Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
“…this film truly glorifies hideous creatures, egregious acts by young children, imaginings that are far more scary and graphic than ANY child should be subjected to (or adult for that matter), yet every kid in the audience craves more and more. Young boys in the audience were quoting out-loud the exact words of Dobby, a self-mutilating elf, before he spoke them….” Julianne Evans, author.
“It’s darker and much scarier…” Rupert Grint who plays Harry’s friend, Ron Weasley.
Spells, potions, dark arts, psychic writing, magical healing, trance possession, ghostly encounters with the dead…. All fit together in Warner Brothers new Harry Potter movie. And all enter into the viewer’s virtual experience and mental bank of occult suggestions – whether they realize it or not.
Harry’s second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is full of occult thrills and forbidden rituals, but few seem to mind. The poor, victimized hero is such a polite and sympathetic wizard that his fans naturally want him to win. His magical spells only make his triumphs more exciting. So viewers simply shut their minds to God’s warnings, flow with the fast-action story, identify with the “good guys” and cheer the power they wield. Immersed in this occult fantasy world, they adapt their values to fit their new fellowship.
Surrounded by children and teens in the sold-out movie theater on November 16, I sensed that empathy. The audience laughed together when Harry’s muggle (non-magical)uncle fell from the window. Horrified silence reigned when an army of big, flesh-eating spiders descended on Harry and his friend, Ron, seeding nightmarish images into the minds of the children. And when the staff and students at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry clapped for Harry at the movie’s end, the enthusiastic audience joined in the applause.
I didn’t. Troubled by the message and suggestions behind the enticing story, I pondered a dialogue near the end of the movie. It takes place in the mysterious Chamber of Secrets. Harry had discovered the entrance, slid down a massive pipe, and found Ginny, Ron’s lifeless little sister, in the cavernous depths. Now he faces Tom Riddle, a youthful representation of the dreaded wizard Lord Voldemort who, like Darth Vader of Star Wars, had chosen the evil side of the force. But Harry’s first concern is Ginny. He calls out to her,
“Please don’t be dead. Wake up, wake up!”
“She won’t wake,” says the handsome Tom Riddle.
“What do you mean, she won’t wake? She’s not….”
“She’s still alive, but only just.”
“Are you a ghost?”
“A memory preserved in the diary for 50 years.”
“She’s cold as ice. You’ve got to help me, Tom…. Give me my wand….”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Harry. You see as poor Ginny grows weaker, I grow stronger….”
Harry is puzzled, so Tom Riddle spells out his true identity with the wand and the words appear on the wall: “I am Lord Voldemort.”
“I fashioned myself a new name,” he explains, “a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!”
“Albus Dumbledore is the greatest sorcerer in the world!” argues Harry. His declaration of loyalty to the beloved headmaster summons an unexpected helper. A fire erupts on a nearby pillar and out of its flames rises Dumbledore’s crimson phoenix. It flies to Harry and lands on his shoulders.
The book behind the movie gives a clearer description of this scene. While I don’t like to include occult details, I hope the paragraph below will (1) help us appreciate God’s warnings, (2) stir our conscience and (3) lift our understanding of good and evil far beyond today’s complacent acceptance of occult entertainment.
After all, the very practices that God forbids, Ms. Rowling has been using as captivating bait for her wizardly world. Planted into a context that idealizes occultism, these thrilling practices stir a love for evil and a craving for more. But God shows us another way: “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
Now, consider this dialogue between Harry and Voldemort, alias Tom Riddle:
“Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted…. I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her….”
“What d’you mean?” said Harry, whose mouth had gone very dry.
“Haven’t you guessed yet, Harry Potter? said Riddle softly. ‘Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber of Secrets. She strangled the school roosters and daubed threatening messages on the walls. She set the Serpent of Slytherin on four Mudbloods…
When Harry wonders “why”, Riddle answers, “Because I told her to...“ He continues,
“Of course she didn’t know what she was doing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries…. Dear Tom, he recited…. I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don’t know how they got there. Dear Tom, I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween…. There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was…. I think I’m going mad.… I think I’m the one attacking everyone, Tom!”
Ginny was right. Controlled by Voldemort’s curse and filled with a part of his soul, she did what she was told. Riddle admits that she was in a trance — an altered state of consciousness — and wasn’t consciously aware of her violent actions.
Keep in mind, this phenomenon is not just a fantasy that one can indulge in without consequences. In today’s real world, those who dabble in virtual occult experiences risk spiritual bondage to forces they can neither see, control, nor escape.
The Western world was relatively free from such demonic “madness” for several centuries. But, now, as our cultural fascination with occultism soars, the spiritual safety zone we have long taken for granted is fading away.
The diary is important, for its blank pages carried the mystical communication between Tom and his victim. Just as symbols have traditionally been used by sorcerers and shamans to transmit magical forces, so this diary became a vehicle for the dark forces that were now draining her life.
In a dramatic scene, Voldemort summons the massive slithering basilisk and tells it to kill Harry. Well aware that a glance into the evil eyes of this serpentine beast would kill him, Harry fights and kills the basilisk — but not until one of its poisonous fangs had pierced his arm.
The legendary healing power of the phoenix saves the young wizard, but by now nearly all of Ginny’s life has been drained from her body. Desperate to save her, Harry grabs the bloodied fang and plunges it “into the heart” of the mystical diary. Riddle screams, then quickly disintegrates and disappears. Ginny awakens, her life force restored.
Perhaps you noticed a similarity between voodoo and the magic that saved Ginny and destroyed Voldemort. Rooted in the polytheism of West Africa and Haiti, voodoo (vodun) includes curses and spells that require effigies or fetishes — dolls, carved wood, animal parts or other physical objects that would embody the spirit of a targeted person. By stabbing the effigy, a sorcerer could injure, sicken or kill the targeted person. And the demonic spirits would usually comply — as long as their servant stayed loyal to those forces.
The Wiccan leader Starhawk, founder of the Covenant of the Goddess, affirms the use of symbols, charms and other objects as transmitters of spiritual forces. “To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol,” she wrote in The Spiral Dance, her popular manual for witchcraft.
Does this sound like a movie for children? Or for teens whose schools and computers offer countless tempting doors into the deadly world of the occult?
The Harry Potter books and movies are merely the beginning — the first enticing steps into the world of dark and deceptive arts. When children tire of this movie, the tireless makers and marketers of Harry Potter games and gadgets will still be promoting the enticing wares that perpetuate the craze. Almost 10 million games were spawned by last year’s Harry Potter movie, and many expect the trend to grow.
“This holiday season,” we are told by gamerstemple.com, “the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets videogames will transport fans from the non-magical world to an even richer, deeper interactive adventure of wizards and wonder, while representing an interactive adaptation of the book’s story line.”
Together, the ceaseless repetitions, captivating games, popular posters, action figures, videos and audio recordings will intensify the cultural pressure on everyone to accept and adapt to this occult phenomenon. Since the cruel nature of this occult world has already lost its shock value, these dangerous forces now seem almost “normal” to many of our youth. They don’t realize that demonic possession, evil curses and spiritual torment once characterized most of the world’s pagan civilizations. As happened many times in past centuries, they could quickly change today’s cultural landscape.
But our caring God, who wants us to find safety in Him, tells us, “Do not be conformed to the world…” Instead, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” That means filling our minds with the saving truths that set captives free and bring peace and triumph now and forever. [Romans 12:2]
Those truths include all the Scriptures that show us His heart and will. Politically correct or not, His eternal Word can’t be ignored or adapted to fit our pluralistic culture. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 is as true and valid for a Christian today as it was three thousand years ago:
“There shall not be found among you anyone who… practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjuresspells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord…” Deuteronomy 18:9-12
That doesn’t mean imposing God’s standard on others. In America, each person is free to choose the wide or the narrow way. And those who choose His way know well that, only by His grace and His Spirit within us, can we live the life He has shown us.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
For a practical list of suggestions and Scriptures that highlight the dangers of deception, the power of God’s Word, and the victory we have in Christ, see Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies.
1.Warner Brothers’ interview with Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) at http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/web/dailyprophet/article.jsp?id=interview_rupert&arc=1
2.Ibid.: “How did you feel shooting the Spider’s Hollow scenes?” asked WB. “I hate them, they are so scary,” answered Rupert. “I don’t like them at all. And that scene with all the spiders and the four tonne spider Aragog really didn’t help my fear.”
3.In the end of the movie, Professor Dumbledore says to Harry, “You must have remained faithful to me while you were down there…that is what brought the Phoenix to you.”
4.These words were part of the dialogue in the movie, not in the book.
8. Gaming News