Last week a commenter asked me how, as a follower of Christ, I felt about Harry Potter and how I could read them. It wasn’t an antagonistic comment by any means. It was an honest question relating to her desire to decide where she stood in the argument and based on what she had heard/was hearing about HP from co-workers at the evangelical organization where she worked. I thought it was a fair question to ask and one that I would be glad to answer.
The following bullet points express my opinion and only my opinion. You can absolutely disagree with the position that I hold and it will not bother me in the least. This may be a long post and for that I apologize in advance but it just cannot be helped. I have stuff to say. You have been warned.
Let me say, right off the bat, that the Harry Potter series is worth reading just for the pure pleasure and enjoyment that it gives. These are well crafted and engaging books with characters that you love or hate, root for or root against. That is what they are on the surface. They are just darn good storytelling.
But these are books worthy of reading for the deeper and stronger themes that you find in the series, especially in the later books.
Let’s tackle the elephant in the corner first shall we. The commenter (who wished to remain anonymous) mentioned that her boss’s reasoning for condemning the books was, “why should you read something that glorifies Satan.” Glorifies Satan? I had to sit and think about this for a time. Did the books glorify Satan? No, they do not. Rather, the books point to the fact that there is evil in the world, that people choose to commit evil, that the evil is corrupting and in the end deserving of punishment.
In no way do the books glorify evil. In fact they point to the stark contrast between what is good and what is evil, emphasizing the good and condemning the evil. Evil is ugly and twisting and harmful. As Lord Voldemort becomes more and more immersed in the dark arts, as he becomes uglier and more repulsive, he grasps and clings to life, sacrificing all who are not useful to him.
The students at Hogwarts learn Defense Against the Dark Arts because they need to know what is evil and dark and how to protect themselves from it, not how to use it. There are consequences for using the dark arts and they are always bad in the end.
The Harry Potter series clearly makes the distinction between good and evil and that choosing either one brings consequences, sometimes painful ones. That sometimes that which is evil is wrapped up in a pleasing package and that discernment and knowing what is right is the only sure way to know what is evil.
Harry Potter lives because his mother gave her life for him willingly. And that sacrifice gives him safety from the ultimate killing power of Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter enters the Forbidden Forest at the end of HP and the Deathly Hallows fully and willingly expecting to sacrifice his life to defeat the ultimate evil of Lord Voldemort and save those he loves. And as a matter of fact to save those he does not even know but who will be destroyed by the evil that is Lord V.
If that isn’t a picture of Christ’s love and sacrifice, dying on the cross to save me from my sins and to redeem me for himself then I don’t know what is.
Harry, Ron and Hermione. A friendship that is forged, first through superficiality and then through love and pain and sacrifice. Friendship that doesn’t gloss over faults but works to show that there is a better way to act. Friendship that is deep and abiding and true through good and bad.
James Potter/Sirius Black/ Remus Lupine. A true portrait of friendship. Remus Lupine cannot change what he has been forced to become, a werewolf. But his friends can stick by him despite this and can, with hard work and great effort, change themselves so that they can give him comfort in his distress.
A sub-set of friendship is team work. Lord V would not have been defeated if not for the team work of Harry, Ron and Hermione. The horcruxes would not have been found and destroyed if not for their team work.
Doing What is Right When Doing the Easy Would Be, Well, Easier:
Do any of us think that it was the easy choice for people to fight against Lord V? Would it have been easier just to look the other way and go on about your business rather than standing up for what was right, even when the costs were so high. It would have been much easier. But it would have been wrong.
Actions Have Consequences:
Would Severus Snape have hated James Potter and therefore Harry if James had been kind rather than a bully? Hard to know. But make no mistake, James Potter was a bully and the consequences of those actions are very dear indeed.
Dumbledore’s sister was killed because of his selfish actions. His hand was withered and blackened and he himself was slowly poisoned because he thought he could act on his own.
HP acts selfishly and those actions have consequences that hurt others. His disrespect to Professor Umbridge brings great pain, even though she is a loathsome person who is not worth of respect.
Life Isn’t Fair So Get Over It And Move On:
Harry Potter has to spend his summer holidays with his awful relatives, the Dursleys. No, it isn’t fair or at least that is what Harry thinks. But there are reasons for it that are beyond Harry’s comprehension and that is just the way that it is.
Sometimes you get the punishment for what someone else has done. It happens.
What You See on the Outside Doesn’t Always Reflect the True Person:
Serverus Snape is an unlovable character, and yet he is a picture of true fidelity and constancy at the cost of his own life. He loves Lilly Potter from the moment he meets her, he loves her for the rest of his life and he protects her son, despite his dislike of Harry. He puts himself in mortal danger to fight against the evil of Lord V.
Draco Malfoy has everything going for him. Wealth, position, looks, power in his small world. And yet he is mean and ugly on the inside, thinking only of himself and what he wants.
I could go on and on with bullet points galore but I think I am going to stop here with the hope that I have made my feelings clear and concise. Anonymous, I hope that this helps you in your decision on where you fall in the Harry Potter “mix”.
I have to ask my anonymous commenter a question and it may not be one that she can answer. It isn’t asked with any condemnation or snarkiness but I think it is a valid one. Has your boss read the HP series? I do not think she has and if she hasn’t she should. They are worthy of reading.