Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christians misunderstanding of Harry Potter.

I was reading an blog about how Christians should embrace the Harry Potter series. I really never gave it much thought though once upon a time in America, I was one of those people that did oppose the Harry Potter series because of its references to witchcraft and wizardry. Then again, I was opposed to The Chronicle of Narnia until my children whined, cried, moaned and groaned me to finally see the movie and got a heck of a surprised when I started to piece where the movie was going. I thought it was going to be some New Age BS because of the mytholocial references. Only afterwards did I learn about C.S. Lewis and his life which made his books from one that the movie was based make so much more sense.

My point being, before condemning some one's work, perhaps one should find out what it's about first before making a judgement. I remember in the 80's when books on communism was being removed from libraries. I thought it was a good thing til one man told me I'm against communism, but unless I read about it, how do I know what exactly it is I'm against? A point that stuck to me to this day. I got my first exposure to Harry Potter when my niece was watching the DVD of Harry Potter and the Scorcer Stone. I was 40 minutes into the movie before I realized what it was I was watching (I didn't even know about his lighting shaped scar). It wasn't what I was expecting from those I heard condemning the series (which was in the fourth book by this time). It was about hope, courage, discovery. Nothing of obsession with the occult or reverence to dark forces, unless you want to count Voldemort and the Death Eaters. However, the magic in the stories are the tools and weapons used by both sides. It's no difference using Chemistry, Physics and Engineering to forge materials and devices like planes, tanks, guns, and radios to defeat fascism. In the essence of the story it's about how love, courage, friendships and a moral supremacy are the greatest strength to defeat a literal monstrosity in Voldemort. Given our moral relativism that is so prevalent in our western society, having a faith in the supernatural with moral absolutism, the biggest being the greatest strength in the human spirit is love, is something that needs to be encouraged, not disdained. There enough of it in the world already.

So, why is it Christians are so vehement against the series? Why are they so outspoken against the child wizards and his courageous and virtuous allies? It's one of those evils dawned from the beginning of time: ignorance. They hear the words magic, wizards, witches, potions, etc and they click on some Bible verses that are being misused. They refer to the verses about mediums, witches and warlocks that Jesus and those in the Old Testaments referred to. They misunderstand the context of these verses: obsession with the occult. Those that are referred in those verses are allied with God's adversary. Many are obsessed with predicting the future or speaking to the dead. Other words, obsession with New Ageism, Satanism, or just plain human cults. The Harry Potter stories are nothing of the sort.

The stories are about the righteous protagonist, Harry, Ron, Hermine, Dumbledorf, Hagrid, etc that abide with a moral absolutism: love, courage, truth, friendship, selflessness, loyalty, life. Take a look at the Death Eaters or those that follow the path of the Dark Lord, Voltemort: lies, deception, misery, bullies, vileness, cruelty. Often it's the protagonist that triumptant. However, the stories don't hide reality: sometimes evil wins and often with grave consequences. The path to doing what's right is often met with dangers and difficulty. A lesson that many seemed to have lost. That it's far more difficult and you will have to fight to do what's right. It's all to easy to fall to the path of evil. All evil needs is good to do nothing. Our protagonist take on the challenges with many issues being taken by the horns and address in such conveyance that often, ones doesn't even know that it's being address. The biggest is class warfare.

The main conflict is those that follow the ways of the Dark Lord are racist or elitists. They think only those of pure blood, without muddle (non magic folks) blood should be taught the ways of magic. They believe mudbloods (those not from two magical parents) are to be excluded. In fact, they are to be killed. Only those in their merry little band are worthy of life. Sounds a lot of what we're hearing in the health care debate. It's the biggest mudblood, Hermine, that masters the big spells and figure out the most difficult puzzles that allows Harry to often triumph.

The biggest lesson that is often overlooked this the moral supremacy. Those on the dark side, not only are they miserable, vindictive, corrupt, and deceitful, but they lack a moral code. The only code is death to muddles and mudbloods. Life means nothing to them. One of the most memorable moments was in the order of the Phoenix when Voltemort was trying to invade Harry's mind. Harry attacks back with the line "Dispute all your followers, you're alone, and lonely. You don't know courage, love, or friendship. You're pathetic and I feel sorry for you." That was enough to enrage and break the Dark Lords hold on him. True evil is the lack of moral compass that the Death Eaters and their followers lack which is often leads to the lack of love and strength leave Harry's enemies short of his defeat. Much like the White Witch and her followers in the Chronicle of Narnia. Christians recognize that as being the ultimate deception of Satan and evil that plagues the planet. If the two part movie of the Deathly Hallows follow the book, this will be greatly empathize and will result in as the main element of who wins in the final conflict.

J.K Rowlings was thoughtful and intelligent in her story telling often giving moral lessons without anyone realizing it. In my favorite one, The Goblet of Fire, we had a mystery that Agatha Christie (my favorite of all time) would had been proud to had written. As we learn we have an enemy in the gates plotting Harry's demise with fragmented clues as to why, the clues were all there done with such subtlety, that it gets overlooked til the culprit is finally caught. Made me smack my head. A lesson about trusting those within, why you hold your friends close and your enemies closer because if one gets inside your organization under the radar, OUCH! With horrible and tragic consequences at that as well.

Though I can understand the misunderstanding, Christians should learn from our history. How misunderstanding can lead to tragic and disastrous consequences. That if one's going to oppose something, best to get the information first of what it is you're against. Though the terms used brings up the negative stereotypes, as I learned with the Chronicles of Narnia, not all terms are defined as you think and metaphors used aren't what you think they are. Ignorance may be bliss, but it can be tragic and disastrous as well. It can make a fool of you as well. For now, I'm off to have a pint of pumpkin juice while fighting off the White Witch.

1 comment:

The Keeper Of Odd Knowledge (KOOK) said...

nicely done. I agree with you 100%.