Harry Potter’s Christian fans come to his defense

John Killinger: God, the Devil & Harry Potter, St. Martin’s, 2002.
Connie Neal: The Gospel According to Harry Potter, Westminster John Knox, 2002.
John Granger: The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, Zossima, 2002.

CHRISTIAN Harry Potter fans, unite!

It has been over two years since Richard Abanes wrote Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace behind the Magick, a scathing critique of just about everything to do with J.K. Rowling’s bestselling series about an orphaned English boy who goes to a boarding school for witches and wizards.

Since then, no one has really added to Abanes’s criticisms, but quite a few Christians have lined up to defend Rowling and her books against the accusation that they are simply trying to warm children up to the sort of real-life occultic practices that are forbidden in the Bible.

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What Christians Think About Harry Potter

harrypotterIn some Christian circles many people still wonder what to make of the young wizard Harry Potter, whose supernatural adventures have sold more than 100 million novels in 46 languages and set opening-attendance records at the movie theatres. What is the spiritual impact on children?

Harry is an orphan whose parents, a witch named Lily and a wizard named James, died defending him from the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry grows up with hostile relatives who scorn magic and hide the truth about his parents from him. But the week before Harry’s 11th birthday, a flock of owls brings him letters inviting him to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There, Harry and other children who were born with magical abilities study the history of goblins, the mixing of potions, and the taming of fantastical beasts. Harry and his friends also investigate a series of mysteries that tie back to Voldemort.

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Fantasies and fairy tales speak to our spiritual needs

MAGIC is everywhere you look these days. From bookstores to movie theatres, stories about wizards, witches and mythological beasts are all the rage; and for a person like me, who grew up with hobbits, aliens, flying horses and Jedi Knights, the current fantasy craze — and the various Christian responses to it — bring back a lot of memories.

How popular is fantasy right now? The most successful movie of the year (so far) is Shrek, a cheeky parody of the fairy tale genre that turns conventional wisdom about ogres, dragons and beautiful princesses on its head. That film’s box office performance could be surpassed in a few weeks by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first film based on J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally popular novels about a young orphan and his classmates at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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Is Harry Potter a menace to our children’s souls?

Richard Abanes: Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick, Horizon, 2001.
Connie Neal: What’s a Christian to Do With Harry Potter?, WaterBrook, 2001.

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.”

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