Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Are you wild about Harry?

With the latest Harry Potter movie in theaters, and the newest Harry Potter book poised to hit bookstores, PotterMania is at a fever pitch.

It seems everyone's talking about Harry--in newspapers, on TV and across the blogosphere.

Yet, despite the fact that I am an avid reader of fiction and count the Chronicles of Narnia among my favorite books, I have never read a word of a Harry Potter book. Why is that?

Why am I not into Harry?

Well, when the Potter books first gained popularity, I read some things and interviewed some Christians who were totally opposed to the books. They made some good points. They worried about the brand of magic in the books and the possibility of children being lured into the occult by reading them. This article is representative of that opinion.

My kids were already growing up, and they weren't attracted to the books, so I didn't have to take a stand about having them in my home...but based on the anti-Harry things I had read, I just decided it wasn't for me.

Christian Fans

Not long afterwards, I began hearing from Christians who I really respect, who are fine with the Harry Potter books, and in fact are avid fans. Political blogger La Shawn Barber, an outspoken Christian, has her own Fantasy Fiction for Christians site that prominently features Harry Potter.

La Shawn points out that Steven Vander Ark, creator of the popular Harry Potter Lexicon, is a Christian who is a librarian at a Christian school and attends a Christian Reformed church. She quotes Vander Ark:
"There are some things that shouldn't be in kids' hands," he says. "But Harry Potter isn't one of them. Here's a kid who fights against evil at the risk of his own life. That's more Christian than playing Monopoly, where you try to slaughter the other players and leave them destitute.

Vander Ark goes on to say:

The message of Harry Potter is that evil is there, it's awful, we have to fight it," he says. "Sometimes it's sneaky and you don't quite know it's there. But you have to fight it. It's about how your choices make you who you are -- so you better make good ones.

So why am I still not reading Harry?

I'd be disingenous if I said I don't read Harry Potter because of the sorcery aspect. After all, as I mentioned earlier, I love The Chronicles of Narnia and enjoyed The Lord of the Rings books. Bottom line: they just don't appeal to me.

How do you feel about Harry Potter? Do you let your kids read the books? Do you have your copy of The Deathly Hallows pre-ordered?

Let me know what you think!

UPDATE 7/18/07: This World Net Daily article raises more concerns. Hat tip to Joel Griffith of The Seventh Sola.

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Rick said...

To be honest, some of my thing was the anti-HP rhetoric. On the other hand, trying to read the first book just didn't take with me. But my wife is a teacher and felt like she should read them to see what all the fuss was. Our kids were younger - just now old enough to maybe get into them. But my wife has read the previous six and enjoyed them. For Harry, he breaks some rules to come against wrong - like your quote about Monopoly, this is following those before us, doing the unexpected and prohibited in order to live more rightly. For that, I respect the story more now than before.

I did see his film last night, and plan on picking up book six and seven to finish out the tale.

SolaMeanie said...

From what I understand, the occult aspect of HP is just one troublesome thing. The attitudes of the kids are also cited as problematic i.e. rebellion, justification of lying etc. I honestly haven't read them, so can't comment on their contents. I would just say be careful and exercise discernment.

No matter how popular and fun something might be, if the message within doesn't jive with Scripture it must be rejected, or at least critiqued from that standpoint. Also, you can have virtues reflected in a story, but if the foundation is occultic, that sort of nullifies the rest. "Even the demons believe and tremble."

Anonymous said...

I love the Harry Potter books. I read the first 4 HP books one after the other because I heard they were evil so didn'y even try them, but my sister thought I should try them just to find a new author and because they were fun. She was right. I'm waiting impatiently for the 7th to be released Friday at midnight. Even though I'm 47, I'll be standing in line somewhere to get that final book. How anyone could think these books are any different than the many fairy tales I grew up with is beyond me. There is evil and good and good always wins. There is treachery, mystery, humor and suspense. If I had to decide on children reading these books I think they should wait until they can discriminate reality from nonreality. I am a Christian and by occupation I promote literacy. On both fronts I find Harry Potter books to be A-O.K.
Cindy, I was genjulie on the FFF and found your site from Phil Johnson's and ran onto his from Dan Burrell's. Very nice site. One I'll return to frequently.

Cindy Swanson said...

Genjulie, thanks so much for your commetns! It's great to hear from you.

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