[Note: [Fiction and fantasy are neutral and can be fine vehicles for literature, but fantasy and fiction are given shape by their content. Fiction can be quite influential, especially on children. Note: Magic is spelled here as “magick” to refer to occult magick; “pagan” is used in the generic sense to refer to non-Christian or pagan beliefs of the ancient world rather than to modern Neopagan religions. The bulk of this article is on the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although there are opening brief comments on the sixth book.]
Very Brief Comments on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
There is not much to say about this book that would not be repetitive of previous articles on the earlier books. The book is very dark, especially the section on Harry and Dumbledore’s journey into a cave where Harry must make Dumbledore drink a potion that is clearly torturing him (Dumbledore) and making him want to die. Yet Harry must keep giving this drink to Dumbledore. This goes on for several pages. Then, in a terrifying scene, they are set upon by Inferi, dead embodied people who have been enchanted by a “dark wizard” – they are somewhat like zombies – that clamber out of the water and go after Harry and Dumbledore, who barely escape. Dumbledore later is murdered as Harry watches.
Despite being a supposed role model and, according to some, part of a “hidden” Christian message, Harry nurtures a burning hatred for Prof. Snape, even wishing for his death at one point (160-61; 167). Naturally, spells are used throughout the book. This sixth book only gives more grounds for all the objections made by this writer to the preceding books.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The “Good” Characters As Role Models
As with the other books, there is no moral center in this one. Harry is driven by revenge for many of his actions, often has contempt for others, and even derives a cruel pleasure in others’ suffering. The fact that these feelings are mostly for his enemies, who are cruel themselves, does not justify it from a Biblical viewpoint. A spell used by Harry and his friends causes injury to others, yet Harry and friends are uncaring except for being repulsed by the vomit that results from making one of the victims ill (237ff). A much harsher example is when Harry casts the forbidden Cruciatus curse, a spell that torments its victim with almost unbearable pain. Harry casts this spell on Death Eater Amycus because Amycus spat in Prof. McGonagall’s face (593). Harry even gives this as the reason for doing it, so there is no way to deny this. Even worse, Harry states that he realizes “you need to really mean it” in order to perform this spell; in other words, he had to truly desire to cause harm for the spell to work.
Yet there are those asserting that this last book proves that the Harry Potter series is Christian in nature or carries a hidden Christian significance. These examples, however, boldly flout Jesus’ message to love one’s enemies, to forgive those who persecute you, and to leave vengeance to God.
An unpleasant and unsavory passage occurs when the werewolf Greyback gives a “grunt of pleasure” at the prospect of having “a bite of” Hermione, and makes other remarks that plainly indicate a perverse desire for Hermione over the boys (463ff).
There are also quite a few scenes where Harry and his friends have alcoholic drinks (this is done in previous books as well when they were even younger).
Harry lies often, as he did in previous books, and this is discounting the lies told when he is on a mission seemingly to save lives. Yet, when he wants the truth, he is very self-righteous about it. In fact, on page 185, Harry lies to Hermione, and just a few sentences later, Harry “wanted the truth.” Harry orders Kreacher to answer truthfully (191), and Prof. McGonagall tells a Death Eater that her side cares about “the difference between truth and lies” (593). Harry and Ron, who plan to double-cross the goblin Griphook, are incensed when Griphook double-crosses them first. How ironic and hypocritical!
Rude or undesirable language from the “good” characters abounds, such as Harry saying to his uncle, “Are you actually as stupid as you look?” (32). “We already knew you were an unreliable bit of scum,” is said by Harry to Mundungus (220). Mundungus is a thief, but Harry has stolen, too. Several characters use the word “damn” and “git,” the latter being English slang for a stupid person or an idiot. Ron says “effing” (307). When Harry hears singing in a nearby church at Christmas, he becomes nostalgic for “rude versions of carols” sung by the ghost Peeves at Hogwarts (324; this event with Peeves actually occurs in an earlier book and may have inspired a Harry Potter fan group to post “Harry Potter Christmas Carols” that include “Away in a Rude Hut” and “Silent Night, Ominous Night,” http://ivory.vlexofree.com/Tower/Fiction/Carols.html). Aberforth uses the word “bastards” (564), and Ron yells at Draco Malfoy, “you two-faced bastard” (645). Prof. McGonagall says “you blithering idiot” to the “aged” caretaker, Filch (602).
The most brazen example of a bad word is spoken by Mrs. Weasley, Ron’s mother and a mother figure to Harry, who calls Bellatrix the “b” word (the one that rhymes with “witch”) on page 736. This word is spelled out in all caps because Mrs. Weasley is shouting it. Yes, Bellatrix is an evil character and she has just tried to kill Ginny, along with others. Nevertheless, for a Christian, there is no justification for using this word or the other words, and certainly there is no good reason for an author to use these words in a children’s book. Danger and evil have been expressed in other children’s books without the use of such crude expressions or obscenities. If it is argued that the evil is extreme enough to warrant such a word (and this could still be refuted from a Biblical view), then perhaps it is the evil act itself that should not be presented to children. Is childhood now open to the sordid side of the adult world with impunity?
In today’s coarsened climate this kind of language is undoubtedly considered mild. That only shows how desensitized the culture has become. But it was Jesus who said, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12.34).
Even if one were to set aside misgivings about the occult references, the moral objections would remain as a concern when considering the age of many of this book’s readers. Keep in mind that the above examples are but the tip of an iceberg. However, even such obvious examples of skewed morals seem to have sunk in the sea of adulation for Harry Potter.
Grim and Disturbing
There are quite a few scenes in the book where people are tortured, suffer excruciating pain, or are killed. For example, there are a total of ten references in eight consecutive pages to Hermione screaming in pain as she is being tortured (463-471). The Gray Lady, a ghost who used to be Helena Ravenclaw, tells Harry how another ghost, the Bloody Baron, when alive, had stabbed and killed her in anger and then killed himself (616). A story is told about Dumbledore’s sister who was driven insane when her “magic . . . turned inward . . . it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it,” apparently causing her to kill her mother (564-65). This certainly makes for gloomy reading for children!
In a letter to the Washington Post’s Book World (from John Hall, Aug. 5, 2007, p. 14), a parent who likes the Harry Potter books writes that he is disturbed by the increasing “hopeless” tone of the last three books “which constitute a long, oppressive mess in which children are hunted by adults who want to kill them, while their protectors are murdered one by one.” Mr. Hall goes on to say that as a parent he is bothered by the frightening tenor of the books, and he suspects that many children find the books scary but do not want to admit this. Hall states that the review of the last book in the Post should have “warned parents of the tragedies that make the later books less suitable for younger readers.”
[Note: Fiction and fantasy are neutral and can be fine vehicles for literature, but fantasy and fiction are given shape by their content. Fiction can be quite influential, especially on children. Note: Magic is spelled here as “magick” to refer to occult magick; “pagan” is used in the generic sense to refer to non-Christian or pagan beliefs of the ancient world rather than to modern Neopagan religions. The bulk of this article is on the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although there are opening brief comments on the sixth book.]
Incantation is Magick
This book, more than any of the earlier books, has people casting spells right and left. There is almost not a single page that does not mention a spell, especially toward the end. Harry, Hermione and Ron, who travel from place to place throughout most of the book, are constantly casting protective spells so that Voldemort’s forces will not detect them. This is amusing in a grim way because protection spells are quite customary to the world of the occult. At one point, Hermione walks “in a wide circle . . . murmuring incantations as she went” (272). In occult practice, circles are cast so that magick and spells can be done inside them, since the circle is believed to provide protection.
In an attempt to de-emphasize the spells in Harry Potter, some have claimed that the magic in these books is “mechanical,” meaning that supernatural forces are not called upon in the spellcasting. However, the events undeniably imply a connection with something beyond the natural because supernatural effects result from the spells. The results are not “mechanical” at all.
Others, such as author John Granger, claim that incantational magick is not the same as invocational magick, and that since incantations are used in Harry Potter but not invocations, one must therefore dismiss the use of spells in the books. However, both incantations and invocations are part of practicing occult magick, and sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. When Voldemort is approaching Hogwarts at the book’s end, Flitwick, the Charms master (charms are yet another occult tool) “started muttering incantations of great complexity. Harry heard a weird rushing noise, as though Flitwick had unleashed the power of the wind into the grounds” (601). It certainly sounds as though Flitwick’s incantations summoned some sort of power beyond the natural!
Merriam-Webster online states that incantation is “a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic” (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/incantation), and gives the first meaning for invocation as “the act or process of petitioning for help or support,” with the second meaning similar to the first one, and the third meaning being “a formula for conjuring” with incantation as a synonym (http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/invocation). A dictionary on witchcraft states that doing a spell “consists of words or incantations” done along with a ritual, actions performed “while the words are spoken;” sometimes, the incantation can be a chant, also called a charm (Rosemary Guiley, An Encyclopedia of Witchcraft [NY: Checkmark Books, 1999], 317, 53).
Another source defines spells as incantations, which are a “written or spoken formula of words supposed to be capable of magical effects” (Lewis Spence, An Encyclopedia of Occultism [NY: Citadel Press Book; Carol Publishing Group, 1996], 377). The entry on spells discusses various forms (Ibid., 377-78), including curses, a word found throughout Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, indicating a spell. The concept behind the use of incantations in spells is that there is a connection between the words and the objects or actions that the words signify; this is a very common view in the occult, and the reader sees it plainly in the Harry Potter books.
The difference between invocation and incantation is only one of degree: a magickal invocation uses incantations, and an incantation used for spellcasting is by definition a spell and part of the magickal arts (including enchantments), acts denounced and forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18.10,11; Isaiah 47.9-12; Ezekiel 13.18; Acts 13.6-11, Acts 19.19; if one recognizes that incantations are also part of sorcery, then we must add Leviticus 19.26, 2 Kings 17.17, 21.6; 2 Chronicles 33.6, Galatians 5.19-21, and Revelation 9.21, 18.23, 21.8, 22.15) . How can doing magickal incantations be accepted in a Biblical worldview? An incantation done for spellcasting, as in the Harry Potter books, is part of doing occult magick, whether one is deliberately invoking spirits or not.
Furthermore, doing an incantation in order to effect a magickal outcome will naturally bring contact with spirits. This is true with all occult practices, including divination (such as astrology, tarot card reading, palm reading), because these practices invite contact with spirits (i.e., fallen angels), whether or not that is the practitioner’s intention. Virtually every astrologer, tarot card reader, psychic, and witch that I knew when I was an astrologer had spirit guides, including myself, even if at first we were not looking for it. Having spirit guides is integral to occult practice.
Occult concepts and worldviews are present in all the Harry Potter books (see CANA articles on the earlier books for specific examples). Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, explains to Harry that their sister, Ariana, became “unbalanced” because her “magic . . . “turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it” (564). Her actions caused her mother’s death (565). Teachings on using magick emphasize discipline and control. It is not uncommon for occult teachings to advise that using magick is dangerous and can be destructive if used wrongly, or warn of danger if the person is not ready for what they are attempting to do (this is also taught about the use of other “energies” in New Age practices, and an energy called kundalini in Hinduism).
Ollivander, the wandmaker, tells Harry that a true wizard can “channel your magic through almost any instrument” (494). This is the view of magickal tools used in the occult ? the tools themselves are usually considered extensions of the practitioner. Ollivander also discusses how a wand “chooses the wizard” and that a “conquered wand will usually bend its will to its new master” (494). This implies a spirit controlling the wand, because a wand, as an object, cannot have a “will.” How is this “mechanical magic?” Well, of course, it is not.
The word “deathly” in the title certainly lives up to its name in this last book as the reader sees deaths pile up from the beginning. In Chapter 16, Harry and Hermione encounter a quote on Harry’s parents’ tombstone from 1 Cor 15.26 about death as “the last enemy” to be destroyed, but what does this mean in light of the following examples, starting with the first book, that minimize death or even present death as friendly?
In the first book, when Harry Potter learned that alchemist Nicolas Flamel and his wife would die after the Sorcerer’s Stone has been destroyed, Harry is comforted by Dumbledore who tells him, “After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure,” (297). This is repeated later by Harry to his friends, Ron and Hermione (302).
Message: Death is an adventure.
In the fifth book, Dumbledore says to Voldemort, who seeks immmortality, “…your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness” (181).
Message: There are worse things than death.
The front page of the seventh book has two quotes that give very pagan views of death. One is The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus that includes the line, “We sing to you, dark gods beneath the earth.” The other poem, “More Fruits of Solitude” by William Penn, with the line, “Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still,” declares that even when friends die, they live on because friendship is immortal. As one of my friends noted, this is more like a Hallmark card than the Bible. There is nothing Biblical about either one of these poems about death.
Message: Pagan views of death are given as truth.
Additionally, the books give the idea that one can communicate with the dead. This is a theme found in all the books, not only with the Hogwarts ghosts being the ghosts of actual people who have died, but also when Harry has encounters with the dead. After Hermione expresses doubt that the Resurrection Stone can raise the dead, Harry reminds her that in the duel with Voldemort (in the fourth book), his wand “made my mum and dad appear . . . and Cedric.” Hermione responds that they were not really back from the dead but were only “pale imitations.” However, she does not deny that Harry’s dead parents really did communicate with him.
This contact with the dead is more blatant later in the book when Harry is going to meet Voldemort in the forest to let Voldemort kill him. Harry turns the Resurrection Stone over in his hand three times, and his dead parents, Lupin, and Sirius appear, “neither ghost nor truly flesh” (698). Nevertheless, this is presented as a very real encounter and Harry has conversations with these people who are conscious that they are dead. Lupin even regrets that he had to leave his young son behind (699-701). Harry meets the deceased Dumbledore in a place that is described as “warm and light and peaceful” (722). These encounters are offered neither as dreams nor as imaginary.
Defenders of the books who know that God forbids communication with the dead may attempt to say this is metaphor, but that is not how it is presented. And adults know that children would take it as it is written — literally. Furthermore, Dumbledore imparts important information to Harry that he does not know nor could have known; so clearly the reader is meant to believe that the dead Dumbledore is actually communicating with Harry. Otherwise, where else would Harry be getting the information? Even though Dumbledore agrees with Harry that “it is happening inside your head,” he adds, “why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (723). Nothing in the text indicates the conversation between Dumbledore and Harry or the information exchanged is imaginary or is a metaphor.
Message: One can receive contact from and communicate with the dead, and it’s helpful and good. (Of course, this is the message the mediums would like you to believe ? see CANA article on Spirit Contact).
In Deathly Hallows, the title derives from a children’s tale of three brothers who come to possess certain objects called the Deathly Hallows that supposedly help them avoid death. The third brother, who is the “wisest” and “humblest,” chooses the Invisibility Cloak so he can hide from death, and he is the only brother who succeeds in cheating death for his lifetime. When he is old, he gives the cloak to his son and he “then greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life” (409ff). This story of the brothers is about cheating death with magickal objects, but Harry discovers that the Hallows are real, and the Invisibility Cloak inherited from his father is the cloak in the Hallows story.
Message: Death is an “old friend.”
Harry speaks with the dead Sirius in the forest who, when asked by Harry if dying hurts, responds, “‘Dying? Not at all,’ said Sirius. “Quicker and easier than falling asleep.'”
Message: Death is “easier than falling asleep.”
After Harry seems to have died (although Dumbledore tells him he has not died), Harry encounters Dumbledore who tells him “You are the true master of death, because the true master of death does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying” (720-21). That one must “master” death is an occult view.
Message: One can “master” death and there are worse things than death.
We cannot take the quotes on the tombstones out of the book’s context in view of the other quotes on death, which are given solemnly to Harry by his “father figures,” Dumbledore and Sirius, with similar messages from Dumbledore to Voldemort, and via the Hallows story. One tombstone quote, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (325) really does not tell the readers anything unless they know the Biblical context. It could mean anything to anyone. Harry, in fact, doesn’t understand it (326).
The quote on the tombstone for Harry’s parents, “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” is meaningful only in its Biblical and Christian context. But no Biblical citation is given for either quote. Harry thinks the quote is something a Death Eater would say, but Hermione explains that it means, “living beyond death. Living after death” (328). Harry’s response is morose; he broods on the fact that his parents’ “moldering remains lay beneath snow and stone, indifferent, unknowing” and wishes that he could be “sleeping under the snow with them”(328-29).
Later, after Harry’s brush with death, he has an experience that implies life after death, which is essentially the message Hermione gave him at the graveyard, when he encounters his deceased parents, and a dead Dumbledore, Lupin, and Sirius. But the message that there is life after death is common in many beliefs and societies, going back to ancient pagan cultures; there is nothing particularly Christian about it. In fact, the other quotes about death give very unchristian messages about death.
A couple of quotes from the Bible do not a Christian message make. When I was an astrologer, I often quoted the Bible in articles I wrote for various New Age publications. In fact, it is quite common for occult and New Age sources to quote the Bible. Psychics and tarot card readers may pray to God before a reading. Occult rituals in folk magick often recommend saying or doing something three times in imitation of the Trinity. Occult superstition is even practiced by Christians. A common example we see today is an email sending a prayer or Bible verse and asking the recipients to forward it to x number of people for “good luck,” to “get a blessing,” or gain some other benefit. Sometimes, the recipients are told that misfortune will befall them if they do not forward the email on. This is essentially a product of occult belief in the forces of luck and misfortune, or the need to placate the “gods” of fortune.
While death should not be the worst thing for a Christian, it is certainly astonishing for a Christian to agree that death is not the worst thing for someone who has not been redeemed. Yet millions of children (and teens and adults) who do not know Christ have read or will read these words that death is a “friend,” death is like falling asleep, and death is an adventure.
[Fiction and fantasy are neutral and can be fine vehicles for literature, but fantasy and fiction are given shape by their content. Fiction can be quite influential, especially on children. Note: Magic is spelled here as “magick” to refer to occult magick; “pagan” is used in the generic sense to refer to non-Christian or pagan beliefs of the ancient world rather than to modern Neopagan religions. The bulk of this article is on the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, although there are opening brief comments on the sixth book.]
The Patronus Spell
John Granger, who has written on Harry Potter, says that the spell Harry casts to conjure his guardian spirit, Expecto Patronum, means that Harry is saying, “I wait for the Lord.” However, patronus (patronum is the form for the direct object) means, especially in this context, guardian or protector.
Mariella Bozzuto, a Harry Potter fan who has a Master’s degree in Latin, states that Expecto Patronum means “I await a patron” but in the context of Harry Potter, means something closer to “I await a guardian spirit.” She acknowledges that the word patronus is related to the word pater, “father” in Latin. Bozzuto feels that “Harry is not simply summoning a random guardian; he is looking for his father, or a father figure, or anyone who will play that role for him. . . In a sense, each time Harry uses the Patronus Charm he is crying out: “I want to see my father!'” (http://tinyurl.com/2gkdh2). However, Bozzuto apparently does not see any religious meaning here. One must read a spiritual meaning into the text to state that the Patronus indicates “Lord.” As for Bozzuto’s view that the Patronus spell implies searching for a father figure, it is speculative at best, especially since other characters, including adults, conjure Patronus figures as well.
As pointed out in a previous CANA article, the Patronus spell is similar to conjuring a thought-form or an animal spirit for protection. To turn an occult spell into a metaphor for wanting to see the Lord is a strange concept indeed, and is not supported by the context of the books. One must already presume a Christian meaning to the books and read it into the text in order to theorize such a meaning for the Patronus spell. The clear reading is that the Patronus is a protector or guardian spirit.
Sacrifice of Harry’s Mother
Many claim that when Harry’s mother, Lily, died to protect her son, this serves as an analogy to Christ dying for us. However, it’s explained in the fifth book and the seventh book that Harry is protected because his mother’s blood acts as a magical charm (33, 46, 47, 49, book 7). Dumbledore tells Harry that this is why Harry is put into his aunt’s home, because his aunt’s blood carries the protection since she is the sister of Harry’s mother. But this charm wears off at age 17 – making this supposed analogy to the sacrifice of Christ very weak indeed.
Christ did not die so we could have physical life on earth, but He died so we could have eternal life with God. The sacrifice was the willingness of Jesus to take on unimaginable suffering and death as the penalty for sin. This sacrifice removed God’s wrath on sin and provides redemption through faith. Christ’s death is not so much a protection as it is a propitiation that offers redemption, and that redemption is applied by grace through faith. To compare the atonement of Christ to Lily’s natural instinct to protect her son, and to compare the blood of Christ shed for sins to Lily’s blood being a charm only devalues the message of what Christ did on the cross.
Harry A Christ Figure?
Harry’s willingness to die towards the end of the book is pointed to as symbolic of Christ’s sacrifice. However, it is not even clear that Harry dies (see next section). Moreover, Harry believed he had to die because he contained a piece of Voldemort’s soul and therefore, Voldemort could not die if Harry was alive. Harry and Voldemort were tied together in ways that cannot be a parallel to Christ and his complete separation and distinction from Satan.
Moreover, the context of this book and of the whole series is a mixture of occult and secular views, not Christian ones. Every CANA article on the books has demonstrated how these books are not promoting Christian values or worldviews. Without a Christian context – in fact, the context is very unchristian – it is impossible to support the theory that these books give the Christian gospel, as some claim.
Some have pointed to Christian symbolism in the books, but the meaning of symbols changes over time and in cultures, and these same symbols have also been pagan symbols. Even if one concedes that the unicorn, the stag, the phoenix, etc. are exclusively Christian symbols in these books, of what value is that when the behavior in the books is so distinctly unchristian?
Speaking of the unicorn, it is the disembodied Voldemort (possessing the body of Prof. Quirrell) who drinks the unicorn’s blood in the first book. How in the world is such a grotesque scenario a symbol of being redeemed by the blood of Christ as claimed by John Granger (on a radio program in which I was the other guest)? Christian symbols, images, and terms do not mean the message is Christian. Christian references, if they can be proved to even be such, can be merely cultural or counterfeit, especially when interspersed with occult references that are presented as good.
Despite possessing some good qualities, a boy who is a sorcerer, motivated by revenge, studies the magick arts, and who lies so easily cannot and should not be held up as a sacrificial Christ figure or even as a mere role model.
Some claim that Harry figuratively dies in each book, including this one, and is “resurrected.” Harry comes close to dying but there is no such thing as resurrection if there is no real death. Any correspondence to the death and resurrection of Christ is so beyond possibility that it is difficult even to entertain the idea. (In fact, the Resurrection stone in the book, a magickal Hallows object, brings back dead people, but they are not fully alive and cannot function normally).
The question of whether Harry dies in this book is unclear. After an encounter with Voldemort, in which it seems Voldemort slays him with his wand, Harry finds himself in a unidentifiable place resembling a train station. Here he meets up with the dead Dumbledore who explains to him that Harry has been tied to Voldemort through Voldemort taking Harry’s blood (in the fourth book in a ghastly and gruesome ritual) and so has kept himself alive. Dumbledore tells Harry, “I think we can agree that you are not dead” (712).
Given that Dumbledore tells Harry he is not dead, it seems that he (Harry) did not die but was close to dying, temporarily between life and death.
Good Means You Get the Results You Want
Harry, as the hero, should model behavior that we would want children to learn from or emulate. Although Harry does do some good things, such as saving his enemy Draco Malfoy, and Harry shows courage in many situations, Harry has no remorse and few consequences from lying and cheating; he seeks revenge in many cases; he hates; and he can be cruel (examples of this behavior are documented in other CANA articles on Harry Potter). Being brave and loyal to friends is admirable, but these qualities by themselves are not moral since anyone — good or bad — can be brave and loyal.
Before we can say the books are about good versus evil, we have to see what the good is and how it is defined. It is apparent in this book, and in the others, that good is based on how things turn out — the ends justify the means. This is pragmatism, a philosophy in which any action can be rationalized for what is perceived as a good or useful end. But it is not about what is good so much as what is expedient. Harry cannot be a good hero simply by being the hero; and skillful fighting with spells is neither admirable nor good, especially since magick is neutral in the books but is denounced by God.
I can already envision the emails that will come in response to this article (partly because I have received such emails in the past) – emails defending Harry because of all the great things he has done. It seems that this justifies any immoral actions on Harry’s part. This is the kind of thinking prevalent today, and it is coming mostly from young people who email me. Does not that kind of reasoning and justification disturb anyone else?
Questions for Christian Parents and Readers
The popularity of the Harry Potter books does not give them a pass. Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5.21). Questions for Christian parents and readers are: Would Christians be okay with the books if they weren’t so popular? What if these books were barely known? Would Christians normally think that books about a boy, motivated by revenge and using the magic arts, are good for children to read, and that books full of themes of death and torture are okay for children?
What a contrast we see between a series promoting a hero who uses occult arts with Acts 19.18-19, which tells us that former practitioners of magick, upon their faith in Christ, burned their very valuable books. Not only were they renouncing their practices, they destroyed books worth a hefty amount of money (verse 19 tells us the total is “fifty thousand silver coins” or drachmas, equivalent then to 50,000 work day wages, or today to about $10,000 U.S. dollars). This was not about book burning, but rather was a demonstration that they no longer placed any value on their former practices. It was a visible and public sign of cutting ties with their past. They had come to know the One with the highest value of all: Jesus Christ, and the redemption by grace through faith in Him.
Explaining away magick as a metaphor goes against the straightforward narrative and the clear, literal reading of the text, especially when specific occult practices and examples are referenced such as divination, astrology, casting spells, potions mixed for spellcasting, numerology, communication with the dead, amulets, charms, and occult/pagan views of death.
There are positives in the books: adventurous story lines, comedy, Harry and his friends doing good things for others, Harry’s bravery, etc. However, the books also contain disturbing and macabre material, questionable moral actions, endorsement of occult practices, and other material inappropriate for young people.
For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. Matthew 12.34
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5.4
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3.8
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4.29
And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. Acts 19.19
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12.14
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5.15
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Romans 12.19
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2.11-14
~ Soli Deo Gloria!