Friday, October 06, 2006

Harry Potter: It Ain't Just Voldemort After Him

HogwartsFrom Jack's Shack, among others, comes this latest on yet another attempt to ban the Harry Potter novles from School Libraries:
Ga. mother seeks Harry Potter ban
ATLANTA - A suburban county that sparked a public outcry when its libraries temporarily eliminated funding for Spanish-language fiction is now being asked to ban
Harry Potter books from its schools.

Harry PotterLaura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction series is an "evil" attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion.

Board of Education attorney Victoria Sweeny said that if schools were to remove all books containing reference to witches, they would have to ban "Macbeth" and "Cinderella."

A list of other such foolish attempts can be found at

BookY'know, you'd think by now that folks would have figured out that banning a book does nothing to prevent it being read. The act of banning a book merely inspires even more curiousity than ignoring it does. And in the case of the novels by J.K.Rowling, banning her books because they concern Magic, Wizards, and Witches is just silly beyond belief.

Spiders!I can imagine some fundamentalist Christians, and maybe some Jews and Muslims, being quite leery of any book that treats Magic in such an easy fashion. For them, tales of Wizards and Witches may sail perilously close to the shores of Blasphemy. But if they had taken the time to read any of the books they would see that Harry Potter is not a substitute for Christ, is never portrayed as perfect, is never seen as seeking martyrdom or godhood. No, Harry is a typical boy, with an atypical gift: he can perform real magic.

At no time do the books delve into religion or religious practices. In fact the only worshipping they come close to are the grovelings of the followers of the Dark Lord - Voldemort. We see only passing references to Christianity in the mention of the Christmas and Easter Holidays. Perhaps the absense of religious rituals such as church services or Mass, or something of that sort makes folks a bit uncomfortable. But the Potter series isn't "The Chronicles Of Narnia". This isn't C.S.Lewis writing about Christianity. This is J.K.Rowling writing a tale for young readers.

Magic!So, what's the problem here, aside from the fact that some critics have never read a word of the novels? It can't be the character of Harry Potter. In most respects he's a normal boy. He's mischievous, breaks rules - or ignores them - and doesn't study very hard, he has hates, loves, loyalties, fears. So aside from that evil magic thing, there's nothing there to worry any Christian.

Dobby the House ElfRowling has grabbed mythical creatures from all over the literary world to people her novels. And for each one there is a story, a back-story if you will, that places them quite well within the magical world of Hogwarts. Elves and Goblins, Werewovles and Trolls, Thestrals and Unicorns, magical characters that let the imagination run free. And on top of it she is writing about the battle of Good versus Evil. And she's not rooting for Evil!

Albus DumbledoreThe main characters in Harry Potter - the ones we root for - are good people, trying to live their lives, while battling forces they scarcely understand, so Evil are those forces, while remaining loyal, and loving. Surely a reader, one who's read the Bible, can see a kind of model of Moses in the image of Albus Dumbledore. A Father figure, one who is more powerful than the others, striving to bring his people (the Hogwarts Students) through, an old man of sorrows, gentleness, and principle. Yet, not once will you see him claim infallibilty. Or perfection. No, he's a man of power, but a man, nonetheless.

SnapeIn Severus Snape we find an ongoing enemy of Harry, yet a confidante of Dumbledore. Snape hated Potter's father and loathes Harry, making his classes a kind of torture for the boy. And even he has quite human experiences and reactions. He was one who had been a part of the Evil, yet turned from it and renounced it. And there is Draco Malfoy, Harry's nemesis at Hogwarts. Malfoy is a fellow student, but of a different upbringing and character than Harry.

Gilderoy LockhartThese novels bring us the image of a full, rich world - minus Church, perhaps - written in a captivating, enjoyable style. It's aimed at young readers, those who need to read most, and enjoy reading most. The Harry Potter novels give younger readers a reason to read. And they love it! They want to read these books! And if the parents of those young readers are watching over them as they should, then any mistaken ideas about magic, or witchcraft, can be quickly answered.

QuidditchNow, look. I'm a Christian and I've read each of the six Harry Potter novels. I have not been enticed to begin studying witchcraft or to worship Satan. I have watched the first three films. I'm still a Christian. And I must confess that I would love to be able to fly on a broom! Don't kid yourself: you know you'd love it, too! And it wouldn't change your love for Christ one whit, now would it? Or are you too weak in your Faith to withstand the lure of a fictional world?

If so, perhaps you should be sure to stay away from the Sports teams you root for, and the TV shows you must watch!


WomanHonorThyself said...

Great post Benning.. I hadn't even heard this...fascinating to watch the selective "morality" around us....!Perhaps they should consider banning all the young girls magazines with pornographic images of anorexic models..naw that wouldnt trouble them a bit!

camojack said...

Build a bridge out of her!

benning said...

Angel: It is odd, the choices some folks make. Burn books so the kids won't read 'em, but let them watch nearly anuthing on TV. Sheesh!

Camo: A funny scene! My favorite from it is this:

BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
VILLAGER #3: I got better.

Brooke said...

It's a fair cop.

Great points here! I used to play a lot of D&D, clean mind you. You wouldn't believe the crap I took from my church... They had heard the fanatical stuff on the news, and they wouldn't hear any more.

I think I turned out alright... ;)

benning said...

Yeah, you're okay. I think. Hmmm ...

Anonymous said...

Think she would grasp the concept of Farenheit 451? Probably not. Think she's considered The Wizard of Oz?

The Harry Potter series is the ultimate in good versus evil with the good guys beating the bad guys time and time again. There is nothing wrong with that. It's just so ridiculous!

KWR said...

Hello Benning,

I thought this was an excellent post. You did a great job of explaining the hypocrisy of it all.

I was totally confused when all of the evangelicals who had been condeming Harry Potter started exclaiming the virtues of "Chronicles of Narnia". I thought Cronicles was an excellent movie. My kids loved reading the books. But when I saw the movie, I saw all sorts of magic, yet for some reason this magic is OK but Potter's is not. I understand the fact that Lewis has a long history of espousing Christian values and Rowling has not stated her beliefs. In my view that does not make a difference. There is nothing in the Potter stories that entices or encourages children to turn to magic as a religion any more than HR Puff-n-stuff did when I was a kid.

From my point of view both stories are excellent tales that take place in a mythical fantasy world that contains magic. Nothing more. The messages of good defeating evil is the point that so many people failed to get.

benning said...

Anna: They can't see the forest for the trees.

Veritas: Thankfully, there weren't enough of them to actually ban Potter. I hope there never are!

Gayle said...

People are just weird, Benning. I've read all the books as well, as did my daughter and she didn't turn out to be anti-Christian. She loves attending church with us, and now that she's in Arizona attending college that's one of the things she says she misses the most.

The Harry Potter books are pure whimsical genious and do indeed get kids to read. ...and yes, I would like to be able to ride on a broom, something that some of my troll readers have falsly accused me of being able to do! LOL!

shoprat said...

I too am a Christian who loves Harry Potter and I know quite a few others. The wizardry of Harry Potter is very different from occult magic and anyone familiar with both would never confuse them.