Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Defense of Harry

I was asked by a friend if I have had to defend my approval of the Harry Potter books. I have not, but knowing the argument is out there, and wanting to make an informed decision should my daughter want to read them one day, I have given the issue much thought. So...here are my thoughts on the matter:

First of all, I would encourage anyone who is against HP to read the books. At least the first one. I think you will find that while there is a magical context, the true themes of the story are love, family, forgiveness, courage, selflessness, being a friend to the friendless, humility and honesty. I would also say, that to ban books is a slippery slope. Are books such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia not celebrated in the Christian community? And do those books not also contain their fair share of magic? Where is the line? And fairy tales...the stories we tell to the youngest of children...are they not filled with magic and laced with dark elements? Hello...Hansel and Gretel?! Putting young children in a furnace is like the darkest thing I've ever heard of!

To those who just don't feel comfortable with it...great. No big deal. I know that HP readers and NonHP readers can live in harmony with one another. But there are some, unfortunately, who would call our (readers of HP) faith into question over reading such books, and to them I would say that they are perhaps wasting their “concerns” over things that have nothing to do with the heart. It seems easy to demonize a book about magic while ignoring issues of the heart...such as patience, forgiveness, jealousy, anger, vanity, greed, selfishness, and pride. Just as it is easy to hold up a tackless, hateful sign, rather than to walk (IN LOVE) with people who are struggling with sin.

Never, over the course of reading the books was I tempted to explore or experiment with witchcraft, nor do I believe that young readers have that temptation, nor do I believe that J.K. Rowling wrote the books with the intention of luring her readers into experimenting with witchcraft. I think she wrote a hilarious, exciting, heart-wrenching, beautiful coming of age story that just happens to take place at Hogwarts School of Magic. I also think, that if a student of a Christian home IS tempted to explore such practices, perhaps something began to unravel long before Harry Potter.

Because there are some scary parts, and because I DO want to make sure my daughter has a firm understanding of what is TRUE and what is NOT, I will probably not allow Braelyn to read the books until Middle School or even High School. Casey and I are and will be diligent to train her in righteousness, to build her up in faith, to shower her with Truth and Scripture throughout her entire childhood, so that she will not be swayed from the faith by a single work of fiction or by anything for that matter. That is our aim as parents. However, it seems to me that the lessons children are receiving from the media about sexuality, modesty, wealth, fame, etc. are far more dangerous than reading about a young man who discovers he is a wizard. I think our efforts would be more wisely spent battling those evils which are daily threatening our children's worldview.

SO...those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours. (However, it should be noted, if you disagree with me, I'll probably delete your comment. Heh. Just kidding. But let's keep it friendly, people! This is a mean-free blog! :)

5 comments:

Jenny said...

Thanks Steph! I appreciated your thoughts on the subject. Actually the time I read the first two HP books was in defence of the HP to a friend who villified the book. I thought the exact same in the vein of the overriding message it carries of love, faith, and friendship, etc. Though I know JK Rowling to be an agnostic (a seeker though, I think, and not in the Quidditch meaning-hee). But my first position I stated to my friend (it was a healthy discussion) was, "hello", Santa Claus, Easter bunnies, and so on. Where is the line drawn...let each family decide, prayerfully, in each and everything and not just HP. Again, thank you for opening up this discussion and good points you brought up.

Alicia said...

Steph:

VERY well said. There is also the good and evil aspect of the books that does parallel Christian principals. I doubt that is what was meant, but hey, a parallel nonetheless. Noah is 10 and had no problems with the books. He has no interest in witchcraft, and knew that these books were pretend. He saw the movies even younger. The wizardry in these books does not have anything to do with wicca or the witchcraft people try to practice. I think people are sorely missing out if they don't read this series. I LOVED it, as did Noah.

tsmith said...

I think you might find this post on harry potter interesting - http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2009/11/the-theology-of-harry-potter.html. Actually, I love this lady's blog, read it all the time! Enjoy!

Steph said...

Ooh...thanks Terri...that IS a great post! Her blog is so cute!

mandi said...

i agree with you on the thought about the dangerous messages of sexuality in the media. it baffles me that parents villify HP but allow their children to embrace the disney princess movement, barbies, bratz, etc...coy, sexy, half dressed girls. huh?