Mass Marketing Witchcraft - Harry Potter
Harry Potter mania has struck again as the fifth in the series of children's novels was launched at midnight on the summer solstice (in the Northern hemisphere) 21 June 2003. Shop assistants dressed as "witches" and even a British postman named Harry Potter had his moment of fame, pictured delivering the 1 kg tome. Despite its hefty price (almost R270), Exclusive Books in Cavendish Square, Cape Town reported that they had sold 1000 copies in just two days.
In the midst of this worldwide enthusiasm, Christians need to ask - is this popularity merely a fad and fascination with an action series, or is there more at stake? Since the books are aimed at children, we need to be especially discerning.
A Question of Affection
The author depicts the "real" world as grey and boring, populated by unattractive, uncreative and narrow-minded people (unaffectionately named "muggles"). The "fantasy" world of witchcraft is painted in vivid colour and is full of fascinating people, ideas and events.
As Christians, we know we live in the "real" world, and the world of witchcraft is explicitly forbidden to us in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18).
Does the series encourage us and our children to live for, love and obey God - or does it encourage us to despise the material world, breaking God's commands while pursuing self-actualisation through witchcraft?
Romans 12:2 says we should not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We should be spending hours reading and re-reading the Bible so that all our thinking is brought into line with Scripture. However, the opposite is happening with the Harry Potter series - children are spending hours reading (and re-reading) the books, thus opening their hearts to non-Christian thinking, occultism and rebellion against God's Law.
Bound to Christ or to Evil?
Harry comes across as quite nice in the context of the books. In contrast, if he were to be transported into say, an Enid Blyton novel, between his angriness, hatred of enemies, and practice of witchcraft, he would be a villain. How do we determine good and evil?
Professor Quirrell's statement, "There is no good or evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it" is didactic. Potter fans claim that this statement can't be taken seriously, since Quirrell was controlled by evil at that point. It would appear from the warm picture presented in books that Harry believes in good and evil, and aligns himself with good. However, when measured against an objective standard (the Bible), Harry's attitudes and acts align him more with the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:19 to 21 includes idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy.)
Similarly, Potter's continued education at Hogwarts is to seek occult power. Among other things, he fraudulently obtains a book from the restricted section of the library to find a potion to transform himself, and accepts the killing of the mandrake plants (whose roots are described as screaming babies, and later as teenagers who visit each other's pots) to make a potion to heal his friends.
What do Righteousness and Wickedness have in Common?
Proponents of the Potter books say that they promote courage, loyalty and friendship. This is not surprising - a story line is unlikely to work if it completely excludes Christian values. An examination of the books however, reveals that despite the presence of some good values, there is also cruelty, revenge, hatred, terror, fear, rebellion against authorities, lying, cheating, stealing, gossip and even punishment for appearing happy.
Light vs Darkness
Christians argue that Harry Potter isn't that bad - he practises "white", not "black" magic. But Potter's "white" magic includes:
Extensive contact with spirits (including Nearly Headless Nick and Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher),
Making drugs (described as "the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses, I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death.")
A plethora of spells, curses and charms, potions and poisons, and divination.
2 Corinthians 6:16 to 18 challenges us:
"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the Living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."
Even if we are orphans, like the fictional Harry Potter, we have God's offer of Fatherhood. We need to separate ourselves from this world's witchcraft "evangelistic" crusade, seducing millions of youngsters into witchcraft, and instead present the exciting Good News of reconciliation to our true Father.
How many hours would it take you to read "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"? Would that time not be better spent in Bible study and prayer? Could the R270 to buy the book not be better spent? Jesus is our Lord - dare we undermine His Lordship of our thoughts by filling them with witchcraft?
We are engaged in a massive spiritual battle. If we as Christians do not do our job, JK Rowling will "evangelise" our generation into witchcraft bondage and "discipleship" of hedonism, selfishness and despair. Real, eternal destinies are at stake. Rather than giving in to self-indulgence and pleasure seeking, let us seek God and evangelise and disciple our world for the King of kings.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8
Recommended Web Site
http://www.cuttingedge.org/ - follow the Harry Potter links
"Harry Potter, Witchcraft Repackaged" by Jeremiah Films. Available from Christian Liberty Books (www.christianlibertybooks.co.za, or call 021 689 7478)
Deuteronomy 18:9-13, Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 1 Samuel 15:23, Galatians 5:20, 1 Chronicles 10:13, Isaiah 8:19, Micah 5:12, 1 Corinthians 10:14-21, Revelation 18:2-3
Bulk copies of this article can be ordered from Africa Christian Action.