Conservative Christians Coming Around On Harry Potter?

The contrast:

Conservative Christian reviews of the new Harry Potter movie are surprisingly positive.

“As ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ opens, we are once again reminded of the characteristics that make him something of a Christ figure,” Connie Neal writes for the evangelical Christianity Today.

“It is more likely that at the end of the viewing or reading, rather than the allure of magic … what remains are the scenes that evoke values such as friendship, altruism, loyalty, and the gift of self,” wrote L’Osservatore, the Vatican‘s semi-official newspaper.

Even Focus on the Family‘s pluggedin finds something redeeming: “Harry, whatever his faults, embraces such unglamorous words as ‘duty,’ ‘responsibility’ and ‘sacrifice.’”

Has Harry or one of his Hogwarts cohorts cast some sort of spell over conservative Christendom?

After all, it was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) who in 2003 warned that Harry Potter books and movies “are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”

It was James Dobson of Focus on the Family who in 2007 denounced the series, saying that “given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it’s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.”

And it was the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon who described the Harry Potter series as “books that promote witchcraft and wizardry.”

Hardly. In fact, as more conservative Christians seem to be realizing, the “Harry Potter” series actually promotes Christian themes.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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