Posts Tagged “cs lewis”

Harry Potter book seriesWith the release of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 film this weekend, it was inevitable, I suppose, that some whacky Christian pastor would come out against the Harry Potter franchise as “un-Christian” because it “promotes witchcraft.” Pretty much every H.P. release — whether in book or movie form — has been punctuated by some fundamentalist Christian loudmouth denouncing the book or film as “demonic” or “Satanic”, because it includes sorcery and witchcraft. So this report by the Christian Post is not exactly a surprise (WebCite cached article):

Another Harry Potter film hits theaters everywhere Friday and Steve Wohlberg, author of the new book Exposing Harry Potter and Witchcraft: The Menace Beneath the Magic, strongly advises against seeing it.

Wohlberg, a bestselling author, expressed his concern to The Christian Post. He said the trend toward witchcraft, vampirism, and occultism among teens has rapidly increased since the Harry Potter Craze began in 1997 in the United Kingdom. Written by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series explores sorcery, witchcraft, and Wicca, noted Wohlberg. …

“The more I read the books, the more I realized how spiritually dangerous the material is,” he said. “Even though it’s fiction there is a lot of reality woven in it. My warning is that Harry Potter is a major contributor to Wicca.”

That there is no “Wicca” in the H.P. series, that it’s never mentioned, nor even hinted at, doesn’t appear to be sufficient to stop this pea-brained idiot from railing against H.P.

Like any other crank of the same sort, Wohlberg bases his views on a lot of supposition and on anecdotal reports he’s managed to catalog:

In his book, he gives several personal accounts of people who have dabbled in witchcraft specifically because of Harry Potter. Teenagers, he explained, are vulnerable to these themes because they are fascinated with the message that magic gives you power. He gives accounts of teens at bookstores on the day of the release of a new Harry Potter book, describing how they have “the book in one hand, and a wicca book in the other.”

Yeah. As though he can provide any demonstrably-genuine photos of this phenomenon.

The truth about H.P. is that the series definitely has moral themes, but ones that most Christians would agree are positive. As I blogged previously, other authors — including assuredly Christian ones such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — have used magic-infused fictional worlds for their Christian-inspired literature, for a long time now. And I don’t suppose that will end. Moreover, I’d be astonished if any of these anti-Potter folks would dare condemn either The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings for “promoting witchcraft” or any other similar nonsense.

Photo credit: bibical.

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In the “Are you kidding me?” department … the BBC reports that famous Scottish author J.K. Rowling was refused an important honor because the White House thought she “encouraged witchcraft”:

Harry Potter author JK Rowling missed out on a top honour because some US politicians believed she “encouraged witchcraft”, it has been claimed.

Matt Latimer, former speech writer for President George W Bush, said that some members of his administration believed her books promoted sorcery.

As a result, she was never presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Latimer’s disclosure comes from an upcoming tell-all book:

The claims appear in Latimer’s new book called Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor.

He wrote that “narrow thinking” led White House officials to object to giving Rowling the civilian honour.

The award acknowledges contributions to US national interest, world peace or cultural endeavours.

First, let me say that these “tell-all” books by folks who are, essentially, disgruntled employees, are not very trustworthy. So I’m not sure how credible this is. And even if there were someone in the White House who made remarks like this, it’s not clear who it was, or how much influence that person had. It’s not even clear if some other objection to Rowling getting the medal was raised, such as her not being a US citizen. (The Medal has been given to some not born in the States, e.g. Elie Wiesel, but not being an American may have represented a hurdle anway. To what extent, I have no idea.)

Nonetheless, it’s remarkable that in the 21st century, people can still fear books that mention “witchcraft” and/or “sorcery” merely because they contain these story elements. After all, famous Christian writers have used magical or sorcerous settings for their own widely-beloved works … sticking to the UK, the examples of J.R.R. Tolkien (a lifelong devout Catholic) and C.S. Lewis (an adult convert to the Anglican Church) leap to mind. The religious devotion of neither of these men has ever been seriously questioned, nor has it ever been suggested that either of them ever “promoted” or “encouraged” witchcraft or sorcery, even though they both wrote about worlds (Middle-Earth and Narnia respectively) in which these things existed, and protagonists (e.g. Gandalf and Aslan) who made use of them. Objecting to Rowling’s Harry Potter series on that basis — which are almost as much moral tales as either The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia — is simply irrational and unfounded.

While we cannot just take Latimer’s word that Christian-dogmatic anti-witchcraft sentiment played a part in this decision, it is unfortunately true that the Harry Potter books were the targets of fundamentalist Christian outrage. It’s nonsensical, of course … but these folks are fully committed to their nonsensical ideas and are unable — and unwilling — to see them as the nonsense they are.

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