‘Witches and the Problem of Evil’

The subject of witchcraft, real, alleged, and fictional, has been a big part of the discussion for serious readers of Harry Potter since the explosion of the magic controversy soon after the first books were in print. In America post-Salem, even with the advent of Wiccans and openly professed Witches in recent years, the idea of a real world “witch-hunt” by those concerned about occult influence, a hunt in which people thought to be witches are shunned or killed, is hard to take seriously.

In today’s Christianity Today online, Robert Priest reviews Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa by Adam Ashforth (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2005) in an article called ‘Witches and the Problem of Evil.‘ It isn’t an easy read but it is an important one. I came away from it with a much better understanding of the pervasiveness of witchcraft concerns in the world (and astonished at the violence involved) and with ideas about the psychology of Harry Hating I wouldn’t have had without this introduction. Highly Recommended.


  1. So, John, where did this article lead you on understanding the whole witchcraft objection to HP?

    I had read some of this when I looked up information about Pastor Muthee, who I find very disturbing, and not representing the Christian faith as I understand it.

    I’m also reminded of the time we spent in the Museo Popol Vuh in Guatemala City. It’s not a large museum, but one of the things that stood out to me was that the Maya were more accepting (that’s a relative term) of the Roman Catholic faith and teachings when they identified the saints with their own gods. Of course, that wasn’t acceptable to the Catholics, but there are still many unique observances of Christian holidays and practices that would be unrecognizable to anyone outside Guatemala.

    I also remember reading something similar in “The Poisonwood Bible”. I don’t know anything about the author’s background or religious views, but there were parts of the book that had to do with the belief in witches and how that impacted the teaching of Christianity. It didn’t go well, actually.

    I think I find it more disturbing that people outside of Africa are willingly embracing these ideas and trying to overlay them on their Christian teachings. It doesn’t show a very good interpretation of the Bible, nor a good understanding of the Christian faith.

    I’ve probably gone down a completely different path than the one you were on, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.


  2. Arabella Figg says

    I too don’t think this connects with HP.

    However, working in publications for Wycliffe Associates (the lay support ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators), I heard an awful lot of fascinating and tragic stories about Third World shamans/”healers” who control their people with fear and actual physical demonic attacks. If they say a person will die, that person dies. So the witchcraft accusation thing doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure it goes far beyond Africa.

  3. Absolutely amazed at this article!!!!!!!!!!!! Revalations galore.
    Thank you John!!!

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