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CAN I LOVE JESUS AND LIKE HARRY POTTER?

(Darren Cronshaw preached from this material at Aberfeldie Baptist
Church on 13/1/2002. Accompanying powerpoint slides are available.
Darren may redraft this material for a college essay in March 2002. He
invites your comments to darren@backpacketrstravel.net.au)

INTRODUCTION

This week I went to the moves twice. I saw 'Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone' and then we saw 'The Lord of the Rings - The
Fellowship of the Ring.' I had read the J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy The
Lord of the Rings a few times as a kid, and once or twice since. I have
only read the four published books of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter in
the last month. The Harry Potter books, like The Lord of the Rings, are
fantasy novels, which take their readers into an imaginative world of
magic, intrigue and drama.

The books and movie and merchandise about the pre-teen wizard have been
incredibly popular. The movie had the top opening weekend in the US $187
million. It's English Presbyterian author has become the first
literary-billionare in history. (Bruce, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis
are not Satanic; How God is Operating in the Post Modern Era) Despite
their popularity, what has concerned some parents is that such books
could lead their children into an unhealthy interest in magic and the
occult. One preacher, for example, warns: 'No more can you say it is
simply a fun story for kids, nothing more, or pretend that it has
nothing to do with the occult. It has everything to do with the occult!
It is in fact satan's most hideous secret, and it is his coup d'etat
over Christians who accept it! And in God's eyes, it is no different
than reading vile pornography. . By reading or watching Harry Potter you
give satan the power he craves, and if you are a believer, you give him
the mockery of believers he delights in.' (Clary, The Harry Potter
Funeral; cf. Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 14-30;
Nelson, The Harry Potter Compromise) Our children are vulnerable and
ought to be protected. The thoughts of parents who seek to guard
themselves and their children ought only be applauded. There is enough
apathy about what goes into our children's minds and our own minds
without our adding to it or ridiculing efforts to be careful.

Another perspective, though, is to see Harry Potter's popularity as an
opportunity to talk about spiritual matters with readers of Harry
Potter. That is one reason why I think it is good to read and view Harry
Potter and other parts of our popular culture. Leonard Sweet, lecturer
in evangelism and postmodern Christianity at Drew University, writes,
"The best way to defuse the principalities and powers of postmodern
culture is not to escape from it, but to learn its language. and engage
it on a higher level." (SoulTsunami, 21, in Neal, What's a Christian to
do with Harry Potter, 201)

A great biblical model for engaging one's pagan culture is Daniel.
Exiled in Babylon, 'God gave [Daniel and his three mates] an unusual
aptitude for learning the literature and science of the time. And God
gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and
dreams.' (Dan 1:17) When noone else could tell the King what his dream
meant, Daniel explained why God sent the dream and what it said about
the future! (Daniel 2) Connie Neal said, "God put Daniel in Babylon to
be a light in the darkness-and he was. He was not afraid to read
literature that resounded in the hearts of the people with whom he
lived. He used his familiarity with this pagan culture to reveal the
true and living God." (Colson, Harry Potter: Can A Wizard Teach Moral
Lessons?; cf. Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter)

I like Harry Potter because I enjoy good fantasy literature and good
children's fantasy literature. I look forward to reading C.S. Lewis,
J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling to my children when they are old enough.
But aside from sheer enjoyment, I like Harry Potter because of its
connections with gospel themes. Rowling has said in interviews she draws
from a multitude of sources, historical, literary, mythical, and
religious, to find themes and symbols she can bury in her fiction for
readers to search for, discover, and hopefully pursue in other readings.
(Groover, Harry Potter and the Living Stone or Don't Be a Muggle!) Jo
Rowling is writing seven books about Harry Potter. She has already
drafted the final chapter of the seventh book, but has only published
four books:

I. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
II. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
III. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
IV. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Each book describes one year of Harry's training at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. I would like to outline seven points of
connection or great parallels between themes of Harry Potter and a
Christian view of the world and people.

I. HARRY POTTER AND THE FORMATION OF IDENTITY

The books are so popular, in part because they connect with a real
desire for significance and belonging, meaning and identity. Connie Neal
reminds us that all children need to develop their own sense of
identity, a sense that they are connected to a family, to friends, and
even to God. (What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 80-82) They
need to know that someone knows their name, where they live, in what
circumstances they live, and that someone cares about them. Kids need a
sense of belonging. Harry Potter beautifully finds a sense of belonging
and identity early in the story. For almost eleven years he has been
knocked around by his cousin Dudley, Aunty Petunia and Uncle Vernon with
whom he is forced to live following the death of his parents while he
was a baby. They force him to sleep under the stairs and do their
household chores, and they continually pick on and make fun of Harry.
Life for Harry begins pretty hard. He is not particularly attractive or
intelligent, and like the rest of us experiences frustrating
circumstances and misunderstanding people. Before Harry's eleventh
birthday, though, Hogwarts sends him his invitation to attend school.
The first letter is addressed to:

Mr H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs,
4 Pivet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey. (Rowling, Philosopher's Stone)

Someone knows not only Harry's name, but where he is staying and in what
circumstances he lives. To keep Harry from magic, Uncle Vernon moves
Harry to Dudley's second bedroom, and then to a distant rocky island.
However, the letters continue to come, and multiply, each addressed to
Harry's newest location. Neal comments; 'This beautifully illustrates
what children desperately need to know: Someone out there knows their
name and knows where they live and where they belong. They not only have
an identity; they have a destiny as well. And someone out there is
calling them toward the place where they belong.' (Neal, What's a
Christian to do with Harry Potter, 80)

Harry had not realised that he had special powers. His Aunt and Uncle
did all they could to stop him realising it. But then, finally, an
unstoppable messenger, Hagrid, arrives. When Hagrid told him he is a
wizard, Harry replies, "I can't be a wizard - I'm just Harry." (Rowling,
Philosopher's Stone) But with some explanation and adventure, Harry
realises that he has a destiny greater than just living under the
Dursely's stairs as a lonely and friendless little boy. Previously, he
had not known what was within him. He discovers what excites all of us -
that there may be something special about us. Who knows, we may have
gifts and abilities and potential we have not even begun to realise.

Just as Dumbledore sent Harry a written message, God sends us a written
message - the Bible - to tell us of our identity and destiny. Psalm 139
tells us God made us wonderfully complex (v.14), and knows everything
about us (v.1) including our thoughts (v.2) and wherever we are (v.3).
We cannot ever hide from God. (v.7-12) We are so valuable to God he
keeps his eyes on us. (2 Chr 16:9; cf. Mt 10:30) We are so special to
God he pays individual attention to our prayers. We are so unique to God
we have a place in his world for which he has made and prepared us.
Jeremiah wrote, "For I know the plans I have for You,' says the Lord.
'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and
a hope." (29:11) The psalmist confessed, 'The Lord will work our his
plans for my life.' (Ps 138:8) He is calling us toward the place we
belong. He has an identity and a destiny for us to form into. 'For we
are God's masterpiece [or workmanship]. He has created us anew in Christ
Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.'
(Eph 2:10) God keeps knocking on our door calling us to a new identity
and destiny.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

What do you identify with most from Harry's early years; neglect,
poverty, discrimination, abuse, fears, dreams, the pressures to fit in,
desires to accomplish something in life, the stresses of school, or
something else? (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 89)

II. HARRY POTTER AND THE SACRIFICE OF LOVE

Harry's parents were killed by Lord Voldemort (or 'He who can't be
named'), who tried to kill Harry but failed. The reason he failed is
because of a stronger 'magic' brought about by the sacrifice of his
mother. When she stood in front of Voldemort, she sacrificed herself to
save Harry. When Voldemort then tried to kill Harry as well, the curse
rebounded onto Voldemort and drained him of his powers. Later, when
Voldemort tries to regain his life and powers, he is unable to touch
Harry because of the protection on him because of his mother's sacrifice
motivated by her deep love for Harry. Dumbledore explains to Harry why
Voldemort cannot touch Harry: "Your mother died to save you. If there is
one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realise
that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not
a scar, no visible sign . to have been loved so deeply, even though the
person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is
in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing
his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was
agony to touch a person marked by something so good." (Rowling,
Philosopher's Stone, 216)

One of the wonderful things about Christianity, is that Jesus has
sacrificed his life for us. He stood between the devil and us. He took
the curse of sin and death in his own body. (Gal 3:13) He came as a
person and died on the cross for us, motivated by his deep and
passionate love for us. Jesus did this, 'For only as a human being could
he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had
the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have
lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.' (Heb 2:14b-15) So
now, the Devil cannot touch us. Those who have a living connection with
Jesus can be sure death will not hold them down. (cf. 1 Cor 15; Neal,
What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 194-196)

Mal Collins, pastor of Moonee Ponds Baptist Church, comments that Harry
Potter, like Santa Claus, is for many children part of their world. They
give children a sense of wonder and excitement, hope and fantasies. All
of us need that sense of hope and optimism, but ultimately we need it
grounded in reality rather than fantasy. The Bible talks about real,
historical characters, especially Jesus who loved us so much that he
sacrificed himself for our sake, and to have been loved so deeply leaves
a special mark on his people.

When Harry explains to Tom Riddle (the character of Voldemort's old
life) that his mother died to save him, Riddle's realised what had
happened: 'So. Your mother died to save you. Yes, that's a powerful
counter-charm. I can see now - there is nothing special about you after
all.' (Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 233) In that sense there is nothing
special about Harry. Harry Potter is one of many magic people but he is
the only one who has ever withstood Voldemort's curse. He withstood
Voldemort, though, not because of anything special intrinsic in him, but
because of his mother's loving sacrifice. Those who follow Christ,
similarly, have special privileges and powers, not because of anything
intrinsically good in themselves but because of their Saviour's loving
sacrifice.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

Harry desperately needed love and encouragement, because the people he
was left to depend on neglected him. When have people you depended on
let you down? Who has been trustworthy and good to you like Harry's
headmaster Dumbledore? (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry
Potter, 89-90)

III. HARRY POTTER AND THE NATURE OF EVIL

Harry becomes increasingly aware of the power and nature of evil as he
finds himself pitted against Voldemort and sees the terrible influence
he has had in people's lives. 'It was Voldemort, Harry thought, staring
up at the canopy of his bed in the darkness, it all came back to
Voldemort . he was the one who had torn these families apart, who had
ruined all these lives .' (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 528) Like the Bible
describes Satan as a heavenly angel who went bad, Rowling describes
Voldemort as a human wizard who went bad. Like Satan was described by
Jesus (John 10:10), Voldemort comes to steal (the Sorcerer's Stone), to
kill (Harry's parents, Harry, a student in the fourth book, many
others), and to destroy. (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry
Potter, 194) Since Voldemort's downfall, he has form only when he can
share another's body, but he tells Harry, 'there are always those
willing to let me into their hearts and minds.' (Rowling, Philosopher's
Stone, 213) One of these servants, Quirell, comments on his relationship
with Voldemort as a hard task-master with a distorted view of evil and
power; "Sometimes . I found it hard to follow my master's instructions -
he is a great wizard and I am weak . A foolish young man I was . full of
ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong
I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too
weak to seek it . I have let him down many times. He has had to be very
hard on me . He does not forgive mistakes easily." (Rowling,
Philosopher's Stone, 210-211) Rowling presents a very clear message
about the nature of evil and the moral superiority of good; "There are
both Good and Evil forces and people in our world.  And Good is . . .
well, Good!  And Evil is . . . dangerous, bad, to be avoided, and even
to be conquered by Good." (Groover, Harry Potter and the Living Stone or
Don't Be a Muggle!)

Dumbledore warns the students against ignoring Voldemort's evil.
Voldemort murdered one of Hogwarts' students, described in Harry Potter
and the Goblet of Fire in the most graphically wicked and disturbing
episodes of the four books. Dumbledore tells the students to warn them
of Voldemort's character and reality, and of the tendency of others to
ignore the threat: "The Ministry of Magic . does not wish me to tell you
this. It is possible that some of your parents will be horrified that I
have done so - either because they will not believe that Lord Voldemort
has returned, or because they think I should not tell you so, young as
you are. It is my belief, however, that the truth is generally
preferable to lies." (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 626) CS Lewis wrote that
there are two errors that Christians make in talking about the Devil.
One error is to give him too much credit for the bad in the world and
see devils behind every inconvenience. The other error is not to give
him enough credit for the bad in the world and to ignore his existence
and influence in our world, attributing everything to chance or human
causes. There is evil in the world, against which we need to be alert as
Harry was warned by his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. (cf. 1
Peter 5:8-9; Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 196)

God does not want us to be afraid. Harry's triumph over death drained
Voldemort of power; he disappeared. He became a diminished spirit-being,
only able to work sort-of behind the scenes to try and destroy Harry and
regain power. Harry observes, "I've seen the real you, I saw you last
year. You're a wreck. You're barely alive. That's where all your power
got you. You're in hiding. You're ugly, you're foul!" (Rowling, Chamber
of Secrets, 233) In our real world, there is a malevolent spiritual
enemy working invisibly behind the scenes, but God provides protection.
(Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 196) Harry is left
with a lightning bolt scar from his encounter with Voldemort. Satan was
cast down from heaven like lightning. and has been defeated further by
Jesus' sacrificial death. (cf. 1 Jn 4:4; Neal, What's a Christian to do
with Harry Potter, 197)

Harry Potter's experiences illustrate the nature of evil but it concerns
some Christians that he makes magic look like a lot of fun. Flying
around, controlling bullies, becoming invisible, and making annoying
adults blow up like a balloon would all be convenient abilities.
However, in our world, the Bible teaches that there are no 'good'
witches or wizards. The magic Harry uses is not associated in the book
with occult practice nor is it drawn from real occult spells. However,
Pottermania could influence people to get involved in activities like
witchcraft, sorcery and fortune-telling that the Bible warns us against.
(Dt 18:9-14; Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 125-144)
The reasons God warns against such activities are partly because of
their occult connections and partly because God wants us to primarily
trust in him. Magic is appealing because we can control our environment,
but God invites us to trust him to be in control. Fortune-telling is
appealing because we can know and prepare for the future, but God
invites us to trust Him who knows and holds our futures. The Harry
Potter books show the nature and undesirability of evil, but we need
also to be careful to differentiate magic as a literary device from real
world occult involvement. (On the literary classification of Potter
Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 37-61)

In the face of the reality of evil in the world, unity is important on
the side of good, as Dumbledore comments: ". we are only as strong as we
are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort's gift for
spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by
showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of
habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our
hearts are open." We need to hang on to our unity of purpose too and be
careful to avoid division, mistrust and slander (even over Harry
Potter). If our conscience does or does not allow us to engage some part
of our culture - be it Harry Potter, a beer with one's mates, or
whatever - it is important to be gracious and respect others who hold
different views from yourself. Some Christians who may believe Harry
Potter is inappropriate could accuse those who read it of compromise.
Those who read Harry Potter could accuse those who won't of being
superspiritual. We could all do well to listen to Dumbledore's words at
least on this matter and strive for open hearts and identical aims.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

A boggart is a monster that takes on the form of your greatest fear when
it appears in front of you. What shape would a boggart take if it
appeared before you? (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter,
201)

IV. HARRY POTTER AND THE FUN OF HUMOUR

Part of Harry Potter's popularity is the fun of his humorous
experiences. Rowling's wordplays shows real talent in making reading
fun. For example, Professor Dumbledore has a bowl called a pensieve (a
combination of pensive and sieve), which contains his excess thoughts
until he needs them! The spells in Harry's world (none taken from real
spells) use clever terms that reveal their intention. A fidelius Charm,
for example, can help someone keep a secret, while "Expelliarmus" is a
spell that disarms an opponent. Rowling's characters find fun with their
pets (and even the paintings on the walls of Hogwarts). There are many
frightfully gross objects that readers can laugh at like yellow-green
Bubo-Tuber Pus used to treat Acne that Herbology class students have to
squeeze out of a plant. There is a huge variety of food and lollies,
like Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans (including every flavour from
chocolate or strawberry to vomit or earswax!) (Neale, What's a Christian
to do with Harry Potter, 82-83) Harry gives some money to some friends
for them to start a jokes shop business. They push it back but Harry
persists: "Listen,' said Harry firmly. 'If you don't take it, I'm
throwing it down the drain. I don't want it and I don't need it. But I
could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I've got
a feeling we're going to need them more than usual before long."
(Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 635)

Harry can teach us to be able to laugh in the midst of challenges and
not to take things too seriously. At the end of a deadly battles and
facing an increasingly powerful enemy, Harry reflects; 'There was no
point worrying yet, he told himself, as he got into the back of the
Dursleys' car. As Hagrid had said, what would come, would come . and he
would have to meet it when it did.' (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 636) Jesus
invites us as his followers to a similar place when he says not to
worry. (Mt 6:25-27; 10:19) Solomon knew the importance of humour as he
wrote 'There is a time for everything [including] . a time to laugh'
(Ecc 3) and that 'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit
saps a person's strength.' (Prov 17:22)

V. HARRY POTTER AND THE POWER OF CHOICES

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (245), Harry wonders about
his destiny. He wonders if he will serve evil like Voldemort and many
others in Slytherin house at Hogwarts (all or most of the evil magicians
came through that house.) When Harry had first come to Hogwarts the
Sorting Hat had suggested Slytherin could help make him great, and Harry
seems to have a lot in common with Voldermort and his powers. The wise
headmaster Dumbledore calmly told Harry that the Sorting Hat did put him
in Gryffindor House; "Listen to me, Harry. You happen to have many
qualities Salazar Slytherin prized in his hand-picked students. His own
very rare gift, Parseltongue [the ability to speak with snakes] .
resourcefulness . determination . a certain disregard for rules,' he
added, his moustache quivering again. 'Yet the Sorting Hat placed you in
Gyffindor. You know why that was. Think.' 'It only put me in
Gryffindor,' said Harry in a defeated voice, 'because I asked not to go
in Slytherin .' 'Exactly,' said Dumbledore, beaming once more. 'Which
makes you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that
show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

We all have choices to make. Some critics are concerned that Harry is a
questionable role model because he models poor choices, gets ahead
through breaking rules and lying, and shows a lack of respect for
(certain) authority figures. (E.g. Clary, The Harry Potter Funeral) I
find the choices Harry and his friends makes to be positive, loyal,
honest, and against oppression. They do breaks school rules, but usually
when there is a greater purpose involved. For example, Harry flys on his
broomstick before he is allowed, but does so to retrieve an object
stolen from another student. (Rowling, Philosopher's Stone) He goes out
of bounds but for the sake of another friend in need. (Rowling, Prisoner
of Azkaban) Potter may not model a constant do-gooder, but he does show
that life includes difficult ambiguity and complex decision-making.
Neale comments that Potter is not a simple morality play with evil
easily seen, but neither is real life; 'Simplistic moral instruction
only goes so far . and . hold no instructive value in a complex moral
world. Older kids already know right from wrong; what they need to
grapple with is how to do right as they grow up in the face of peer
pressure.' (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 166)

Dumbledore demonstrates that we need to live with principles and cannot
expect to please everybody. With Harry's help, he is encouraging Hagrid
to return to work in the face of negative press about his teaching;
"Really, Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm
afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time . Not a week has
passed, since I became Headmaster of this school, when I haven't had at
least one owl complaining about the way I run it. But what should I do?
Barricade myself in my study and refuse to talk to anybody?" (Rowling,
Goblet of Fire, 394) Hermione similarly stands up for her principles and
for justice when she questions the use of house-elves; "You know,
house-elves get a very raw deal!' said Hermione indignantly. 'It's
slavery, that's what it is!' . Why doesn't anyone do something about
it?" (Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 112; cf. 210) Hermione makes the positive
choice to battle against apathy and indifference. Harry Potter shows the
power of choices. In our world, we need more people - young and old -
who will choose to question the injustices and unfairness of the world
as it currently operates.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

Which house do you think you would be sorted into and why?

VI. HARRY POTTER AND THE EVENTUALITY OF DEATH

Harry Potter also shows the inevitability of death. Nicolas Flamel (the
name of a French Alchemist who in 1388 is credited with producing gold
using a stone (Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 41-42;
Schafer, Exploring Harry Potter, 2-3)) has lived for hundreds of years
because of the Philosopher's Stone's magic. At the end of Harry Potter
and the Philosopher's Stone Dumbledore tells Harry the stone is to be
destroyed. Harry asks, "But that means he and his wife will die, won't
they?' .  [Dumbledore replies philosophically] 'To one as young as you,
I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas . it really is like going
to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised
mind, death is but the next great adventure." (Rowling, Philosopher's
Stone, 215, cf. 218)

It is no surprise people seek the Philosopher's Stone which promises all
the gold and life the holder would want. Many in our world seem to want
to be rich and to live for ever. To live for ever is a desire God has
put in our hearts, because there is a place he wants us to be with him
for ever where we can walk on streets of gold. But noone can steal their
way in. The only way in is to have the curse of sin (that part of us
that wants to live life our own way independently of God) taken away.
Sin needs to be countercursed, and this can happen for anyone willing to
receive Christ's sacrifice on their behalf as a gift from God who deeply
and passionately loves us. (cf. Neal, What's a Christian to do with
Harry Potter, 197-200) Harry Potter illustrates that death will come to
us all, but the gospel adds that Christ's sacrifice is an elixir
offering fullness of life forever.

DISCUSSION QUESTION

The Mirror of Erised reveals the deepest desires of your heart. What
would you see if you looked into the Mirror of Erised? (cf. Ps 37:3-4;
Neal, What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 89)

VII. HARRY POTTER AND THE REALITY OF ANOTHER WORLD

Harry Potters illustrates also the reality of another world. Neal
(What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter, 90) comments that Hogwarts
was real in Harry's world for the first 11 years of his life, even
though he did not know about it until he received the invitation to
attend. God's Kingdom is a parallel realm within reach in this world. In
Harry's world, people walk by the door that leads to the "magical realm"
of Diagon Alley without realising. (Diagon Alley is where Harry buys his
school supplies including his broomstick and magic wand.) Without ever
noticing it for what it really is, they walk right past the magical
entrance to platform 9  (for the Hogwarts Express train that takes the
students to school.) In the real world, people pass by the entrance to
God's realm (Jesus, who is the door), and do not realise what they are
missing out on. Jesus is the Way or the 'portkey' (a magical transport)
to God's Kingdom. (On portkeys see Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 62-69, 552)
Once Harry got his invitation to Hogwarts, he had to believe it and
respond to it by going to platform 9  and boarding the train to
Hogwarts. God gives invitations to everyone to enter his Kingdom. When
we get the invitation, we also have to be willing to believe it, respond
and be changed into something new. We are invited to walk in faith, just
like Hogwarts students who have to walk without hesitation 'straight
through the apparently solid barrier dividing platforms nine and ten.'
(Rowling, Goblet of Fire, 145)

Part of the appeal of Harry Potter is that sometimes we feel we got a
bad deal.  We see others who seem to have more opportunities, or nicer
siblings, or more generous or more loving parents. And we just
know--just like Harry--we were born for something better. Or, we wonder
whether we will discover a long lost Uncle has died and left us a
fortune. Noone can make you a wizard - that's impossible in the real
world. I can't give you a magic wand, or an owl, or a bank account at
Gringot's, or a place at Hogwarts. But because of the sacrifice of love
Jesus showed us (like Harry's Mum showed him), God offers a new identity
and purpose to live for. We can have new life in Jesus Christ. Just like
Harry had to leave his old life, we may have to leave some things in
your old life - your own garbage - and be willing for God to change you.
Peter wrote, 'Come to Christ, who is the living Stone [cornerstone] of
God's temple. He was rejected by the people, but he is precious to God
who chose him. And now God is building you, as living stones, into his
spiritual temple.' (1 Pet 2:8-9) Like Harry, once we accept our destiny,
we have to learn and equip ourselves for the tasks before us. As
Christians, our learning is life-long as we, also, study ancient texts,
discover fascinating people, and learn to rely on the power available to
us through prayer and the Holy Spirit. And being a real child of God is
even better than being a make believe wizard any day! (Groover, Harry
Potter and the Living Stone or Don't Be a Muggle!)

DISCUSSION QUESTION

Which of the characters do you like best or identify with and why?

CONCLUSION - HARRY POTTER AND THE POTENTIAL OF CREATIVITY

Can I love Jesus and like Harry Potter? I do, and I hope you may be able
to as well. Harry Potter is a good story with some great themes with
which the gospel connects. If we can discuss these themes and help
children differentiate between magic as used as a literary tool in a
fantasy genre from occult involvement in the real world, then Harry
Potter could be a real asset in presenting the gospel and encouraging
children to grow in goodness. (cf. Neal, What's a Christian to do with
Harry Potter, 181-202) A Christian involved in popular media production
commented, 'Imagination is to be cultivated, even amongst us adults, not
inhibited. God created us in His own image which means that we too can
be creative and fanciful.' As C.S. Lewis points out, "We must not be
nervous about 'parallels' and 'Pagan Christs' they ought to be there -it
would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must welcome them not, in
false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome." (Bruce, J.R.R.
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are not Satanic; How God is Operating in the Post
Modern Era)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bruce, D. (2001). "J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are not Satanic; How
God is Operating in the Post Modern Era Secondary J.R.R. Tolkien and
C.S. Lewis are not Satanic; How God is Operating in the Post Modern Era"
Hollywood Jesus Newsletter; Pop Culture from a Spiritual Point of View:
31 http://www.hollywoodjesus.com.
Clary, C. "The Harry Potter Funeral (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)": Sermon
Central.
http://www.sermoncentral.com/sercentral/sermon.asp?SermonID=41486&Contri
butorID=6684 Accessed January 2002.
Colson, C. "Harry Potter: Can A Wizard Teach Moral Lessons? Secondary
Harry Potter: Can A Wizard Teach Moral Lessons?": BreakPoint with Chuck
Colson, reproduced with permission in John Mark Ministries website.
http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm/aasi/aasi0577.htm Accessed January 2002.
Groover, W. (2001). "Harry Potter and the Living Stone or Don't Be a
Muggle! (1 Peter 2:9-9)": Sermon Central.
http://www.sermoncentral.com/sercentral/sermon.asp?SermonID=41786&Contri
butorID=6615 Accessed January 2002.
Neal, C. (2001). What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter. Colorado
Springs: Waterbrook Press.
Nelson, C. "The Harry Potter Compromise Secondary (Exodus 22:18-18)":
Sermon Central.
http://www.sermoncentral.com/sercentral/sermon.asp?SermonID=41502&Contri
butorID=4839 Accessed January 2002.
Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. London:
Bloomsbury.
Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London:
Bloomsbury.
Rowling, J. K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London:
Bloomsbury.
Rowling, J. K. (2000). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London:
Bloomsbury.
Schafer, E. D. (2000). Exploring Harry Potter. London: Ebury Press.
Sweet, L. (1999). SoulTsunami. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan.


 
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