Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Wizard Invades!

Alright, I know all about the anti-Harry Potter things that are said in the evangelical world. I know that he practices wizardry and that he goes to a school that teaches witchcraft. I know that he rides a broom with great skill and daring. I also know that he drinks magical potions.

In fact, I know pretty much everything about Harry Potter. For, dare I say it, I have read the books! To further my heresies, I even watched all the movies multiple times. Something is wrong with me as a pastor, I know. I could pretend that I read the books in order to root out the plethora of false teachings and dangers in the series, but I confess I read them out of pure enjoyment.

I know that my mentor, John Calvin, whose Institutes I am reading this very day, would probably come and smite me for looking at such literature. Dear Jonathan Edwards, whose "The End for Which God Created the World" I am still working through, would probably be dismayed at how I am going to be spending my leisure for the next for days. I need help.

The new book should be arriving at my house via Owl Post Saturday. I can't wait. It is shameless escapism I know, but I am drawn to the battle between overwhelming evil and the underdog of good. I like it that little Harry Potter constantly thwarts the evil designs of the evil Lord Voldemort. I'd like to think that I am having similar success in my occupation against my incidious adversary.

You see, Harry Potter and I have a few things in common. For one thing, we are both "chosen ones". That is, we are set apart from the rest of the world. Am I being arrogant here? I don't think so. The Bible is clear that I am a unique creation. Not only that, but my heavenly Father, before the world began, set me apart for a special purpose. He elected me for good works that no one else will do. He fashioned me to be a pastor in the bayous of Louisiana. Here, I encourage devotion to Christ, expose the machinations of the Evil One, and I wrestle against the prinicipalities of evil with my closest friends. All I lack is a scar on my forehead. However, I have a seal upon my heart that makes me invincible.

I also have many of the struggles that Potter and crew experience. First, I have sometimes thought that my friends were the enemy. (Who didn't think the sour Snape was an evil villian.) Yet, it has often turned out that those who seem most dour have rescued me from grave peril. Conversly, it has often been the harmless, comedic type who have slandered and destroyed the faithful of God. Especially those who are supposed to be "the defense against the dark arts" teachers.

I realize that there are problems with the Harry Potter books. But, here's a new flash for you, C.S. Lewis' Narnia had a few disturbing elements as well. I've read them twice! You could find trouble in Tolkien if you want. Trust me, I've even read the Similrillion.

Honestly, what pastor has not wished for a wand with which to vanquish evil? In truth, we have such a weapon. If only we could point the Bible at the enemy and SEE the fireworks! But, I can't see it. So, I imagine it. I imagine that everytime I preach, I am hurling spiritual lightnings against the minions of evil. In my mind's eye I picture the Word of God sending the forces of darkness running for the hills. Evil plots are foiled. Marriages are saved. Souls are purified. Angels rejoice to see their age old nemesis cast down through the words of the prophets formed in the mouth of this simple preacher.

I enjoy good fantasy novels for this very reason. There is world which my eyes cannot see clearly. This gives me categories for what may yet be. When I put on the full armor of God, as Paul admonishes, and when I take up the Sword of the Spirit, I'd like to think that as I advance upon the enemy in such rainment that it is not pure metaphor. I'd like to think that in the spiritual world, we Christians look every bit the soldier that Paul describes. I imagine shining Church arrayed in splendor, swords drawn, and the enemy advancing. Oh yes, the odds are incredible and it seems like we won't win.

But we do. The enemny is struck down to his ruin time after time. He retreats to Mordor to lick his wounds. Or is it Fangorn Forest? I can't remember, but I know that it's some dark, scary place that stinks of rot and smoke. One day, we will even assault the very gates of hell, and they shall not prevail against us. God will crush Satan underneath our feet.

So, next week I will read another installment of Harry Potter. If you want, I'll point out all the flaws to be aware of should you read it. But, for the most part, I will enjoy it immensely. Right after I finish the next section of Calvin's Institutes.


KathyJo said...

Preach it, bro. :~D Well said.

And that's EXACTLY why I love fantasy-- they are always stories of good triumphing over evil against seemingly impossible odds. How can you not love that?

Waterfall said...

I'm going to a Harry Potter party at the local bookstore tonight to pick up my pre-ordered book!

Funny, I just put together most of my syllabus for teaching English lit this year at a Christian school where the parents are, frankly, NOT wild about Harry ... and most of the "themes" of Harry's relevance that you touched on here, are common themes that we will cover in English lit. Hmmm ... Part of Harry's appeal IS that he and his experiences are so universal.

Happy reading!

glorybeam said...

A pastor reading "Harry Potter"... Well, maybe there is something to glean from it after all.

Almost thou persuadest me to be a muggle!

Chel said...

How delightful to read a Christian defending the Harry Potter series! I love them and have bought them all, eagerly anticipating the day when my son is old enough for me to read them aloud to him.

And it's nice to hear you're liking your transplanted state. We're up here in Pineville, eagerly awaiting our Owl Post delivery tomorrow.

Sojourner said...

Kathy Jo: We agree!! Does this mean that we are still friends?

Waterfall: I would say something witty here but I know you won't read it for three days. You'll be nose deep in Harry Potter, and after that you'll have a couple days of sleeping to do.

Glorybeam: You're scaring me to death. I can fill the millstone around my neck now.

Chel: Pineville? Are you kidding me? My Grandfather-in-law pastored a church in Pineville. How are things in up there?

Broken Messenger said...

Personally, I find Harry Potter offensive. It's not that the books are devoid of moral lessons or are inherently wholly evil throughout, but like many of the temptations of the evil one, there is just enough good mixed with evil to make it palpable. When one learns that most of the symbols, articles and characters used in the book are directly dervied from paganism, mythology and religions that stand staunchly opposed to Christianity. It is also interesting to me that the movies and books are getting progressively more dark and less "innocent." Though I have no idea what your motivation is Soujourner lies, many pastors I know read the books to stay current with their audiences. Again, I don't understand the reasoning behind this. For instance, no pastor I know of would dabble in pornography to stay relevant with an audience or as a means to reach the lost, but if we find moral justifications in the recesses of our mind for lesser forms of evil, then the green light is given - and I say this knowing full well that as a Christian, I am in the minority.

Broken Messenger said...

Apologies, among the many typos the following...

When one learns that most of the symbols, articles and characters used in the book are directly dervied from paganism, mythology and religions that stand staunchly opposed to Christianity.

should read...

When one learns that most of the symbols, articles and characters used in the book are directly dervied from paganism, mythology and religions that stand staunchly opposed to Christianity we should take notice.

Lynn said...

The first thing we should take notice of is that it is FICTION.

Sojourner, hello. I came here from "A Sort of Notebook" (Waterfall's blog). Thank you for the post. To be honest, I've never read any of the Harry Potter books but I have seen the first two movies on TV. (My kids are adults and I have so many other things I want to read.)

I must say, I have been extremely puzzled by all the controversy. Forgive me if this offends anyone but it seems like Christians have gone nuts in the last decade or so. Maybe the nutty ones are just getting more than their share of air time lately. There was a movie that came out when I was kid, titled "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." It was about witches. I don't remember a single person saying that it was evil and that it would cause kids to be attracted to witchcraft and paganism. Everybody seemed to understand that it was just for entertainment, that it was FICTION and nobody was bothered by it. Why do some people act like we're back in the 12th century? It's downright embarrassing to admit being a Christian these days!

sparrow said...

Just stopped by from a sort of notebook...couldn't resist hanging out with a fellow HP fan AND brother in the Lord.

I didn't lift my head from the book all weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bring on #7!