Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Christians and Harry Potter

Each time a new book or movie in the Harry Potter series is released, the debate over Christian participation revives. There are many good Christians who choose to abstain and work vigorously to convince others to do the same. What should we think?

I have my view. They are fantasy. They are set primarily in a world that can only be entered by taking a magic train from an invisible platform. Children understand this. The books do not encourage young readers to become wizards themselves.

Rather, J.K. Rowling has included an element in the books that discourages young readers from imagining that they themselves are wizards - her characters are born "magic" or "muggle" (non-magic). They themselves do not "become" wizards. They are born with special powers which they are trained to control and use for good at their wizarding school.

At any rate, fantasy stories have been an important medium for communicating Christian theology and virtues (C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien!). Should we think of Rowling as following in the steps of Lewis and Tolkien? Some think so. Consider the links below. The first is written by John Granger (no relation to Hermione), who argues that Rowling is following the Inklings tradition. The second is an essay by Tolkien on the importance of "fairy stories".

Harry Potter and the Inklings: The Christian Meaning of the Chamber of Secrets

On Fairy Stories

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