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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « "The Blood is the Life" | Life Scripted or, The Devil’s in the Details »
    Tuesday
    Jun072011

    On Harry Potter

    It has been difficult for me to try and avoid Harry Potter at all costs. In fact I have not. I will admit to have seen up to film #4, and read book #3 (H.P. and the Prisoner of Azkaban) for my final BA degree paper in English.

     

    Having worked at a large, popular bookstore during the final phases of Potter mania, I witnessed first hand the popularity of the series as they flew (as if by magic) off the shelves at a rapid rate. I was amazed and befuddled by the amount of children and adults who could literally give a dissertation on the various characters, rooms, and creatures featured in the books. Being an English major and lover of books (bibliophile) I wanted to know what it was about Rowling’s novels that touched and enthralled so many.

     

    I first spoke with many dear Christians I knew and soon discovered they belonged to one of two camps. The first camp said the books were wonderful, imaginative fiction that could be used to illustrate the gospel and Jesus to non-believers. The second camp simply pointed out that God has told us to stay away from witchcraft, Harry Potter included. End of discussion.

     

    It so happened that one day a good friend called me up and asked what I liked to read as they were cleaning off their shelves. I said I preferred classic fiction, and (among other books) they brought over the last book in the Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So I read it. Or started to until I became disturbed after the gruesome quote from the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus on the page before the story even began,

    “Oh, the torment bred in the race, the grinding scream of death and the stroke that hits the vein, the hemorrhage none can staunch, the grief, the curse no man can bear.

    But there is a cure in the house and not outside it, no, not from others but from them, their bloody strife. We sing to you, dark gods beneath the earth.

    Now hear, you blissful powers underground - answer the call, send help. Bless the children, give them Triumph now.” 

     

    This play is titled The Libation Bearers or more classically, Choephoroe and is about a son and daughter murdering their mother in revenge for their father’s death. Gotta love Greek tragedies. In this scene, the children are pouring out blood offerings and conjuring their dead father to help them avenge him. How nice.

     

    A libation is any drink offering poured out on the ground or an alter as a sacrifice. Sometimes it is alcohol, but blood is not an atypical libation substance. In Homer’s Odyssey, a blood libation is poured out to appease the ghosts on an island. If you do a Google search for “blood libations”, all sorts of contemporary and frightening things come up. Offering menstrual blood to a moon goddess is one.  

     

    Moving On...

    Chapter One features Voldemort (the really bad guy) and his cronies discussing how to take Harry Potter out once and for all. Chapter one ends with Voldemort murdering a female teacher who has been bound and gagged throughout the meeting and crying (and apparently naked in the film). To dispose of the body, Voldemort commands/invites his enchanted snake, “Nagini” to eat it. Lovely.

     

    Two things struck me about this chapter.

    1. Did you know that “He who shall not be named” is actually a reference to H.P. Lovecreaft’s work, The Whisper in the Darkness? Not surprisingly considering Rowling’s study of the classics, it also appears to have cultural Greek roots.

     

    The Temple of Dagon website is devoted to Lovecraft’s works and states,

    “The whole thing started when Lovecraft used the phrase “Him Who is not to be Named” in “The Whisperer in Darkness”. (This probably came from Lovecraft’s training in the classics. When the Greeks called a god or being “unnameable”, it meant that it should not be summoned magically as it was doing something important like guarding the underworld).” (http://www.templeofdagon.com/cthulhu-mythos/mythos-faq/p2/)

     

    It is also a pagan/religious belief that if you know a being’s true name, you have power over it.

     

    2. “The Nagas of India are powerful, magickal, semi-divine, snake-spirits. They are half-serpent, half-human.” (http://www.13moons.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=12646&zenid=701ff9c9cfa9b1ad9db7cbd987c0cb57)

    A Nagini is a female version of said Indian snake-spirit, and these beings are considered good protectors, coming to those who sincerely seek them and spiritual treasures." http://www.asia.si.edu/devi/fulldevi/deviAge45.htm

    This image is copied almost verbatim in film stills I have seen.

     

    I have been studying about the occult and other religions for the past four years. I can tell you Rowling’s works have far deeper occult themes than surface wizards, wands, and spells. Every book would require a dissertation, but suffice it to say there are very few things she actually made up, and odd, creepy little details relating to occult history are thrown about. (For a much more in-depth look at these details, please see: CANA and look under book and movie reviews for Harry Potter)

     

    Role Model?

    One cannot say that Harry is the greatest role model in fiction for either children or adults. Even works that highly praise and promote the series admit the pre-teen through teenage characters regularly lie, steal, sneak out, cheat, use bad language, threaten others, are unremorseful, cast harmful spells against others and are disrespectful to their caretakers, teachers, and other adults in positions of power (Edward Kern’s book, The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us about Moral Choices). And those are the good guys! The adults and professors are just as bad too.

     

    Harry’s hatred, and scorn for his cruel caretakers is reminiscent of Cinderella’s story, except she never exhibited rage, cast spells on mouthy, uninformed relatives and then ran off without helping or apologizing (Aunt Marge from book 5), snuck out of the house, or threatened her evil step-mother with a wand.


    “The fruits of the spirit are peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control”
    (Galatians 5:22). Where are these exhibited in Harry Potter?

     

    “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).


    A form of love may appear through the Potter series, but where are faith and hope? Can love operate without the other two? Do they not matter; can they be thrown aside since love is the greatest? Can a building exist or remain stable without a foundation?

     

    And what is the definition of love? Harry Potter consistently describes love as a willingness to sacrifice for others, even to the point of death. I agree with this idea, but it falls way short of the Bible’s definition,

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7).

     

    Harry Potter does not exhibit the Biblical definition of love if he is not patient (he’s not), or kind (only to those who are kind back). He does not show true love if he is rude, easily angered, untrusting of others, or unhopeful.

     

    Love is the combination of all these traits,

    “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13: 3).

     

    Self-sacrifice is not in and of itself, love. Furthermore, the Bible says, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16). If we, as Christians believe that love originates and emanates from God, and Him alone, then how can there possibly be true love in the Potter series when there is no God?

     

    In contrast,

    “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19)

     

    How many of these behaviors does Harry Potter exhibit?

    “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other” (Colossians 3:8-9).

     

    One major theme I got from these books was to show how a person can still be “good”, even to the point of a hero and “savior” while not exhibiting explicit Judeo-Christian values. The last few pages of the last book parallel and mock Christ’s resurrection and Divinity.


    There never was a more influential, post-modern work. Harry, his friends, and teachers all find the innate power within themselves to fight the bad guys and win without thinking of the consequences of their actions along the way. The end justifies the means in these books.

     

    Is Rowling a Christian?

    The book, Magic in the Middle Ages, by Richard Kieckhefer proves many of the worst sorcerers of that time were monks and clerics.


    Even lay people sprinkled scripture, God’s names, and prayers in with their magical incantations. Rowling’s own responses to the question are elusive.

     

    In an interview with MTV (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1572107/jk-rowling-talks-about-christian-imagery.jhtml), she compares her religious status to that of Grahm Greene. In researching him, one finds he is another famous English novelist who died in 1991. He was apparently a devout Catholic, but a quote from The Nation describes him,

    “A stranger with no shortage of calling cards: devout Catholic, lifelong adulterer, pulpy hack, canonical novelist; self-destructive, meticulously disciplined, deliriously romantic, bitterly cynical; moral relativist, strict theologian, salon communist, closet monarchist; civilized to a stuffy fault and louche to drugged-out distraction, anti-imperialist crusader and postcolonial parasite, self-excoriating and self-aggrandizing, to name just a few.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Greene)


    All Christians mess up sure, but to be known for these lifelong traits is not a sign of a Christian lifestyle.

     

    Some other side-stepping quotes include:

    "Practicing Wiccans think I'm also a witch", Rowling told Entertainment Weekly in 2000. "I'm not."

    If the Wiccans are confused… Besides, it is well known that one can be a practicing witch and NOT be a Wiccan.

     

    “In a British documentary, JK Rowling: A Year in the Life, when asked if she believed in God, she said, "Yes. I do struggle with it; I couldn't pretend that I'm not doubt-ridden about a lot of things and that would be one of them but I would say yes."

    When asked if she believed in an afterlife, she said, "Yes; I think I do." She further said "It’s something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that’s very obvious within the books."

    In a 2008 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Rowling said, "I feel very drawn to religion, but at the same time I feel a lot of uncertainty. I live in a state of spiritual flux. I believe in the permanence of the soul" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._K._Rowling).

     

    These uncertainties are not necessarily indicative of an occult practitioner, but they do show she does not know the Lord in a true Christian/Biblical sense (See also: The Greatest Commandment and Selling Christianity Part 3, Colossians: Human Nature in 3 Easy Chapters)

     

    Conclusion

    These books are a fast-paced, fun read. The camaraderie from having read them is strong and appealing. Some have described them as fun and imaginative. Many Christians will argue for whatever morals can be found, lightly stepping or outright ignoring the immoral aspects, and claiming these books can be used as a forum to present the Gospel to others.


    But once the sugar rush wears off from the non-stop action, what are readers actually left with? To me, at best there is little value for anyone beyond a thrill ride. At worst, these books appear to make a mockery of Christianity, with a far greater darkness than most people realize.

     

    Other recommended resources:

    CANA (look under "book reviews" for Harry Potter)

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Very well done. Though a few sources seem to be missing. I would also include Les Miserables in the "about government" section of books. One I need to read myself soon.

    June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

    Thank you...this is very insightful. I am a Christian and never got into Harry Potter...until recently. I got curious and my wife made me see Deathly Hallows Part 1 with her since she had seen the others. So then I "had" to watch the first 6 so I could understand what was going on! So we watched the first 6 within 2 weeks and I enjoyed them a lot! I knew that this was dangerous because the books are darker than the films and I was only getting part of the story... and I also knew that this is how sin works. It entices us by distracting us with fun and excitement so that we make excuses for partaking in entertainment that we as Christians should not be a part of. I am glad that my curiosity has been satisfied but I will not be watching these again or showing them to my children. That decision has been further confirmed by this article. Thank you.

    July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYoungMrYoung

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