"Keep the Faith: Harry Potter mania fueling debate in churches"
by Greg Horton ("The Oklahoman," December 1, 2001)
Harry Potter is evil. The Church of Satan has grown 300 percent since the Harry Potter books came out. Harry is indoctrinating our children into the occult. J.K. Rowling practices Wicca. And what is that mark on Harry's forehead all about, really? Harry Potter mania is in full swing with the release of the Warner Brothers movie. Before Christmas, we will be sick of Harry merchandise and commercials. Apart from the normal revulsion we feel toward the marketing machine, is there anything in Harry Potter that Christians should fear?
The opening lines are things I've actually heard in the past month (except for the last one).
Jeremiah Films has been circulating its film "Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent" -- a kind of Christian "Reefer Madness" for the fundamentalist set.
Richard Abanes has received plenty of television and radio coverage for his "Harry Potter and the Bible," and who can argue with what the Bible says about Harry? What chapter and verse was that again?
I don't want to make light of genuine concerns, and there are legitimate ones where Harry Potter is concerned. Rowling intends the books to get darker and more serious as the series progresses, and parents need to recognize that some of the material is age-appropriate.
I honestly think "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the fourth in the series, would receive a PG-13 rating as a film, so the book probably should, too. However, is there anything to fear in Harry's magic?
It is not an accident that Harry begins his schooling at age 11. Eleven is the last year as a true child and represents the cusp of puberty and adolescence. Harry begins the process of growing up, and magic becomes a part of his training. In Rowling's books, magic works as a kind of adolescent wish fulfillment.
I admit that it is much more, but its main function is not religious. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between Harry's magic and Wicca.
That sort of criticism turns a myth, which Harry Potter is, into an allegory, which Harry most certainly is not.
A myth is a story that explains a greater reality or a mystery in an accessible, narrative format. From that perspective, Harry is becoming an adult.
He is learning what it is to make choices that affect others, to be responsible, to choose good over evil. Magic functions as the crucible in which Harry's character is tested.
How many of us wanted to cast a spell to make someone fall in love with us, or make a zit go away or a bully disappear? How often in the midst of the pain and isolation of adolescence did we wish we could resort to something magical to make life less painful?
Harry's magic is real, but it functions more like technology or science or character in our world. Magic helps Harry chase his dreams, and it brings joy into his pain and loneliness.
Harry's magic is also unreal, because it works too well. Did you ever try to cast a spell in the real world? In our world, magic doesn't lead to joy.
So, what is it that does? That's what Rowling is getting at.