Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter vs. The Potter

There has been a regrettable lack of articulated refutation regarding the relationship of Christians and the Harry Potter stories, and how generally accepted stories involving similar elements, i.e., The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, support Christian principles whereas Harry Potter does not. There are four reasons why Harry Potter should be boycotted by Christians
There has been a regrettable lack of articulated refutation regarding the relationship of Christians and the Harry Potter stories, and how generally accepted stories involving similar elements, i.e., The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, support Christian principles whereas Harry Potter does not. There are four reasons why Harry Potter should be boycotted by Christians. First, his habitual disobedience is rewarded: in Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone, one of his teachers blatantly tells them not to mount their broomsticks until she returns; less than five seconds pass and Harry has already mounted his broom and takes off; after doing whatever he was going to do, the teacher returns and instead of getting upset that Harry disobeyed her, she rewards him by putting him on the Quidditch team! The examples continue throughout the film: the Dark Forest is forbidden; Harry goes in; the third floor is forbidden, Harry goes up to the third floor.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, even though Harry has broken the rules of not using magic outside of the school, he's not penalized in anyway. Harry exhibits arrogance and pride in these actions, by placing himself above all the other things that should--in the natural order of things--be above him. By emphasizing what he wants to do, and doing it, it demonstrates that gratifying his own whims is what is important. Yet it doesn't stop there: not only is Harry a poor example to children, but the "authority" figures in the film are poor examples for parents; that the author and film makers don't care about showing  irresponsible "authority" figures, also shows they don't care about the example they are sitting for their main audience, children.
Secondly, Harry Potter is famous. Everyone "knows" who he is and he is known for being important . . . but why?  This is the Kim Karadshin complex of "famous for being famous" and the author never shows how this adversely effects Harry's growth and maturity. This falsely puts emphasis on our lower emotions and the need to feel important; further, it makes being important important. How many of us are important? We are terribly important to our family, to our friends, to the groups which we belong, but that's not where the emphasis is put for this character and it mis-prioritizes what a healthy child should grow up believing. In short, there is a difference between "fame" and "respect" and Harry, not having done anything to earn the awe of so many characters he encounters--by hard work, sacrifice, friendship, etc.--creates a false understanding of destiny and greatness. Harry's reputation at Hogwarts sets a pace for children to crave fame.
Fans waiting in line for the midnight release of the newest Harry Potter novel.
Thirdly: Harry seems to believe, "Do unto others as they do unto you," because at the start of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, his aunt makes terrible comments to him and he retaliates against her by blowing her up into a balloon... Is this an example of acceptable social behavior, and especially Christian behavior? Seeing "retaliation" for someone treating you badly completely defies the foundation of Christ's teaching: "Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Harry using his magic to get revenge against his aunt demonstrates a lack of maturity that all the other bad habits (disobedience, "fame," and counting on magic as a solution to life's problems) contribute to. Harry, seeing the problems with his aunt and "correcting" her, provides a perfect example of what Christ warned us against: seeing the speck in our neighbor's eye and not seeing the plank within our own.
Quidditch balls from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Lastly, the magic. To be fair, there are "magical" events and characters in both the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings series; so what is the difference? Because of Harry's disobedience, his fame and his lack of respect for the Golden Rule of "Love your neighbor as yourself," Harry's wooden magic wand is a very poor substitute for the Cross of Christ, and just as power for the believer comes from the Cross, Harry's magic comes from his stick, which offers no comparison to the height, depth and breadth of the Cross: the Cross is a source of Wisdom that begets power of the virtues of patience, humility, meekness; magic gives instant gratification.
Map of the mythical world of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
Contrariwise, in the Chronicles of Narnia, Edmond and the other children have to grow and overcome their sins, their lack of faith and, for Edmond, literally his appetites because he betrayed his brother and sisters for Turkish delight. Aslan's sacrifice for Edmond shows the power of love and putting others before yourself and everyone's need to be redeemed. Likewise, in The Lord of the Rings, while Gandalf is a wizard, he is a gray wizard, "gray" representing the color of the pilgrim or the novice; it is when he "falls" into the fire at Moriah that he gains power and becomes Gandalf the White: this struggle clearly invokes the spiritual life and the Fire of Purgation to which the Holy Spirit calls each of us every moment of every day.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
 The Power that Gandalf gains is over the Power of Evil because he has Power over himself: the creature/monster he wrestles with that throws him over the side of the pit is his very self, the worst part of himself. By destroying this part of himself, Gandalf is then free to live for others and serve others; everything Gandalf does is for the greater good of the greater community and it is power, not magic.  That this is meant to invoke the spiritual life is supported by the name of the Mountain being Moriah where Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac and God the Father revealed what He Himself would do to save mankind from sin by this prophecy foreshadowing Christ's sacrifice.
"Precious" symbolizes our need to overcome ourselves, not give into ourselves.
 Magic clearly summons up the devil, and the "spells" require nothing of the individual other than them knowing how to say magic words and wave a little stick; "power," on the other hand, has been earned in the fire at great personal cost. God used the parable of being the Potter to illustrate to us how He uses our struggles and sacrifices to fashion us into the perfect being He destined us to become; the "hairy" potter suggests our animal instincts, cravings, desires and goals, and never shows us the pain and suffering, the reliance upon Jesus Christ that was a conscious decision on the part of the writers and producers (parables work really well, but there are not even "veiled" references to Christianity in the Harry Potter series).
Each member of the fellowship must overcome the temptation of "precious."
The question is: which potter will we choose to form us? Given that the latest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 trailer says, "He was born to live and now has come to die," is a clear invocation of Jesus and His Mission, but while Frodo in his sacrifice and difficult journey that he makes to destroy "Precious" could be compared to Christ's Passion, because Harry Potter shows us only the animal and "base" emotions and motivations that counter what Christ taught us and commissioned us to become, this "plagiarism" of what Christ said of Himself is making Harry Potter replace Jesus, not identify himself with Him.
Imitation of the fictional Platform 9¾ at the real King's Cross railway station.
Christians identify themselves by what they do because it reflects what we believe and in Whom we believe; each person who has taken the sacred vows of Baptism needs to ask themselves if watching the films or reading the books is an acceptance of a manifestation of evil, then act accordingly.