Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dissecting Harry Potter

Last week I shared a few of my recent favorite reads and swooned a little about J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. (Yup, I've read all seven books several times and I still get a bit weak-kneed. Crazy, I know.) Anyway, Bina asked: What your take is on Harry Potter as a pastor's wife?? I hear SO many conflicting arguments about the series from Christian groups...and I just wonder what you think :)

Good question. 

Believe it or not, this is not the first time I've blogged about Harry. You can read my original Harry Potter post here. I think it will give you a lot of insight into why I like the series. But there are more reasons why I not only don't have a problem with the Harry books, but actually deeply enjoy them and have every intention of reading them aloud with my kids when they are an appropriate age.

There are a lot of people who probably think I'm nuts. I've heard everything from "Harry Potter is Satanic" to "J.K. Rowling is a Nazi." Huh? Anyway, I'm not even going to justify those arguments by trying to denounce them. Nor am I going to launch a lyrical defense of Rowling's books. Frankly, I'm too sleep deprived. Instead, I'm going to keep my reasons short and simple.

I think the Harry Potter series is harmless, entertaining, emotive, and filled with love, truth, and beauty. I don't believe it beckons young people into a life of witchcraft and wizardry any more than The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe entices children to climb into dressers in the hope of entering a new world. Nor do I think J.K. Rowling intended to do anything other that write a good story. I don't believe there are underlying messages or insidious themes. But I do believe that her books strike a deep chord in the hearts of her readers, and there are many times throughout the long series that she truly does a breathtaking job of pointing out the power of love and the human need for justice, mercy, and goodness.

That said, I do think that as with any book (ANY book), parents should know what their kids are reading and be involved in the process. Books like this are ripe for great conversations with your kids and have the potential to make inroads that might not have been opened if not provoked by "controversial" material. Read it. Talk about it. Engage.

Okay, enough from me. What do YOU think? Disagree with me? I'd love to hear what you have to say...


  1. I know my parents don't really like them. And so I've never read them. But I want to. They're on my list.

  2. I agree with you a million times over, Nicole! The first Potter movie came out when I was around 14, and I was told in my own church that I shouldn't see it because it encouraged witchcraft. Needless to say, I felt a little guilty watching the film, but I absolutely loved it. (One word: Quidditch!) I finally got around to reading all the books last summer and I see no reason why children, including Christian children, shouldn't be allowed to read them. Obviously parents have the right to what their kids will be exposed to -- it's completely fair. But my experience with the Potter series was overwhelmingly positive. There is so much in the series about the power of friendship and sacrifice, and as you stated, justice, mercy and goodness. Great lessons can be learned in places people least expect.


    P.S. Can I suggest another "controversial book" to dissect sometime? The Giver by Lois Lowry. When I turned the final page of that book at the age of 12, I remember saying to myself that I was going to be a writer because I wanted to create a story as powerful as Lowry's. Not sure if that will ever happen, but I'm more than happy to try! :)

  3. I'm going to see if I can figure out how to comment . . . . I grew up being told that "there's no such thing as a good witch." We were not allowed to watch I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, etc. Now that I'm older, I try to be open about what we read. I'd much rather read something along with my children and discuss things that come up rather than avoid it. I have read a few of the Harry Potter books. While I was reading the last one, I felt convicted to stop reading it. I'm not sure that it was solely because of the content, but because there were other things that God was calling me to do (direct VBS, among other things) that needed more of my time and focus. I have felt that that decision to stop reading the books was for me at that time and not necessarily for everyone at all times. I have a hard time being judge for everyone because everyone's situation is unique. I certainly don't have a problem with people who read Harry Potter. For what it's worth . . . .


  4. Thanks for sharing, Brandi. I think you'd be a good example of a Christian young person who enjoyed the series for entertainment alone.

    Julie, I'm so glad you felt free to post. I totally respect your opinion and have many friends who feel the same way about Harry Potter. Personally, I have always enjoyed what I would call "what if" stories. What if there are fairies? What if our world is no the only world? What if God is so big and awesome and incomprehensible that our vision of reality is only one teeny-tiny fragment of all he has created??? I think that's why I like Harry. It's so fantastical, so fun. So creative and full of imagination... But it's not right for everyone the same way that the occasional glass of wine with dinner is not right for everyone. Or the same way certain movies are not right for everyone. For example, my tolerance for violence in movies is low (and getting lower and lower every year--I must be getting old!). Anyway, I'm so glad that you listened to the Spirit's prodding and put the book away when God had other things in store for you. I think it speaks volumes about your ability to discern (and obey) the voice of your Lord.

    Blessings to you!

  5. I tried reading Harry Potter when I was in middle school and just couldn't get into it. However, I will say that my tastes have radically changed, and it is quite possible that I would like the series now. I watched The Half-Blood Prince with my two younger cousins last weekend and I felt a bit mystified and awed by the enchantment of the story, and the world the characters lived in. I could relate to Hermione's fitfulness over her feelings for Ron and Ron's lack of recognition and reciprocation. I've heard of Harry Potter being taught in college courses, and boy how I wish I could be reading that instead of some of the things I'm having to read.

  6. Harry Potter taught in college courses?!? Are you serious? I'd be very interested to know the purpose behind that. A study of pop lit? YA lit? Hmmm. Interesting. Anyway, that's beside the point. Lauren, you hit on the main reason I love the books: they mystify me. I'm delighted by them because they are so fun and original and unexpected. J.K. Rowling's magical world is so perfectly realized that I live what the characters live--fantasy and all. It floats my boat. ;) But I completely realize that it likely sinks someone else's boat. Ugh. Sorry about the horrible cliche and my attempt to twist it. I must be very tired...