Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Magic, Harry Potter, and Christian living.

So last night I went and saw Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. I haven't read all the books, and I don't wear Harry Potter gear or rave about it 24/7, but I like it and I keep up with it to a certain extent. One thing that I have always been curious about is magic, especially from a Christian's point of view. At first that was what always shot down the Harry Potter books: All Harry Potter is a thing which containst magic. No Christians should be affiliated with things which have to do with magic. Ergo no Christians should be affiliated with Harry Potter. (Modus Ponens correct?) While respecting the people that said that, I was always a little curious why we should quarantine ourselves from that evil Harry Potter madness.

What got me even more curious is when I read Lord of The Rings. There are very few Christians that I know of that would say that Tolkein is not a Christian. I take that back... I don't know any. And yet Tolkein created a major character who is a wizard. This befuddled me for a while. The Tolkein part I solved fairly early. But the Harry Potter part continued to bug. But here's my take.

The magic in Harry Potter does not seem to be tied in with religious activities what so ever, unlike orginizations such as Wicca. It seems to be more mischivous play early on, but later the magic is used in the protagonist vs. antagonist movement. The good guys use their powers to fight the bad guys and vice versa. Magic in Harry Potter looks more like a tool than a form of worship. There is an in the third film of crystal ball/omen/chance foresight stuff, but even though the omen comes true the actual practice is pretty heavily condemned. In the fourth film, Professor Dumbledore (if I am not mistaken) states that "there is no spell to bring back the dead".

There isn't much fading of the lines in the films. The good guys look good and the bad guys, especially in the fourth film, look bad. There are some characters that you are a little confused about, but you see where they lie pretty quickly.

Is there a difference between different kinds of magic? Because the magic that is being promoted in Harry Potter does not look like the magic that you see in the Bible, the stuff that usually gets condemned. In the fourth film, viewers are introduced to the "three unforgivable curses". They are, without the hard to remember names, the curse of torture, the curse of possesion, and the curse of death. As a wizard, you cannot place a curse upoon someone that causes torture, you cannot posses that person (as in take control over them and make them obey you), and you cannot kill that person.

The Didache, an early Church handbook for chatecumins, says that a Christian ought not to perform magic for it leads to idolatry. I think that is what Wicca does. It is much more a religious practice than anything that is in Harry Potter.I think that magic is very much real, but even though it seems as if it is possible to pursue it without falling into idolatry, its dangerous business.I think that the Didache serves as a warning, that even if you could perform magic without falling away from the Christian faith, it is very hard not to.

To get back on track, I'm not sure that I see anything really wrong with the magic in Harry Potter. I can see how kids might get all stoked up about the magic part (I think its pretty neat), and then join groups which follow magic, such as Wicca. I think it just needs explaining. If you're going to go to Harry Potter and are really get into it, you have to know about that kind of stuff.
The Creator