Monday, December 03, 2007

Still Pottering Around with Harry Potter

The release of the Golden Compass movie again brings Harry Potter to mind.

I have been vacillating about the Harry Potter books and movies for several years now, having gone from the "harmless entertainment" camp to the "tool of the enemy" camp to the "suspect, at a minimum" camp. The following was written in my "tool of the enemy" phase. Upon rereading, it seems to make more sense than the others.

Defenders of the Potter books, especially Catholics or other christians, often say things like :

"The Potter books promote sound values like friendship, courage, and loyalty."


"There IS darkness and scariness in THIS world, and while I won't introduce my children to it before they're already aware of it, I'm not going to try to present life as all sweetness and light, either. "

The question is whether magic is one of those "dark and scary," as well as sinful, things. If so, there is no excuse to give our children books that glorify it or its practitioners, regardless of whether there are other more positive messages in them as well. If the magic in the Potter books is not sinful, would someone please explain to me why the condemnations of magic that are found in scripture and the Catechism do not apply to it?

For example:

"All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity."

-- Catechism 2117

"[9]When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. [10] There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, [11] or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. [12] For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD; and because of these abominable practices the LORD your God is driving them out before you."

-- Deuteronomy Chapter 18

Anyone who wants a really intelligent discussion of this subject, and the reasons why some works of fantasy, like Harry Potter, are harmful while others, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia books, are not, should read a book called Landscape with Dragons, by Michael O'Brien, a leading Catholic writer of imaginative fiction, notably the Children of the Last Days series, which began with the publication of Father Elijah. While O'Brien's book was published too early to talk specifically about the Potter books, it is not hard to see how what he says applies to them. In fact, the Potter craze was essentially predicted by O'Brien and confirms what he says. O'Brien later wrote an article about the Potter books that is well worth reading.

Steve Wood of, and the host of the Faith and Family show on EWTN, was an early crusader against the Potter books, which he believes to be a great danger to children.

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