Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Magic in Harry Potter

I had a discussion over dinner with a friend of mine about Harry Potter. He and his wife allow their children to read the Harry Potter books and to watch the movies. They are wonderful Christian people, therefore I will not name them here in public lest they be shunned by their respective Church community. While we were talking about the book, I sort of had a novel idea about the magic in Harry Potter and why I find it to be non-evil or occultish.

The major objection that Christians have over Harry Potter is the witchcraft. That is an understandable reaction. After all, witchcraft is banned in the Bible. However, the witchcraft of the Bible and the witchcraft practiced in Harry Potter are not synonymous. That's a good thing.

In the Bible, witchcraft works because it is powered by false gods or demons. You have to pay tribute to them and worship them to gain the magic that they offer. Such is true of all forms of witchcraft. The powers are granted by a 'deity' other than the one true God. Therefore practicing witchcraft in this sense is a heinous form of idolatry and false god worship.

In Harry Potter, the magic is not granted by a god at all. The magic is an innate gift. It is comparable to Spider Man's gifts. He can shoot webs, detect danger, climb walls, and has unbelievable dexterity. All of this because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Now, I do not know a single parent who is afraid that their children to join the "Cult of the Radioactive Spider". Of course, there is that new upstart sect called "Cult of the Genetically Altered Spider" that the movies have spawned. These are dark days indeed for the purist.

My point is that Harry and his friends have these powers because they were born with them. Just as I can jump unnaturally higher than my friends, Harry can work magic.Again, the source of Harry's powers is not insidiously evil. Further, none of the children I know are running around letting spider's bite them in the hopes that they can have Spiderman's powers. Kids, for the most part, have more sense than that.

The problem, in the end, is one of language. If Harry Potter were practicing the sort of magic practiced in the Bible, then there might be a problem. However, his magic is as harmless as Spidey's webs. So, to my friend, hang in there. I, for one, do not think you a rank heretic for your letting your children read Harry Potter. It's that other stuff we talked about that makes me wonder. *wink*


Keith said...

I've never thought of Harry as a sort of Spiderman. Nice work, Alienman. Like spiritual gifts given to us as "He pleases." These matters are beyond our control. Praise the Lord that He is in charge of these things!

Scott Hill said...

That was pretty insightful. I haven't taken the time personally to work through the whole Harry Potter debate, because it isn't really an issue where I am. Thanks.

Sue said...

Yes! I think you've put your finger on why I don't have any problem with HP either. It's magic in a Tolkien kind of way, not occult. The majority of the plot is a very strong good vs evil one, with plenty of Christian worldview included - such as love being the strongest force, of the importance of sacrificial love, and honesty, and loyalty.

Brent Farley said...

I realize I am late in regards to the date of the other comments, but my daughter just sent me the link here.

Comparing Harry Potter to Spiderman is ridiculous! There isn't a comparison, that is why the Christian community has not spoken out against Spiderman. Spidey does not practice magic, cast spells or anything atributed to withcraft, Harry Potter and is friends do.

And even if Harry Potter was born with the powers, those powers had to come from some place. The Christian community doesn't rely on magic, spells or witchcraft in general-

And even a "good" witch is still a witch!