I remember when the email came.
I was 12 (yes email did exist, barely, but yes…). It went something like this…
“CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE!!! Be Cautioned. A Series of Children’s Books, Harry Potter, has been released to the general public.”
The email went on, but it’s message was clear.
If you let your children read these books, you are not only inviting witchcraft and sorcery into your home, you are directly tempting your children in sin and the worship of Satan himself.
My friends, that is a bold claim. Many churches and organizations have renounced such statements especially since the end of the series. However, many Christians still are unsure, and unsettled in whether or not reading them, would be to open the door to sin or at the very least, criticism from fellow church members.
Let us look at authorial intent. If we cannot do at least that, then we are simply being lazy.
I’ll be blunt.
Harry Potter does not support witchcraft or Satanism any more than C.S. Lewis supports the idea that animals talk.
What you have in Harry Potter, is a magical realm, much like in Narnia. The difference, and perhaps confusion in Harry Potter, is that this Magical realm come in direct contact and contains consequences for the “real world”. This, however, is easily understood by reasoning that a “world in which there is also a magical world” is NOT OUR WORLD.
The magic in Harry Potter is clearly neither good nor bad. The author makes that obvious.
So with these things dismissed, we are left with quite what it was intended to be from the beginning
A story, that much like any other is full of suspense and action, love, intrigue. In fact, what will come as a shock to some people, the story of Harry Potter, is much more similar to the story of the Gospel than are most secular works of art. It would take a short essay or book to example out all the ways in which this is the case but I think this particular paragraph will do for now.
There once was a dark and sinful world, in the control and under siege from an evil enemy. Everyone lived in fear. But then, amid the darkness, there was a child born in a small town. The evil one came and tried to destroy him immediately but was unsuccessful. He tempted him later, trying to make the child his servant. As the boy grew, he grew famous throughout the land, and when he reached adulthood he went into an all out battle against the enemy. In the end, he laid down his life on behalf of all his friends, in order that they might live. Somehow, miraculously he came back to life and defeated the enemy once and for all, saving all the people.
Am I talking about Harry Potter or the Gospel?
My point to all this is that we should not be afraid of stories. There are of course things that are inherently evil, and you should not participate in ALL THINGS. However, we should not react in fear of something that sounds suspicious to us. We should at least be willing to interact with it. Augustine taught us that we should “take that which is good from the world, acknowledging that all good comes from our Father”. There’s a reason why Harry Potter reminds us of the gospel. J.K. Rowling was made by the same Maker that we were, and has a mind which cannot escape the thematic elements of our existence (i.e. sin, fear, saving, redemption, sacrifice).
We have a greater story than Harry Potter, but you need not be fearful of it.
In conclusion, read this quote from G.K. Chesterton.
“Fairy tales, then, are not responsible for producing in children fear, or any of the shapes of fear; fairy tales do not give the child the idea of the evil or the ugly; that is in the child already, because it is in the world already. Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” – G.K. Chesterton