The Tragedy of Harry Hating: One Unintentended Consequence of Christian Potter Bashing?

Here is a letter I received last month with a follow-up note from another friend after my thank you:

Dear Mr. Granger,

We met a few months ago. I am the chimney sweep that came to your house. I hope you have been enjoying your fireplace. I am contacting you to thank you for the gift of your book “Looking for God in Harry Potter.” It has taken me a long time to finish it. I think it has taken me so long for a reason though. Since I met you I began converting to Catholicism. In that time I have studied a lot and taken my faith far more seriously than I ever had. I tell you this only because I feel I had to go through that process to really appreciate and understand your book.

I really enjoyed “Looking for God…” Like most people I read the Potter series more for pure enjoyment and not looked [sic] for much deeper meaning. With that in mind I can’t help but smack my forehead and say “how did I not see at least some of this?” I of course realized there was something special about these books. I really never considered what caused Pottermania. Now that you’ve pointed out these themes to me I see Harry and his entire world much differently. I will be rereading the series with a far more discerning eye. I am definitely also going to order your newest book. More importantly I am going to pass “Looking for God…” on to some of my family who won’t let their children read Harry Potter because he is a wizard. I really think it will change their minds. Once again, thank you.

Sincerely,
KG

———-
From: John Granger Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 1:00 PM
To: KG

Dear Mr. G,

You made my day! It’s always a real treat to hear from a reader who enjoyed my book — but to learn it was a companion on your journey to a greater life in Christ is a real thrill. Proof once again that God will use anything at hand to reveal Himself and our home in Him.

Thank you again for taking the time to write. I hope you enjoy Unlocking Harry Potter and that your relatives are able to get even half of the enjoyment you did out of LGHP (please don’t be surprised or disappointed if they don’t!).

Gratefully,

John
———-
From: John Granger Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 1:09 PM
To: various friends

Folks ask if Harry has ever “brought anyone to Jesus.” I think that’s asking a little much — and marvel at readers who think of LOTR and the Narniad as recruiting tracts — but I do get notes like this one more often than you’d think. Have you had similar experiences?

Curious John

Forwarded conversation————————

From: KG
Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 9:58 AM

———-
From: Mark
Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 4:47 PM
To: John Granger

Actually, I’ve been meaning to thank you, John, because your work was hugely helpful for my daughter-in-law, an HP fan to whom the books meant a great deal who was fearful that somehow becoming Christian meant renouncing Harry Potter (a not unreasonable fear given what so many baptized dolts have said about the books). So: thanks! She’s a very happy Catholic-former-atheist now, thanks in good measure to you, John!

With sincere gratitude,

Mark

———-
From: John Granger
Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2008 at 5:26 PM
To: Mark

Glory to God, Mark. Thank you for this note.

I guess the thing to keep in mind about this story is not what God was able to do with my book (with your good example and your family’s having actually cleared her path to faith in Christ) but that the Harry Haters have established in who knows how many young hearts the idea that joining the Body of Christ means becoming a humorless Puritan book-burner and Culture Warrior.

Just what this generation needed — another obstacle on the way to the life in Christ. And this obstacle is one built with a series brimming with Christian content and edifying meaning!

File this under: “Living in the Age Beyond Satire.”

John, grateful for your kind note and friendship

My questions for the HogPro All-Pros consequent to these notes are:

(1) Do you know anyone (not “have you heard any stories?”) who read the Potter books and this helped them along an edifying spiritual path? Or for their joining a witches coven?

(2) Is it possible that Mark’s daughter-in-law is not unusual in her hesitance to deepen her spiritual life in a specific Christian tradition because she thought it would mean she would have to “give up Harry”? Has Harry Hating in Christian ghettos (and the heavy coverage of same from the Daily Prophet and MSM) had the unintentional but predictable consequence of making it seem that “giving-up-Harry” is now a prerequisite or requirement for conversion to or membership in a faith community?

Your comments, please.

Comments

  1. Well, I have not such a dramatic turnabout- I’m a ‘cradle Catholic’ although I dislike the term, but I feel like the Potter series has been part of my spiritual journey. I feel like I have been experiencing my own alchemical journey, particularly these my last two years at university, during which time I have also been working a helpline for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. If there ever were a darkness before dawn, it exists in the long hours, early morning hours of a night shift on the statewide helpline. In many ways, I feel like finding Harry right around the time I started working there I went through the years with him, and also found my joy and sunlight again when the seventh book came out. I wish I could better express what this year has been for me, but I cannot put it to words.

    I can however address the second question much more fully. That is, I think, part of a larger problem with some ideas some Christians hold as true. As a Catholic, I can, unfortunately, say that many people do not find Christ because of bad Christianity, sometimes more than the influence of the world. Christianity isn’t about hating a book– it’s about loving God. If folks think HP will be dangerous spiritually, okay, but they should realise they give a lot of free press (esp. with books like Pullman’s), and a lot of misleading impressions. For some people, all they will hear of the church is that we dislike these books. No wonder Mark’s daughter-in-law was hesitant– who wants to join a faith that despises something she finds greatly edifying? And I would imagine the worldview in HP was probably helpful in bringing her to faith. I can only hope more folks like her have the courage and strength to take that leap.

    thanks for sharing such great stories. I will try to pray for these new Catholic Christians and am so excited they are joining the faith.

    best,
    ~Nzie

  2. globalgirlk says

    I’ve struggled with untold amounts of guilt over the past two years b/c of what the leaders in my church, that I used to go to by the way, said about HP. I read the books because I needed an out for my grief over my grandmother’s death. Anywho, I love the series even if I am addicted and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Actually, well that’s another story. The end of this one is that my parents know accept, tolerate, and enjoy the movies with me, they don’t read the books, and people at our home church now aren’t surprised, shocked, nor, thankfully, condemning about what I read.

  3. Arabella Figg says

    Good questions, John. I’d hate to see Harry as a litmust test for “the true faith.” Meaning, pitting Harry (Caeser) against Jesus. Horrible thought.

    A young friend of ours from across the state was raised in a very loving fundamentalist, homeschooling home. After conversations with us she decided to read the books for herself and was delighted with them; she also enjoyed Looking for God and I’ve sent her some of the discussions here.

    However, conversations about Harry with her family have been difficult and careful. They are either cautious, dismayed or upset by this commmitted Christian’s HP enjoyment and edification. Some can somewhat accept the IDEA that Harry might be okay; others simply can’t deal with it at all.

    Harry as litmus test for faith? Although it hasn’t been for her, I think it could definitely be true for others. As you say, what an unnecessary obstacle.

    Give Fullatricks a litmus test and she’ll shred the litmus paper…

  4. cassiane says

    Well, I’m back, after a typically busy winter, an unfortuate illness, etc.

    There is something to be said for the fact that bad Christianity can turn people of good will off Christianity. As expected, such “bad” Christians usually tell people not to read Harry Potter.

    I’m thinking of one of my kids who was “turned off” during adolesence and was intrigued that I brought home the first two books in the series because I’d read enough reviews to assume they were worthwhile children’s literature. We both read the books and enjoyed them, and I immediately spotted the Christian content, as did an older one of my kids, a literary scholar.

    Later on, my little doubting Thomas asked me what the Orthodox think of the Harry Potter books. I replied that some objected, but that so-and-so and this and that person that we both know likes them, and I also mentioned this website and John’s books.

    This summer, after my skeptic–now a grown woman–finished the series, she exclaimed to me, “Wow, this is really Christian!” (Of course she has always loved Narnia and LOTR as well.) So, certainly, the Potter books can help people see the Christian Faith in a proper way, as true love for God and man–not as a fundamentalist, puritan, or negative faith–as a religion of “don’ts.”

  5. Travis Prinzi says

    Good discussion.

    Question #1: I don’t know anyone in particular who has been completely altered spiritually by the series, but in more subtle ways, I think it lays a foundation even in my own life in aspiring to courage in difficult situations and having a poignant image of the power of suffering love over evil. HP has sort of worked its way into the quilt of my understanding of how the gospel works.

    Questions #2: Having grown up a fundamentalist, I’d say that what happened in the situation described is not an isolated incident. Anyone who follows Jack Chick-style fundamentalism, and probably a lot of the spiritual warfare nutters as well, would fall into the camp of “Christians” who would believe it completely unthinkable to being a Christian and like Harry at the same time.

  6. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Anti-Harry movement certainly has its place and can be deemed useful if not for anything else but to cause all of us to take stock of our own spiritual conditions.

    I do not suggest that we measure our Christianity alongside Rowling’s work…the ONLY true plumb is against the Word of God. I AM promoting self-examination for spiritual maturity as directed in 2 Peter 3:18: “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (KJV). I fear the Harry-haters sometimes miss the boat in this matter and prefer to hold forth the fantasy world of wizardry used in HP as the litmus test (thank you, Arabella) for professing one’s faith in Christ: denounce HP and you’re OK; read HP and you’re lost in your sin/carnal/outside God’s will, etc.

    Bottom line: We have to remember as Christians to defer to the Holy Spirit to draw His children and seekers into conviction, deeper understanding, and relationship. We must also keep HP in perspective; nothing should become more important than scripture for understanding God’s design and purpose for our lives, although we know that God uses human efforts in a variety of ways to reveal Himself (I hesitate to begin listing at this point, but most of us can name authors who have pointed us towards the Cross through dynamic literary devices).

    To answer your first question, John; no, I have not had the privilege of discovery…of learning that a fellow Christian was edified spiritually. However, I have had conversations with other Christians who embraced the spiritual themes in HP and were able to enlighten skeptics who were hung up on the magical aspects of the series. I have also encountered a public school teacher who was banned from reading HP to her students…the books also removed from the school library…due to the efforts of one person! She is still scarred from the ordeal, which was very public and very nasty. My oldest sister-in-law still refuses to read HP out of her experiences as a bookstore clerk; she was quite disturbed at the number of people buying wiccan materials and HP books at the same time. The two genres are intertwined in her mind. She sees nothing Christian about HP.

    As to question #2, I believe I’ve addressed this one in the introductory paragraphs above. I would add that I, too, have been accused of not being a *true Christian* in the past based on the proclaimer’s point of view. My response is generally silence, as I know in my heart the relationship I have with Christ and I owe no person explanation. However, God calls us to be at peace with those in our lives and I am content to *agree to disagree without being disagreeable.*

    PJ, tired of the rain, snow, and disagreeable temperatures in the Midwest.

  7. revgeorge says

    The thing most people don’t realize, Christian & non-Christian alike, is that everything in life has to be read, listened to, or viewed with discernment. Nothing should be accepted uncritically.

    As a pastor, I have problems with people who will adamantly refuse to read, listen, or view anything they consider to be non-Christian & yet they’ll consume anything they find in a Christian bookstore & think it’s got to be good & okay since it’s ‘Christian!’ Guess they forget the Bible’s warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing or false doctrine or testing the spirits.

    I guess St. Paul was also wrong when he quoted some pagan poets to prove his point about the unknown god on Mars Hill. The apostle was, of course, showing that even the pagans had a yearning for God & this could be seen in their literature. C.S. Lewis kind of incorporated this idea in his masterpiece “Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold,” where he retells the story of Cupid & Psyche to incorporate a Christian meaning.

    I think it’s sad when the Harry Haters et al cut themselves off from the gifts that God has provided to all His creation. They fail to realize that one can read a work & find meaning & enjoyment out of it while not necessarily having to agree that everything in the work is the gospel truth.

    I think the Harry Haters also ascribe almost a magical power itself to the Harry Potter works. Let your kids read HP & immediately they will be possessed & will become witches! As if people don’t have any will in the matter or any ability to discern what is true or false.

    To answer John’s question, I know of no one personally who has either become a Christian or a witch by reading Harry Potter. Just like after a lifetime of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I know of no one who has become an occultist through playing it, despite Jack Chick’s hilarious tract to the contrary.

  8. ginnicsim says

    These are very good questions. (By the way, I have never posted here but have been an avid reader and I have corresponded with Mr. Granger on several occasions-thank you, Mr. Granger) This topic caused me to want to respond simply because I am a “fundamentalist” and a “spiritual warfare nutter” who happens to love HP. 😀 To question #1, I have not personally known anyone who came to Christ because of HP but neither have I known anyone personally who joined a coven because of it. On a side note, neither do I know anyone who came to Christ because of LOTR or Narnia. To question #2, I cannot say that I have personally experienced anyone not wanting to become a Christian because they loved HP and thought they would have to give it up. In my experience, when one is being drawn by God, HP is probably the last thing on their minds. That’s not to say that, after giving their hearts to the Lord, they don’t then think “will I be expected to give up HP?”. I think that all depends on what “denomination” they are a part of and to what degree they feel the need to not go against the grain of their fellows. I personally am very devout and very faithful to my church and my pastor. However, I also believe in using my own discernment. I was very much like Mr. Granger in that I first began to read the HP series in order to “prove to myself” that they were harmful. I did not want to “take someone’s word for it” or just go by what I had heard or been told. I quickly saw that they were not harmful. In fact, I have a very hard time understanding how any devout Christian can look at me with a straight face and claim that LOTR and Narnia are perfectly acceptable reading/watching but that HP is from the devil!!

    Anyway, the long and short of why I was moved to respond to this is because being “fundamental” and a “spiritual warfare nutter” myself, I personally have experienced the shock from other Christians who cannot believe that I am an HP reader. It can seriously border on all out disdain at times. So coming from this side of it, I am very aware of the possibility that this leaves a negative impression of Christians in general. It is always my hope that such people (the ones who look at me with disdain) will be motivated by my testimony to check out their sources and opinions, because unfortunately, the vast majority of Christian Harry haters and bashers are not Abanes. They are average people who are sincere in their beliefs and their desire to protect their children from demonic influence, but they are misguided in that they are simply going by what they’ve been told or read about Harry, never stopping to read it for themselves so that they can make up their own minds and use their own spiritual discernment. This is where Christians are making their mistake (and history repeats itself as it has with other literature).

    I have introduced HP to several open minded “fundamental” Christian friends of mine, almost all of which, while not necessarily becoming die hard fans, were able to see the Christian symbolism and appreciate that these books were perhaps not as bad as they had thought. I have also had some very enlightening conversations with several Christian friends about LOTR/Narnia/HP and why things may or may not be what they have been lead to believe. You probably wouldn’t be surprised at how many of these people had never actually read any of it themselves but had chosen to “allow” LOTR/Narnia but “disallow” HP for their children. Hopefully, I was able to help change their minds. However, I do find that I have to be very careful with whom I share my love of HP, lest I become anathema or put a stumbling block before my brethren, wherein they had previously appreciated my otherwise uplifting testimony, thereby causing them to question said testimony. It really is a very fine line we Christians have to walk, especially where new converts are concerned!

    I’m not sure that my comments have added anything to this discussion, but I felt the need to share nonetheless. Please know that there are people like me out there who are very often on the receiving end of comments from like minded Christians who just happen to disagree with me about HP. That in no way means that they are not sincere Christians or that they are any less worthy of being called Christian, but they do need to become more educated about what represents a true danger and what does not.

    😀

  9. Arabella Figg says

    So many thoughtful comments!

    First, GlobalgirlK, it sounds as if you’re in a better place to work out your struggles, and have found some acceptance where you feel safer. This is good and I hope you continue to explore and grow.

    Nice to hear from you again, Cassiane.

    Ginnicsim, you have a lot to offer here, very thoughtful comments; I hope you keep contributing. I was very touched by what you had to say. Having been in fundamentalist churches for years (no longer), I completely understand what you say about anything out of the “acceptable” norm that can “damage” your legitimacy and testimony. Sadly, many people in fundy churches are hiding their true selves, feelings and struggles (often in self-damaging ways) so they will continue to be “safe” for others. Because of this and other things, we moved on. But I respect those like you who choose to stay and be a faithful, nudging light from within.

    You and RevGeorge bring up something I’ve been pondering for years–the weird contemporary Christian divide laid down between “sacred” and “secular” when it comes to truth and thought expressed through literature, film, music, etc. All truth comes from God, no matter the messenger, so why do we automatically assume those not of the faith have nothing to tell us? Why this arbitrary dividing line? As RevGeorge noted, the local Christian bookstore can sell absolute bilge along with good things. And secular bookstore can hold treasures along with the trash.

    Travis, I liked what you said, “HP has sort of worked its way into the quilt of my understanding of how the gospel works.” Most Christians would agree that The Narniad fulfills the same function, or other good literature based on Christian truth.

    Ah, those loving, grace-filled (and yes, hilarious) Chick tracts.

    I had one once and Luscious Badboy shredded it to bits…

  10. Ginnicsim–

    Just for the record, I became a Christian to a large extent because of reading LOTR when I was a teenager. So it can happen.

    I don’t know anyone who’s become a Christian because of HP. But I bet it will happen (how would we hear of it, is another question).

    FWIW…
    Janet

  11. carriek9 says

    I agree that nothing replaces the word of God. HP is not the Gospel, but I strongly believe it can be an important first step in a journey that can lead to a saving faith. I was raised as an atheist. God was mocked. Faith was ridiculed. I loved the Narnia books as a child. I did not understand the Christian themes at all, but they moved me deeply nonetheless, and they stirred up in me a longing for something more than the cynical materialism I was faced with. It took a long time (very long time) for me to come to a saving faith, but I got there (thank God) and the Narnia books were important in getting me there. I am confident that HP is planting a seed in many young readers that may eventually grow into a saving faith. You may not be hearing from these readers yet, but I think that you will once more time passes. This can be a circuitous journey. Your work is important John because it makes that journey so much easier. Blessings on you.

  12. ginnicsim says

    Janet (and Carrie),
    This is wonderful news!! I have long suspected it to be the case, but I was simply answering Mr. Granger’s question, have I personally known of anyone…..the answer to which would be no, I know of no one personally. Like you, I would like to think that seeds are being planted. I really only brought up the LOTR/Narnia as a point to say that I knew no one personally who had come to salvation through either of the three. LOTR/Narnia seems to be so widely accepted among Christians, so I was really trying to say just because Christians have widely accepted them doesn’t make them any more effective at spreading the gospel than HP. And as you say, it may yet prove to be…..

    It’s another subject really, but it chaps me that most Christians think LOTR/Narnia are fine but HP is not. I am very thankful and you have blessed my soul by telling me of your experience with LOTR/Narnia, and I look forward to hearing such stories arising out of HP as well!!

  13. Great testimonies Carrie and Janet! Its wonderful to think that “mere entertainments” could stir something within us that eventually becomes so life-changing. I agree with both of you that seeds are being planted, but it may take some time before we notice the fruit. I was recently at a Catholic men’s conference where the speaker spoke about our roles in evangelization. He said its our job simply to recognize opportunities where we can throw out a few seeds and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. He suggested that its when we dwell too long in the field trying to tend the crop, especially in the early stages, that we can do the most damage and inadvertently sabotage our efforts. I think his strategy is consistent with what John had mentioned C.S. Lewis saying about sneaking the Christian message past watchful dragons. By sewing a few seeds and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest we don’t risk being perceived as “preachy” and having our message lost to defensive rejection.

  14. schmalchemy says

    I would agree that I am not sure too many people would necessarily realize their faith by reading Harry Potter, nor do I think that they would become involved in the occult, either. However, having said that, like Carriek9 says, it may be a way that will eventually open them up to faith. Planting seeds as it were…

    On a related subject (RevGeorge stirred my memory of this), I recently read a book (Hogwarts, Narnia, and Middle Earth-Places Upon a Time) that links the three authors (Rowling, Lewis, and Tolkien) to similar themes, particularly some themes of the Bible such as stewardship and time and what it means to be human. Personally, I found it to be enlightening.

  15. Arabella Figg says

    I’ve firmly believed and said all along that Harry Potter was laying groundwork for kids understanding the gospel when they hear it. So many gospel themes laid out so beautifully–safety in the blood, loving sacrifice that saves, etc. So, while HP isn’t “the gospel,” it’s definitely a seed-sower.

    I only came upon the Narnia and LotR books in my 20’s, after I’d committed my life to Christ. But I think these books, as well as HP, create a longing. Who can read Narnia without wishing for an Aslan? Or LotR without wishing for such nobility, love, honor and sacrifice to rule the world? Or Harry Potter and not long for the ideas it holds to be true?

    And that is why so many, not having heard of, or understood Jesus, cling to the worlds these books offer. They’re sort of a shadow of The Real Thing. I certainly get caught up in them and I already know The Real Thing. And He’s the one who satisfies those longings and offers real hope that they will come true.

    The kitties don’t long for anything, spoiled things…

  16. treebeard says

    I, too, am a long time reader and first-time contributor to this site. I thank John very much for opening my eyes to the Christian content of Harry Potter, long after I started reading them and being edified by them. But I have a question and a comment:

    What exactly is a Fundamentalist? I would consider myself one, although my definition would be “a Christian who concentrates on the fundamentals of the faith, instead of getting lost in the peripherals.” It seems that many people (not on this site necessarily, people in general) define Fundamentalist merely as “a fuddy-duddy kind of Christian I don’t like.”

    My comment is that I don’t know anyone who became a believer via either LOTR or HP, but I do know of a person who started investigating Christianity after seeing the movie “The Exorcist” as a teenager. She decided that if there was anything at all to what she saw, she was going to get on the right side! I guess God can use pretty much anything.

  17. revgeorge says

    Carrie wrote:
    “I loved the Narnia books as a child. I did not understand the Christian themes at all, but they moved me deeply nonetheless, and they stirred up in me a longing for something more than the cynical materialism I was faced with.”

    Carrie, your experience is almost exactly similar to what CS Lewis describes in his autobiography “Surprised by Joy.” I’ve included a blurb from the wikipedia entry on it, because it says it so much better than I can.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surprised_by_Joy

    “Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life is a partial autobiography published by C. S. Lewis in 1955. Specifically the book describes the author’s conversion to Christianity.

    The book overall contains less detail concerning specific events than a typical autobiography. This is because Lewis’ purpose in writing about his life was not primarily for historical purposes; instead, his aim was to identify and describe the events surrounding his accidental discovery of and consequent search for the phenomenon he labelled “Joy”. This word was the best translation he could make of the German idea of Sehnsucht, or longing. That is not to say that the book is devoid of information about his life. Lewis recounts and remembers his early years with a measure of amusement sometimes mixed with pain. However, while he does describe his life, the principal theme of the book is “Joy” as he defined it for his own purpose.”

    Here’s also the wikipedia link for “Sehnsucht.” Some pretty good stuff in the article, especially since they reference Pink Floyd. 🙂

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sehnsucht_%28C._S._Lewis%29

    This idea of joy or longing is also known in the Scriptures, namely Acts 17: 22-34 & Hebrews 11: 13-16.

  18. I try to keep to the AP Stylebook defined parameters for the word “fundamentalist” but, too often, alas, I fall to current usage (i.e., as a synonym for “stupid religious people I disagree with”). I will try to do better; thank you for this reminder.

    Friend of this blog Terry Mattingly explains how to use the term so it reflects its historical roots in a specific trend in American Protestant beliefs. He agrees with the AP Stylebook that because it has come to mean something only pejorative and dismissive, it should now only be used to describe people who describe themselves as fundamentalists.

  19. This is a general question not related to the posting, but since there doesn’t appear to be a general contact link for you, I’m not sure where else to put this.

    Have you explored at all what the implications are of the wizard hospital being called St. Mungo’s? St. Mungo (who is, among other things, patron saint of Glasgow) is also known as St. Kentigern, and one of the stories told about St. Kentigern is that he baptized and gave Holy Communion to none other than Merlin himself — thereby healing him of insanity.

    Interesting, no?

    Richard

  20. Very interesting about St. Mungo, richardtenor. I’d not heard that one, but we could probably assume that Rowling has–no?

    I don’t know of anyone who has come to Christ by reading HP or LOTR or Narnia. I do know, however, that I’ve had some of the most interesting discussions about Christianity because of my reading of and enjoyment of Harry Potter. With some people the discussions have been a mutual sharing of the Christian themes that we see; with non-readers, it’s been an effort to get them to open their minds enough to see that there might be some Christian themes there if they would just look. But the most challenging discussions have been with people who profess (loudly) that they are atheists and they love Harry Potter but hate the idea that there are Christian themes in the books. Most of that started with Order of the Phoenix when some were dismayed that “love” might be what was going to save Harry in the end. And most of those same people were definitely not happy with Deathly Hallows.

    Because I’d been talking to some of them for over five years by the time DH came out, I refrained from saying “I told you so”. But after five years of discussing and trying to at least get them to acknowledge what was fairly obvious, I’ve given up. I hope that some day they will reread the books and their hearts will be ready to receive the Christian themes that might change their views of life (which I find to be very dreary and very cynical). Until then, I drop by that forum now and then to say hello and refrain from discussing the books at all. It wasn’t doing anything good for any of us–and sometimes I think that, as Christians, we can do more harm by trying to continue a conversation when the other person is so determined not to hear.

    In my real life, I’ve run into a few at my church who are avid Harry haters (and have not read the books), and some who love the books as I do. Our associate pastor’s wife has read them all and she and I have discussed them. He has seen the movies and finds nothing objectionable. Our senior pastor hasn’t read them and I’m not sure he’s even watched the movies, but he’s made no comment about Harry Potter one way or another. Our choir director and his wife are now reading the books and have also watched the movies. The problem with all of them is that they have children (or grandchildren) who are really too young to read the books or see the movies, so I just don’t think it’s much of an issue for them.

    One woman at my church though, was one who watched the first movie only and decided they were bad. But she loves LOTR and Narnia. I keep telling people that if they really want to know what the stories are about, they have to get it from the books, but she wasn’t interested. Very frustrating conversation, that one.

    The good thing about all of this controversy surrounding Harry Potter is that at least people are a little more open to discussing religion than they were before. And perhaps through the discussions, some will begin to realize that they want to know more about Christianity, if for no other reason, so they can see for themselves whether all of us who see Christian themes are on the right track or crazy as my atheist friends would like to believe.

    One more thing–even though I already was a Christian before reading Harry Potter, I have definitely become more committed to studying the Bible than before. I’m not sure whether it was because of HP, but the timing does line up. (That may actually have been tied more to reading your book, John–Looking for God–because I started marking all the passages you referenced and found myself reading more to put it in context. So thanks, for giving me that nudge that I’d been needing for a while.)

    Pat

  21. Arabella Figg says

    Pat, you said a boat-load in this sentence: “sometimes I think that, as Christians, we can do more harm by trying to continue a conversation when the other person is so determined not to hear.”

    Yes, may we be gracious and allow others their opinions, even if based on misunderstanding; it then allows them the opportunity to consider ours…or not.

    Kitties just leave the room if conversation doesn’t go their way…(Note: I type this as our real cat Casey Rose rests her warm, purring head on my left wrist.)

  22. Hurrah! I can comment again! Somehow I managed to goof up my login and password awhile back, so it’s nice to have it straightened out.

    John, I really enjoyed reading these emails. Though I have been a Christian since early childhood, a rough spot of life a few years ago nearly drove me out of the faith. Christianity felt like a lie. And I can honestly say that Harry Potter was one of the first things to put the world back into perspective for me. (This happened before I even realized how Christian in theme the books really are, for which I owe you quite the debt of gratitude!) I didn’t get to know Harry till the sixth book was out, so I read the first six within just a few weeks, read them over and over, and the reality of good and evil made sense to me again.

    I could sympathize with Harry’s words in the first book: “… I’m never going over to the dark side!” His courage, love and loyalty to good helped reinforce my faith in a big way. While I won’t credit Rowling with the entire return of my faith (the Catholic church and several key people played a big part in that too), Harry’s story built me up, edified me. It was one of a few very important things that I believe God used, in his grace and wisdom, to bring me back to him.

    Pat and Arabella, I really appreciated what you both had to say about conversing (or abstaining from fruitless conversation) with people determined to disagree. Having reached that point with people in regard to HP–and the Catholic church, for that matter–it is so true that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. Some things only the Holy Spirit can change 🙂

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