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What can you tell me about the Harry Potter books?
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 2, 2002, 20:20

Leapiní Wizards it is Harry Potter

To be honest I hadnít really given the little wizard boy too much thought. But since you asked, and since I have been invited to speak on the topic in the future, I figured it was a good time to do some checking. So I have a very long answer for you, but I think it is a good one! If it isnít then feel free to ignore it.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was an instant #1 bestseller. This is the 4th book in the series. Yet the Harry Potter books were the most challenged books of the previous year, according to the American Library Association. It came to my attention on CNN with a news blip that Christian groups were mobilizing against the books Then I saw on Larry King and on another CNN telecast the same topic being covered. The guests  played out the debate. There were concerned parents that didnít want the books read to their kids (and they have that right), they wanted the books banned from libraries (I had a problem there) but then, there was the one group out of South Carolina that suggested that it was time to have a good old fashioned book burning!                Then he added, just like in the Bible!

After that the topic really had my attention.

The Debate:

                On one hand, if parents donít want their children to read certain books, they have the authority as a guardian to prevent them from doing so if they go against their religious beliefs.

In some classrooms in America if the teacher chooses to read that book out loud to a class, then the parent can request that their child not have to hear it read as a reading lesson.

The Potter books while clever and imaginative, deal with some dark subjects that are inappropriate topics for younger readers

                  On the other hand, there are many reasons that Harry Potter books are doing some good. In a day and age when we kids would rather play video games or watch TV to think they would want to read and use their imagination is amazing. And there are lessons that are taught in the books, overcoming adversity, good vs. evil, being independent, and courage, and there is nothing wrong with those topics.

Here are some of the things that have been happening

                 * In Zeeland Michigan, Harry Potter books were removed from the shelves of libraries in the school, they were banned from classroom use, and the selling and purchase of these books in that community were stopped.

                * Harry Potter books have been challenged as being inappropriate 25 times, in 17 states since their release.

                * In total there were 478 efforts to remove books from library shelves and classrooms last year.

So what do you do?

            If you are a parent, what do you do or how do you handle it?

            If your child has a  desire to read these books should you be nervous?

What all the fuss about anyway ?

The books deal with a young wizard named Harry Potter who is being raised by some cruel relatives (muggles), and they are cruel. Since Harry is a wizard, the religious groups that are crying for a ban say that the Potter books lure children into witchcraft.

Is that true?

                Hogwash . . .you might as well say that Gone with the Wind lures young readers to be slave owners, or Treasure Island lures readers to be pirates, or Peter Pan lures readers to run away from home.

                If you try to ban every book that deals with the supernatural then you start throwing out some pretty interesting stuff

                Shakespeareís Hamlet (ghost) / Mac Beth (witches) The Tempest (spirit) /Midsummer Nightís dream (fairies)

Then get rid of Dickensís Christmas Carol (4 ghosts as main characters)

And it doesnít end there, there are the Disney classics, that were never nice (Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent was evil, Snow White, remember the witch, Cinderella, remember the cruelty of the stepmother and stepsisters)

Now as I say that, I think parents need to be parents, and if a child is not ready to read them, then they should not! So be a responsible parent, and raise your child.

But the issue is, are the things being said about the books correct ? The answer is probably not.

The truth is that children who read Harry Potter will discover little about the true world of the occult. The authors use of magic and wizardry is more mechanical than occultist, it is a prop used in the storytelling 

Dr. James Dobsonís focus on the family has taken a strong stand against the books, while Chuck Colson has taken a different stance.

Colson says: that Harry and his friends develop courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another (not bad values in a me-first world).

While some Christians are trying to keep these books away from kids, there are over 8 million copies of these books floating around. The key is to help them to see the deeper meaning.

Contrast the mechanical magic of Harry Potter against the evil practices of the occult mentioned in the Bible, the kind that encourages involvement with supernatural evil. Help them to see how the author presents evil and evil, and good as good.

If your kids like Harry Potter, there are other fantasy and magical themed books with a Christian worldview like the Tales of Narnia (CS Lewis) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Tolkien)

I think my greatest opposition to the stories are the cruelty and violence.

                And that falls back into the arena of discernment

If we were to ban them, my fear is a darker evil will be unleashed-ignorance

And then what about the group that wants to have a good old-fashioned book burning? Well, the problem there is that they didnít take the time to really understand the story in the Bible; instead they just used it as a proof text

Remember the ignorance I just mentioned?

I really donít think the Harry Potter series is that much to be concerned about. Responsible parenting can handle any problems that will arise with the popularity of the books.

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