Saturday, October 31, 2009
#100 Not Harry Potter
Christian culture says that the use of magic and sorcery in the Harry Potter series interests kids in witchcraft. Lots of churches have banned Harry Potter books and costumes, should you be attending a Halloween-alternative fall festival. In the grand tradition of Christian culture they've even made their own version of the books as an edifying rendition of the original.
These Harry-phobes happen to approve heartily of The Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings trilogy although these also use magic and mysticism. Many of the churches who are anti-Harry have taken groups of kids to see "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" (hi, it has the word witch in the title). The White Witch uses, guess what, white magic. Aslan's deep magic eventually wins out, but all of this magical mayhem is okay because Lewis was a lauded Christian apologist. Even though Tolkien was Catholic, Christian culture embraces LOTR and sees allegory in it.
Harry Potter objectors say the fundamental difference between Hogwarts and Narnia/Hobbiton is that the authors of the latter were professing Christians. J.K. Rowling has made statements of faith as well but Christian culture doesn't really buy it. They seem to feel that if she is not forthcoming with a specific mission statement then her use of allegory isn't valid. They seem to think her books actually can't contain any spiritual allegory, only sneaky promotion of the occult.
Christian culture isn't able to reconcile violence and beauty very well when it comes to stories and allegories outside of the Bible. But judging from the use of symbols and sacraments in the Bible it would seem that God loves symbolism. Christian culture is hesitant to find beauty in places that aren't sanctioned as overtly Christian. But if the Christ story is as momentous and all-encompassing as his followers claim to believe, then might they also believe that all stories echo the redemption story?
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actually, there is a whole realm of research about Christian symbology in the Harry Potter books - just do a search for "god in harry potter" on amazon and you'll come up with over a half dozen books! And I mean, seriously - you can't read the last book without just GOGGLING at the overt Christ imagery!
Here's the full Harry Potter Chick Tract Stephy cited. It's worth the click if you need proof that Harry Potter leads to demon possession. Just TRY to argue with their illogical, non-scientifically proven, doctrinally unsound speculation! :P
Oh yes yes, this freakout by Christian culture is laughable, haha. I love the site and already told friends and family about it. :) Keep it up! Cheers!
heehee - I love the black bar across the guy's eyes in your 1st pic.
Of course, Albus Dumbledore's willingness to drink cup after cup of poison wouldn't have anything to do with a certain incident in the Synoptic Gospels, now would it?! ;-)
Oh and - you need to do a post about Philip Pullman! (Never mind that his depiction of both "God" and "the church" are set in a fictional world, *or* that said church is very Gnostic, or... [:more evil laughter:])
Maybe we should all read some of Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories tonight - y'know, he was mad keen on showing the underlying hypocrisy in *his* experience of "Christian culture" (as opposed to the Gospels).
Hahaha very nice, you make some excellent points comparing to LOTR and Narnia that I had never really thought of. Your analysis is spot on.
It hilarious that the Christians who think that Harry Potter is satanic, are also the ones who've never read the books.
Typical of Christian Culture, which is why I bounced.
I just found this blog and immediately had to read all 100 posts. Amazing. Ridiculous. True. I am also a PK (preacher's kid for secular lamewads; a bastardized [woops!] form of MK, Missionary Kid.)
Thank you for posting these. Disturbing yet brilliant. I surely hope you won't be stopping just because you've reached 100. Only the surface rind of christian cultural cheesiness has been scratched off.
Of course, the alternative to this would be those elements in Christian culture that have rushed to praise the books for their hidden Christian meaning, possibly in a bid to be "relevant". (Admittedly, the seventh book in particular is pretty explicit with the allusions to scripture, etc.)
OK, since I made a comment about Nathaniel Hawthorne above, I'd like to give y'all a link for some Halloween reading - http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/512
Young Goodman Brown might be just the thing tonight! ;-)
Extremists suck, I know a lot of Christians that like Harry Potter.
I'm a Christian and the Harry Potter books are some of my favourites. I laugh every time I hear them claiming them to be evil because the last book is blatantly draws major parallels between Harry and Christ.
I hate how Christianity has to either reject or syncretize certain books or movies.
It was like that with The Matrix series. Half of my friends wouldn't watch them (we were hardcore fundies at the time) and the other half wanted to use them in youth group to show how it was all about Jesus.
Who cares? Can't people just be entertained?
But in a different light, we have to realize it's all fiction anyways.
This Potter stuff bears no more connection to reality than does Narnia or Hobbits or Saul consulting the Witch of Endor in the Bible. It's fiction, guys.
Witches are as fanciful and powerless as faith healers.
Let us not overlook the service these morons are doing for literature.
Stephy, I enjoy your blog. Will "idolizing relationships (or community) above all else" ever make the list?
tolkien disliked allegory in general and, when he wrote LOTR, intentionally avoided it. it is true that some people have tried to point out allegorical parallels to events and people in the bible (and even written books about them) but these parallels are quite weak.
the narnia series (which tolkien actually disliked), on the other hand, is unabashedly allegorical.
and no, i am not chomping on a pipe as i write this.
Surely the Shire was an allegory of Gomorrah.
This post reminded me of two things:
1) Years ago, there was a local (Tucson) Christian band that took Neil Young's "After the Goldrush" and turned it into a song about the rapture.
2) I love Chick comics. As theologically weak as they may be, I love them.
Silly Christians, if they actually bothered to read the books they'd see that Harry is practically Jesus.
Well, not quite. The Harry Potter books might be a little closer to Lewis than to Tolkien in some respects; however, just as Tolkien spread the Christ-imagery out among his various characters (with Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf playing the priestly, kingly and prophetic roles of the messiah, respectively), so too Rowling ensures that Harry does not bear sole responsibility for the defeat of Voldemort.
If memory serves, the prophecy that Voldemort interpreted as referring to Harry Potter could actually just as easily have referred to someone else; there was nothing inevitable about Harry being "the Chosen One" until after Voldemort had chosen him. And while I haven't double-checked this other bit yet, someone has pointed out that each of the "horcruxes" is ultimately tackled by a different person -- and that the only one Harry destroyed, he did so without realizing it, in one of the earlier books.
My childhood was a lot of "you're not allowed to watch/read _______" and Harry Potter was definitely one of them. While I missed out on the Harry Potter craze I'm not upset about it, maybe if I read them I would be. I didn't read the Narnia books either. I did read the Artemis Fowl series though and loved them.
When I was 19 and out of the house my mom finally said to me one day, "I guess it's okay for you to read the Harry Potter books." Um, thanks mom.
I'm more upset that I wasn't allowed to watch "My Little Pony" because my mom said their was a witch in it. 18 years and a few episodes on YouTube later I find out that there wasn't a witch in it at all. I never let her forget it.
Haha! True story: I was in a car with my friend and her older sister-in-law. Her s-i-l was telling us how proud she was of her young kids reading all 600+ pages of several Harry Potters. My friend got a little stiff and fidgety saying that in HER family, they would never condone her little siblings reading those "black magic books".
Her sister-in-law's reply? "Have you even read the books?"
"No, because I don't want to open that door."
"Well if you've never read the books, how do you know what they're really about?"
She pretty much put her in her place. It was awesome.
I've heard people say that they see kids running around thinking/wishing they were witches and wizards as a result of reading the HP books. My response (after "um, were you listening to Christian talk radio or have you actually seen these things?" -- bear in mind that I live in a very, very small big town) is to wonder at the mindset that would rather ban these books (which address, fundamentally, relationships, and the nature of love, friendship, repentance, forgiveness, acceptance and self-sacrifice) than look at what perhaps gives rise to their appeal -- not only does Christian culture fail to present Jesus, life and reality in terms of love and relationships, for which people are starving, but it also (with its emphasis on specious logic and apologetics) fails to satisfy the human need for the magical, the mystical, and the divine.
But rather than see where perhaps the popularity of these books points to a failure in the Christian cultural system, members of that culture hasten to demonize the books and the author altogether. So much easier than experiencing the repentence, goodness, growth and relationship advocated by Rowling (not to mention Jesus).
Geez Louise, Christian Culture is boring.
Anna, it's fascinating that you should mention My Little Pony in this context. One of the very first articles I ever wrote about the Harry Potter phenomenon begins with these paragraphs:
YEARS AGO, as a teen, I heard a man at a church speak on the evils of popular culture. I expected him to rail against the usual suspects -- rock and roll, Star Wars, Disney cartoons with grey-bearded magicians in pointed hats -- but I was entirely unprepared for when he turned his attention to My Little Pony. Some of these seemingly innocuous toys, he noted, had wings or horns, like the unicorns and flying steeds of Greek myth, and this, he said, was not good. "There's nothing wrong with ponies," he said with utter conviction. "God made ponies. But God didn't make little unicorns." . . .
I think of that speaker often when I hear people speak against the perceived evils of the Harry Potter books. . . .
I should note that one of the other reasons this speaker disapproved of the "magical" My Little Ponies is because they had stars painted on their bodies, and stars, as we all know, represent astrology and all sorts of other bad stuff.
For as long as I've been party to christian culture (which is a lifetime) one inescapable fact I understood from childhood is that christians have a very limited ability to separate fantasy from reality.
A couple years back I mentioned to my wife that I might want to go see The Golden Compass, knowing nothing about the story. It just looked cool to a guy who'd spent a good part of his teen years playing Dungeons & Dragons. She said "oh no!, haven't you heard? That movie is anti-christian." This of course made me want to see it that much more.
I passed on it in the theaters, but I did see it later on DVD, and thought, what was the big deal? So what? It was down on organized religion? George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and "1984" were more contentious than this.
Then I got to thinking, if my faith was so weak that it couldn't withstand 2 hours of escapism fantasy in a movie theater, is it really all that strong, valid and legitimate in 'reality' to begin with?
I'm happy to say yes, and I pity the fearful christians-in-the-plastic-bubble who can't separate fantasy from reality.
Wow, I just remembered my cousin got a My Little Pony unicorn and my aunt and uncle CUT THE HORN OFF!
I guess to turn it back into an innocuous pony.
Completely forgot about that until just this moment . . .
Rollo, You played Dungeons and Dragons as a teen and you didn't kill your parents?! Word on the street when I was a kid was that game makes you kill your parents.
I like your comment. And I agree. If faith "like a mustard seed can move mountains" then surely it can withstand pop entertainment.
MJH, That is intense! Kind of reminds me of what Christian Culture does to male sexuality with their, as Stephy calls them, "anti-wanking groups." Those poor men (and women) with their suppressed sexuality. And that poor unicorn! Now it's just a weird looking horse. Not special at all.
I was not aware that Christians were anti My Little Pony. My Sunday School teacher, however, informed me that Smurfs were evil because Gargamel used Satanic incantations. It makes life so simple to blame evil on cartoons and Harry Potter. Explains everything! Genocide, war, greed, the Holocaust, etc. God damn you Gargamel and My Little Pony! You really "opened a door" to ruining the world.
Side note: My old youth pastor's wife is the voice behind the My Little Pony theme song. That was before she "got saved." True story! :)
I wasn't allowed to watch the Smurfs, so I can only imagine I wouldn't have been allowed participate in the Harry Potter craze in any capacity.
It's unfortunate that we were banned from so many shows, including Scooby Doo (you know, all those fake ghosts they were chasing!), because they could've been turned into an opportunity to explore those realms in a safe manner.
Furthermore, it never made sense to me that we were allowed to watch everything Disney, where magic and sorcery and witchcraft prevail, yet not allowed to entertain She-Ra, etc.
I blame Dr. James Dobson for my parent's flawed prohibitions.
There's still one sibling still at home and, who knows how, she's allowed to read the Twilight series. Go figure.
It's magic. Parents turn into humans for the baby.
There's still one sibling still at home and, who knows how, she's allowed to read the Twilight series. Go figure.
Probably because she *is* the youngest. People everywhere seem to be much less hard-nosed with their youngest kids.
As for the smurfs, Scooby Doo, My Little Pony and all the rest, I've heard that - but didn't any of you have parents who banned Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I actually heard a "sermon" in which Transformers (both the show and the toys) were declared to be "demonic." The guy said that he and his sons had a hard time breaking the toys with hammers, which was proof positive of their evil origins.
(i wish I was making that up, btw.)
LOL, yeah, I bet the guy AND his sons were totally ripped, too.
We were allowed to have My Little Ponies and watch the Smurfs, but nothing else. Scooby Doo? Out. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Only at Grandma's. Rainbow Brite? No way. Shera? Forget it. Tranformers? Noooooo....
So then I turned sixteen and made a friend who had cable and gorged on half a decade of missed fun. Thank God for Cartoon Network.
The Twilight series advocates dating relationships with ridiculously unhealthy boundaries and sexual abstinence. This gets it a few get out of jail free points, maybe, though I don't know if it can be termed fully approved by Christian culture. Maybe since there are no fangs dripping with blood on the covers the content goes unnoticed. (Not that I'm criticizing vampire lore. The good stuff is hard to find, but really, really good.)
I bet the guy AND his sons were totally ripped, too.
Nope. His kids were really just kids (maybe the oldest boy was 12 at the time), and the guy himself is (or was) a somewhat important figure in parts of evangelical/charismatic culture, back in the 80s-early 90s. He's a congenial but extremely strange person, and is now "director emeritus" of an organization that's super-"Christian Right."
I lived right outside of D.C. for many years. That should explain a lot all by itself. ;-)
Sometimes I think my 5-year-old is better at telling fantasy from reality than the Christians who denigrate this stuff (like the woman whose blog said witches pray over the Halloween candy).
I'd like to tell them: It's just a toy, it's just a show, it's just a book, it's just make-believe. Now shut up and go love each other.
New book out on this topic:
John Killinger, The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Harry Potter. Mercer University Press.
Killinger argues that the Christian narrative can be found throughout the seven books, and that Harry is a Christ figure.
Jesus, who isn't?
I think it's funny that so many Christians fear Harry Potter for all the wrong reasons. As Peter T said way up in the thread, while everyone seemed to believe that Harry was "The Chosen One" (commonly interpreted as him being Christ-like) the fact is that the prophecy could also have been referring to bumbling Neville and it was just that Voldemort got it in his head that it meant Harry.
Of all the fear of witchcraft and other nonsense, this stood out to me as very un-Christ like, despite other allusions that are Christ-like. Harry came to be looked to as The Chosen One and came to live up to it, but really, it came about because so much was projected onto him, rather than it automatically being so. I feel the same about Jesus.
Mind, I'm reading it from an atheistic view point, but I didn't see it all being one way or another. Perhaps some fear is that virtue continues to be demonstrated without the help of Jesus and that might be the scariest thing of all!
@ Mel T - yeah. Christian culture abhors a vacuum. ;-)
Oowee, thank you for Spinning In Air. Splendid, soothing, critical relief.
Who cares about Witchcraft when Dumbledore is gay?! H.Potter and his friends open doors to all kinds of fabulous debauchery... all that butterbeer, disobeying parents, sharing tents with members of the opposite sex... Lord have mercy.
I read The Golden Compass at Church in 7th grade, and some random church lady took it away and never gave it back, telling me it was demonic. It was a library book. I had to pay the fees for a lost book. Now, 13 years later, I'm finally finishing the third book in the series.
Excellent. Now go remind that lady what Soupy Sales was good for.
Hi its Holly,
Cant sign into my google for some reason...
You guys are awesome! I have to quote some of you...
"not only does Christian culture fail to present Jesus, life and reality in terms of love and relationships, for which people are starving, but it also (with its emphasis on specious logic and apologetics) fails to satisfy the human need for the magical, the mystical, and the divine."
Way to sum it up! Never a more apt paragraph was ever written. Christianity failed miserably to provide me with ANY of the basic human needs. So glad not to be littered with it any longer.
"There's nothing wrong with ponies," he said with utter conviction. "God made ponies. But God didn't make little unicorns." . . .
Ok, how can you not just laugh? And according to Shel Silverstein, God did make Unicorns but they were silly and wouldnt get on the ark.
Side note: Unicorns are mentioned in the Bible as well. I forget where...the verse goes..."with them I shall push the unicorns to the ends of the earth blah blah"
But it only says it in the older King James Version.
Just a bit o trivia.
I echo that the struggle over catergorizing books and movies is ridiculous. I guess Christians dont have much of the creative gene. (hence the everlasting and boring but constant parroting of Bible verses) If they did, they might understand more about art and all the different and interesting forms it can take
I think that Christians do have creative genes but they're stilted or stunted somehow because they feel they must push towards spirituality and not engage their humanity. But I really think God wants us to engage both. Just piping up...
Pretty smart pipes sometimes.
Becca, I presume 'random church lady' forgot 'Thou Shalt Not Steal'.
Shouldn't our spirituality makes us more human? To separate one from the other, as apparently some people do, is to misunderstand both. If our spirituality makes us more human--as it should--it will fully engage our creative genes.
So create something for us.
So glad to finally see Jack Chick mentioned here... though I do think he eventually deserves his own entry.
Incidentally, some of the more ardent of the Roman Catholics are trying to claim Potter as one of their own: http://www.culturewars.com/2007/Brown.html
One more reason for the evangelicals to dislike him, I suppose.
Ahh, yes. As my mother calls it, Harry Potter Hogwash is teaching children to dabble with the occult.
Also, so is Halloween. If you allow your children to participate in any way, you are worshiping Satan. It's just that simple!
I think Chamuca said it best, "Typical of Christian Culture, which is why I bounced."
What I like best about this particular Jack Chick comic is that she says that tarot cards and Ouija boards were in Harry Potter, but they aren't.
Well, maybe. It's been a while since I read the books, and I haven't had time to verify any of this, but FWIW, the Wikipedia entry on the 16th Tarot card, aka 'The Tower', says: "Chapter 27 of the 2005 novel Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is entitled "The Lightning-Struck Tower". Appropriately to the card's meaning, events in this chapter - which takes place within a tower - force Harry to abandon many of the pretenses he has clung to throughout the book. In quite a literal reference to the card, a character falls from the tower after being hit by a curse. (Earlier in the book, Professor Trelawney tells Harry this card keeps coming back in her readings, though she misses the significance of it.)"
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