I grew up in conservative Baptist circles that condemned J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as terribly evil. I have spent the past month reading the seven-part (reading the eighth installment now) series because I have come to the age where a series intended for children probably will do a relatively small amount of harm, if any…that is, if Harry Potter is as dangerous as they all say.
Before I go any further, let me say that this article is not backlash. It is not aimed at anyone, but rather is intended to provide some of my thoughts as I read through the 4,000 pages of the series.
- The magic in Harry Potter is not witchcraft
One of the primary attacks that the Christian community has given this series since the release of its first book in the summer of 1997 is that it promotes witchcraft. Witchcraft is something that I do not believe these attackers fully understand. I myself know an immensely small amount about it, but what I do know leads me to believe that witchcraft is far darker than the magic in the world of Harry Potter. Witchcraft glorifies Satan. It is not something to be talking about lightly. Witchcraft is real, while the world of Harry Potter is quite fictional. Witchcraft is a dark, deep concentration of sin. This is not the magic in Harry Potter. There are some who would neglect all books with magic in them because they say that it is witchcraft. While I respect those who may hold these opinions, I must disagree. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings also includes magic—some of which is extremely dark—but there are not even close to as many Christians leaping to speak out against that trilogy. Magic in a fantasy story is not equivalent to witchcraft—it simply is not.
- Harry Potter is not perfect
In every book or book series, there will be good things and bad things. We will only ever take a little bit from each book (except, of course, the Bible). So, why do we read stories? We read them for that little nugget of gold that we can get from them. We read them in hopes to squeeze one more drop of that elixir of literature into our soul. So, yes, Harry Potter is not perfect. It has flaws. There are elements of it that we wish were not there. Yet, I believe the benefit that it yields is far, far greater than the annoyance of some of these elements.
- We all have double-standards
I say this in an honest way. I have double-standards—some of which may even be coming out now. Some people will accept the magic in Lord of the Rings or in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, but will shut down any conversation about Harry Potter being the same thing. For me personally, I may overlook something in one book, but will be unwilling to overlook it in another book. We all have our standards, and we must hold to them. I am not suggesting that you drop your standards to read this series, but rather that you would consider whether your standard is truly accurate. I need to do the same thing in my life, particularly related to books and movies.
So, the question that you opened this article to hear the answer to…
WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS READ HARRY POTTER?
- It exemplifies the love/truth balance laid out in Scripture in a unique way
The story that runs throughout the Harry Potter series is one of love and tragedy. Triumph and tribulation. Yet, through the various veins of this story flows two things: love and truth. These two things are in an intense struggle throughout the course of this series in an effort to find the right balance. An interesting thing for Christians to consider is that in the Bible, love is very frequently coupled with truth in this strange sort of balanced tension. I believe that this is one of the strong themes in Harry Potter, whether on purpose or unwittingly.
- It causes us to think
Particularly with the controversy surrounding the series in these past nineteen years since the first book’s release, we should read Harry Potter for ourselves. I promise you that if you are able to use discernment, this series will not do you any damage. In fact, you will likely find—as I have—that it helps you and causes you to think. As a friend of mine likes to say, all of life connects to theology and, ultimately, to God and His Word. Theology, philosophy, literature—it all connects if we can keep our eyes and minds open to realize it. This is not to say that we should spiritualize Harry Potter and try to find an application to our lives. Rather, it is to say, as a literature professor of mine likes to note, literature is a commentary on the world and life itself. So, as we read literature, we are reading a commentary on life and the world that has been cleverly hidden within a story. I think there is enough benefit in the commentary that Harry Potter gives to make it worth reading.
- It is beautiful
God made art in all of its forms. He made humans with the ability to sculpt, paint, draw, write, and so on. We are made in His image and He is beautiful. Therefore, is it a crime for Christians to appreciate when a beautiful piece of art is made? If that art is a reflection of God’s creation and God’s creation is a reflection of God himself…then beautiful art may be called a reflection of God in a way. Scripture itself is a form of art—literature. Nahum was one of the most brilliant ancient poets. Art can be appreciated for its form and its content; this isn’t a sin. Harry Potter is a masterfully-written series that is a beautiful piece of literature. Even if its intent was not to glorify God through its writing, we can glorify God through our reading of it.
I encourage you to check out my review of ‘Harry Potter’ here