Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Commentaries: Redeeming Harry Potter - Christianity Today Movies

Commentaries: Redeeming Harry Potter - Christianity Today Movies:
Russ Breimeier writes:

"I was recently interviewed on live radio about current movies, and when asked which I was looking forward to the most, I rattled off a few of my obvious choices—including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which opens this week.

"Uh oh," said the host half-jokingly, "you've just lost half our audience." I was then asked to justify how a Christian could possibly accept and endorse a series of books and films that promotes the occult. Looking back on my fumbled response, I can't help but think of that verse in 1 Peter about being prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks...."
This is an interesting analysis of the evolution in attitudes toward the Harry Potter novels. There are themes running through the novels that seem to come from Christianity, such as the Griffin which was an ancient metaphor for Christ.

I have noted that Harry Potter is at his best when he recognizes that he is dependent on others, and not just on himself.

Mr Breimeier makes a clear distinction between "invocational magic" (the calling up of powers to serve one's selfish requirements), which is clearly prohibited in Scripture, and "incantational magic" which bears some resemblance to prayer.

The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter books all refer to "magic", and and all three recognize that it can be used for good or evil. And all present "teachable moments" with regard to how the good guys respond to evil.

But most of all, they are fun to read, and reflect (even Harry Potter) a world view that is actually quite close to Christian values.

2 comments:

Russell Smith said...

Dennis, I'm another pastor/potter fan. I guess I don't have any problem with HP as imaginitive literature b/c the magic presented there bears little to no resemblance to magic as practiced by real practitioners of wicca -- it is a fanciful "science" in HP's world and it's based on innate ability rather than calling upon spiritual forces. Indeed, while the books are full of "magic" there is very little "occult" in them -- and for pete's sake, they're fantasy stories, not instruction manuals. I'm with you on the idea that there are lots of Christian values that can be discrned from his Pottership.

Russell

Denis Hancock said...

It's not just Harry Potter. When my 13-year-old was younger we went through the Lion King phase and heard from some about how racist it was, and from others how anti-Christian it was. Try explaining that to a toddler who really likes the movie. It is entertainment, and frankly, only the fringes really had serious problems with it. I certainly didn't.

We are also seeing The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia being accused of racism because the "Southrons" and "Calormenes" are dark-skinned. While this may be a little unsettling according to today's standards, 50 years ago it didn't occur to Tolkien and Lewis that it could be a problem.

Literature should be judged on its own merit, and not on changing social attitudes. Take the "teachable moment" and move on.