Bewitched by Harry
It’s true! This prophetic remark in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first in a seven-book series on popular witchcraft, was fulfilled in record time. The first three books hit the world – schools, libraries, and the New York Times best-sellers list – like a spiritual tidal wave, breaking down barriers to the secret and forbidden mysteries of the ages and captivating children around the world. Just look around. You can spot some of the committed Hogwarts fans by the purple thunderbolt stickers on their foreheads. This mark bonds them to Harry, an embattled student wizard with amazing powers and an enticingly scary destiny.
Harry, like other students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry travels back and forth between two worlds: the mystical world of magic and the mundane world of muggles – those boring, blinded, and biased humans who either don’t believe in the world of witches or who despise it as evil. Harry’s cruel aunt and uncle fit the last category. And, from Harry’s point of view, so would you if you see witchcraft as dangerous and demonic.
The skinny, green-eyed kid with glasses and a thunder-bolt scar under a shock of unruly black hair makes a sympathetic hero. Orphaned at age one, Harry mysteriously survived a murderous assault by the wicked wizard Lord Voldemort. This scary villain, whom more timid wizards dare only refer to as “Who Must Not Be Named,” killed Harry’s parents. When he tried but failed to kill their one-year-old baby, Voldemort lost much of his power. The thunderbolt scar on Harry’s forehead marks his peculiar psychic strength and triumph over evil.
For the next ten years, Harry lives a miserable muggle life in his uncle’s London home, constantly tormented by his cruel guardians and a spoiled bully of a cousin. But on his eleventh birthday everything changes. He discovers that he is a wizard of great fame, someone who once conquered death and crippled a devilish foe. Even better, he receives an acceptance to Hogwarts – a coveted boarding school for aspiring wizards.
The haunted grounds of Hogwarts may be out-of-this-world, but with its blend of earthly familiarity and practical magic, it has captivated more than seven million minds. Adults and children alike have, in their imagination, followed Harry through that mystical veil between ordinary reality and occult fantasy. Most find it hard to put the book down once they start it, and when finished, many read it again and again. Immersed in this mystical world of spiritual forces, they feel Harry’s struggles and share his fears. They sit with him through his classes on Potions, Spells, Transfiguration (“turning something into something else”) and Divination, and, like him, learn some tricks of the old Craft. They sense the pain of his miserable return visits to London, and they soar with him above the earth on a magical and magnificent broomstick.
Delightfully gruesome images and scary creatures become part of their memory, for the author, Joanne K. Rowling, knows how to make her characters come alive in a reader’s mind. “Oh, but it’s just fantasy,” you may argue. “We were raised on scary tales. It can’t hurt.”
Actually it’s not that simple. The stories and the times have changed, making the new generation of children far more vulnerable to deception than we were. Consider some of the changes:
1. Different times and culture. Unlike most children today, their parents and grandparents were raised in a culture that was, at least outwardly, based on Biblical values. Whether they were Christian or not, they usually accepted traditional moral and spiritual boundaries. Even the old fairy tales I heard as a child in Norway tended to reinforce this Christian worldview or paradigm. The good hero would win over evil forces without using “good” magic to overcome evil magic. Social activities didn’t include Ouija Boards, Seances, and an assortment of popular occult role-playing games. Nor did friends, schools or Girl Scouts tempt children to alter their consciousness and invoke the presence of an “animal spirit” or “wise person.” Occult experimentation was not an option.
Today it is an option. Children now learn their values and world view from a variety of sources. The entertainment industry is one of the most persuasive agents of cultural awareness, and it usually teaches global and occult values, since that’s what their global market buys. In fact, children have become so familiar with profanity, occultism, and explicit sex, that they barely notice – just as in Old Testament days: “They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return. . . . No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” (Jeremiah 8:5,12)
In this context, the occult images evoked through traditional fantasies threaten a child’s faith far more today than they did three decades ago. Reinforced throughout our culture, the old beloved books such as the Hobbit can stir curiosities and cravings that can easily be satisfied by darker, real-world attractions.
2. Different type of fantasy. Books, movies, games, and television all involve the imagination, and the specific fantasy directs the child’s imagination. In other words, the imaginary scenes and images in books and movies are not neutral. As with guided imagery, the child’s feelings and responses are manipulated by the author’s view and values. For example, the stories and books children read in the classroom are usually selected or approved by each state because their message teaches the new global values, and because they provide useful discussion topics for the manipulative consensus process. “Good stories capture the heart, mind, and imagination and are an important way to transmit values,” writes Louise Derman-Sparks in the influential Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, which is full of classsroom strategies for eroding traditional boundaries and teaching the new spirituality.
Books such as the Harry Potters series fit, because they reinforce the global and occult perspective. Page after exciting page brings the reader into the timeless battle between good and evil, then trains them to see the opposing forces from a pagan, not a Biblical perspective. In this mystical realm, “good” occult spirits are naturally pitted against bad occult spirits, just as in pagan cultures where frightened victims would offer sacrifices to “benevolent” spirits who could help ward off evil curses and other threats. Few readers realize that from the Biblical perspective, all occult forces are dangerous. But today, it seems more tolerant and exciting to believe this illusion than to oppose the lies. The words of Old Testament prophet Isaiah ring as true now as they did over 2000 years ago: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil….” (Isaiah 5:20)
3. Different purpose. Children don’t read Harry Potter merely to reach the conclusion and resolve the suspense. Many read the books over and over because they delight in identifying with the “good” wizards in this newly discovered world — and sometimes even with the obviously evil wizards. They build memories based on felt experiences in an occult virtual reality, and they are desensitized to the danger. The talent and knowledge of the author makes this seductive world all the more believable. Just ponder these diverse bits of wizard philosophy:
* Professor Snape who taught Potions: “I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses….” 1
* Two centaur’s views on astrology – “We have sworn not to set ourselves against the heaven. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?” ….”Or have the planets not let you in on that secret?” 2
* “He is with me wherever I go,” said Quirrell, referring to the murderous wizard Voldemort. “I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil , there is only power, and those too weak to seek it…. Since then, I have served him faithfully.” 3
* Headmaster Dumbledore: “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” 4
* Hagrid, the grounds-keeper at Hogwarts, telling Harry about the strange power that saved his life, “Happened when a powerful, evil curse touches you – didn’t work on you, and that’s why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he [Voldemort] decided ter kill ‘em, no one except you…” 5 [Harry seems almost Christ-like, doesn’t he, with his wound or mark, his psychic powers, and his victory over death and Voldemort?]
Once introduced to spiritism, astrology, palmistry, shape-shifting, time-travel (the third book) and the latest version of popular occultism, many crave more. They can easily find it. In their neighborhoods and schools, our children are surrounded by peers who are fascinated by occult empowerment and would love to share their fun discoveries. Few children have the Biblical knowledge or discernment needed to evaluate good and evil or to resist such threats to their faith.
4. Different kind of classroom. It’s not surprising that Harry has suddenly soared to the peaks of popularity in schools across the country. His story fits right into the international program formulticultural education. The envisioned global community calls for a common set of values which excludes traditional beliefs as intolerant and narrow – just as the Harry Potter books show. The Biblical God simply doesn’t fit into his world of wizards, witches, and other gods.
Feminist writer Naomi Goldenberg knows that well. In her book, Changing of the Gods, she predicts that “God is going to change…. We, women are going to bring an end to God. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore.” She and other radical feminists must appreciate Ms Rowling’s part in this process.
Of course, God will never change. But people, beliefs, and cultures do. And some changes, such as today’s cultural shift away from loving God to hating His truths, have occurred a multitude of times. The words Jesus spoke to His followers long ago now fit our times: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . because they do not know Him who sent Me.” (John 15:20-21)
5. A different education system. UNESCO’s “lifelong learning,” now being implemented through Goals 2000, takes education far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Its goal is socialization and preparation for a global workforce. Everyone – in homes, schools, and workplace – must be mentally prepared to participate in the consensus process. In the name of “unity” and “community,” people of all ages must help form new values, challenge contrary beliefs, report non-compliant friends and relatives, and oppose all other obstacles to compromise, “common ground” and “mental health.”
There are many ways to persuade the masses to reject uncompromising Christianity and embrace a changeable blend of all kinds of religions – including a cross-less and universalist perversion of Christianity. Schools do it through books such as the Harry Potter series, through multicultural and environmental education, and by integrating social issues and politically correct ideology into more mundane subjects such as math and science. The media does it by selective reporting, redefining words like “fundamental,” vilifying labels such as extremist, religious right and homeschoolers, and by equating such groups with narrow-minded bigotry and hate.
Harry Potter’s author does it by creating a captivating world where strength, wisdom, love, hope – all the good gifts God promises those who follow Him – are now offered to those who pursue occult thrills. Likewise, her main characters demonstrate all the admirable traits our God commends: kindness, courage, loyalty, etc. But the most conspicuous muggles (ordinary people who are blind to these mystical forces) are pictured as mean, cruel, narrow and self-indulgent. These subtle messages, hidden behind exciting stories, turn Truth upside-down. But fascinated readers rarely notice the deception. This power-filled realm with its charms and spells soon becomes normal as well as addictive to those who immerse their minds with its seductive images.
The Harry Potter books, first introduced in England, are unlikely to fade from public consciousness in the near future. Scholastic, a major provider of popular books for classroom use, bought the rights to publish the books in the United States. Devoted readers who can’t wait for the sequel to be distributed in the U.S. are purchasing it on the Internet from Amazon.com’s British division. The series has already caused great consternation among those who fear the seven books will eventually crowd out adult fiction on the coveted New York Times best-sellers list. This concern will surely grow, since Warner Brothers (owned by Time Warner) bought rights to the live-action movie.
It’s not too soon to prepare your child for the increasing peer pressure to conform to the new social standards.
HOW TO RESIST DECEPTION
KNOW THE TRUE GOD. When children know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word, they will recognize the seductive counterfeits.
SHUN OTHER GODS. It’s tempting to believe the beckoning voices that display enticing counterfeits of all God’s wonderful promises. The power is within yourself, they say. Don’t listen to the lies. Instead, take this sober warning to heart:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who:
* practices witchcraft
* is a soothsayer or a sorcerer
* interprets omens
* conjures spells
* is a medium or a spiritist
* calls up the dead
“For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord….” (Deuteronomy 18:9-13)
All “these things” are demonstrated in the Harry Potter books. These stories are every bit as spiritual as Christian literature, but the spiritual power they promote comes from other gods. If you treasure God’s truth, may I suggest you encourage your children not to read these books? I know such parental intervention sounds grossly offensive, in fact, downright muggleish, to children who love Harry’s magical world and reject Biblical absolutes. Yet, just as “progressive” leaders fear the influence of Biblical truth on budding world citizens, so Christians parents need to guard their children against all kinds of occult “counsel:”
“Blessed is the man [including child and woman] who –
walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of mockers;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-6)
REMEMBER HISTORY’S LESSONS. The witchcraft and wizardry in Harry Potter books may be fantasy, but they familiarize children with a very real and increasingly popular religion – one that few really understand. Far removed from the terrors of tribal witchcraft and shamanism, Americans are oblivious to the bondages that normally follow occult favors. But historical and archeological records have traced the earth-centered myths, practices, and consequences through the millennia. They have verified the timing of certain Old Testament accounts of droughts, famines, and wars — three consequences that God’s people would face if they traded His truth and strength for the Canaanite gods and rituals. (Deut. 28, 1 Cor. 10) There, as in other earth-centered cultures around the world, the human cruelties involved in pagan worship included torture, mutilation and human sacrifice. Many of these practices continued in parts of the world until the 20th century, when the spread of genuine Christianity (totally different from cultural Christianity) with its emphasis on love and the value of life, made most of these cruelties intolerable. But now the world turns, once again, from God’s truth to the world’s gods and rituals. Its not surprising that Ms Rowling warned that, starting with her 4th book, the series will grow darker. Some good characters “that the reader cares about” will have to die.6
SHARE GOD’S LOVE WITH EVERYONE. God’s way to multicultural understanding and global unity is essential today. He cares for people in every culture, longs to set them free, and wants to love them through us. Harry Potter may conquor evil forces with witchcraft, but in the real spiritual world, no pagan power can counter the frightening consequences of dealing with demons. Only God can. That’s why He has sent missionaries to all parts of the world to bring His peace, love, and release from demonic bondage. Keep in mind, only Christian love has motivated individuals to leave Western comforts (soft beds, safe food and water, etc.) to serve and heal those who live with unthinkable physical hardships and the constant threat of curses, spells, and other spiritual dangers. His genuine love – as demonstrated through His faithful servants – can’t even be compared to the notion of politically correct “tolerance” so widely promoted today.
DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR FAITH. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:7) That sounds exclusive to some, but don’t forget, His loving invitation includes everyone.
REMEMBER THAT GOD IS FAR GREATER! By ourselves we cannot resist “the devil’s schemes,” but in Christ we are “more than conquerors.” Thanks be to God who leads us in His triumph! (1 John 4:4, Romans 8:37)
PRAY. Only God can slow the massive international movement toward conformity to pagan beliefs and values. In a nation that has traded truth and reality for politically correct tolerance and unity, Christians are called to remain faithful, prayerful and hopeful in Christ, who offers genuine love and unity.
WEAR GOD’S ARMOR–-a set of strategic truths that exposes and counters every deception. When we “put on the whole armor,” God fills us with His life even as He covers us.7 Don’t forget that our real enemy is the spiritual hierarchy of occult forces, not globalist educators or well-meaning teachers. Only God’s power and protection will enable our children to resist and triumph.
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.”
1. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1997); p.137.
2. Ibid., p. 257.
3. Ibid., 291.
4. Ibid., 302.
5. Ibid., 55.
6. Paul Gray, “Wild About Harry,” Time (September 20, 1999); page 72.
7. See also Romans 13:14, John 14:20