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Harry Potter

Ráchel Bícová

Some are slating Harry Potter and conversly, others are extolling him.In Britain a large number of children´d liked to get a live owl at Chrismas so that they´d have the same pet as their book hero although they´d been warned by the zoologists that actually it could be rather dangerous animal.Others are having their eyesight checked to find out whether they couldn´t after all wear glasses as their loved hero.Other children are making a fuss that although it says in the papers about Potter´s bookwriter, J.K.Rowling they´d liked to know more about Harry himself as if he might be a real and live person.This is all happening during the violent exhaltation of the crowd of adults that are content with the fact that “children started reading again“and they condemn without mercy everyone who might just have mentioned that there could also have been something wrong in this book.

Harry Potter

 

 

Is it actually any good discussing this topic? Is it neccessary to present publicly your opinion on a book? Is it better to keep it to yourself? It´s sufficient that there are roused emotions on both sides at the present point.Such thoughts were ringing in my head when I was asked to write an article about this subject.
However, first of all, I´d like to answer the question that could often be heard in this context:“And have you read it at all?“ – let the readers add the ironic tone.So,of course I have.The article of this kind simply calls for the meticulous preparation.I´ve also studied a large number of Czech and foreign articles about this topic thoroughly both those praising and condemning ones, visited available webpages of different pottermaniacs ( I haven´t found any anti-Potter page so far ) and had several talks to the proponents of both sides.It was a fairly thrilling and adventurous research.
I have to say after having read 3 volumes of Harry Potter I had to correct my view on this book.I discovered some bright sides of this book that are hard put to appreciate without reading it.But at the same time, I began to be more convinced that it has possible negative repercussions.However, first, a quick recap of action for you to know what this is all about.
 
Recap
Harry Potter books became a real phenomenon.They´ve already been translated into almost 50 languages.More than 100 milllions copies´ve been sold from the first volume and originally the poor writer and single mother became a very rich lady.First four volumes out of planned seven´ve been published so far.Harry Potter and the Philosopher´s Stone, Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and Prisoner from Azkaban and Harry Potter and Goblet of fire
The protagonist of these books is the orphan Harry who´s been growing up in his aunt´s family where he´s been permanently tyrannized by all.All these things´ve been happening until his eleventh bithday when it emerges that he was born as a wizard and his parents didn´t die at a car accident but they were killed by the evil wizard Voldemort.But he was unable to kill Harry for some puzzling reason at that time.That´s why Harry is considered to be someone special and the respect of the wizard world´s reserved for him well in advance.He sets off to the school of Spells and Magic in Warts and there he finds true friends for the first time in his life, among those are Rona and Hermion.In Warts´ school the pupils are selected from the very beginning into four colleges by the wise hat who “sees everyone into his soul“.Harry ends up in the college for wizards of the “brave heart“.Nebelvir and his school enemy Draco Malfoy end up naturally into that one for fiends Zmijozel that´s widely known for producing only bad wizards.Harry and his friends are learning more and more powerful spells and magic or to control the magic wand, use magic objects f.e.the cloak of the invisibility, experiencing typical school situations like doing homework or enduring injustice from teachers.Since Harry can fly well on the broom, he soon becomes a champion in one of the magical sports( Triwizard tournament ).In each volume the plot is more and more complicated.Harry gradually learns more of his past, he meets the evil Voldemort in various ways over and over again and discovers other secrets.He finds out he understands the speech of the snakes, discovers magic mirror, keeps the Philosophers´stone from abusing, finds mysterious chamber, saves life of those who goes to school with, meets his godfather who´s considered to be his parents´ traitor but in the end it´s established the different was the case….It´s difficult to give a detailed account of everything but I hope that this brief summary might do.
 
Can anything good come from Warts?
 
What are the advantages of the book? First,it´s a funny book.The writer´s got good sense of humour that´s expressed especially in the details: a textbook about magic creatures.monstruos monsterbuilding which bites, pictures on which figures can pull a face at you all of a sudden or they can wave at you, a train platform whose number is nine and three quarters,sweeties that have a different flavour every time – some are of chocolate flavour, but others f.e. of spinach, liver or tripes flavour, bureaucratic Ministry of magic….and so on.Unfortunately, this comical tone´ s sneaking away with every new volume.
The setting is so brillliantly described that emerges before the readers´eyes.The plot of this book is very well thought-out, full of twists and so it can be regarded as a good detective novel.The plot´s more and more complicated and interesting with every new volume, even the small details are turning out to be important and this keeps the reader in suspence.
 
The motive for the friendship and willingness to the mutual sacrifice can´t be overlooked in the book either.These friendships are going through various tests and misunderstandings that are finally resolved and as a final result of them, the relationship is strenghtened.We can discover a strong motive for parental love which not only saved Harry´s life but it´s an inspiration for him and it gives him strength and courage in his life.The positive protagonists have their weak spots and they are very human.It´s also very pleasant to watch them ripening.whether it´s about the first pubertal muddle of amouresness or it´s about their learning to distinguish strong points of the character.In addition to that, this book benefits from the excellent and imaginative Czech translation.So much for the incontestable asset of Harry Potter´s books.
 
How come that someone dislikes such an excellent book?
 
After above mentioned describtion of Harry Potter´s advantages you could easily think that there isn´t any better book you´d like your children to read.Now I´ll have a try at describing which principles and values contained in this book are dangerous and misleading.
 
There are no absolute criterions
 
There´s no absolute authority in the book, the truth put above our own opinion.The protagonists are acting in the way they “think“ is the best at that moment.All these things often happen because of “some higher aim“.Naturally, there are situations in the life when we act against the rules and everything´s allright.Rachab protected scouts by lying and Corrie Ten Boom didn´t go to turn in Jews to the Secret German police.But this book is based on the constant breaking rules to such an extent that you start having feelings of despair because you can´t succeed by lawful means ( we´ve heard so many bussinessmen saying something similar.) Harry simply follows his internal instincs and is a law unto himself.He breaks the rules if it´s convenient for him, lies, cheats, steals.He´s never punished for his offences against the school regulations.He´s a “chosen one“and so he counts on the fact that he´ll finally gets away with murder.Even at the moment when he has pangs of conscience and is aware of the fact that he´s done something that´s forbidden.If someone demands Harry´s punishment, he´s always mocked and described in the negative manner as if he were sort of nit-picker and hairsplitter.Anyway, this conveys well the atmosphere of the present-day age:“Do what you like in the way you feel it.
 
You could object to that the evil in the book is clearly symbolised by the side of power Evil and his protagonist wizard Valdemort and those who didn´t go over to him are standing on the right side.Since there´s no higher, absolute authority who´s actually going to determine why this good side should be good? And in fact what´s the reason for being on this or that side?
Harry Potter doesn´t need God.He lives in the world where there´s no spiritual dimension in the world where – if you want to achieve the right goal – it´s not immoral to manipulate people around you.This mirrors the human arrogance that´s convinced of the fact that we´re able to distinguish good from evil on our own, the arrogance that´s already won in the paradise.
This also reflects the difference between this book and f.e.,C.S.Lewis Annals of Narnie.Lewis invites children not only into the world where God´s authority is respected but also praised, into the world that stands on His Goodness and care.On the other hand, Ms. Rowling invites them into the world where the witchcraft is “neutral“ and where the individual´s authority is deduced from his power or his cunningness.
 
Predestination
 
I´ve already mentioned the fact that Harry gets away with murder because he´s a “chosen one“.Other protagonists also live in the fatal predestination.But you can´t become a wizard, you are simply born in this way.Those who study at the Warts college Zmizojel are predestined to become evil wizads.Wizards represent higher caste of the society and their occult knowledge gives them superiority over the ordinary mortals.In essence, these ones are always considered as silly, or at best boring.If you aren´t one of the chosen ones, you have no choice.An ordinary, banal life awaits you.You can´t change it and provided that magic is a methaphore for spiritual values, there´s no hope for you – you weren´t simply born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
 
No mercy
 
In the world based on the above-mentioned rules there´s no place for the mercy.(Don´t get me wrong – justifying bad deeds isn´t the same thing as mercy ).Such a world isn´t a very nice place to live.It´s gloomy, sad and nobody knows when the evil´ll attack the heroes again and if they ever defend themselves.Harry´s got nice relations with his friends and the strength of the friendship is the asset of this book which is often pointed out to.Nevertheless, Jesus calls us to even higher love that is the love for your enemies and to the forgiveness.So far Harry Potter hasn´t shown anything like this.In his opinion, we´re supposed to hate them and fight against them.
 
 
 
 
Occultism
 
These described occult practises are definitely forbidden by God and because of the Israelites´disobedience of the prohibition of these practises, they had to go the the Babylon captivity.Turning down all the occult practises is a part of the monotheism which results from the moral values.
Harry Potter´s books aren´t just about some innocent „abracadabra“ of the sort Three nuts for Cindarella.On one hand, the range of the used magic looks ridiculous and could be considered as a certain take-off on witchcraft.But there´s something more serious behind it.The teachers in the Warts school are able to use a real magic, their spells are efficient.The students are expected to reach higher levels in using the magic.The adult wizards are allowed to use their spells on mudles.This term is used in the book to call “ordinary people“( understand non- wizards ).As Robert Pytlík pointed out in his article The life of faith, this book is so descriptive that “it may be very difficult to explain to the children that the occult junk shop in the next street hasn´t got anything to do with the Harry Potter´s story.“
Linda Beam from Focus on the Family thinks the main danger of this book doesn´t lie in the direct incitement to the occultism but in the fact that the witchcraft, which is described in the book, isn´t shown in a realistic manner.Instead, it´s shown in a positive way! And thanks to this thing, it really occurs what Harry Potter´s Christian warn of.In society there´s a trend toward certain dullness of the vigilance to the witchcraft.Ms.Rowling herself declared that she didn´t believe in the magic that´s contained in her books and that her purpose isn´t to incite kids to perform magic.“I´m not trying to lure anybody into black magic.That´s the last thing I´d have in mind….My magical world is the world of imagination.I think it´s the moral world.“However, in an interview for abdNEWS.com a practising witch Phyllis Currot said:“It goes without saying that in Harry Potter´s books you can see wizards doing such things that aren´t done in the real life.But it´s positive.They´re friendly.They´re nice.This book can change people´s opinion of us.
 
The darkness´s mounting
 
As I´d said before, the relaxed and comical tone of the book gradually vanishes.While the first volume makes even the adults double up with the fits of laughter, the second or the third one give us creep.In this regard, I was touched by the comment of the famous director Steven Spilberg.( note: the first volume of Harry Potter´s already been shot by another director and is being shown in our cinemas as well ).Spilberg said the third Potter´s book was “really brilliant”.”As a director I wasn´t particularly interested”, he mentioned “but the third one is much darker, much more esoteric and speaking for myself, I find it more interesting.If they´d offered it to me I would agree.The darkness is growing, the magic is becoming still more efficient.However, for some children it may also be difficult to digest the degree of violence that is contained in the book.The description of the battles is very realistic and descriptive.We came to an agreement with two other adults that we´d had to “dose” the third volume in order not to be scared.You might find me sensitive but so are lots of children.
 
There´s no adult who can be trusted
 
Hary and his childish friends are actually very lonely.They don´t even seek some advice of the school headmaster´s Brumbal or the other good adults in time.They don´t trust anybody at all and try to manage it all by themselves.It´s only at the last minute when they are willing to accept the adults´ help.So again, there´s a sort of the present day mentality in it: I have to manage it all by myself, I can´t show any weakness.I only hope I´ll be able to bring my children up in a completely different manner.
 
Should our children be allowed to read Harry Potter or not?
 
There´s no easy answer to this question.Ms.Lindy Beam draws the readers´attention to the fact that it´s necessary to realize that to avoid Harry Potters´ books is a defensive attitude.And although our short-term objective is defensive ( to protect our children from negative influence of the society ) our long-term aim is offensive ( to change the society from within ).
As Christians we can´t reach this goal without being familiarized with the good knowledge of Scripture and the false spiritual influences and movements we are fighting against.If your child has been older and has also reached certain spiritual and mental maturity, books such as Harry Potter might be useful for searching and discussing together.Their confrontation with the unbiblical thoughts is going to make them think about what they actually believe in and why they do.It helps them to understand the world where they are living so that they may become the salt of the earth and to be able to a have long-term influence on our society.It´s good to take advantage of the childish curiosity.The kids may never before have thought of what Bible says to the witchcraft but in this way they won´t only ask but they´ll also remember the answers.It´s also crucial to help them to learn how to convey properly their convictions to the other people.
The simple fact that we´ve “known“ doesn´t surely make us kind and humble people who are capable of sharing the truth in a cultured manner with those who are interested in it. However, at the same time they are children who aren´t mature enough to be brought face to face to this kind of confrontation and they can be harmed unnecessarily.
To what extent can we dare to allow them to be buried into the book that contains obviously misleading principles and values?
As parents we are responsible for leading our children to the right source of truth.We have tremendous responsability to protect them against negative influences.Once we´ll be called to account if we allow one of these little ones to be offended.( Matthew,18,6 ).That´s why we have to deal with all the doubts that we have on our minds.We have to know what´s good and what´s wrong for our children.
So should our children be allowed to read Harry Potter or not?If so, why? If not, why? Whatever your decision might be, you must know on what grounds you´ve made this decision.
 
The better story
 
Why on earth are the books about Harry Potter a thorn in the Christians´side? It´s only because of the above-mentioned negative pages of this book, such as occultism, no absolute values and so on? It may also be due to the fact that we know a different and better story…
At the time of the old paganism there was no hope for the redemption.The life was short and full of anxiety.The people turned to those whose occult powers should protect them at least a bit against the snares which´d surrounded them but they found only poor comfort.However, something came to rescue this gloomy world.One day, the crowd of ordinary people began telling a new story.It wasn´t about a wonderful powerful wizard, strong warrior or clairvoyant seer who´d spread the same terror as those who they should allegedly fight against.Instead, they were telling about how God Creator came to this earth as a child, lived our life, died in the same way as we´ll do and rose from the dead.It was the story about innocently shed blood because of our trespasses,promise of the eternal life and God´s love and grace.Jesus is no Superman or E.T.He was a human being like us.He was feeling like us and had his limits like us but through the annointment of the Holy Spirit he brought some hope here.He died as a sacrificial lamb, tore down the mask of the religion from the hypocrites, he faced Satan through his justice and gained cynical human heart through his uncondicional love.Jesus´s humbleness contrasts sharply with the human hierarchy´s arrogance.The gospel doesn´t make the distinctions.Everyone can accept salvation in Jesus Christ.His salvation is here for wizards and “mudles“.The spiritual growth isn´t based on pulling off some practises.Even the most ordinary Christian can pray in the authority of Jesus´name, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are here for every believer and even the smallest of them is seated with Christ in heavenly places far above all principality and power. ( Ef 1,21).In the light of this story the values of Harry Potter are really poor.
 
Jesus came to redeem us but many don´t accept the idea of the need for forgiveness.They think human effort and wisdom are enough.There´s still the deep-rooted desire for being as “gods“ in people´s mind but without God and His grace.And that´s probably why this story, so different from all the others, still provokes the world.
 
Used literature:
 
Anderson,N.,Vander Hooks, P.and S.: Under God´s protection, Samuel, Biblical work for children, Prague, 2001
Anderson,N.,Russo,S.:The Seduction of Our children, Harvest House Pub.,Oregon, 1991
Baldynsky,T.:Pottermania culminates, MF Today, 2 February 2002
Beam,L.: What Shall We Do With Harry?, Plugged in, Focus on the Family, 2002
Houghton, J.:A Closer look at Harry Potter, Kingsway, Eastbourne, 2001
Pytlik, R.:About Harry Potter without emotions, The Life of faith
Phillips, P.:Turmoil in the Toybox, Starburst Pub.,Lancaster, 1986
Rowling,J.K.: Harry Potter 1.-3.volume, Albatros, Prague 2000 – 2001
 
Occult practises forbidden by God:
 
1.Magic
 
Influencing other people or the course of events through spells and magic.You can use the human voice or even the music and the aim is to hold another person down.( Lev 19, 26 : Deut 18, 10-12 : 2. Par 33,6 : 2.King 17, 17 : Is 19,3 : Is 47, 8-11 : Jer 27,8 : Dan 1,20 )
 
2.witchcraft
 
Practises including communication with evil spirits and using magic.Using the power received from evil spirits.( Ex 22, 18 : Deut 18, 10-12 : 2 Par 33,6 : 1.Sam 15, 23 : Gal 5,19-21 :Jer 27,9 : Is 47,9 : Rev 21,8 )
 
 
3.clairvoyance
 
Fortune-telling under the influence of a different spirit than Holy Ghost.( Deut 18,10-14 : Jos 13, 22 : 2.King 17, 17 : Mal 5,12-15 : Jer 27,8-9 : Jer 29, 8-9 : Acts 16,16-24 )
 
  
4.palmistry and soothsaying
 
Fortune-telling according to the different signs.(Is 47,12-15 : Jos 13, 22 : Mal 5, 12-15 : Acts 16,16-18)
 
5.raising ghosts
 
Communicationwith the dead world for the purpose of magical revelation of the future or influencing the course of events.( Deut 18,11 : 1.Sam 28, 1-25 : Is 8,19 : 1.Par 10, 13-14 )
 
 
Astrology
 
Soothsaying based on the pressuposed influence of the position of the stars and their meaning for the human life and earthly events.( Iz 47, 12-15 : Jer 10,2 : Dan 1, 18-20 : Dan 2, 1-49 : Dan 4, 1-37 : Dan 5, 7-15 )
 
Ráchel Bícová, November 2008, borrowed with the kind permission of www.samuelcz.com This article was originally published in the magazine The Life of faith.
 
 
 
 
 

 

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