yale and has taught courses around the HP books. Interesting!

and for good measure and balance, here is one that thinks HP is of the Devil...
Christian blog.com

so for now our household will be enjoying the Harry Potter series for years to come and at least I can say I have thought about it!


Perpetua said...

Good post, Red. I love the Harry Potter books and think they can be used in all kinds of ways to teach the Christian faith. I've used them when taking school assemblies and seen that done by others very successfully too. I've quoted from them in sermons and parish newsletters and discussed them in fellowship groups. In an age where absolute values such as love and truth can be derided, they are a good starting-point for discussion and exploration.

James said...

So glad to read that I am not the only person who questions if it is good food for our children's brains. I believe Mark Driscoll is not keen, and other people with influence have mixed feelings, but we as parents have to decide for ourselves where the line is drawn. I am getting ahead of myself because at 4 and 6 my kids aren't even at that age yet where they know who HP is! It wont be long before Dr Who is on their radar... what then!?! Am I OK with that?

Hannah Mudge said...

Good post! I love the books/films and my husband has no problem with them either; I doubt we would stop any children we may have from reading them. However it's a touchy subject among many of our friends from church - some are okay with HP, others aren't and have major issues with it all. Someone I know even got very adamant with me that J K Rowling is most definitely a practicing witch. HP will always be controversial but I think even those who have issues with it could try to learn a bit more about the author before they sound off.

myellowfeet said...

I don't think that Harry Potter was written with a purely Christian agenda in mind. It's just like our other secular books, only more popular in this generation. I guess that's why it could be used as a tool for good or bad.
The Rowling quote above also shows that she's like many people who struggle with their faith. Though she doesn't write with a Christian viewpoint, that doesn't mean that we should condemn Rowling or the Harry Potter books. We can interpret literature in various ways, after all. One reading could be how HP shows us how things are in our world, and how Rowling chose to highlight positive things like courage and love over power and greed. Although HP does not explicitly honor God, I agree that the emphasized positive values could be a good starting point for a Christian perspective. Example, we could discuss why/how human love fails compared to God's perfect love.
I also posted my thoughts on Harry Potter and Christianity (it's quite long though):

christian said...

I LOVE Harry Potter..Thats all i can say..muahhhhhhhhchristian online