Movie Review: Part 1 of
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
By Berit Kjos – November 24, 2010
“When we first started ‘Harry Potter’ and cast 10-year-old Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, parents drove their 10-year-olds to see the movies. Today, those same kids are now driving themselves to the midnight shows.” Dan Fellman, Warner Brothers“In a chilling performance by Ralph Fiennes, the [Voldemort] character plays out like a dimensional compliment to Adolf Hitler. He is as hungry for power as they come. … his deliberate hatred of the muggle race [humans] mirrors the Nazi internment of the Jews.”
“Death Eaters constitute a group of wizards and witches, led by the dark wizard Lord Voldemort… who seek to purify the Wizarding community by eliminating the Muggle-borns. They…recognize one another by the Dark Mark on their left forearm, a sign created by Voldemort to summon them instantly to him.”
“The whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
Dark, dismal, demonic, deadly…. There’s no sign of joy in this disturbing movie! Yet it captivates children, stirs love for evil, and arouses addictive cravings for more stimuli and ever darker thrills. Why are the forces of evil so enticing?
“These are dark times…” declared Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic (rumored to be a vampire), as the movie begins. “Our world has never faced a greater threat.”
He’s right in more ways than one. That solemn warning could be applied to at least three different spiritual battlefields:
1. Lord Voldemort’s murderous domain.
2. Harry Potter’s lighter, more deceptive face of the occult.
3. Today’s embattled world, where love for occult entertainment is fast becoming more acceptable than God’s Truth.
1. The deadly domain of the occult
Voldemort and his horde of Death Eaters have taken control of the Ministry of Magic. Their resisters are killed. Fear and chaos shadow the land. Rufus Scrimgeour, who refused to help them find Harry Potter, has been cruelly tortured and killed.
Even Voldemort is in trouble. In his fanatical quest for power and immortality, he has created six Horcruxes that contain imbedded parts of his own soul. Harry and others have already found and destroyed some of them, and now they are searching for the rest. Voldemort’s goal is to kill Harry before he destroys more of his soul. His life depends on it! To plot Harry’s capture and murder, he summons his Death Eaters to a meeting at Lucius Malfoy’s manor. Voldemort must do the killing himself, but he can’t use his own magic wand since it shares the same phoenix feather “core” as Harry’s.
“What about you, Lucius, he asks coldly. “I require your wand.” Seething with silent rage, Lucius reluctantly hands his precious wand to his despised master.
Meanwhile, the bound and tortured body of a woman hangs upside down from the ceiling. Voldemort identifies her as Professor Charity Burbage. She is guilty of teaching Hogwarts students that Pure-bloods (witches or wizards) are free to “mate with muggles.” That violates Voldemort’s standard for racial purity, so he kills her. He then invites his monstrous serpent Nagini to eat his bloody “dinner.”Such horror may actually sound funny to some. It’s not. The unthinkable images, the addictive thrills and the twisted values in this story will not be easily erased from young minds. As Joanne Rowling and the movie makers intended, this horrendous tale will captivate people of all ages and cause them to crave more such thrills.
Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman, who has long researched the effects of visual images and suggestions on children, shared this illustration:
“After the Jonesboro shootings, one of the high-school teachers told me how her students reacted….’They laughed,’ she told me with dismay. A similar reaction happens all the time inmovie theaters when there is bloody violence. The young people laugh and cheer and keep right on eating popcorn….
“We have raised a generation of barbarians who have learned to associate violence with pleasure, like the Romans cheering and snacking as the Christians were slaughtered in the Coliseum.”
2. The deceptive side of evil
As the skies turn black, Harry Potter and his loyal friends hurry to pack their belongings and flee their foes. By now, the hateful Professor Snape has alerted Voldemort to their plans, and the masked Death Eaters soon intercept their journey through the skies. Magical spells and deafening explosions shatter the stillness of the night, but Harry and most of his supporters survive. They straggle into their temporary “safe” house to rest and heal their battle wounds.
It’s tempting to cheer for the weaker side in this struggle. But life is not as it seems in this world of guided images and tempting illusions. The war between Hogwarts’ supposedly “good” sorcerers and the despicably evil ones may look like a battle between good and evil, but it’s not! Both sides trust the dark forces of magic — wielded through magical wands, spells and swords.
So do some of their fans. But those who “love evil more than good,” [Psalm 52:3] will experience the devastating consequences of the values they have chosen to embrace. As God warns us:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21
God’s warnings become meaningless irritations to those who identify with Harry and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione. In their imaginary world, the key to victory lies in superhuman feats, not Biblical faith. At the moment, their focus is on Horcruxes — those physical objects empowered through fragments of Voldemort’s corrupted soul.
Hermione had studied the book, Secrets of the Darkest Art. “It’s a horrible book,” she explained, “really awful, full of evil magic…. And the more I’ve read about them [Horcruxes], the more horrible they seem, and the less I can believe that he actually made six. It warns in this book how unstable you make the rest of your soul by ripping it.”
A Wikia article reveals more secrets:
“The process makes the part of the soul remaining in the witch or wizard unstable. If the maker’s physical body is later destroyed, he or she will live on in non-corporeal form…. Destruction of a Horcrux is difficult, but not impossible, and requires that the object be damaged beyond most magical repair….”
“The fragments of a person’s soul within a Horcrux… have certain magical abilities, including the ability to influence those in their vicinity. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione were carrying Salazar Slytherin’s Locket around their necks in 1997, they each became moodier and more prone to fighting, especially Ron.”
Using their wands and spells, the trio did capture that locket. Now they just have to destroy it! They tried their most powerful spells, but nothing worked. The best they could do was to guard it by wearing it. In turn, they all suffered those annoying mood swings. Ron’s dark mood and jealousy finally drove them apart, and he left.
One day, while wearing the locket, Harry noticed a glimmer of light in the distance. It grew into the shape of a deer that led him to a frozen pond and then revealed a sword hidden under the ice. Excited, Harry broke the ice, undressed and swam to the bottom of the icy water. When he reached for the sword, he was blocked by a force from the soul-fragment in the locket. Unable to swim up for air, he nearly drowned.
Ron’s timely return saved Harry’s life. Ron retrieved the sword and used it to slash and destroy the locket. But their sweet success was short lived, for evil forces continued to pursue the trio until the end.
The last scene could hardly be more depressing. Lord Voldemort comes to Deathly Hallows to dig up Dumbledore’s grave. Like Harry, he suspected that the legendary “Elder Wand” would be buried with its master. The movie ends as Voldemort lifts the coveted wand into the air as a sign of victory.
3. Actual occult forces in the real world
Spiritual warfare has raged since the beginning of time, though many refuse to believe it. It’s simply not politically correct to suggest that actual witchcraft, magic and sorcery could have darkened tribes and civilizations throughout history. As Al Gore suggested in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, historical paganism should be honored, not criticized:
“The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief.”
“[Ceremonial sites] seem to confirm the notion that a goddess religion was ubiquitous throughout much of the world until the antecedents of today’s religions — most of which still have a distinctly masculine orientation — swept out of India and the Near East, almost obliterating belief in the goddess. The last vestige of organized goddess worship was eliminated by Christianity….[I]t seems obvious that a better understanding of a religious heritage preceding our own by so many thousands of years could offer us new insights…”
But Mr. Gore was distorting the truth. Witchcraft, goddess worship and other practices linked to ancient paganism were cruel and bloody, not kind and benevolent. The main goddesses in the Middle East three to four thousand years ago included Asherah, Astarte, Ishtar and others. Their ritual worship involved spiritism, sorcery, witchcraft and human sacrifices — as did Voldemort’s occult rituals.
Around 1450 BC), when Moses was preparing the Israelites to enter the promised land he spoke this warning:
“There shall not be found among you anyone who practices witchcraft… interprets omens, or a sorcerer… conjures spells, 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 18:10-12.
Raised and trained at the Egyptian court, Moses would surely have learned to write. In recent times, archeologists have uncovered all kinds of magical tools, pagan idols, and mythical scripts that reach back to ancient Egypt, Canaan, the Hittites and other parts of the world.
Dr. Paolo Matthiae, Director of the Italian Archeological Mission in Syria discovered “more than 15,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments” and unveiled a Semitic empire that dominated the Middle East more than four thousand years ago. Its hub was Ebla, where educated scribes filled ancient libraries with written records of history, people, places and commerce.
Western nations have been relatively free from occult entrapment since the Protestant Reformation. But now that God’s Truth and guidelines are increasingly banned and silenced — by law as well as through political correctness — that freedom is fading fast.
No public rules or boundaries are preventing occult enticements from spreading around the world. Never before have people been so ready and willing to receive the world’s most corrupting images and suggestions as they are today!
How does that impact our children? The Journal of the American Medical Association offers some clues:
“It compared two nations or regions that were demographically and ethnically identical; only one variable is different: the presence of television. ‘In every nation, region, or city with television, there is an immediate explosion of violence on the playground, and within 15 years there is a doubling of the murder rate. Why 15 years? That is how long it takes for the brutalization of a three-to five-year-old to reach the ‘prime crime age.’”
What can parents do to monitor and restrict violent and occult media messages? Here are a few suggestions:
Pray — fervently, frequently and confidently — based on God’s Word!
Teach your children to “put on” and wear the Armor of God. The greatest weapon against the world’s deceptions is His Truth. The Armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) provides an outline of the vital truth that can expose and resist any of Satan’s lies.
Be watchful. Explain the danger of occult entertainment to your children. Share the statistics and the horrendous consequences of the conditioning process. Show them items in the newspaper that provide current and relevant examples and warnings.
Understand the Nature and Tactics of Satan. Children need to be alert to both his timeless and his current strategies. We are all engaged in a spiritual war—and we cannot close our eyes to the realities of the foes that assault us.
- Keep thanking God who gives us the victory. Know His Names and count on His promises. “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
1. Lauren A. E. Schuker, “‘Potter’ Charms Aging Audience,” WSJ, 11-22-10. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703567304575628783648960748.html?KEYWORDS=Harry+potter+deathly
2. “These are dark times,” http://www.gcsunade.com/2010/11/18/movie-review-‘these-are-dark-times-’/
3. Harry Potter Wiki, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Eater
4. Allison Wingate, “Dark times ahead for Harry Potter,” 11-20-10, www.reviewtimes.com/Issues/2010/Nov/20/ar_news_112010_story3.asp?d=112010_story3,2010,Nov,20&c=n
5. Read this testimony: “Leading Me Back Through the Darkness” at http://www.crossroad.to/Victory/testimonies/jonathan.htm
6 .Dave Grossman, “Trained to Kill” at http://www.killology.com/print/print_trainedtokill.htm
7. Horcrux, http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Horcrux
8. Al Gore, Earth in the Balance; Ecology and the Human Spirit (Houghton Mifflin, 1992), p.260
A review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
By Berit Kjos – July 18, 2011
“I have been encouraged by my pastor at my CHRISTIAN church to read the Harry Potter books, because even though they have references to magic and sorcery, they can teach us more about the values of Friendship and Bravery than he can…. I am no longer Christian. Somewhere along the way my beliefs changed. I practice Wicca.” A young visitor to our website
“Days before the release of the seventh and final novel in the series, youth leaders are being told they could use the popularity of the Potter books and films as a ‘launch pad’ for exploring Christian themes.”
“In its early years, ‘Harry Potter’ was a litmus test of orthodoxy for some conservative Christians, who expressed concern over its portrayal of witchcraft….The hysteria has largely died down, and not many religious leaders asked their flocks to avoid the final movie….Many Christians have cheered the portrayals of loyalty, courage and love.”
“[They] practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord….” 2 Kings 17:17
I had plenty of company last Saturday morning as I hurried into the movie theater to see the final film in the Harry Potter series. Several families with children walked in ahead of me. Others followed. One little girl couldn’t be more than three years old! How would she react to this scary movie?
For more than two hours, the audience sat immersed in a mystical world filled with frightening shrieks, explosive sounds of death and destruction, and enticing suggestions certain to appeal to power-hungry youth already attuned to the forces of evil.
If you are a parent, please don’t take your children to see this movie!
By its end, it had exposed the two sides of today’s popular evil. Like the yin-yang symbol, there is an obvious dark side and a more subtle “light” side to occult deceptions. To resist their mind-changing allure, we need to understand both.
The Dark Side of Evil
This last part of the Harry Potter sequence promotes everything God bans in this warning:
“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 conjures spells, 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 18:10-12
During the last three centuries, Americans have enjoyed relative freedom from the occult forces that have tormented many other parts of the world. From the beginning, the pilgrims and a significant number of other believers trusted God and built this nation on the foundation of His Word. Therefore God protected their land. Few were exposed to words and actions that led to the occult.
But times have changed and God’s actual truth is rarely heard in public places. We can no longer shut out the well-marketed forces of evil that press into our lives — even in churches. That’s all the more reason to prepare for the spiritual warfare ahead. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the occult practices listed in the above verses from Deuteronomy. Each practice is featured in this movie.
1. WITCHCRAFT: Trusting the occult spirit world for power to perform all kinds of magical spells and wonders.
Witchcraft was common in Old Testament days. Back then it was already a “normal” part of life in cultures around the world. Finally, in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, such practices faded in the West. More recently, that trend has been reversed. The mind-changing fantasies spread by Rowling and her admirers have sparked a rapid revival of interest and delight in occult empowerment.
2. SOOTHSAYER: A fortuneteller, diviner or seer in communication with demonic spirits.
3. INTERPRETING OMENS: Receiving messages and interpretations — usually ominous – from the spirit world.
4. SORCERY: Performing magical feats through occult forces.
If witchcraft and sorcery sound like fantasy and fairy tales to teens and children today, the devil must be very pleased. He is constantly on the lookout for those who will follow his ways — even if “just” in their imaginations. As God warned long ago,
“They…walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart….” Jeremiah 7:24
5. CONJURE SPELLS: Manipulating occult forces according to mental formulas and projecting the spell through a physical object.
“To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol,” explained Starhawk, the wiccan author of The Spiral Dance. “Spells… require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection.”
Most spells in the movie were cast through magically empowered wands. The powerful Elder Wand apparently had a mind of its own and could choose whether or not to serve a new master. Wikipedia explains its bizarre history:
“In the preceding movie, Voldemort…opens Dumbledore’s tomb and claims the wand as his own. Assuming incorrectly that Snape is the wand’s current master, Voldemort slays Snape, not realizing that the wand’s allegiance was to Draco….Harry had subsequently disarmed Draco and taken his wand. …the Elder Wand’s allegiance had since shifted to Harry….Voldemort uses the Elder Wand to cast his final Killing Curse against Harry’s Expelliarmus charm. But since the wand’s allegiance is to Harry, Voldemort’s spell backfires and kills him once and for all.”
Spells were also essential to the creation and destruction of the horcruxes used by Voldemort to secure his own immortality. “Invented” by J.K Rowling, they only exist in the imaginations of those who are captivated by her tales and by the additional “information” they inspire. For example, Wikipedia adds this gruesome description:
“…the creation of a Horcrux requires one to commit a murder, which, as the supreme act of evil, ‘rips the soul apart.’ After the murder, a spell is cast to infuse part of the ripped soul into an object, which becomes the Horcrux….Both inanimate objects and living organisms have been used as Horcruxes, though the latter are considered riskier to use, since an organism can move and think for itself….
“To be destroyed, a Horcrux must suffer damage so severe that repair through magical means would be impossible….Once a Horcrux is irreparably damaged, the fragment of soul within it is destroyed.”
These dark fantasies share a common consequence with actual occult realities. Both stir cravings for new and ever darker occult thrills and knowledge. The natural consequences of pursuing such a path is spiritual bondage and torment. Listen again to God’s warning:
“They would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.” (Proverbs 1:30-31)
6. CALL UP THE DEAD [Necromancy]: Invoking the spirit of a deceased person through occult formulas.
Here the story gets more complicated. Harry himself was one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, since a piece of Voldemort’s soul was hidden inside him. Therefore Harry had to die before Voldemort could be killed. That realization made Harry’s life bleak indeed. The months of hiding from Voldemort and his armies had taken their toll. Choosing to face his inevitable death rather than fight it, he walked unarmed into Voldemort’s forest camp.
But first Harry wanted to see his dead parents and friends. His magical Resurrection Stone enabled him to call up the spirits of his father and mother as well as Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. They promised to stay with him until he died.
During his brief time in the state of “death,” Harry was visited by the spirit of Albus Dumbledore who suggested that he return to life. Since “dying” had freed him from bondage to Voldemort’s horcrux, he chose to return.
Many have equated Harry’s death with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are way off track! Any such comparison is a mockery of God’s actual Truth.
The “Light“ Side of Evil
Surrounded by Hogwarts ash-covered ruins, Harry wins his final battle against Voldemort. Later, as he stands on a high ridge with his best friends, Ron and Hermione, he pulls out his Elder Wand, the most powerful wand known to wizards. He breaks it in two and throws the pieces into the canyon below. Apparently, there’s no need for it anymore.
Did he really believe that all warfare ended when Voldemort died? Would peace now prevail in the region cleansed of its cruel leader? What about Voldemort’s surviving army of ambitious, murderous “death eaters”? Might not some of them fight for his lofty, tyrannical position?
Harry doesn’t answer those questions.
The movie concludes with a brief glimpse of the three friends nineteen years later. Ron, of course, married Hermione. Harry married Ron’s sister Ginny. Now the two couples are standing with their children on the magical railroad Platform 9¾, ready to send their older children off to school on the Hogwarts Express.
When Harry’s middle son admits his fear of being “sorted” into the Slytherin dorm rather than Gryffindor, his father comforts him:
“Albus Severus, you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin [Severus Snape] and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
He was? The sour, sullen, ruthless Severus Snape was no friend to Harry during his school years. Nor was any other member of the Slytherin clan. Most of them were deadly enemies. Many joined the Death Eaters. In light of the previous Potter books, this sudden emphasis on peace, harmony and reconciliation makes no sense!
George Orwell would probably agree. His familiar book, 1984, sums up such strange contradictions with these words: “War is PEACE. Freedom is SLAVERY. Ignorance is STRENGTH.“
We might add this lie: Evil is Good! In a world that despises God’s Word and moral guidelines, it’s not surprising that a series of books based on witchcraft and wizardry has won the hearts of the people. Occult themes, whether in books, movies or computer games, have become one of today’s most effective tools for social transformation. Even churches are promoting the change. The “light” side of evil could hardly be more deceptive!
As God’s Word tells us, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) That’s reality today! But the consequences for those who believe his lies will be severe:
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Isaiah 5:20-21
God’s Ultimate Victory
Today’s rising world system has called for unbiblical peace and a prescribed form of solidarity that has little tolerance for Christians who refuse to compromise. Yet, if we stand firm in Jesus Christ, our sovereign Lord, He will surely meet all our needs — and much more! Those who resist the world’s tempting lies in His name will be safe in Him — now and forever!
This world system denies the message of the cross. That’s why the name of Jesus is banned from all kinds of public places. But we cannot be silent! What Jesus prayed to His Father almost 2000 years ago is now His message for us:
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one…. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” John 17:14-19
1. “Use Harry Potter to spread Christian message,” The Telegraph [a British newspaper], July 18, 2007. This link is now obsolete: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;?xml=/news/2007/07/17/npotter217.xml
2. Sarah P. Bailey, “How Christians Warmed to Harry Potter,” Wall Street Journal, July 15, 2011, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812104576441641674217076.html. See also John Granger’s message at www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/harry-granger.htm
3. Starhawk, Spiral Dance (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1979), 25.
4. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horcrux#Deathly_Hallows
5. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horcrux#Horcruxes
6. George Orwell, 1984 at George Orwell’s 1984