Loving Harry, Hogwarts and All

Conservative Christian reviews of the new Harry Potter movie are surprisingly positive. “As ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ opens, … Continued

Conservative Christian reviews of the new Harry Potter movie are surprisingly positive.

“As ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ opens, we are once again reminded of the characteristics that make him something of a Christ figure,” Connie Neal writes for the evangelical Christianity Today.

“It is more likely that at the end of the viewing or reading, rather than the allure of magic … what remains are the scenes that evoke values such as friendship, altruism, loyalty, and the gift of self,” wrote L’Osservatore, the Vatican‘s semi-official newspaper.

Even Focus on the Family‘s pluggedin finds something redeeming: “Harry, whatever his faults, embraces such unglamorous words as ‘duty,’ ‘responsibility’ and ‘sacrifice.'”

Has Harry or one of his Hogwarts cohorts cast some sort of spell over conservative Christendom?

After all, it was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) who in 2003 warned that Harry Potter books and movies “are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”

It was James Dobson of Focus on the Family who in 2007 denounced the series, saying that “given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it’s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.”

And it was the American Family Association’s Donald Wildmon who described the Harry Potter series as “books that promote witchcraft and wizardry.”

Hardly. In fact, as more conservative Christians seem to be realizing, the “Harry Potter” series actually promotes Christian themes.

In the final book of the series, Harry reads two verses from the New Testament: The first (from I Corinthians 15) on his parents’ tombstone that says, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”; a second (from Matthew 6) on another tombstone that reads, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

“Those two particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric’s Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series,” author and Christian J.K. Rowling told MTV in 2007.

In a Today Show interview with Katie Couric back in 2000, Rowling had this response to critics who ascribe evil motives to her and her fictional characters: “A very famous writer once said: ‘A book is like a mirror. If a fool looks in, you can’t expect a genius to look out.’ People tend to find in books what they want to find, and I think my books are very moral.”

Maybe Harry Potter books are like the Mirror of Erised, a mystical mirror discovered by Harry in “Philosopher’s Stone.” On it is inscribed: erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi — which, when reversed and correctly spaced, reads “I show not your face but your heart’s desire.”

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  • orthodoxheathen

    Christians, even the most conservative ones, routinely ignore the parts of the Bible that don’t conform to their lifestyle choices, yet they still say they respect the Bible.It’s nice to know that some of them have opened their minds just enough to treat the Harry Potter series the same way.

  • kbeaty

    Christianity Today’s women’s blog, Her.meneutics, also has a positive review of the latest Harry Potter film, as well as a comparison of Rowling’s romantic tropes with those of Stephanie Meyer and her Twilight series:

  • iamweaver

    I’ve never really understood the conservative stance against fiction like the Harry Potter books. Fantasy like “Narnia”, full of witches, talking animals and mythical creatures is OK because of its allegory (which might well be missed by its young audience), but tales with similar moral messages like the HP books are not? Strange.

  • mconnor379

    Imaginary threat? Like Satan? lol Seriously, all this talk of “clearheaded” vs. “narrowminded” Christians is a bit inaccurate. The “narrowminded” variety more often attempt to adhere to the whole Bible, as it’s supposedly “God’s word”, where the only way for one to fall into the more “clearheaded” (read: tolerant, liberal, non-fundamentalist) variety is to cherry-pick the warm and fuzzy parts (the good samaritan, golden rule) and ignore the ugly (genocide, rape, misogyny, racism, slavery). And really, how clearheaded can one be if you believe the plagiarized story of Jesus’ virgin birth, crucifixion and resurrection (good thing there weren’t copyright laws back then!) or magic trees, talking snakes, giant arks and rib-women. On it’s own merits, what makes Christianity any less ridiculous than, say, Scientology?Bottom line, the Potter books are fiction (like most of the Bible), and is sold as such (unlike the Bible). The difference is that the Potter books a.) actually get kids to read, and b.) teach a bit of actual morality and personal responsibility, rather than condone things like genocide, slavery and racism and encourage one to defer to an imaginary friend rather than take personal responsibility for ones actions and/or duties.

  • johnfour1

    I’m still waiting for someone to notice that the last book in the Harry Potter series — Deathly Hallows — has Harry going thru a series of trials that directly parallel the Passion of Christ. To name a few: the exile in the wilderness, temptation, triumphal entry into “Jerusalem”, rejection, death, resurrection, and the new life in a better world. Not to mention the overall theme of the whole series: the ultimate power of Love to triumph over Evil.

  • bevjims1

    kert1 wrote: “My main concern is that one may think the movie encourages magic in our world. I think Harry Potter is fantasy and really a whole other world, but since it mixes in with our modern day world, children and the naïve may be confused.”When you teach children stories about a god who is watching them and that they can pray to that god for things they themselves cannot achieve, you teach them magic. And the occult you worry about drawing today’s children was created by many religious cultures including the judeo-christian culture. Harry Potter and its obvious fictitious depiction of magic is nothing compared to the weekly indoctrination about miracles, the war between good and evil and using prayer to make wishes come true. If you’re worried about your children being drawn to the occult or believing in magic, Harry Potter and other works of fiction are not the source of the problem.

  • kert1

    By the way, the definition of “Close minded” isn’t “disagreeing with me”. You are open minded if you agree to hear and assess a situation. The Christians in this article did this and made their conclusion. The only close minded people I see in this blog are the ones who think their opinion is the only one.

  • bkm123

    Neither “friendship, altruism, loyalty, and the gift of self” nor “duty, responsibility, and the gift of self” make someone Christ-like, or relate Christian values. There is one Christian value: Christ himself, and God commands all men everywhere to repent from dead works.

  • bevjims1

    johnfour1 wrote: “I’m still waiting for someone to notice that the last book in the Harry Potter series — Deathly Hallows — has Harry going thru a series of trials that directly parallel the Passion of Christ.”I haven’t read that book but I wouldn’t be surprised since its a recurring theme in many books. Consider Frodo Baggins and his struggles to save the world by destroying the ring (evil), being stabbed by a nasgul but not dying, in the end writing it all in a book then sailing away to the Undying Lands. Also, Gandolf’s death/resurrection as Gandolf the white. The lesson: You can destroy evil with good (and a lot of hard work) and the good will live forever in eternity.

  • bkm123

    An earlier comment mentioned the values enumerated in the article are not “Christian” but “Human.” Harry Potter is ultimately humanist, and effectively satanic — not in the spooky fable-like way many regard the occult, but in the biblical way of exhalting oneself above God. When Christians embrace humanism, it is error, even as Peter did and was rebuked by Christ who said, “Get thee behind me Satan!” Satan — or adversary — is one who is opposed to God in his advocating man rather than God. God’s message in response is simple: repent.

  • bobdog3

    Kert1 writes of “the severe warnings the Bible places about practicing magic.” Note to Christians: No one can actually “practice” magic because – here it comes – magic isn’t real. Sorry to disappoint you, but there really are no goblins and wizards and witches who can turn you into a frog. Calm yourselves and pray if you must. That magic stuff on television? Not real, really. It’s called illusion. You can all take a breath and feel smug once again knowing that your all-powerful god has saved you from the evils of magic practitioners!

  • bevjims1

    BKM123 wrote: “Harry Potter is ultimately humanist, and effectively satanic — not in the spooky fable-like way many regard the occult, but in the biblical way of exhalting oneself above God.”How? Because Harry does not drop to his knees and pray that Lord Valdamoor be destroyed? I grew up as a child watching fantasy on TV and in movies including Superman, the Disney classics, Sabina the teenage witch, and many others. I haven’t yet seen where Man is raised above God. Even in Harry Potter, Drumbledorf continually reminds Harry that he cannot bring his dead parents back to life. But what I find disturbing is those who believe they can use God for their own purposes, such as Pat Robinson praying for a hurricane to not hit land (he failed) or others who, because they have some special connection with God can have God perform miracles they direct Him to do, such as healing the sick. This is not told as fiction but as reality and it is told to children as truth even though no carefully set up experiment has shown it to be real.

  • colinnicholas

    The Harry Potter books are fiction, just like the bible. One is 21st century fiction, the other is ancient fiction. But the newer fiction is better written, and you’re not supposed to pretend it’s real.

  • kert1

    colinnicholas,

  • castanea

    Shorter Christian rightwing viewpoint: “If you can’t destroy a popular cultural character, make friends with him.”

  • bobdog3

    “You can look at today’s maps and see the places described.”Simply because the texts describe specific locales from ancient times does not make the Bible non-fiction – most non-fiction actually includes accurate geographical descriptions, past and present. And whatever validity geographical accuracy bestows on any document, it certainly does not make it the word of this or any other god. Yes, there was a city called Jericho, but it’s ludicrous to believe that the city walls fell down simply because a bunch of guys were blowing horns! Give your head a shake.

  • Chops2

    “The Bible is clearly not fiction. You can look at today’s maps and see the places described. You can also read secular history and see it largely matches up with the Bible. You may not believe it’s the inspired word of God but that doesn’t make it fiction.”Dude, the post is about Harry Potter. Is there any mention of china or south America in the bible? No, why? cause humans at that time had no idea they existed. It is a human document. It has no science in it. Its a story. Deal with it.

  • csg1

    Kid parolees working at the Beat Within juvie magazine in San Francisco beg to differ: They call HP a homie. “Look,” one says, “he’s got serious beef. He’s all hood–foster family after parents get themselves killed, sidecar called Dobby who’s in rags and always getting clowned on. And don’t foget all them drugs helping him work magic and fly.”

  • jrnberrycharternet

    Maybe some day thousands of years from now, when Christianity has gone the way of the Roman gods, someone will find the Harry Potter books, discovered in the rubble of civilization and declare Harry as the Messiah who will come back to work miracles and take all the good little humanoids off to Hogwarts in the sky. Well, makes as much sense as the bible!

  • roboturkey

    If anybody’s god is diminished by a fictional story, they need to create a bigger and better god.Any “Christian” who feels that Harry Potter is some sort of ecumenical threat is bonkers.If Jesus fought Superman and Green Lantern, who would win?

  • patmatthews

    I guess Christians find magic interesting, and so they must comment independant of the entertainment industry when it comes to movies. Last I heard the Christians did not accept Harry Potter because a character is considered gay, while they also use magic which Christians fear.Patrick

  • kert1

    Chops2,bobdog3,Certainly you don’t have to believe the Bible but it isn’t fiction.

  • hyjanks

    Now if we can only get them to read the books of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens with an “open” mind, we’d be getting somewhere!

  • lschunk

    I’m a middle-aged Christian who’s loved Harry Potter from the first. I’ve heard conservatives make ignorant and hateful comments about it from the first. How I wish they’d listened to British Christian fantasy pros back then; perhaps we could have avoided a lot of negative fireworks. Most of the symbols in the books are Christian; how to let you know that if you don’t try to learn?

  • Alex511

    fr the article:>…It was James Dobson of Focus on the Family who in 2007 denounced the series, saying that “given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it’s difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.”Both dobson and wildmon lead cults. Cults that are EXTREMELY dangerous, and bear VERY careful scrutiny. See the excellent documentary “For the Bible Tells me So” and see how dobson treated a family with a gay son who just wanted to give him a letter. dobson didn’t even display common courtesy towards the family.

  • abbyandmollycats

    Re Old Testament picture of God:If the OT is read as the history of the people of Israel’s developing understanding of God, beginning with God as a tribal God and progressing to the monotheistic understanding of One God, and if one remembers that this history was recorded at different times and with different issues at the forefront of the recorders’ minds, then the OT strikes the reader somewhat differently that it does if one reads it simply as a historic recounting.

  • CharlesGriffith1

    The Harry Potter books are serious money-making entertainments, as are the Harry Potter movies. As was that sick figure Michael Jackson. You’ve all collapsed and surrendered to the Elvis syndrome. How does such hormonal, emotional claptrap earn so much pious gas?

  • honorswar26

    John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church was ordained by a bishop of the Anglican church….the bishop’s name was….Harry Potter.

  • bjuhasz

    The Harry Potter books are not particularly well written, are often inconsistent, sometimes ramble, etc. but they do not purport to be true. The bible on the other hand was cherry picked from many religious writings, in an attempt to create the most marketable religion possible. If the story of a virgin having a baby made a compelling draw, it was put in, if the story of Jesus’ family and wife made him seem somehow a bit too human, it was left out. The amazing thing about humans is their ability to believe without hesitation whatever they want to believe, while at the same time have excellent investigative skills when it comes to things they want to be objective about. “Believing” the bible as a literal true story, take an almost impossible suspension of disbelief, but viewing it any other way makes it simply a nearly unreadable, unintelligable work of fiction.To enjoy a Harry Potter book or movie you have to temporarilly allow your brain to ignore many things you know, to forgive the inconsistancies, and just enjoy the ride, like any fun but not particularly well written story. To “believe” the bible you have to permanently compatmentalize your brain into a thinking rational side and a “I will believe no matter what” side. I am afraid that one of the worst things about the bible (and most religions in general) is that it encourages dellusional thinking. Harry Potter is a momentary escape, the bible represents a lifetime escape from reality.

  • pioneer1

    All mythology-based belief systems have their comic similarities, so of course Christians see something of themselves among the magician children and the devil-monsters.

  • michaelwp1028

    It is good to see a good imagination in motion. Harry Potter is truely an awesome story.As for the religeous/christian/fanatics, you all need to learn to believe in what you can taste, smell, touch, see and hear. All people who believe in something that doesn’t exist are fools. Sounds like a fail in wiping out a certain type of people in World War 2 era. It’s unfortunate to let this type of influence be spread like it is some kind of truth.

  • Chops2

    Kert1:Virgins cant have children. Fiction.People dont rise from the grave. Fiction. Isn’t it more likely that his body was taken? Just logic mate, don’t drink the Koolade. Read Bart Ehrmans “Misquoting Jesus” you’ll see how the text has been changed so much over the years BY HUMANS.Water can’t be turned into wine magically, fiction.I could go on. Be reasonable, its a story and u have bought it hook line and sinker. Its pathetic really.

  • jprfrog

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments carefully, but what I have skimmed seems to neglect a very important aspect of the Harry Potter saga. Particularly the last two books explore the nature of evil, as embodied by Voldemort (whose name, in French, means “flee death”), how he got to be who he is and how he gathered his followers (and no less important is that Dumbledore has a rather dodgy past). And this is the point: Voldemort’s tool is racism. In spite of (or because of perhaps) being a Mudblood himself, he gathers Death-Eaters by appealing to their “pure blood” and conducting, once his minions are in power, a truly vicious “purification” which has echos of not only of McCarthyism (as a child I lived through that trauma, which impacted my family very hard, and I remember all too well what it felt like) but of the “Judenrein” policies of the Nazis, which were prelude to the “Final Solution”. Rowling has at greater length but with no less power emulated Orwell in “Animal Farm” in showing how just evils become ascendant, and even more importantly, aimed the message at the next generation. (She now acknowledges that in fact the father figure and role model Dumbledore is gay!) Maybe the millions of young people so taken with Potter-World will be just that much more open to accepting the humanity of the “other”, as the present generation of aging “real Americans”, Bill O’Reilly’s adoring fan base, do not. Could it be that Dobson and Wildmon, while they give lip service to opposing racism, somehow intuit that many of their followers, especially of the older, rural, and very white Southern persuasion, have as their core hatred good old fashioned N****-hating (throw in a few sp***cs and K***es while you are at it.)? And that their real fear is not the “witchcraft” of spells and wands, but the seduction of tolerance, understanding and acceptance of difference, and….God save us!…empathy.

  • txliberal

    Ever since book one of the Harry Potter “saga” Christian Fundamentalists cried “witch”.What disappoints me the most of Christian critics is that they still think that this or that have Christian morals or themes. That “values such as friendship, altruism, loyalty, and the gift of self,” are only traits of Christianity.

  • thomasstephens2043

    “… the Mirror of Erised, is a mystical mirror discovered by Harry in “Philosopher’s Stone.” On it is inscribed: erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi — which, when reversed and correctly spaced, reads “I show not your face but your heart’s desire.”Is “u oyt ube” YouTube spelled sideways?

  • twmatthews

    I’ve often found that the Harry Potter series of books offers a far clearer picture of morality, what is right and presents far less ambiguous images of courage, friendship and love than almost anything written in the bible.A recent sermon at my church points out one such example. In Exodus, the people of Israel are complaining because they haven’t sufficient food and water and they are afraid.God’s response is to send snakes that kill many of the “complainers”, in a painful manner I might add.After begging Moses to pray to God to stop the snakes and to forgive his ungrateful people, God told the people to build an idol and whenever they were bitten by a snake (that God himself created), they will still be in pain but they would no longer die.To me, this represents the perfect ambiguity found throughout the bible. What is one to make of this story? Is it a story warning people to have faith (even if they are hungry) and never complain? Is it a story that says remember that rule about not worshiping other idols, that doesn’t imply to those idols that I tell you to build and “look upon”. Is it a story about love? I don’t think so. God shows no love or patience with his people.The Harry Potter books, simplistic as they are, offer far clearing descriptions of what is right, what is wrong, what is friendship and loyalty. The God portrayed in the Exodus stories offers no such clarity and quite frankly, is unworthy of worship.

  • psichiradio

    Harry Potter and Jesus have something in common for sure. They are both fictional characters.But I am happy to see that people are a bit more open minded.

  • push_2_play

    Unfortunately, a lot of the commentators here have made the same mistake as Harry did in the Philosopher’s/Sorcerers’ Stone, judging the Bible as Harry did Snape, through a prejudicial and limited lens.

  • joebanks

    I guess Wildmon and Dobson will have to find some new books to burn.

  • djmolter

    It’s fiction, folks. Not everything has to have Christian overtones.

  • Athena4

    Oh, no, not this BS again. It’s FICTION! It’s not leading people into witchcraft. If a kid waves a stick and says some words, a door is not going to unlock. Geeze, people!Besides, if the Harry Potter books were real, where is my house elf? I should have at least one of them. Preferably Legolas. :D

  • MICA77

    These new “reviews” from the Christian front only go to prove that they issued critiques when they never read the books to begin with.

  • bevjims1

    Conservatives, in general, are always a decade or so behind the times. How long did it take conservatives to accept women in the workplace as equals or even as competent workers? How long did it take them to accept blacks in schools, the military, the workplace, the neighborhood, etc? And lets not forget the evil messages conservatives said were in Beatle songs that kids were secretly playing backwards to hear.So here we are 9 years after the introduction of Harry Potter and conservatives are just getting what others have known from the beginning. I see nothing unusual about that. Its the nature of the conservative beast. Any bets as to when conservatives will stop believing Obama is a Muslim born outside the USA and hellbent on socializing the USA? I’m guessing 2017, but never underestimate the conservative ability to hold onto myth when it fits their preconceived notions better than the truth.

  • HiThere3

    Oh, for crying out loud! The Pope did *not* condemn Harry Potter, and he certainly did not “warn” anybody about the books. When he was a cardinal, some woman sent him her anti-Harry Potter book, and he wrote back that it was nice to warn people about pernicious influences, and she should send her book to the appropriate Vatican office. She did, and she got back a 4-page letter telling her how WRONG she is. So, instead of quietly going away, she got LifeSiteNews (the website you cited) to claim “Pope Opposes [note the present tense, even though it had been over two years] Harry Potter Novels” — and The Washington Post can’t be bothered to do the research?!?! What kind of journalism is this? At the very least, you should see what the official Vatican office said to her about the book, not what some cardinal said in private letters. At least let your journalistic instincts ask, “Why isn’t she publishing the official response to her book?”Do your freakin’ homework! The Pope did NOT oppose the Harry Potter novels; and he certainly did not do so at the time the website you cited said “Pope Opposes” them. The best that can be said is that a cardinal of the Church said in private correspondence that he thought it was good for her to point out subtle seductions in the books. He has NOT said not to read them; he has NOT said that they’re evil; and he has NOT opposed them being published, sold, bought, and read. For a useful critique of this ongoing error by the press (including you, now), see here:

  • bevjims1

    “It’s FICTION! It’s not leading people into witchcraft. If a kid waves a stick and says some words, a door is not going to unlock.”Well, what you need to understand, and its hard to believe, is that there are many right wing christians out there who believe the devil is at work, all the time, working in ways to make kids believe in devilish powers. These are the people who have tizzies over hearing their kid played with a ouiji board. These people believe this stuff, seriously. And any notion that the devil is doing his work scares the bejezzus out of them. Call them silly, call them scardy cats, they are out there. Fear is a great motivator. Their fear is real to them. Sad but true. And they are teaching this fear to their children and this fear is promoted by their churches, so its not going away. Its institutionalized.

  • honorswar26

    My wife is a Christian pastor in the United Methodist Church She basically has conservative learnings in her philosophy. Having said that, I must make note that she is also a fan of science fiction and of Harry Potter. In both cases, the stories at their heart have many Christian themes and are powerful morality plays. Certainly, some clergy are going to have a narrow focus on themes like witchcraft. But a famous science fiction writer addressed this issue very well. He said “Any technology sufficiently advanced is indisguishable from magic”. We have many technological wonders, but Christianity still exists and is extremely relevant to our lives. You can very easily be a Harry Potter fan and a truly believing Christian at the same time.

  • khote14

    Christian fiction is a redundant term.

  • coloradodog

    Maybe the book appeals to the Huckabees because it perpetuates their intolerant dogma that there must be something inferior, wrong and immoral about having mixed blood.

  • bobdog3

    Christians believe they have the corner on morality and values, and they routinely abscond elements of popular culture that suit their own self-righteous purposes. Harry Potter’s good-versus-evil themes have absolutely nothing to do with the inane ramblings of 2,000 year old ignorant shepherds or the “holy” fabrications that were crafted by religious fraudsters hundreds of years after the supposed events occurred. There is no magic guy-in-the-sky who will save us all from evil only if we worship at his feet. Harry Potter is fantasy, pure and simple, and attempts by Christians to hitch their wagon to what is an imaginary creation by a gifted writer is pure cr@p. But that is what we have come to expect from Christians – they seldom dissappoint – so really, no surprise here.

  • henryrdr

    to TWMATTHEWS,I myself am reading through the Old Testament this summer, and am finding many depictions of God to be hard to reconcile. But as I’ve been questioning and asking for advice, I find that to read stories like that of the Bronze Snake, is to look at the story as part of the larger whole: that of God maturing the Israelites as his children.The story actually comes from Numbers and says, “But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses… we detest this miserable food!” (Nu 21: 4-5)It was God who first gave them “heavenly” food (manna) in which they were so thankful for earlier. But now they reject it, wanting more, and disobeying God.And God punishes them harshly. Which is definitely hard to swallow, because we usually think God should be always loving and forgiving. But then again what kind of parent never disciplines their child? God doesn’t punish us, but wants us to grow. In Heb 12:9-11 “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”Difficult passage indeed, but only because morality, justice, and love are complex ideas, especially when put into practice.

  • barretmb

    Finally… I found the rantings from many Christian conservatives about the HP books just as absurd as the same claims about the Wizard of Oz were. What’s more, not every conservative Christian has espoused these beliefs. Some of us are actually smart enough to have seen how the HP books can reflect Christian teachings since The Sorcerer’s Stone was published. C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia series – widely recognized as Christian allegory – in which magic is a central theme (The Magician’s Nephew even has “Magic” in the title). Same with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Tolkien was a devout Catholic and his faith is the basis for his books – any Tolkien scholar will tell you that). The bunk about witchcraft and dark magic from some Christian conservatives only shows how weak their individual faith is. What I find most amusing in all of this is that Christ himself often used fictitious stories called parables to communicate His teachings. Such a pity that so many have reduced Christianity to a simple, one-dimensional faith when it is really a complex, intellectual faith in which the answers aren’t easy and many mysteries remain.

  • bevjims1

    HiThere3,Your account is correct but your claims that this article says things the pope or vatican did not are flat wrong. The quote in the article from ratzinger is correct. The article did not expound on the issue by giving the vatican’s official response, but ratzinger’s quote is a valid quote from a man who is now pope. Its seems he no longer would ascribe to that quote, which is good. All the article is pointing out is that, in the past, many christian groups were suspiscious of the Harry Potter books and today it seems that suspiscion is fading away and some are actually accepting the book as having christian values. For me its just more evidence that christians are many times wrong but in most cases will never admit it. The next time some new phenomenon comes along that they consider to have “subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul”, the rest of us will roll our eyes and hope that, over many years, they come to the conclusion thinking people do after only a few hours of watching or reading.

  • mconnor379

    The values in the Potter books/movies are not Christian values, but HUMAN values. Not one theme relating to self sacrifice, altruism, duty, martyrdom – ANYTHING – was invented by Christianity. Christianity was inspired by these things, not the other way around. It’s also laughable how one superstition (Christianity) has tried to fear-monger regarding another superstition (Wicca), only to come around later and accept the Harry Potter books as “representing Christian values” when they get mocked and ridiculed for their initial response. But that’s the story of Christianity, isn’t it? Spread fear of that which is different, and claim the good from elsewhere as your own.

  • mconnor379

    TWMATTHEWS – very well put. The world would be in a much better place if the stories of Harry Potter (or Star Wars, Eosop’s Fables, Dr. Seuss, etc) were used to illustrate morality than divisive, bigoted and largely unethical teachings (via guilt and fear) of the Bible. Not only are the stories and characters more clearly and in general much better written (given the literacy level of the respective authors), but also JKR isn’t trying to sell her fiction as fact with threat of eternal torture should you disagree with part of the story.

  • henryrdr

    I think we can agree that there are Christians who are narrow-minded and Christians who are a little more clearheaded. Hopefully we can move beyond the stereotypes and see each other as people. Not all Christians are the judgmental and hypocritical stereotype that is often perceived.All I can do as a Christian is say I love Harry Potter and I love God! (BTW, the new movie was exceptionally sweet!)

  • MGT2

    Maybe Christians are finally beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he said that it is not what goes into a person that defiles the person, but what is coming out of the person. The Bible also teaches that a person’s actions reflect the heart’s desires.Thus, “I show not your face but your heart’s desire,” is appropriate, and even Christian.

  • HiThere3

    @ bevjims1: But note the article above. It says that Cardinal Ratzinger “warned that Harry Potter books and movies” are subtle seductions, etc. He issued no such warning, either to his flock or to the world at large. He merely acknowledged Kuby’s letter about her book about Harry Potter; he didn’t even say whether he had read any of the Harry Potter books themselves (one tends to doubt it, but the point is that there’s no indication that he arrived at an independent viewpoint about them).So now we have, in 2009, the Washington Post saying that the then-future Pope “warned” that the books are bad (by implication, he was warning either Catholics in his bailiwick, Catholics in general, or the world; and it’s clearly implied that he made a substantive judgment about the books themselves) and citing as its source a website that plainly misstates the facts (“Pope [not 'Cardinal'] Opposes [not 'Once Acknowledged Someone Else's Concerns about'] Harry Potter Novels”). And that’s just the headline — which, more accurately, should’ve been “Current Pope Once Wrote to Author that It Was Good for Her to Raise Issues about Subtle Seductions in Fiction, and She Ought to Send Her Book to the Vatican’s Culture Office, But When She Did, That Office Said Her Book Was Filled With Mistakes.”But that would be accurate. I realize that LifeSiteNews isn’t exactly objective journalism at its best, but I expect more from The Washington Post.

  • jaynashvil

    At some point (and I’m thinking most people have already reached that point) the paranoid ravings of Donald Wildman, James Dobson and other extreme conservative Christians will be ignored. If it’s not Harry Potter causing witchcraft, its gays “converting” people and destroying marriage, or any number of other imaginary threat that they’ve concocted. Even the most gullible have to eventually realize that they’re being played like a violin.

  • kert1

    As a Christian, when I first heard of the Harry Potter movies, I was skeptical of their merit and was concerned about the heavy magical themes. This was obviously because of the severe warnings the bible places about practicing magic. After seeing the films, I do believe the movies do have merit and can teach good moral lessons.

  • bevjims1

    HiThere3,I agree that “warned” was the wrong word for the author to use since, as you say, it sounds like he was warning all Catholics when in reality he was making a point to one individual (Kuby). But ratzinger’s conclusion in 2003 is not in question. Just to be clear, here is the (translated) letter ratzinger wrote the woman:And the reason we know of this letter is that a few months later Kuby asked if she could make the letter public and ratzinger responded that it he would “allow you to refer to my judgment about Harry Potter”.So, though I agree that ratzinger did not warn anyone about the subtle seductions in Harry Potter, which this article suggests, he did believe they were there, at least in March of 2003.

  • spidermean2

    I’ve seen Harry Potter movies upto the 4th series perhaps and it didn’t bother me. What bothered me was when its lead actor posed nude in some separate event. I think the real danger is not the movie itself but the people surrounding the kid. They are a bad influence to him.If there’s one witchcraft people should be watching out, it’s the witchcraft taught in our schools which says that people are NOT a special breed capable of doing wonders like their Creator, but were a bunch of monkeys who forgot to climb trees despite the fact that trees never went away. For that forgetfulness, they were then able to learn how to speak.Wow, what a magic or should I say what a WITCHCRAFT? This world is full of witchcraft and witches so don’t be surprised if the Bible spoke of second Sodom which will affect lots of cities around the world. Doomsday is coming very soon to burn all the witches.

  • morm

    First of all – being Christian and conservative does NOT mean that you hate harry potter. I have read and enjoyed all of the books (however I don’t believe it is appropriate material to take life lessons from).One commentator on this article mentioned that he thought that Christians believed that those who disagreed with Christian theology would be punished with “eternal torture”. I would just like to assure him that that is completely untrue. God is a loving father and does not punish, but simply restricts some of his wonderful blessings. Sometimes we just cannot understand that he is always there to help us and that we only need to go to him. Even the worst people on this earth we still go to a far greater place than this. There only “torture” will be that of their own guilt and remorse.Lastly, I would like to testify to all of you that God does exist and that the Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly. Thanks!

  • push_2_play

    I do have to add an additional comment regarding the last post by MORM. As society punishes and imprisons those who defy the rule of law, so too does God… however, unlike the views of the previous commentator, that imprisonment, punishment is not better than this world and the reason He gives opportunity for us to turn from the lawlessness and escape judgment.

  • push_2_play

    My last go at this; re: mconnor379: Christianity is about love and just because you try and dismiss it through your unreasonable prejudice doesn’t change that fact. You ignorantly take as fact incomplete information that suits your conclusion and defy reason to try and understand what was going on with Lot when he did what he did. And because of your unreasonable approach to Christianity, I can’t explain it to you because you’d continue to make yourself appear more foolish than you already have… kind of like Fudge did in The Order of the Phoenix, completely unreasonable until his eyes saw for themselves what was being told him but what he wasn’t willing to admit.If the Potter series is good for anything, it’s that wrong conclusions are constantly reached, be it against people or motives, based on the ignorance (incomplete knowledge) of those making the judgment.

  • BrookBat

    These are the sorts of comments that argue that the anarchist Richard Wagner was “Christian” and hold the blind eye to everything which proves that he was not, ditto about the humanism of Chas. Dickens, and they remind of the German ecclesiastical movement which saw Jesus Christ in Adolf Hitler, &c., &c. It’s the same old same-old, of secular humanists, or secular fascist or communist spiritualists, pretending to be the real Christians and all the other Christians must be outcast psychos that pick-&-choose the parts of The Bible alone which suit them, what, like these “humanists” do? Christianity glorified by classes in “spells” — are you kidding? These people are smoking funny stuff if they think orthodox Christians will consign themselves to the anachronistic dustbin where they’ld have us! No, but these pseudo-Christians are merely “preaching to the choir” of them who’s blind wishings will not change reality: for Reality proceeds from Truth, not Truth from a false “reality” of positive willpower, the which incidentally is witchcraft, stripped of the hocus-pocus, and the chief of self-will, the devil, is their god, not our Holy Trinity, the JEHOVAH believed by Christians always and everywhere, and certainly baring no resemblance to their god whatsoever.The New Testament qualifies the Old and cannot contradict itself; if you are reading into Scripture that homosexual practice is good, you simply are not reading all of it. The trick which seems to work in their own minds is patently absurd to the rest of us — 1 Corinthians 6 condemns [willfully acted-out] homosexuality in the strongest terms as barring entrance into Heaven, and brotherly love is understood by orthodox Christians as being impossible in an homosexual framework. This, they say to us who are mostly too bored to comment again on what is obvious to the thinking Bible reader, is our fallacious “picking & choosing” — No, but rather it is understanding Scripture by comparing Scripture to Scripture, and that is what they want not to hear, so they grit their teeth and growl at us … and it would be so utterly mauseating were it never so tragic !

  • ethanquern

    Some day when humanity has outgrown the superstitions of Babylon and Ugarit, we will cast aside the unmitigated evil that is the Abrahamic religions.And the iron test is this: Why, if all these people are so god forsaken holy, is Jerusalem and the Middle East the most blood soaked parcel of earth on the planet?Would it not be the most peaceful, the most humane, the most idyllic spot on Earth?What a stupid perverse people we are!And oh, by the way, nothing could be more psychologically pathological than the idea of “original sin.” Some day, when humanity is truly free, there will be a footnote to history that says, “when people believed in origin sin, their lives were consumed by it.”Thank god, America has freedom of religion, and leaves me free to be free of the childish psychological perversions of the ALL the Abrahamic faiths. The damage they have done to humanity through the ages will never be enough to expiate them.

  • dirtpoorproductions

    This is so typical of Christians…First that hate what they don’t understand.Christians are hypocrites, plain and simple. They have no true values and for the most part just take what they want from their own religion and throw away what is inconvenient.They use bible verses to condemn gays yet when the same book of the same bible says that divorce and adultry is a sin punishable by death they ignore that. Have any pork lately or is the fact that eating swine is a sin too inconvenient for you?Now they want to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon. What a joke.So quick to condemn, so quick to go back on your own morals.

  • CTLangis

    Hmm..the Washington post trying to make conservatives think that other conservatives opprove of this Witchcraft….SHOCKING.

  • CTLangis

    Woman are equals?? tell that to hard laborers…tell that to a US marine….Who would you want anwering YOUR 911 call??…Woman police officers are 50% more likely to pull their gun….And their not critical thinkers…..Im sure if an astroid were heading towards Earth and NASA had to get the very best of the best to figure out how to stop it that they would pick a group of majority woman…I dont think so…..Affirmative action is an UN-equal rights legislation…..Equal opportunity employment requirments are Equal???? no it discriminates apon white males….so when you look around at you “diverse” work force dont think that it is because we are all equals, its because our governments treats as un-equals.

  • CTLangis

    ethanquern has the intelligence of a muskrat!!

  • mconnor379

    The Bible is mostly fiction, like it or not, and this isn’t from viewing it in a “prejudicial” manner, but thoroughly and objectively looking at Christianity and the Bible from before it’s writing up through it’s various revisions. The book of Genesis (creation, Adam and Eve, etc), is NOT real. Noah’s ark was plagiarized from an earlier FICTIONAL story (The Epic of Gilgamesh, if I recall correctly), and the story of Jesus was wholly plagiarized from the Egyptian god Horus (though messiah figures with many of the same traits were common throughout the area at the time). Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was the first to write of Jesus, 40-60 years after his supposed death, with the gospels following somewhere within 100-250 years after his death. Nowhere in the Bible is there a single first-hand account of Jesus – curious, given his supposed acts and reputation. Additionally, there is not one objective historical source that Jesus ever existed; two Roman governor’s simply mention a “Christ” or “Christus” – a title, not a name. And the supposed writings by Josephus regarding Jesus were proven to be forgeries, added in far later, hundreds of years ago.Pick a superstition and have fun with it – enjoy yourself! But please refrain from claiming ancient fiction as non-fiction before doing some research! Just because you’re told by some snake-oil salesman while sitting in the pew doesn’t make it true!

  • mconnor379

    BROOKBAT, I agree with your main point, but not in the way I suspect you’d prefer.Very few Christians would view Lot’s offering of his daughter’s to be gang-raped as anything short of despicable. But in the Bible, he’s a righteous man in God’s eyes! Same goes for slavery, under any circumstances, but again, under certain guidelines, slavery is perfectly ok according to the God of the Bible. There’s hardly a Christian out there who is really a Christian; most are brought up in it, so it becomes a tradition, they go through the motions, but ultimately cherry-pick what they do and do not agree with from the Bible.Ultimately, one can’t objectively read the Bible and not admit that it’s god is a disgusting, despicable and deplorable villain; a totalitarian dictator who will torture you for eternity or slaughter thousands on a whim, demanding that you fear him at all times – yet also love him! Christianity is NOT about love, but rather guilt and fear. For every phrase about the former in the Bible, there are 10 pertaining to the latter two – read the whole thing people, not just the warm and fuzzy parts! It’s like focusing on Hitler’s love of Germany and ignoring everything else about him!To associate the Harry Potter books – or ANYTHING with actual decency, morality or ethics – is absolutely insulting to anyone and anything with an appreciation for those traits, as well as personal accountability/responsibility, empathy, altruism or reason.

  • mconnor379

    ethanquern’s post was spot on and well put!

  • twmatthews

    To henryrdr: Thank you for your reply but in your reply, I think you made my point. The point I was trying to make is that the bible is not a clear-cut guide to morality. In fact, it presents many, often-times contradictory messages. You’re absolutely right in that you can interpret the story I gave to mean like the good father, God sometimes needs to discipline his children. But my point was that you shouldn’t have to “interpret” anything if the messages were more consistent and clearer. They are not. They present a god who is often impatient, overly harsh to the point of being a thug.Using the story I presented (and we both know that story is not alone in showing god as overly harsh), even using your words, what kind of father would kill some of his children to teach them a lesson?The Harry Potter books require no such acrobatic interpretations. Their messages are concise, clear and to the point. They demonstrate love, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and goodness far better than the bible does. Anyone thinking that the Harry Potter books depict Christian values would be wrong because the bible itself doesn’t present Christian values very clearly and there’s no reason to think that Christianity has any monopoly on those values we value.If you want to see Christian values in action find the most evangelical, faithful people and watch how they treat gay people.

  • twmatthews

    To push_2_play: Rather than just saying Christianity is about love why don’t you give some evidence. Surely you recognize that tremendous violence and evil has been done in the name of one god or another and Christianity stands out in that arena.Since Christians seem to be among the last to move toward equality and treating others the way you would want to be treated — I’m talking about the south’s historic treatment of blacks and now, most Christians’ treatment of gays — where is this love that you are talking about?By using the bible as your guide you could treat gays poorly and be completely accepted among your fellow faithful. But why aren’t you as concerned with wearing garments made of multiple threads? I bet you do all the time.I’m sure you realize that wearing garments of different types of threads (have any cotton / nylon combos?) you are committing a sin right there alongside of two men sleeping with each other or at least that’s what Leviticus (you remember that book, the one cited by most conservative Christians about homosexuality).Why is it that the guidelines of the bible that we follow seem to parallel our built in prejudices? Where’s the love push_2_play? The inquisition? civil rights? Witch hunts? Crusades?

  • ShutUpRob

    Y’know, I’ve got to sum it up this way: us non-conservatives are sick and tired of the fact that it takes years and sometimes even decades for conservative Christians to understand metaphors and allegories in modern fiction that are blatantly obvious (and blatant and obvious) to the rest of us. There’s a clear and substantial difference between careful deliberation (i.e.: thoughtfulness) and willful obstinacy — and conservatives never seem to know it.