An incredibly popular movie series by J.K. Rowling.
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
“I was eager to get to Hogwarts first because I like what they learned there and I want to be a witch.” Gioia Bishop, age 10.
“I like the third book because here [Harry] meets his godfather and Professor Lupin, a really cool guy [This really “cool guy” is a werewolf as well as wizard, and Harry’s godfather is a “shape shifter” who turns himself into a scary black dog].…” Harry Libarle, age 7.
Might Harry Potter seem as real as life to his young fans around the world? Do children accept Harry’s lessons in practical witchcraft as an open door to an occult reality? Many Christian leaders have denied any such danger, but author J.K. Rowling admits that this happens. In an interview with Newsweek’s Malcolm Jones, she said,
“I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the books’ setting], and it’s not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad. Because they want it to be true so badly they have convinced themselves it’s true.”
While children everywhere crave supernatural thrills, Great Britain, the birthplace of Harry Potter, has been a wonderland of options for exploring practical witchcraft. And plenty of youth have caught Harry’s vision. They want to learn his wizardly ways.
Two British reports on this phenomenon show us the obvious: popular forms of occult entertainment “have fueled a rapidly growing interest in witchcraft among children.” Naturally, the island’s Pagan Federation is pleased. Though it refuses to admit new members under age 18, “it deals with an average of 100 inquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, and claims it has occasionally been ‘swamped’ with calls.”
“It is quite probably linked to things like Harry Potter, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” explains the Federation’s media officer, Andy Norfolk. “Every time an article on witchcraft or paganism appears, we had a huge surge in calls, mostly from young girls.“
This trend worries John Buckeridge, editor of Youthwork, a British Christian magazine. Unlike U.S. church-leaders who back Harry Potter, he spots danger ahead. “The growing number of books and TV shows like Harry Potter and Sabrina the Teenage Witch encourage an interest in magic as harmless fun,” he warms. “However for some young people it could fuel a fascination that leads to dangerous dabbling with occult powers. So what starts out as spooks and spells can lead to psychological and spiritual damage.”
But Mr. Norfolk disagrees. His reasoning makes witchcraft sound both safe and responsible. “Our youth officer will explain things like the principle ethic of witchcraft,” he assures skeptics, “that you should not cause harm to anyone – and that it’s not just an easy way to get a new boyfriend!”
A more “noble” religion
It’s not surprising that the timeless craving for power and magic has soared with the spread of pagan television shows and Harry Potter books. But today’s pagan revival began years earlier.
Almost a decade ago, a Wiccan student wrote a promotional article for The Talon, her high school newspaper, about witchcraft. What happened shows both America’s Cultural Shift and the growing preference for paganism. The student, Leah Mowry, based her conclusions on interviews with several other student witches at Los Altos High School in California. In her article, she boasted that her religion
- was more tolerant than traditional beliefs
- taught people to take better care of the environment
- helped people to empower themselves
- and only used “good” magic.
Soon afterwards, a Christian student, also an editor for The Talon, asked if he could write about Young Life, a Christian group active on their campus.
“No,” was the response, “because witchcraft is underexposed in our society and Christianity is overexposed.” In other words, witches could give public testimonies about the benefits of their religion, but Christians were no longer allowed to express their faith and testimonies.
Christianity simply doesn’t fit, and Mr. Norfolk of the Pagan Federation thinks he knows why. The Christian Church has failed to provide “the right degree of spirituality for young people,” he explains. In contrast, paganism involves “direct communication with the divine.”
From the Biblical perspective, he is tragically wrong. But that matters little to the masses that want spiritual power without Biblical accountability. With help from television, books, movies and other media, Christianity’s reputation has been badly smeared. Blamed for hatred, conflict, wars and environmental abuse, it has inspired countless “Christian” leaders to re-imagine their faith and embrace a more “tolerant” view toward the world’s fast-growing fascination with pagan practices.
Strange council from Christian leaders
Typical of our times, a recent report in Christianity Today seems to base its approval of Harry Potter, not on the Bible, but on popular consensus among admired Christian leaders.
“As far as I can tell,” writes author Ted Olsen, “while no major Christian leader has come out to condemn J.K. Rowling’s series, many have given it the thumbs-up. If our readers know of any major Christian leader who has actually told Christians not to read the books, I’d be happy to know about it; but in my research, even those Christians known for criticizing all that is popular culture have been pretty positive about Potter.”
To prove his point, Mr. Olsen quotes seven Christian leaders and publications:
1. Chuck Colson, in his Breakpoint (11-2-1999) radio broadcast, commended Harry and his friends for their “courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another—even at the risk of their lives.” Colson dismissed the pagan practices as
“purely mechanical, as opposed to occultic. That is, Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don’t make contact with a supernatural world…. [It’s not] the kind of real-life witchcraft the Bible condemns.”
2. World Magazine (5-29-1999) praised Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as
“a delight—with a surprising bit of depth.” Author Roy Maynard assured World readers that “Rowling…keeps it safe, inoffensive, and non-occult. This is the realm of Gandalf and the Wizard of Id, not witchcraft. There is a fairy-tale order to it all in which, as Chesterton and Tolkien pointed out, magic must have rules, and good does not—cannot—mix with bad.”
3. World’s second article toned down the enthusiasm. “A reader drawn in would find that the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter’s world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil.” (October 30, 1999)
4. The British Christianity magazine praised the series. In a issue, Mark Greene, Director of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, wrote a note of regret for not giving it to his god-daughter earlier:
“I wish I’d been the one to introduce her to Harry—fine lad you know, courageous, resourceful, humble, fun, good mind. Comes from good stock, you know. She could do worse, far worse. And, as far as literary companions go, frankly, not much better.”
5. A Christian Century (12-1-99) editorial, “Wizards and Muggles,” states,
“Rowling is not the first fantasy writer to be attacked by conservative Christians. Even the explicitly Christian writer Madeleine L’Engle has taken heat for the ‘magic’ elements in A Wrinkle in Time. Such critics are right in thinking that fantasy writing is powerful and needs to be taken seriously. But we strongly doubt that it fosters an attachment to evil powers. Harry’s world, in any case, is a moral one.”
6. Focus on the Family gave a mixed review. According to Ted Olsen, the advice offered by Focus’s critic, Lindy Beam was simply, “Apart from the benefit of wise adult guidance in reading these books, it is best to leave Harry Potter on the shelf.” [“Exploring Harry Potter’s World,“ December, 1999]
7. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs concludes that Harry Potter stories promote “a kind of spiritual warfare…. A struggle between good and evil…. There is in books like this the possibility for serious moral reflection…[and] the question of what to do with magic powers is explored in an appropriate and morally serious way.” (September/October, Mars Hill Audio Journal)
Is it really? Take a look at the other side of this issue.
Biblical answers to occult seductions.
The mass media’s promotion of contrary values have prompted even Christians to replace or distort the pursuit of God with the pursuit of pleasure. So God’s standards would hardly win a popularity contest today. Popular versions of Christianity has wisely rejected some of the stiff legalism of the past, but it has also tossed out God’s much-needed guidelines and warnings. The result is license to do almost anything that feels good. Christians who refuse to compromise are often demeaned as old-fashioned kill-joys who bring reproof and embarrassment to those who fear offending the world with the whole truth of the gospel. That’s why Jesus warned us long ago,
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…. Remember the words I spoke to you: … If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…. for they do not know the One who sent me.” John 15:18-21
God gave us His Word that we might know Him. The Bible reveals His heart, will and ways. It alone can show us what is truth or error in those seven public responses to the Harry Potter phenomenon.
1. Chuck Colson praised Harry and his friends for their “courage, loyalty, and a willingness to sacrifice… for one another—even at the risk of their lives.” Those qualities can be found in almost any culture. But, according to the Bible, a brave person is no more free to pursue paganism than a coward. Harry’s occult skills — witchcraft, sorcery, casting spells, spiritism, interpreting omens and “calling up the dead” fit into a category God tells us not even to discuss. “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord….” Eph. 5:10-12, Deut. 18:9-12
Colson’s dismissal of the dangers of delighting in such evils as “purely mechanical,” makes no sense from a Biblical perspective. He says that “Harry and his friends cast spells, read crystal balls, and turn themselves into animals—but they don’t make contact with a supernatural world….” Where then does their power come from? Natural rather than supernatural forces?
Of course not. Rowling doesn’t acknowledge the source, but anyone who has researched witchcraft and talked with contemporary pagans will see the alarming parallels between contemporary occultism and Rowling’s seductive message to children. (If you find this hard to believe, please read chapters 4 and 8 of A Twist of Faith)
2. World Magazine (5-29-1999) made the same error. Calling Harry Potter’s world “a delight… safe, inoffensive, and non-occult,” is misleading assurance. True, “magic must have rules,” but the primary rule of the occult is that Satan doesn’t offer free and easy favors for long. He may indulge seekers in a free ride for a while, but as soon as his victims have been captivated by his lures — all of which are counterfeits of what God offers those who follow Him — he begins to demand his payoff. Suddenly the bright side of evil turns dark indeed. Attempts to resist or turn back usually lead to spiritual terrors and oppression.
As World indicated, “good does not—cannot—mix with bad” but not because “good” motives are always “good,” even in a pagan context. God’s good is corrupted when adapted to a pagan setting. In fact, God doesn’t want what He considers good to be linked to the occult. He sends us out to pagans to share His love, but we cannot delight in what He calls evil. God shows us His reason in a most politically incorrect message:
“What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?…. For we are the temple of the living God…. ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord.'” 2 Cor. 6:14-17
3. World’s second article maintained that “the real world of witchcraft is not Harry Potter’s world. Neither attractive nor harmless, it is powerful and evil.”
Actually, today’s pagan movement is attractive to anyone disillusioned by unfriendly churches. It entices seekers by showing the “light” side of occultism. Contemporary witches — both men and women — that I have met are sincere, often compassionate, usually well educated and frustrated with today’s rampant materialism. Few look evil. Instead, they demonstrate God’s warning in 2 Cor. 11:14-15,
“For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness….”
The younger generation of pagans show another side. Many dabble in black magic and the other “dark arts” that are so seductively taught at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Apart from the fantasy setting and dramatic demonstrations of magic, there is little difference between Harry’s skills and the real world of the occult.
4. Mark Greene’s endorsement in the British Christianity raises some serious questions. What does he mean by “Harry — fine lad you know…. Comes from a good stock….” Is he referring to Harry’s parents — a witch and a wizard? Is he speaking as director of London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, or is this simply his personal opinion?
One thing is certain. This attitude is driving the current transformation of the Church. It’s time for serious Christians to “count the cost” and be ready to stand uncompromisingly strong in the Truth God has given us.
5. The Christian Century denies that Harry Potter “fosters an attachment to evil powers.” It calls Harry’s world “a moral one.” It’s wrong on both points. Just review the testimony from the Pagan Federation, which reaps the fruit from the soaring interest in Witchraft.
Second, Harry and his friends may show loyalty to each other and courage in the face of danger. But they also lie and steal. Would you call that a moral world? Kenneth McCormick adds this insight:
“stealing, lies, hate, revenge, and even murder are presented in a complete absence of moral conflict. Lying exists, of course, in the plots of many children’s books, but there is normally an at least tacit recognition that lying is a moral problem of some sort.”
6. Focus on the Family critic, Lindy Beam came closest to the truth. The last part of her counsel is right: “Apart from the benefit of wise adult guidance in reading these books, it is best to leave Harry Potter on the shelf.”
As for the first half of her counsel, it might be good to remember God’s definition of wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The fear of the Lord involves a sober awareness of what He loves, of what He despises, and of the consequences of disobedience and rebellion against Him. It leads to a sincere desire to please Him, heartfelt gratefulness for His mercy, and unending delight in His loving presence. So when we choose to “fear the Lord” we will heed Romans 12:9, “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.“
Among the obvious evils are the practices listed in Deuternomy 18:9-12: witchcraft, sorcery, spellcasting, divination, calling up the dead, etc. In other words, children who delight in Harry’s occult world of spells and magic will naturally learn to enjoy evil and crave more. But they cannot “cling to what is good” while they love evil. The two are incompatible.
In other words, “wise adult guidance” would most likely choose to “leave Harry Potter on the shelf.”
7. Wheaton College professor Alan Jacobs suggests that the Harry Potter books offer “the possibility for serious moral reflection…[and] the question of what to do with magic powers is explored in an appropriate and morally serious way.” His words make no sense from a Biblical perspective.
Since white magic, like black magic, is “an abomination” to God — and since white magic is far more deceptive and seductive — neither is good. Books written from an occult perspective cannot explore magic powers in “an appropriate and morally serious way” — without redefining the word moral and rejecting the Bible. A context or setting that approves occultism will turn God’s values upside down. Praising the practices God condemns, Professor Jacobs illustrates the timeless message of Isaiah 5:20:
“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!”
Tempting options and wide-open doors
Ted Olsen ended his defense of Harry with a quote by J. K Rowling:
“I have met thousands of children now, and not even one time has a child come up to me and said, ‘Ms. Rowling, I’m so glad I’ve read these books because now I want to be a witch.”
The fact is — whether Ms Rowling heard it from a fan or not — many children are pursuing the real-life versions of witchcraft because they have learned to love Harry’s world. Ten-year-old Gioia Bishop said it well, “I was eager to get to Hogwarts first because I like what they learned there and I want to be a witch.”
It’s no wonder a talented story-teller such as J.K. Rowling can so effectively inspire children. She grew up loving the occult. The article, Harry Potter and the source of inspiration, describes her childhood fascination and those who inspired the main characters in her books. For example, her early view of Harry was shaped by her playmate Ian Potter “whose childhood antics have startling similarities to those of the fictional schoolboy wizard.” Together, they began to role-play the practices that made her books so exciting.
“We used to dress up and play witches all the time,” explained Ian’s sister Vikki. “My brother would dress up as a wizard. Joanne was always reading to us…. we would make secret potions for her. She would always send us off to get twigs for the potions.”
Apparently, Ms Rowling knew how to find the books that nurtured her fascination even as a child. Now she, in turn, spreads her love for the occult to children around the world. Without a firm foundation in Biblical truth, they have little resistance to her seductive call. And since most older children have been thoroughly immersed in the multicultural world view in their public schools, they are likely to prefer paganism to Christianity.
From the world’s perspective, why shouldn’t they? Why not follow the crowd and seek a new consensus in the name of peace and unity?
After all, “paganism is recognized as a valid religion,” says Mr. Norfolk of the Pagan Federation. He sees no reason why parents should be alarmed by their children’s sudden interest in magic.
Nor did a spokesman from the Roman Catholic Church. “I haven’t heard anything within the Catholic religion that suggests this is anything to be concerned about,” he said, following the pattern of unbiblical tolerance touted by his Protestant and Anglican counterparts. Apparently, the division between church leaders who support Harry and those who don’t runs through many nations and denominations. 
Our local library held a Harry Potter party on August 2. About a hundred children showed up to decorate Wizard hats and paint the lightening mark of Harry Potter fans on their foreheads. They provided a captive audience for adult fans of Harry’s world view. Parents had to wait outside.
Preparing children for spiritual battle
Remember, this is spiritual warfare. God’s enemy fights as hard as ever to win the hearts and loyalties of our children — and he has added all kinds of high-tech tools to his armory.
To resist his strategies, they first need to understand the Biblical world view. That’s why God told His people long ago to base all conversation — day and night — on His unchanging truth:
“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit… walk… lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut. 6:6-7
Everything we say must reflect the reality of God, His love and sovereignty, His promises and His warnings. To prove that our God is far greater than the pantheon of alternatives, our lives must demonstrate faith in the midst of difficulties and His triumph in the midst of turmoil. This is possible, not by our own strength, but by His power and grace. Then, seeing His greatness, children learn to trust His promises.
Likewise, The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) begins and ends with the power of His Word. First, we “put on the belt of Truth,” which holds all the other pieces — His righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation — in place. The last part, “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” is simply His truth and promises memorized, remembered and affirmed as we face each day’s challenge.
This two-edged sword is our main weapon in every battle. It exposes lies and uncovers deceptions while it strengthens our faith and lifts our hearts. The world can’t understand it, and many so-called Christians despise it. But to those who love God, it brings the hope, strength, joy and perseverance needed to walk with Him in peace no matter what happens.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ….” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Malcolm Jones, “The Return of Harry Potter!”, Newsweek (Online), July 1, 2000, page 4. Apparently, this article which was originally posted at <www.msnbc.com/news/428200.asp> is no longer available at the Newsweek website <www.msnbc.com>. I have a printed (not digitized) copy of the article which I had downloaded before its removal.
 “What Readers Think About Goblet?” San Francisco Chronicle, 7-26.
 “Harry’s Biggest Fans,” San Francisco Chronicle, 7-26
 Potter fans turning to witchcraft, Associated Newspapers Ltd., 04 August 2000,
Leah Mowery, “Mystical Misconceptions Haunt Students,” The Talon, 7 June 1991.
 Based on the above Wiccan article and on personal interviews with the Christian student
 Ted Olsen Christianity Today
 See A Twist of Faith)
 “What Readers Think About Goblet?” San Francisco Chronicle, 7-26.
A New Twist on Potter and Popular Psychology
by Berit Kjos
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
At the first glance, the new analysis of the Harry Potter and Pokemon phenomenon looked great. Posted on Chuck Colson’s website, BreakPoint Online, it began with some wise observations showing the occult nature of J. K. Rowling’s books. Chuck Colson has changed his mind about Harry’s influence, I thought.
But my relief didn’t last long. Not only does the article, Pokémon, Harry Potter, and the Magic of Story, use the psychology behind the consensus processas an argument in favor of popular pagan fantasies. Its author, Mark Filiatreau, who is doing graduate work at Regent [Christian] College in Vancouver, also muddles the Biblical view of truth. Like Eugene Peterson, a Regent College professor who wrote the popular paraphrase of the New Testament called The Message, he seem to put a “feel good” and politically correct spin on Biblical truth.
Yet, Mr. Filiatreau does show us some good reasons to be concerned about today’s Harry Potter and Pokemon craze. His insights and observations merit appreciation:
- “Magic power is what both Pokémon and Harry Potter are about.”
- “The Pokémon fight each other with supernatural powers.”
- “Harry Potter is the humble star-student of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry. He gets trained in magic powers too…. [A]dolescents in this school daily learn to do the kinds of things for which the God of Mount Sinai commanded the death sentence.”
- “Magical power gets exerted over nature and other people. They also share many of the same trappings—clothing, spells, herbal potions, even contacting the dead.”
- “As our kids rise through the school grades, they may well meet peers exploring actual witchcraft or even Satanism. Harry Potter could easily become an imaginative bridge connecting them to these dangerous interests.”
- “It all begins in the imagination.”
- “Adults and adolescents who are alienated from or ignorant of the love and power of the Holy Spirit often get involved with “New Age” religions—including neopagan forms like Wicca and witchcraft—out of the innocent, or at least naïve, desire to experience something transcendent.”
- Human “intuitions may be diabolic and deceptive (like the versions presented lightly in Harry Potter and Pokémon and more seriously elsewhere).”
This insightful list provides ample grounds for warning our children against fascination with the mythical worlds of Potter and Pokemon. But that’s not Filiatreau’s conclusion. “So what should we do?” he asks.
Laying a foundation for his solution, he lists “three important truths that Christians should reflect on.” Each of the “truths” deals with feelings, wants and longings — the “felt needs” that most people in America today want to satisfy.
This is significant, for “felt needs” have become very important to educators, politicians and church leaders today. Most institutions around the world that use the Hegelian dialectic (consensus) process  — these include churches and schools as well as business and government — are finding ways to measure(through polls, surveys, questionnaires…), manipulate and meet these felt needs in order to change beliefs and conform public values to a more politically correct standard. (See Reinventing the World)
This psycho-social strategy for changing people and cultures brings its own set of visions, ideals, words and meanings. Many of those words and concepts have already become part of the public consciousness. They fit right into Filiatreau’s psychological reasoning. See for yourself, as you ponder his three truths.
“We love story, and so we should.”
Should we? Any kind of story? In contrast to his earlier warnings, Filiatreau now gives the impression that any well told story would be beneficial:
“Kids especially love stories. The Potter books (I’ve read two) move quickly and have exciting climaxes…. It is not an accident that the center of the Christian faith is a story (a true one, of course), not ideas or ‘rules for living’…. Christ is, as Madeleine L’Engle  creatively puts it, a ‘god who told stories.’ Scripture says he ‘never spoke to the people without a parable’ (Mark 4:34).”
This Scripture was taken out of context. It only referred to a particular day. The description of that day begins in Mark 4:1-3 and ends with verses 33-35. At that point, He is explaining the messages to His disciples and has stopped speaking in parables:
“…He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 3“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow…”.
“And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. On the same day, when evening had come….”
“The visible world is not enough for us…. We may try to suppress it, but the longing for something beyond—for the supernatural and wondrous—will have its day.”
Will it really? Does this longing “for something beyond” refer to a relationship with God or with any supernatural and mystical power that humans can imagine and manipulate? Why will it “have its day?” Filiatreau offers some psychological, not Biblical, reasons:
- “… the supernatural can be fun. Kids recognize intuitively that you can have more fun with the universe when you allow your imagination to stretch beyond the things you see and touch every day. This is true even if a given use of the imagination is just an extension of the everyday reality….”
It may be normal for our human nature (which the Bible calls the “flesh”) to crave occult fun, but we don’t have to follow those wants and feelings. The strength He offers us is greater by far than the world’s seductions, and there are plenty of other fun activities within His beautiful creation. We would be wise to heed His Word, not our flesh. By His grace and through the cross, He sets us free from bondage to all those contrary cravings. (Romans 6:1-13) Yet, Filiatreau tells us that,
- “…adults long for a supernatural element too.… they were all attracted to séances because the church down the street no longer taught them how to relate to God as a real yet supernatural presence. And even if it did, who would be so credulous as to believe it?”
The answer is simple: those who truly seek God and His ways will “believe it.” They may be few in number compared to the masses that choose the world’s wide and popular roads, but God always has a remnant of people that love and follow Him. They delight in His nearness and trust His truths, no matter how incredulous they seem to the rest of the world.
This faith and delight isn’t based on human dreams, imagination or intuition. They are based on Spirit-given faith in God’s unchanging Word. Yet, Filiatreau believes that,
- “Each of us holds intuitions of a realm that exists beyond the senses, or at least of a realm beyond the senses that we feel couldor ought to exist…. These intuitions of other realms may never be understood or proven. God has revealed very little about heaven and hell. Like the ‘mystery of iniquity,’ like God’s grace working in us, our intuitions of the spiritual realm are mysteries of the heart.”
Actually, God has revealed more than enough about heaven and hell (and about good and evil) to show that the world’s assortment of spiritual counterfeits bring immeasurable and eternal grief. In fact, those intuitions of “other realms” have — throughout the world’s history — led blinded masses of people toward an end that will be anything but fun. That’s why God warned us repeatedly not to imagine, experience or even think about them. Filiatreau seems to know that, as demonstrated by his third truth.
“Story can deliver and plant truths—or lies—within us more deeply and effectively than can any other mode of expression…. Over time, they can change our affections and so form our characters.”
That’s usually true. But Filiatreau seems to turn this sobering reality into an argument in favor storytelling in general — with its potential for deceptive manipulation of feelings and affections — rather than a warning against stories that might lead in the wrong direction:
“The best stories do this by showing us the good and leading us to desire it instead of simply knowing about it.”
“Pictures can make us feel. Expository writing can make us understand. But only story is intrinsically able to do both at the same time. In story, feeling and understanding can combine with synergistic power. Theologians may argue ad infinitum over how salvation works. But the story of the Prodigal Son can make us feel and know what it is.”
Filiatreau’s logic contains an alluring blend of psychological truth and Biblical error. Strategic pictures do “make us feel.” That’s why symbols have always been important to people — and why totalitarian leaders use symbols and other images to manipulate the feelings of the masses.
Stories, like images, have power to stir feelings and guide the understanding. But all too often the feelings they produce bring a presumptuous sense of knowing — a baseless certainty which is subjective, not objective. Grounded in emotions rather than fact or truth, it can be altered or modified by the next well-told story. That’s why today’s leading change agents — in the pulpit as well as the classroom — prefer to tell fun and feel-good stories rather than facts.
Yes, Jesus told many parables, but they illustrated — never substituted for — the foundational truths He wanted His disciples to learn. But that seems insignificant to Filiatreau, for he puts “modern novels” into the same category as Biblical parables:
“The sensory properties of stories make them not only moving but memorable for the long term. …For it’s not only biblical parables that move us to action. Modern novels can too, both culturally and individually.”
That’s right. The world of imagination and fantasy creates sensory and virtual experiences that plants memories and stirs all kinds of desires and choices.That’s why Harry Potter does lure kids to witchcraft.
In his concluding summary, Filiatreau pulls his three psychological “truths” together:
- “First, stories are both honorable and inevitable.”
- “Second, so-called ‘realism’ is not enough for us; we like and need stories that may bring us truth about the supernatural realm that we have such kinship with.”
- “Third, stories can plant truths—or lies—within us more deeply and effectively than can any other mode of expression.”
“Where does this leave us regarding Pokémon and Potter?” he asks.
At this point, the article takes a strange turn. Ignoring his earlier arguments against these popular occult trends, the author states his bewildering conclusion:
“I don’t think Pokémon or Harry Potter are going to do much to plant seeds of evil and deception deep in kids’ hearts. I don’t see the Antichrist being shaped here. Unlike prophetic parables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and What Must Be Done, they are not very earnest enterprises.
“And even if they do plant seeds, the news is not all bad.
“In the Harry Potter books that I’ve read, good and evil are painted pretty much in traditional black and white and not in shades of gray after the modern fashion. Children’s fiction holds worse and more subtle dangers today than the exterior trappings of magic. For that matter, the Harry Potter books themselves hold worse and more subtle dangers. These include the ego-stroking of Harry’s messiah-like specialness—he’s born as a wizard of wizards (of course, he’s humble about it)—and the derision of non-magical people as “Muggles.”
Do you see the contradictions? Not only do the first two sentences contradict the third, they also clash with earlier statements. Both Potter and Pokemon reach far below the “exterior trappings of magic.” Harry may be “the humble star-student of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry,” but his view of himself and his pagan world matches the attitudes of the public masses who trade God and His will for a supernatural force that — for the moment — seems amenable to manipulation through their own human will.
In the end, Filiatreau seems to ignore the power of the occult images, the contrary values, and the potential fascinations with forbidden realms. He suggests that parents go ahead, read and discuss Harry Potter. “Frankly,” he says, “if Christian parents can’t or won’t talk their children through such negative aspects in these books—and in games like Pokémon—then I would say their family has worse, more internal problems to work out.”
Then his tone and message changes again. Filiatreau honors the Potter fantasy with redemptive value through the image of a mother loving her baby — a theme that threads through the history of many a pagan civilization:
“But getting back to the redemptive side, the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, has a rather moving and life-affirming denouement as a mystery in Harry’s past is solved. We learn that a mother’s love for her baby (Harry himself) became externalized as a sort of magic power. The power was strong enough to protect the baby even from his world’s most powerful evil sorcerer, who, after killing Harry’s parents, tried to kill their baby too … but this magic killed him instead. My gut does a little pinch just remembering it.
Filiatreau reminds us that “Jesus is a realist… His reality is different than ours… [and He] commands our reality to become like his.”
Yes and no. Those who belong to Jesus do share His reality, for “we have the mind of Christ.” Our perspective and understanding are increasingly conformed to His as we delight in His Word and focus our hearts on His eternal ways. In contrast, filling our minds with enticing images and ideas from Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will do the opposite. (1 Cor. 2:16; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16-18)
The power of an unbiblical story to create values and build character will drive the reader away from, not toward, the God who loves us. Nor will a family discussion led by sincere parents erase the occult images and ideas planted in a child’s mind through his or her “creative” imagination.
But never mind those contradictions. Let’s move on. Take a look at the author’s new approach to eternal life. According to Filiatreau, there are at least three ways “to get it”:
- “Reading and obeying his teachings and parables is one way to get that life within us
- “…holy communion is another. There are many more still.
- “…develop an imagination that is redeemed and ready for Christ’s reality.”
“Develop an imagination that is redeemed”? What does he mean? The Bible doesn’t explain. But if it did, I doubt it would include mental exercises in Harry Potter’s world.
Finally Filiatreau asks, “Are there any stories that can help do this—that can effectively help plant and nourish Christ’s new life within us and our kids?” He mentions the Bible as a possibility, then leaves us with the promise that his next article will introduce C.S. Lewis’s mentor whose stories will serve the purpose: “I will introduce one writer who I think is best, after C. S. Lewis, at channeling living Christian truth deeply and effectively into the human heart. In fact, Lewis referred to him as his master.”
He may be referring to George McDonald, author of The Light Princess and many other fairy tales. C.S. Lewis referred to him as his guide and inspiration, his model for mythical-occult storytelling. “What George MacDonald does best is fantasy,” wrote C.S. Lewis. “And this, in my opinion, he does better than any man.” Even so, it takes a big stretch of the imagination to see McDonald’s fantasies as Biblical truth-telling. They may have seemed good enough back when most church people knew the Bible well enough to discern and compensate for some of MacDonald’s strange suggestions.
We need not be surprised by these post-modern rationalizations and re-interpretations of God’s wonderful truths. God told us this would happen. His Word also shows us His way — that narrow, unpopular and politically incorrect way to walk and live with Him in a world that demands continual compliance with its changing standards, spiritual compromises and public consensus.
“Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:2-5
2. Author of Newberry winner A Wrinkle in Time and many other books filled with occult imagery and psychic practices such as kything – a form of mental telepathy and communication between people, trees and any other part of creation. Kything is growing in popularity within God’s churches, especially among women.
4. “The world of imagination and fantasy can help pass on to the child cultural and social messages [and] function as a way to experience vicariously things an individual could not do first-hand.” Aminadav, C., International Journal of Adolescent Medicine & Health (April-June 1995)
Berit Kjos – 2001
A revealing scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone shows Harry and his friends rushing into the night to find the magical stone supposedly made by a medieval alchemist. Guarded by a monstrous three-headed dog in a forbidden corridor at Hogwarts Schools for Witchcraft and Wizardry, this legendary “philosopher’s stone” could grant eternal life — something the disembodied villain Voldemort desperately needs. But who would reach it first, the evil wizard or Harry, Ron and Hermione?
Their friend Neville senses danger and warns the threesome that this is not a good time to break more rules. So Harry lies to his friend and Hermione lifts her wand and casts a spell on him. Neville turns stiff as a board and falls flat on the floor. Our three heroes rush away — and the audience bursts into laughter.
Why the laughter? Neville was a “good” guy. He was trying to be helpful. But never mind traditional kindness. The crowd has been mesmerized by the plot and is, for the moment, oblivious to home-taught values. The attentive gathering has learned to flow with the brilliant story which makes Ms Rowling’s untraditional values seem right and Christian caution seem wrong. The audience can feel their heroes’ need and sense of urgency, so their minds justify the spell as well as the unkind tactics and share a communal relief for a conflict resolved.
The communal part is important. Togetherness strengthens the illusion of reality. Harry Potter fans — like other special interests groups — share a new language with terms and meanings that they validate and cheer in each other. The fact that the new language makes little sense to mugglish parents and disinterested peers only strengthens their bond. Together, they explore and affirm the values defined by the story.
This exploration has been brought into classrooms across the country. Many schools that bussed their students to movie theatres on opening day (November 16) now use Harry Potter curricula to continue the informal dialogue led by trained teacher-facilitators. Keep in mind, crowds can easily be manipulated to accept and do what most individuals would not. Like a flock of sheep, they pursue the vision of personal empowerment — not necessarily into occult experimentation but into an acceptance of a pagan world view that turns God’s values upside down. [Isaiah 5:20]
For the fun edutainment frees them from the moral and factual guidelines which usually filters incoming information. It offers a mind-changing distraction from rational thinking and plants contrary philosophies into the unguarded mind. When the film ends, the images will remain in the viewer’s memory, ready to influence future moral choices. Few children or adults notice the change.
This involuntary and unconscious process is part of a century-old plan for change. Professor Raymond Houghton described the vision in a book titled, “To Nurture Humaneness,” published in 1970 by the ASCD, the curriculum arm of the National Education Association. He wrote,
“…absolute behavior control is imminent…. The critical point of behavior control, in effect, is sneaking up on mankind without his self-conscious realization that a crisis is at hand. Man will… never self-consciously know that it has happened.” 
Hard to believe? Then consider the research compiled by Dr. Craig E. Abrahamson, Assistant Professor of Social Work at James Madison University. He scorns the old factual or didactic learning and calls for the feeling-based, image-rich unconscious learning so popular among today’s educational change agents.
Storytelling is vital to this process, and few forms of communication transmit stories into the minds more effectively than movies — especially when based on myths created by master storytellers such as J. K. Rowling. Such movies create persuasive illusions (and delusions) through imagined experiences that stir strong feelings. As Harvard Professor Chris Dede, a global leader the development of education technology programs, writes, “Sensory immersion helps learners grasp reality through illusion.“
No wonder educators delight in the Harry Potter movie. Filling and driving the imagination, it provides the right kind of “illusion.” It fits the planned “reality” that both US and UNESCO educators have been seeking for half a century — one that would help establish new values, new beliefs, new lifestyles and new ways of thinking.
But our God doesn’t change. While federal “behavioral laboratories” explore psycho-social manipulation and seductive storytelling in order to mold global citizen, God uses His unchanging truth to set men free. “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples,” said Jesus. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Children whose daydreams soar into Rowling’s supernatural realm of flying broomsticks, empowering spells, golden snitches and everlasting ghosts may feel free — free from the old constraints and authorities, free from natural and spiritual laws. Few see the danger behind this new-found “freedom.” They forget that the author’s script, not their own imagination, guides their minds and defines their values.
God knows all that. Our Creator understands human nature far better than the most sophisticated psychologist. That’s why “Jesus did not commit Himself to them [the masses that flocked to Him]…. He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25.
Armed with His truth and promises, we would do well to look more closely at today’s battle for the minds of our children.
Hypnotic trance through story telling. “The best methodology for education is not simply the use of didactic instruction,” explains Dr. Abrahamson in his report, Storytelling as a Pedagogical Tool in Higher Education (posted on the Encyclopedia Britannica website), “for it needs to be an awakening and moving experience in order for the content to have meaning for the learner.” He continues:
“…inspiration, encouragement, satisfaction, and fascination must be integrated with information in order to provide an education that has meaning to the learner and will have true, lasting effects on that person’s life and the society in which he or she interacts. What a person usually remembers the longest is information that has an emotional impact.” Emphasis added
The emotional impact of Rowling’s storytelling has circled the planet like a giant tsunami wave, and social changes have followed in its wake. Abrahamson’s research may show the transforming power of storytelling within a classroom setting, but his analysis can be applied to the entire field of edutainment — especially to the Harry Potter phenomenon and its mind-changing movie.
In a section titled, “Implementation of Hypnotic Trance in Storytelling,” Dr. Abrahamson shows how captivating stories can suspend rational thinking and open the door of the mind to a new view of reality:
“…People remember what happens to them, and they tell other people what they remember. It is this sharing that can enhance an understanding of what occurred, both to the teller, as well as to the listener. Often, when we are either telling or listening to a story, our habitual mental sets, common everyday frames of reference, and belief systems are more or less interrupted and suspended for a moment or two.
“Milton H. Erickson defined hypnotic trance as the evocation and utilization of unconscious learning. He believed that people are most open to learning in this state due to the fact that one’susual frames of reference and beliefs are temporarily altered so one can be receptive to concepts and information that may be somewhat different from what already has been assimilatedinto his or her cognitive and emotional frames of reference….” Emphasis added
There are many ways to lead young and old subjects into “the state of receptivity that is called hypnotic trance.” Dr. Abrahamson touts a “five-stage paradigm of the dynamics of trance induction and suggestion through storytelling:”
Stage 1. “Fixation of Attention.” During this stage, the audience is so caught up in the story that the real world is forgotten. That may sound good to those who need a break from daily tensions. But this mental distraction is followed by an intrusive form of mental manipulation. While diverting attention away from facts and truths, the movie bombards the audience with captivating images, virtual experiences and vivid sensations that clash with home-taught values.
The movie shows Harry communicating with a powerful snake, magically removing the glass barrier to its freedom, walking through a brick wall at Platform 9 3/4, exploring occult shops, selecting his magic wand…. These scenes may all seem “normal” in the context of Ms Rowling’s alternative reality. They also fit the need for suspense and surprises that capture a viewer’s attention, block rational thinking and prepare the mind for a trance-forming focus. Dr. Abrahamson summarized it well: “…if the stage is successful, consciousness has been distracted.”
But God warns us to “be on guard” and “keep alert.” He tells us to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Naturally, these warnings don’t “win friends and influence people” these days. Potter fans may accuse Christians of spoiling their fun, but God knows our weaknesses. Because He loves us, He gave us His Word to guard us against deception.
Stage 2. “De-potentiating [destroying the potency of] Habitual Frameworks and Belief Systems.” This second stage weakens the influence of traditional beliefs and habits. Harry Potter does it well. The first stage has already freed the mind from the old boundaries. Now, as the movie screen sends a fast-moving stream of occult ideas and supernatural images, the mind begins to switch from the old mental framework or filter based on God’s Word to a pagan perspective. Viewers who have identified with the aspiring wizard are learning see the world through his eyes, values and feelings.
And what do they see? Scenes such as the occult shops in Diagon Alley may look innocent compared to the scary forest scene showing Voldemort’s desperate need for Unicorn’s blood, but they carry a potent message. In contrast to three-headed dogs and Nearly Headless Nick, they can be reproduced in the real world. Consider these words remembered by Potter fans who read the first book:
“They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books… Even Dudley, who never reads anything, would have been wild to get his hands on some of these. Hagrid almost had to drag Harry away from Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges….) ‘I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley’ [said Harry]” Emphasis added
Spells and curses have always been used to oppress people in the world’s pagan cultures. In parts of Africa, Asia and South America, where primitive shamanism and witchcraft continued while the West embraced Christian values, their victims still face the terrifying consequences. In today’s post-modern world, the same ancient practices have been revived and redefined. Marketed as empowering white magic that harms no one, they have taken the West by storm.
For example, The Girls’ Guide to Spells, one of many books that break down barriers to the occult world of capricious spirits, “is an easy, fun guide to casting positive spells” and tapping “into the natural energy forces of Mother Nature.” Decorated with pentagrams and the ubiquitous spiral, it shows how to create “your own magic wand” and make “magic happen in our life.”
“The Lord of the Rings Oracle,” another tempting key to the occult, links Tolkien’s mythical world to other pagan practices idealized in today’s world of wizardry. It, too, trains the beginner in magic and divination.
Skeptical students can brush up on the history of pagan practices by reading the Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (See photo above). It ties Harry’s occult skills and formulas to the real world of practical occultism. But please don’t buy it. Just remember that many Potter fans have already studied its testimonies to occult realities and now crave more of the same. One newspaper showed a girl clutching it in her arms as she left the movie theater on opening day.
Most of those children have closed their minds to Biblical truth. They may still profess faith in God, but if they really knew Him, they would sense the discomfort of cognitive dissonance (mental and/or moral confusion). This uneasiness occurs whenever a person is drawn to values that clash with their biblical understanding of right and wrong. Dr. Abrahamson explains:
“As the student is consciously pulled into the story that the instructor is sharing, latent patterns of association and sensory-perceptional experience have an opportunity to assert themselves in a manner that can initiate the altered state of consciousness that has been described as trance or hypnosis.
“There are many means of de-potentiating frames of reference. Any experience of shock or surprise momentarily will fixate attention and interrupt the previous pattern of association. Any experience of the unrealistic, the unusual, or the fantastic provides an opportunity for altered modes of apprehension. Aspects in a story that create confusion, doubt, dissociation, and disequilibrium are all means of de-potentiating students’ learned limitations so that they may become open and available for new means of experiencing and learning, which are the essence of conversational (therapeutic) trance.”
One of those moments of shock and surprise might happen when Harry shops for his magic wand — a “wand that chooses the wizard.” The wand that chooses Harry makes itself known by sending warmth into his hand and sparks into the air. Watching with much excitement, the wizardly owner of the wand shop tells Harry that “the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just one other. It is very curious indeed that you be destined for this wand when its brother… gave you that scar.”
In other words, Harry and the evil Lord Voldemort would share the same magic charm for channeling and manipulating the supernatural force. Yet, Voldemort, like Darth Vader, had chosen the dark side of the force. Might Harry do the same?
God tells us that the good and evil cannot come from the same source. “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” asks James [3:10-11] The obvious answer is no. To make sure we know the difference and see both sides from God’s perspective, He has given us an armor to wear in every spiritual battle. The first part is the living and unchanging Truth which gives us wisdom to discern between good and evil. But it takes the whole Armor of God to keep us safely hidden in Jesus in the midst of a world that despises His ways:
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth….” Ephesians 6:10-12
3. “Unconscious Search.” When an exciting story has distracted the Potter fan from actual reality and bombarded him or her with contrary suggestions and feelings, the subconscious mind seeks a way to reconcile the conflict between the old and the new values. This quest for resolution involves the dialectic (consensus) process. Trained by schools to to seek “common ground” and conform beliefs to the group consensus, the student simply relieves the tension through moral compromise — a basic element of the “new way of thinking.“
“When these processes occur, they initiate an unconscious search for a new solution to a problem or seek out a new altering experience…. With the employment of storytelling as a trance-inducement mechanism in the manner in which this has been discussed, the opportunity is afforded for the student to creatively reorganize information and concepts to allow for the assimilation of new knowledge and concepts which can enhance the learning experience.”
The “new knowledge” to be assimilated includes all the pagan practices forbidden by God but idealized in the Harry Potter books and movie. One of the simplest justifications for continued loyalty to Harry is simply to rationalize that Harry and his side of the magical force are good, while Voldemort and his side are evil. You saw this philosophy in the previous stage. It permeates New Age and neopagan spirituality: one universal force – two different expressions. This conclusion matches Eastern dualism and the yin yang, which symbolizes the quest for harmony between opposing forces such as good and evil, light and dark, male and female….
But God tells us that good and evil cannot mix. “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” He asks. “And what communion has light with darkness? …come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 2 Cor 6:12-18
4. Unconscious Process: The Potter fan and less committed viewers reach this stage when they have set aside their former convictions, opened their minds to contrary beliefs, resolved the conflict between opposite values, and accepted the subtle suggestions offered by the story and its context:
“In essence, an indirect suggestion within the framework of storytelling initiates an unconscious search and facilitates unconscious processes within students, and they often find themselves open to ideas and concepts that in the past appeared closed. …The indirect forms of suggestion… help students bypass their learned limitations….”
Through storytelling, these “indirect suggestions” prompt children to apply the story’s subtle new meanings to old facts, symbols and truths. This helps explain why many Potter fans profess faith in God yet twist the character of God into a deity compatible with their favorite story and their personal lusts.
“What right have you to declare My statutes,” asks God, “… seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you? …You thought that I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you….” Psalm 50:16-21
5. The Hypnotic Response: This natural outcome leaves viewers with new images and suggestions imprinted in their collective memory. An exchange took place in their minds while their attention was focused on the story and action.
“Because it is mediated primarily by unconscious processes within the student, the hypnotic response appears to occur automatically or autonomously, much in the same fashion as when a person is sitting in his or her car at a red stop light and isn’t aware when the light turns green until the person in the car behind him or her blows the horn. …
“Many people look at the hypnotic trance as an occurrence that only happens in the company of an hypnotherapist, and when it does happen, the individual loses all control while under the control of the therapist. However, most individuals typically experience a mild sense of pleasant surprise when they find themselves responding in this automatic and involuntary manner. Contrary to public misconceptions, the hypnotized person remains the same person, only his or her perceptions for the moment are altered by the trance state.”
In the education arena, the goal of the process is to socialize students with the new values fit for the global community. The planned change is incremental and permanent, not temporary. It is part of UNESCO’s program for lifelong learning and matches the goals and ideology of Hollywood producers.
Teachers and principals were not content to simply to bus their students to the Harry Potter movie on opening day. Their follow-up includes Harry Potter curriculla that prompts students to pursue their occult interests in classrooms across the country. There, trained facilitator-teachers can guide the process toward a fitting consensus. Even Christian students who have not conformed their values to the mystical world of Hogwarts must participate in this manipulative dialogue or face ridicule and unforgiving assessments (be labeled “uncooperative” and “intolerant”). While Hogwarts head master honored Harry whether he obeyed the rules or not, this new world will not reward Christian students for their uncompromising stand.
But God will! He tells us “Blessed are you when men hate you… exclude you… revile you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven.” [Luke 6:22-23] And when the world mocks and vilifies us, He will keep us close, shield us in His armor and remind us that –
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:32-39
1.Paul A. Pilger and Paul Dobesh, “Issues in Interactive Communication: The Impact of the New Technologies of Society,” 1996. We found this article at the Florida State University website, but its link to the specific page link is now broken: http://www.fsu.edu/~ic-prog/issuesbook/chapter17.html
3.Holland Cotter, “Films that keep Asking, Is it Fact or Fiction?” New York Times, 1-19-01.
5.The Transformation of Distance Education to Distributed Learning. While this and other papers by Professor Chris Dede focuses on education technology, it emphasizes the value of sensory immersion into synthetic environments as a tool to mold minds by instilling a programmed perception of “reality.” http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/distlearn/index.html
Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter Movies
Berit Kjos – 2001
Notice the suggestions at the bottom of this well-distributed Harry Potter magazine:
“CAST A SPELL, MIX A POTION, TRY A TRICK!
“The premiere of Harry Potter the movie will lead to a whole new generation of youngsters discovering witchcraft and wizardry….Increasing numbers of children are spending hours alone browsing the internet in search of Satanic websites and we are concerned that nobody is monitoring this growing fascination.” Peter Smith, general secretary of the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers 
Psychic Eye Book Shop manager cheers “the Harry Potter craze”: “It’s taken away a lot of the fear. People are more accepting of things like witchcraft and magic after Harry Potter came out. We find that we are a supporting environment for customers like that.” Mountain View Voice, CA, 7-26-02.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened on November 16 at a record-breaking number of theaters across the country. “Christian” as well as public schools bussed their students to see the long awaited movie based on the first book in J. K. Rowling’s ground-breaking series. Teachers are facilitating classroom discussions that train students to seek “common ground” and conform to an ever-changing group consensus. While forbidding prayer in the name of Jesus, most schools seem to welcome spells and sorcery in the name of Harry Potter.
The pressure to participate in the fun and frenzy is intense. So what can a Christian child do in the midst of such hype, hypocrisy and popular wizardry?
1. God shows us that witchcraft, sorcery, spells, divination and magic are evil. He hates those practices because they blind us to His loving ways, then turn our hearts to a deceptive quest for self-empowerment and deadly thrills. Harry Potter’s world may be fictional, but the timeless pagan practices it promotes are real and deadly. Well aware that the final result is spiritual bondage and oppression, He warns us:
“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 aspiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord…”
2. The movie’s foundation in fantasy, not reality, doesn’t diminish its power to change beliefs and values. Imaginary (or virtual) experiences and well-written fantasies can affect the mind and memories as much, if not more, than actual experiences. Designed to stir feelings and produce strong emotional responses, a well-planned myth with likeable characters can be far more memorable than the less exciting daily reality — especially when reinforced through books, toys and games as well as movies. Small wonder Harry’s fans have been counting the days until their next fantastic journey into Hogwarts’ classes on sorcery, divination, potions and spells.
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”
3. Each occult image and suggestion prompts the audience to feel more at home in this setting. Children identify with their favorite characters and learn to see wizards and witches from a popular peer perspective rather than from God’s perspective. Those who sense that the occult world is evil face a choice: Resist peer pressure or rationalize their imagined participation in Harry’s supernatural adventures.
The second choice may quiet the nagging doubts, but rationalizing evil and justifying sin will sear the conscience and shift the child’s perception of values from God’s perspective to a more “comfortable” cultural adaptation. Even Christian children can easily learn to conform truth to multicultural ideals and turn God’s values upside down – just as did God’s people in Old Testament days:
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:24
“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 5:2-21
Harry Potter Special [Magazine] interviews actors Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Tom Felton (Draco), Harry Melling (Dudley):
4. God tells us to “abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
But when Christian children and teens love the Harry Potter myths, delight in the movie and read the books again and again, they are desensitizing their hearts and minds to its evil. Turning God’s truth upside down, they are learning to “love” what is evil. The natural next step is to reject God’s wise boundaries and “abhor” what He calls good.
“You love evil more than good….”
5. Immersed in Hogwarts’ beliefs and values, children learn to ignore or reinterpret God’s truth. They lose their natural aversion for the devious spirits represented by the creatures and symbols in this eerie world. Caught up in the exciting story, they absorb the suggested values and store the fascinating images in their minds — making the forbidden world of the occult seem more normal than the Kingdom of God.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
6. This inner change is usually unconscious, for the occult lessons and impressions tend to bypass rational scrutiny. After all, who will stop, think and weigh the evidence when caught up in such a fast-moving visual adventure? Fun fantasies and strategic entertainment has a special way of altering values, compromising beliefs and changing behavior in adults as well as in children. This learning process has been named “edutainment” — a favored way to train multicultural citizens for the envisioned 21st century community. Its power to influence beliefs and behavior is illustrated by today’s marketing firms which spend billions on entertaining ads that touch emotions, ignore the facts, yet motivate people to buy the product.
“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”
7. The main product marketed through this movie is a new belief system. This pagan ideology comes complete with trading cards, computer and other wizardly games, clothes and decorations stamped with HP symbols, action figures and cuddly dolls and audio cassettes that could keep the child’s minds focused on the occult all day and into night. But in God’s eyes, such paraphernalia become little more than lures and doorways to deeper involvement with the occult. In contrast, He calls a person “blessed” who –
“walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the scornful [mockers];
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. Whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:1-3
It might be hard to escape the symbols that remind people of Harry. His words and phrases help fuel today’s cultural transformation:
The mainstream media uses the word “muggles” to deride those who don’t want children to read Harry Potter books.
“A columnist from the Chicago Daily Herald used Harry-Speak…. He said that a particular NBC Olympics commentator was the ‘dementor of the sports commentators.'”
“Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is going to name this year’s snowstorms after the Harry Potter characters. The first blizzard of the year will be called Albus….”
8. The implied source of power behind Harry’s magical feats tend to distort a child’s understanding of God. In the movie as in the books, words traditionally used to refer to occult practices become so familiar that children begin to apply the same terms to God and His promised strength. Many learn to see God as a power source that can be manipulated with the right kind of prayers and rituals — and view his miracles as just another form of magic. They base their understanding of God on their own feelings and wants, not on His revelation of Himself.
“You thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you….”
9. Blind to the true nature of God, children will blend (synthesize) Biblical truth with pagan beliefs and magical practices. In the end, you distort and destroy any remnant of true Christian faith. For our God cannot be molded to match pagan gods.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
10. God tells us to “train up a child in the way He should go.” It starts with teaching them God’s truths and training them all day long to see reality from His, not the world’s perspective. To succeed, we need to shield them from contrary values until they know His Word and have memorized enough Scriptures to be able to recognize and resist deception. Once they have learned to love what God loves and see from His perspective, they will demonstrate their wisdom by choosing to say “no” to Harry Potter.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
11. While some argue that Harry and his friends model friendship and integrity, they actually model how to lie and steal and get away with it. Their examples only add to the cultural relativism embraced by most children today who are honest when it doesn’t cost anything, but who lie and cheat when it serves their purpose.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased [depraved] mind, to do those things which are not fitting…. They are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”
12. God has a better way. When His children choose to follow His ways, He gives them a heart to love Him, spiritual eyes that can understand and delight in His Word, a sense of His presence and a confidence in His constant care — no matter what happens around us. Harry Potter’s deceptive thrills are worse than worthless when compared to the wonderful riches our Shepherd promises those who will ignore evil and walk with Him.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8
“…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
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix
“It’s only fantasy” and other deceptions
by Berit Kjos (2003)
“The story of Harry Potter is an allegory: It is written and packaged to look like fantasy when, in truth, it is a carefully written true description of the training and work of an initiate in an occult order…. The story line aligns with real occult books written by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, who, themselves, run the foremost school of witchcraft in the British Isles.” Peter, a former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 1
“The new Harry Potter book made book-publishing history this weekend. Barnes & Noble Inc., the nation’s largest bookstore chain, was on track to sell one million books in the first 48 hours, as much as it had expected to sell in a week….”2 The Wall Street Journal, 6-23-03
“It makes me feel as though I am Harry. Here I feel I am a student at Hogwarts.” Greg Fitzgerald, 13, New York Times, 6-26-03.
“I couldn’t believe she killed off a character. I was so depressed…. I know I’m getting worked up over what’s fiction. My mom keeps reminding me of that. But I said, ‘It’s all real in my mind.’“(Nancy Chen, 14, of Tulsa) “
Summer Solstice — an ancient pagan celebration in Europe and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere — seemed a fitting release date for J. K. Rowling’s fifth book. At midnight on June 21, young and old were waiting in line at bookstores around the world to get the next installment of their favorite myth. With my camera ready to document the event, I found a place in the “K-L” line behind a mother with three children.
“What do you think of the Harry Potter books?” I asked her.
“I love them,” she answered. “I’ve read all of them twice to myself and once to my children.”
“How old are your children?” I asked.
“Nine, eleven and fourteen. But they were six, eight and eleven when we started.”
Only six and eight! I looked around at the costumed adults and their children in Harry Potter glasses, black robes and pointed black hats. How many of them would call themselves Christians? I wondered. How would this next level of training in occult practice affect their faith and their lives?
My concern grew over the next two days as I read the 870 pages. In their fifth year of occult training, Harry and his friends were more sophisticated in their understanding of the dark arts and far more rebellious toward authorities. Even their relationships with each other seemed darker and more fragile. One of J. K. Rowling’s favorite verbs seems to be snarl (as in “‘About time!’ Harry snarled”, p. 43), a word she repeated again and again. Lying and rule-breaking had become the norm and, most of the time, the young wizards and witches got away with it.
While some readers will see the anger, rage, swearing and cruel jinxes as nothing more than “fun” and fantasy, this immersion into angry and hateful environments will surely strengthen the notion that rage, rudeness and rebellion are cool as well as okay. It doesn’t help that millions of children around the world are encouraged to feed their minds with images such as this:
“Harry longed to bite the man. . . but he must master the impulse. He had more important work to do. But the man was stirring…. Harry saw his vibrant, blurred outline towering above him, saw a wand withdrawn from a belt. . . . He had no choice. . . . He reared high from the floor and struck once, twice, three times, plunging his fangs deeply into the man’s flesh, feeling his ribs splinter beneath his jaws, feeling the warm gush of blood. . .
“The man was yelling in pain. . . then he fell silent. . . . He slumped backward against the wall…. Blood was splattering onto the floor…. His forehead hurt terribly.” (p. 463)
No, Harry hasn’t morphed into a vampire. Instead, he illustrates an occult principle called bilocation. While his physical body was asleep at Hogwarts, a part of his soul/spirit was far away — inside Voldemort — acting out this murderous assault as a vicious serpent.
Our article on The Matrix shows the same mystical correlation. Actions in the dream world correspond perfectly to actual changes in the real world. So while the sleeping Harry — in his mind — saw and shared in the brutal act, the distant victim was bitten, torn and left to die.
In that nightmarish scene, Voldemort, an evil wizard with the cravings of a vampire, had turned himself into a snake (occultists call it transmutation). And since Harry was psychically linked to this dark, powerful wizard, he participated in the attack as if he were actually inside the snake — as if his spirit had possessed the serpent. Harry feltVoldemort’s hatred and shared his thirst for blood.
To guard against such disturbing intrusions into his mind, Harry must learn occlumency, “the magical defense of the mind against external penetration.” It’s “an obscure branch of magic, but a highly useful one,” says Professor Snape. (p. 519)
Don’t dismiss it as “just fantasy!” It’s an actual formula for defense against psychic attacks in the real world of high-level occult orders.3 And the key to success is a basic principle behind all occult training. Snape said it well: “Clear your mind and let go of all emotion.” Love, hate, delight, disgust … these can be manipulated by a powerful opponent. Therefore all feelings must be purged.
Readers who never make it past the middle of the book will miss this gruesome scene, but they still face the horror of a heartless assault in its opening pages. Consider how a child might be affected by the following images of deadly dementors:
“Harry felt a creeping chill behind him that could mean only one thing. There was more than one….
“A towering, hooded figure was gliding smoothly toward him, hovering over the ground, no feet or face visible beneath its robes, sucking on the night as it came.
“Stumbling backward, Harry raised his wand. [He tried to cast a spell but it fails]
“He could smell the dementor’s putrid, death-cold breath, filling his own lungs, drowning him…. The dementor’s icy fingers were closing on his throat – the high-pitched laughter was growing louder and louder, and a voice spoke inside his head – “Bow to death, Harry”
[He casts the spell again]
“An enormous silver stag erupted from the tip of Harry’s wand; its antlers caught the dementor in the place where the heart should have been; it was thrown backwards….”
Ms. Rowling’s dementors are like psychic vampires. They suck energy out of humans, not unlike the “Haunter” in the Pokemon myth who “sucks out the opponent’s soul.” Their depraved goal is to destroy their foe.
So is the goal of advanced members of sophisticated secret societies such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. “Peter,” a former member who has helped us understand the actual nature of today’s popular occultism, said it well: “Like psychic vampires, these dementors feed on the emotional energy of people.”1
Harry saves the day with an advanced spell that banishes the dementors. By the time the readers have relished a few more chapters, such magic formulas begin to seem familiar — almost normal. After all, Harry is their hero! The readers are all rooting for him. They want to see him win — and the stronger the magic the better! No wonder witchcraft is on rise these days. The world is learning that magical training brings virtual success. It feels good. So why not go for the real thing!
Many do. Marysia Kolodziej — a young thelemite or solitary witch — tells us why:
“You are not wiccan unless you have been initiated, which I hope eventually to be – and a ritual magician in practice. … I am a [Harry Potter] fan for several reasons. Initially it’s the universe. The books with the largest pull have this highly detailed, well-thought out universe that almost seems real and, importantly, that you would want to be a part of. You are not just drawn into the story but into that world. Then through talking about them with fans you fall further and further in love with the characters, you analyze them and worry about them untilthey feel real to you. Then you have, in a way, become a part of that shared universe, and it is a wonderful place to be.” 4 Harry Potter: The witch’s view
Marysia should be pleased with the Order of the Phoenix. Whether she realizes it or not, it actually offers many of the key lessons she longs to learn. Showing the progressive stages of magical training, it provides a tantalizing replica of the intense program that shapes chosen initiates for leadership in actual occult orders.1
Since Ms. Rowling’s storytelling skills are hard to resist, young readers find it all too easy to identify with life at Hogwarts. As Time magazine points out, “Rowling shows an uncanny understanding of how adolescents deal with one another.”5
“She gets almost everything right,” says ligia Mizhuquiri. “What happens [at Harry’s school] happens to us. Some of us are popular. Some of us are not. Some of us get bullied. Some of us are bullies.”5 By empathizing with the characters and their dangerous choices, readers learn to delight in the very things that God calls abominations: witchcraft, divination, sorcery and spells… (Deut 18:9-12)
Those who refuse to enter this enticing virtual reality often face rejection or wrath from their peers. The pressure to join the crowd, justify occultism, compromise one’s faith and rationalize the spiritual shift is rising fast. These comments sent to our website illustrate the process:
“I am a strong Christian and love the Lord with all my heart. The problem is I really enjoy reading the books and nothing about them conflicts with my spirit…. ” A youth pastor
“The bottom line is that Harry Potter makes children, teenagers like myself, and even adults HAPPY. I’ve read the books to several children that I know or babysit for, and watched all of them laugh, smile, and cry happily…. Children wouldn’t be so desperate for Harry’s world to be real if the series wasn’t just that good.” M. L., age 17
“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 then he can…. I am no longer Christian. Somewhere along the way my beliefs changed. I practice Wicca….” A.
“I am positively OUTRAGED at what I just read on your page. Children all around the world are enjoying Harry Potter and why shouldn’t they?!” B.
I’m not surprised that the first two writers measure right and wrong by their feelings, not by God’s Word. In today’s postmodern churches, few children or adults learn the Scriptures that would train their conscience to be a trustworthy guide along God’s Way. Today’s feel-good churches tend to avoid the Biblical truths that might conflict with the tolerant and politically correct atmosphere they like to exhibit.
As a result, many church members are more comfortable with the world’s ways than with God’s ways. Compromise seems more “right” than God’s call to separation. [See 2 Cor 6:12-18] The way back to God is through conviction and repentance, but that rarely happens among those whose conscience has been trained to match the world’s values. If you don’t accept God’s standard for right and wrong, you have little reason to repent. See Isaiah 5:20
In a world that rejects God’s unchanging guidelines and loves occult thrills more than His wonderful presence, the spiritual battle is sure to intensify.6
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore….” Ephesians 6:10-18
God’s children had better be dressed for battle, not for a party, when they face these principalities and powers of darkness. This unseen army is as real as we are, and its cruel master wants our children.7
So teach them to “put on God’s armor.” Then, “clothed in Christ” and filled with His Spirit, they will be ready to face a world that has little love for the God we follow. No need to escape into a fantasy world for real-life fellowship with Him is far more exciting and wonderful than all the short-lived and addictive thrills that captivate youngsters today.
The last part of the armor tells us to take hold of the “Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” The key scriptures that show us God’s attitude toward witchcraft and wizardry are listed in Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies. Please read this article.
We all face a choice. Will we focus on the world’s fragile and illusive “happiness” and make “fun” and fantasy our aim in life? Or will we seek God and find the wonders of His peace in the midst of turmoil, His strength in our weakness, His amazing joy even when all looks dark from a human perspective? We can’t have both. Therefore –
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The Harry Potter books would not have been culturally acceptable half a century ago. Today’s cultural climate –an “open-mindedness” toward occult entertainment together with “closed-mindedness” toward Biblical Christianity — was planned a century ago. It was outlined by the United Nations in the late 1940s and has been taught and nurtured through the developing global education system during the last six decades.
To understand how the world was prepared to welcome Harry Potter and to hate the Christian “muggles” who refused to approve its favorite entertainment, read the following articles and chapters:
Brainwashing in America | The International Agenda | Chronology
Establishing a Global Spirituality | Reinventing the World | Popular Occultism
The Power of Suggestion | Conforming the Church to the New Millennium
Charts: Paradigm Shift – Total transformation
1. See Overview and Application of Harry Potter at this website.
2. Emily Nelson, “Harry Potter’s Magic Remains, as New Book Sets Sales Records, The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2003.
3. See The Order of the Phoenix at this website.
4. Marysia Kolodziej, “Harry Potter: The witch’s view“, BBC News (6/23/03) at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/3012270.stm
5. Nancy Gibbs, “The Real Magic of Harry Potter,” Time, 6/23/03; page 65.
6. See America’s Spiritual Slide at this website.
7. “Ask Peter” – Find Biblical answers to questions about occult entertainment at this website.
Using Alchemy to Teach Christianity?
A chapter by chapter examination of
Author: John Granger
Christian Publisher: Tyndale House (June 2004)
Note: To say that I was disturbed to discover that a respected Christian publisher such as Tyndale House would publish a book that applauded alchemy and sorcery as a pathway to God would be an understatement. Throughout His Word, God warns us to shun any association — real or imagined — with the dark world of the occult. But in our times of blurred visions and spiritual blindness, even the occult secrets of alchemical sorcery and hermetic magic are once again becoming acceptable to people who call themselves Christians.
To highlight the deception promoted in this book, I will let the author, John Granger, speak for himself. My indented comments (in blue, italicized letters) follow the quotes from his book. The bold letters in his quotes are added for emphasis.
Verses from the Bible are also indented but not italicized.
Background information from the article, “The Alchemist’s Tale“ by John Granger
“Understanding the Harry Potter books as alchemical writing in the tradition of the English ‘Greats’ will explain otherwise bizarre events, plot turns, and names in the novels….
“The alchemist, like all traditional or non-modern people, understood man to be essentially spirit (as man is created by the Spirit), then soul, then physical body…. His personhood or humanity he knew to be a joining of soul and body without seam—and his tragedy was that he was fallen, i.e., that he had lost his spiritual capacity or intellectus, by means of which Adam walked and talked with God in the garden. Alchemy was the means, in conjunction with the mysteries of the Church, by which he could regain this lost capacity. The substance changing from lead to gold was his soul, and the riches he would glean were spiritual riches—holiness and immortality.
“It is essentially a super-conscious or spiritual work that happens through correspondence with archetypes that are ‘above, not below,’ individual consciousness.
“So what was alchemy? It was a traditional or sacred science, supporting the work of the revealed tradition and its means of grace, for the purification and perfection of the alchemist’s soul in correspondence with the metallurgical perfection of a base metal into gold….
“Rowling clearly understands both ‘alchemy in literature’ and the ‘alchemy of literature.’ Her books satisfy the need in us, born in a profane culture without heroes or avenues oftranscendent experience….
“We get this experience in our identification with Harry, and we are better, more human even, for having been at least for a while in the alembic vessel, changing from spiritual lead to gold, dying and rising from the dead. In brief, Rowling’s novels are so popular because her works transform the human person via imaginative identification, catharsis, and resurrection.”[Emphasis added]
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” Isaiah 5:20
“The Potter books are the most edifying works of fiction written in many years….”
“My thesis is existentially this: As images of God designed for life in Christ, all humans naturally resonate with stories that reflect the greatest story ever told — the story of God who became man. The Harry Potter novels… touch our hearts because they contain themes, imagery, and engaging stories that echo the Great Story we are wired to receive and respond to. …they address the need… we have for spiritual nourishment in the form of edifying, imaginative experience of life in Christ.”
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Chapter 1 – Magic, fantasy and the Christian worldview
“The ‘sorcery’ in Harry Potter supports biblical teaching, not practice of the occult.” Page 1
Granger: “I am convinced that the fundamental reason for the astonishing popularity of the Harry Potter novels is their ability to meet a spiritual longing for some experience of the truths of life, love and death taught by Christianity but denied by a secular culture. Human beings are designed for Christ, whether they know it or not. That the Harry Potter stories ‘sing along’ with the Great Story of Christ is a significant key to understanding their compelling richness.” Page 2
\Our fallen human nature drives us toward self-gratification, not toward Jesus Christ and the cross. Because the “flesh” (human nature) prompts us to follow our inclinations rather than God’s spirit, He warns us that —
“…the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. … Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like… [T]hose who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:17
Granger: “Some Christians object to Harry Potter because Christian Scripture in many places explicitly forbids occult practice. Though reading about occult practice is not forbidden, these Christians prudently prefer to protect their children because of the books’ sympathetic portrayal of occult practice. These Christians believe that such approving and causal exposure to the occult opens the door to occult practice.” Page 2
Any participation in — or love for — pagan practices is forbidden. That includes virtual or imaginary experiences as well as real-life participation. To follow Jesus Christ, we must love what He loves and hate what He hates. The Bible tells us to “Abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) But hundreds of letters we have received from “Christian” Potter fans show that they nowlove what God calls eviland abhor His Word which shows us His way. (See Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies)
“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly….who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks….” Isaiah 33:15
Granger: “Other Christians… point out the books are ‘only stories’ and that many stories… have portrayed witches and wizards in a positive light…. Given this impasse… note three observations: Page 3
1. “Occult practices are universally denounced by major world-religions. Every major religion—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam (not to mention animism)—prohibited invocational sorcery and individual (or unguided) exploration of the spirit world.”
All those religions, except Biblical Christianity, have historically embraced invocational sorcery and explorations of the demonic spirit world. Hinduism and Buddhism involve all kinds of occult rituals and practices. Kabala is a form of Jewish mysticism steeped in occult symbols and rituals, while Sufism and Folk Islam are examples of Islamic mysticism and animism.
Granger: 2. “Scripture itself contains material about occult practices.” Page 3
Yes, but it always points out that occult practices are evil and forbidden to God’s people.
Granger: “The Bible nowhere forbids reading material with occult elements in it. ”
While few could read or write in Old Testament days, God’s people were forbidden any contact with the occult beliefs or objects of surrounding cultures. Centuries later, converted Christians in the early church willingly disposed of their reading materials on occultism:
“Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books togetherand began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.” Acts 19:17-20
Granger: “I know devout Christians who hate Harry as well as many who love him; both groups read their Bible daily and enjoy fantasy stories with occult elements and magic in them—stories as diverse as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, L. Frank Baum‘s Oz stories, Lewis’ Narnia and…. and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.” Page 4
So do I, but that doesn’t justify stories that approve of magic. Baum was a Theosophist. In fact, the official website for The Theosophical Society of America boasts of its most famous member.
Granger: 3. “Whether or not to read Harry Potter from the logical, human view, then, is a question of whether reading Harry fosters a curiosity in the occult or in a rewarding spiritual life. Scripture forbids occult practice and tells us to ‘train a child in the way he should go.’ … Does Harry foster an interest in the real world occult or doesn’t he?” Page 4
“…the magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries….. I say this without hesitation because the magic in Harry Potter is not ‘sorcery’ or invocational magic. …the magic practiced in the Potter books, by hero and villain alike, is incantational magic, a magic that shows—in story form—our human thirst for a reality beyond the physical world around us.” Page 4
“Invocational means literally ‘to call in.’ Magic of this sort is usually referred to as sorcery. Scripture warns that ‘calling in’ demonic principalities and power for personal power and advantage is dangerously stupid…. But there is no invocational sorcery in the Harry Potter books. Even the most evil wizards do their nasty magic with spell.” Page 5
Yet Mr. Granger describes invocational magic on page 141: “The Patronus Charm required the wizard to say the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ and to concentrate as hard as possible on a happy memory… At first, Harry is only able to conjure a thin, wispy Patronus… After he gives himself a stern talking-to… he conjures a magnificent Patronus and… dispels the dementor impersonators….”
Ponder these definitions from a reputable Internet dictionary:
Conjure: 1. To summon (a devil or spirit) by magical or supernatural power.
2. To influence or effect by or as if by magic: tried to conjure away the doubts that beset her.
3. To practice black magic http://dictionary.reference.com/
Incantation: Ritual recitation of verbal charms or spells to produce a magic effect.
A formula used in ritual recitation; a verbal charm or spell. http://dictionary.reference.com/
Invocational: The act or an instance of invoking, especially an appeal to a higher power for assistance.
A prayer or other formula used in invoking, as at the opening of a religious service.
The act of conjuring up a spirit by incantation. An incantation used in conjuring. http://dictionary.reference.com/
In other words, you can’t separate Harry’s invocational magic from his incantational magic. Incantations are used to invoke supernatural forces that make something happen according to the will of the sorcerer. They go together! John Granger is wrong when he states that
“The magic in Harry Potter is exclusively incantational magic in conformity with… scriptures’ admonitions.” Page 6
|From Peter: In the gospel according to Granger sorcery is invocational magic, to call in. He says there is a difference between invocational and incantational magic. On page 6 Granger states that there is no invocational magic in Harry Potter. I have three problems with this statement:1) Looking up the word sorcery in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, in volume 4, pages 51 and 52 it talks about sorcery.
Vine’s defines sorcery (pharmakia) as MAGIC, the use of medicine, drugs, spells or poisoning. In sorcery, the use of drugs… was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers with the provision of various charms and amulets. The word pharmagia is the plural for the word pharmakia and means sorceries or magical arts.2) Sorcerer is defined as magos, a magician, a wizard, a professor of the arts of witchcraft, originally applied to Persian priests.
3) Pharmakos, an adjective, devoted to magical arts, especially one who uses potions, spells, enchantments, drugs.
These definitions fly in the face of Grangers invocational / incantational theory. Magic is Magic.
Example: Page 17-19 in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. A dementor is bearing down on Harry with the intent to kill. Harry is carrying his wand. Wands are magical tools. Every wand is charged with one or more of the four elements. Every time you use a wand in any kind of exercise of your will the wand executesthe will of the magician via air, fire, earth or water. Harry called for light and he got light (fire) from his wand.
According to Rowling, on page 19, Harry bellows, GET IT. And with a rushing, roaring sound, the silver stag he had conjured came galloping back past him.Harry conjured a stag from his wand (earth). Rowling uses the word conjure. Using Granger’s vocabulary – because Harry called in the stag to save him and NOT an evil being — then there is nothing wrong with this conjuration. But God never differentiates between calling in [invoking] something good verses something evil. God just says don’t do it. According to Granger anybody can conjure anything as long as they believe that what they are conjuring is not evil. The WILL of the magician is at work here, not the power of the Holy Spirit.
There IS conjuration in the Harry Potter books. AND whenever an incantation is used in ritual magic the purpose of the incantation is to invoke something from the other side. Every time Harry does something with his wand the movement of the wand is the invocation and the words are the incantation. They are part of the same thing. Harry cannot have one without the other at this level of his training.
Granger says, “to risk overstating my case, the magic in HP and other good fantasy fiction harmonizes with the miracles of the saints.” My question for Granger is this, “Which of the saints relied only on himself and his own will to execute his own miracles?”
Occultists operate by their own WILL. God is not a consideration to an accomplished occultist. God is not a consideration to Harry Potter either.
Harry’s action, magic, lifestyle and thinking are always consistent with his belief system: witchcraft. He always exercises his own will — not God’s — when wielding His wand, casting his spells and doing his magic.
Granger’s justification:“We live in a time in which naturalism… is the state religions and belief and supernatural or contra-natural powers is considered delusion. The incantational magic in Harry Potter… undermines faith in this godless worldview. And by undermining the materialistic view of our times… the books lay the foundation not for occult practices but for a traditional understandingof the spiritual life.” Page 8
Not true — unless “traditional” refers to something other than Biblical understanding. Many new spiritual forms and religious blends are becoming increasingly popular. Postmodern mysticism is in. Modern secularism is fading. What is fast replacing secularism are the self-made spiritual blends which embrace materialism as well as dialectic thinking — and which increasingly justify occult practices. Even former atheist Gorbachev now promotes a global spirituality. But Biblical Christianity doesn’t fit.
Granger: “Have you heard stories of children being sucked into witches’ covens because they want to be like Harry Potter? Your child is far more likely to become a Hare Krishna or member of a Christian cult than a witch or wizard.” Pages 8-9
Yes, I have read many such examples. Some of the children who visit our website fall into that category. Even Ms Rowling admits that children are drawn toward witchcraft because of her books. In an interview with Newsweek writer Malcolm Jones, she said,
“I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the books’ setting], and it’s not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad. Because they want it to be true so badly they’ve convinced themselves it’s true.”(The Return of Harry Potter)
More sophisticated youth know they can study or embrace witchcraft without joining Hogwarts, an actual coven or an occult order. Instead they simply form their own neopagan groups on high school campuses across the country. Postmodern values have freed new converts to visit occult websites, read what they want, then pick and choose whatever pleases them.
|From Peter: In 1999 we did a search for the word witchcraft and got 135,000 hits. In December, 2001, we did a Google search on the word witchcraft and 706,000hits were returned. I just did a Google search for the word witchcraft and in August of 2004, there are now 1,200,000 hits.All kids who have the minutest interest in this topic have to do is a simple Google search on the word witchcraft and they will find the REAL THING very quickly.
In 12/01 a Google search on the word pagan returned 1, 850,000 hits. Today a Google search on the word pagan returned 3,020,000 hits. Granger does not realize how quickly these sites are popping up on the web. We have seen the numbers double about every 2 years. SOMEONE MUST BE LOOKING AT THESE SITES and that someone might be kids who just want to be like Harry.
Many prefer to “do their own thing” instead of conforming to traditional or established covens. Here are a few examples: (See also Harry Potter Lures Kids to Witchcraft)
“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 then he can…. I am no longer Christian. Somewhere along the way my beliefs changed. I practice Wicca….” a student
“I am a [Harry Potter] fan for several reasons. Initially it’s the universe. The books with the largest pull have this highly detailed, well-thought out universe that almost seems real and, importantly, that you would want to be a part of. You are not just drawn into the story but into that world. Then through talking about them with fans you fall further and further in love with the characters, you analyze them and worry about them until they feel real to you. Then you have, in a way, become a part of that shared universe, and it is a wonderful place to be.” A young “solitary” witch
“I am a strong Christian and love the Lord with all my heart. The problem is I really enjoy reading the books and nothing about them conflicts with my spirit…. ” A youth pastor
“You love evil more than good….” Psalm 52:3
“Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9
Chapter 2 – God’s Army versus the servants of Satan?
“The Harry Potter novels revolve around the central conflict of good and evil.” Page 11
Granger: “Having argued that the magic in Harry Potter is at the very least consistent with a Christian worldview, let’s turn to the other parts of the setting that receive much less media attention than the magic to understand what part of the Great Story each reflects and, in this, to see if they pass a litmus test for conformity to Christian tradition.” Page 11
|Response from Peter: According to Jesus in Mark 7:5-9 we are NOT to conform to tradition, Christian or otherwise: The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”“And He said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was pointing out that they were setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep their traditions.
Granger: “The battle between Gryffindor and Slytherin is a battle between good and evil.” Page 15
“The central conflict… is the antagonism between the descendants of Godric Griffindor and Salazar Slytherin, a conflict that is consistent with the Christian view of the world as a battleground in thecosmic war between good and evil.” Page 18
So are most myths rooted in occult traditions around the world. In animist cultures (as in Alchemy and other philosophical occult orders of Medieval times) a “good” sorcerer would often fight against what he saw as evil by using his own “good” magic. In other words, sorcerers or magicians would pit what they saw as a “good” demonic force against an “evil” force.
It all depends on the standard you use to distinguish what is good or evil. Granger has chosen a feeling-based, cultural and relative standard for defining good and evil. In contrast, God calls us to evaluate good and evil from His perspective — according to the standard He has revealed in the Bible.
Granger: “The Gryffindors (Harry, Ron, Hermione) choose to do the right thing…. The Slytherins do the wrong thing without reservation or restraint.” Page 16
What counts is what God considers right and wrong, not what Mr. Granger or popular culture calls right and wrong. And God’s standard is consistently clarified throughout the Bible:
“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 amedium, 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
“Therefore do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers….”
“Elymas the sorcerer… withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.’ And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” Acts 13:8
“And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:21
“…murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire….” Revelation 21:8
Chapter 3 – The Hero’s Christ like Journey
“Harry’s adventures take him through life, death, and resurrection” Page 19
Granger: “…these books are built on a structure… that powerfully drives home a Christian truth the world disregards or denies…. As the apostle Paul writes… ‘To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.'” Page 23
Paul was referring to the Spirit of God, not the occult forces or pagan spirituality that have captivated people around the world since the fall.
Granger: “God is love (1 John 4:8). In each Harry Potter novel… it is this love, within Harry by the sacrificial love of his mom and in the symbols of Christ around him, that every year raises him up from underground in victory over death.” Page 23
We are raised up by God as we recognize our need for redemption and put our faith — not in symbols, man-made icons, or a mother’s sacrificial love — but in Jesus Christ and His victory over sin through the cross in which we participate by faith. (See Romans 6:6-14)
“The story cycles are built on the stages of transformation” Page 25
Granger: “Maybe you think that all this fuss about the hero’s journey is wrong-headed.” Page 25
Yes, it causes me to wonder how much Granger was influenced by Joseph Campbell’s popular images of “The Hero’s Journey.”
Granger: “But there’s another way to look at the Harry Potter stories that is at least as likely as the annual journey: alchemy. Alchemy… is so misunderstood that saying the Harry Potter books are built on alchemical structures and imagery is not much different from saying the books aren’t worth reading.” Page 25
For our purposes, alchemy can simply be defended as the transformation of something common into something special. If historians of religion and sacred art are to be believed (most notably, Titus Burckhardt and Mircea Eliade), alchemy was a spiritual path within the great revealed traditions to return fallen man to his Edenic perfection.” Page 26
Granger: “Alchemical symbols are a large part of classic English literature. And if we don’t understand the idea of alchemy, we can easily miss out on the depth, breadth and height of plays by Shakespeare, pottery by Donne and Eliot, and the novels of Lewis and Tolkien. … Rowling uses alchemy in Harry Potter as a metaphor for change.” Page 25
“The magic of alchemy and stage dramas is that through these external transformations, the alchemist’s metals, the audience, and the actors onstage are all purified and transformed from leaden to golden hearts.” Pages 26-7
Whether they know the God who revealed Himself to us in His Word or not? This makes no sense from a Biblical perspective! It sounds as if Mr. Granger is using an occult standard — mixed with Gnosticism — to analyze the occult and to argue that it is Christian.
Granger: “Where is the alchemy in Harry Potter? It’s everywhere from book titles to character transformation.” 28 [Three examples follow:]
1. “The book titles… Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [originally Philosopher’s Stone — creating the philosopher’s stone was the goal of alchemy]
|Response from Peter: The title, The Philosopher’s Stone, was already taken by a well-known and respected occultist, Israel Regardie, who wrote The Philosopher’s Stone some time early in the 20th century. If you do an author search in www.amazon.com and click through to the 3rd page of the 314 returns you will find the book, which is out of print. Israel Regardie — who was also tied to theosophy and Madam Blavatsky — was Alistair Crowley’s scribe. Most occultists in England and many elsewhere in Europe either owned his book, The Philosopher’s Stone, or were aware of it. Regardie continued Crowley’s work after Crowley’s death and started an occult publishing company (Phoenix Publications in Sedona, Arizona) near the end of his life.Could Rowling have been appealing to the youth of the occult world who would have known of the original work? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first book in the HP series. Rowling had an instant audience for the books with the worldwide occult community.|
Granger: 2. “The alchemical characters. …
- Hermione Granger’s name has an obvious alchemical reference in it…. Hermione is the feminine form of Hermes, who besides being the Greek messenger god (Mercury), was also the name of the great alchemist Hermes Trismegistos… [laid the foundation for Hermetic Magic and the occult Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn]
- Harry’s father is named James, the name of the patron saint of alchemists, and
- his mother is named Lily, a symbol for the second, purifying stage of the alchemical work.
|Response from Peter: Further down on page 28 Granger mentions Nicolas Flamel. His comment that Flamel was an actual famous alchemist who lived in the 14th century in Paris is correct. However, he failed to mention that what made Flamel famous was that he discovered the occult work of Abraham the Jew. Abraham the Jew wrote a great work of alchemy called, Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra Merlin the Mage. If you do an amazon.com search for Nicolas Flamel you will find the book. This reference to Nicolas Flamel leaves the reader to wonder why Rowling, if she was not a knowledgeable occultist, would throw something like that into the story. As an individual Nicolas Flamel is very obscure.|
Granger: 3. “Harry’s transformation from lead to gold. The alchemical work is all about changing the soul from lead to gold.” 28
4. “The design…. The alchemical work purifies a base metal by dissolving and recongealing the metal using two principal reagents… These reagent reflect the masculine and feminine polaritiesof existence.” Page 30 [Yin/yang?]
Ron and Hermione are “living symbols of alchemical sulfur (Ron) and mercury (Hermione).” Page 30
“What has often been described as Harry’s annual hero journey is actually the cycle of the alchemical transformation.”
- “dissolution, usually called nigredo, or black stage.” [Sirius Black] Page 30
- “purification, usually called the albedo, or white work. [Albus Dumbledore] Page 31
- “recongealing or perfection, usually called the rubedo or red stage.” [Rubeous Hagrid] Page 31
|Response from Peter: Granger emphasizes that Ron represents sulfur and Hermione represents mercury. In alchemy there are seven foundational pillars upon which the practice is based. Four elements (fire, air, water and earth) and three essences (salt, sulfur and mercury) make up those pillars. Granger ignores five of the seven pillars and he focuses on the pillars of the essences of sulfur and mercury because that is convenient to his argument. All seven pillars work together in alchemy. You cannot create the same effect using only two of those pillars.|
Granger: “Great writers in the English tradition use alchemical imagery because it helps them connect with that place in our heart designed to respond to the Great Story and promise of our life in Christ…. Far from preparing a generation of candidates for New Age apostasy, these [Harry Potter] books have baptized the imagination of hundreds of millions and nourished the faith of readers who believe.” Page 35
If the Harry Potter books “Harry Potter books, indeed, are built on alchemical structures and imagery,” we need to ask: What is Alchemy? An occult reference book titled “A Dictionary of Mind and Spirit” (compiled by Donald Watson, 1991) helps answer that question:
“Whatever the alchemists’ own beliefs in the possibilities of turning lead into gold, they had no qualms about financing their investigations by duping wealthy patrons. The other modern view, particularly since Jung’s research into the subject, is that the alchemical writings are symbolic representations of the individual’s mental and spiritual work, striving to unify body, MIND and SPIRIT and thus achieve a human divinity, the perfected human being.
“According to this view, the transmutation of base metal into gold symbolized the transformation of natural, material man into spiritual man. The catalyst in this process was known as the PHILOSOPHER’S STONE…. According to alchemists, the production of the Philosopher’s Stone involved blending and treating three basic substances, salt,sulphur and mercury, which in the esoteric view corresponded to the body, soul or mind, and spirit. When brought together in the cauldron and blended in the element of fire (representing love) the threefold process began. The first stage of Blackness represented purgation, the second, Whiteness, represented illumination, and the third,Redness, the colour of alchemical gold, represented the marriage of Luna and Sol, the union of the human and the divine, the finite and the infinite.
“Each individual, belonging to both the material and the divine world, contained a spark of the universal spirit imprisoned in matter, as well as having a soul and a body. The Great Work can thus be understood as a symbolic representation of how human beings might achieve insight into their own divine perfection by freeing the spirit from the bonds of matter. The Church was notoriously antagonistic to such GNOSTIC beliefs, so it was only natural that a doctrine of this kind should be couched in esoteric terms.The ROSICRUCIANS continued the tradition into relatively modem times. According to the symbolism gold represented the state of perfection which could be achieved in the material world; it therefore also represented the perfected body and the perfected soul, towards which we should all be striving.”
|From Peter: My biggest criticism of Granger’s work is his misuse and misunderstanding of magic. Harry is as familiar with “as above, so below” as he is with his next breath, and he operates from that mind set — NOT from the mindset of a reliance on a God or the power of His Spirit. Harry’s responses to every situation in each of the books are consistent with his belief system and that belief system is not a Judeo-Christian belief system.|
Chapter 5 – One person two natures
“Doppelgangers point to the struggle of dual natures — and their resolution in the God-Man“ Page 37
Granger: “A doppelganger is a creature’ complementary figure of shadow which reveals aspects of its character otherwise invisible.” Page 38
“Many of Rowling’s characters… are animagi. These are masters of the magical subject of transfiguration who can change at will into an animal shape.” Page 38
“This shape-changing stunt … The shape each animagus takes is a pointer to its character…. The animal figure is a shadow, or doppelganger, that allows us to see more clearly the outline of the true person.” Page 38
Not unlike shape-shifting — especially by witchdoctors or shamans — in pagan cultures.
Granger: “Voldemort is not the Dark Lord’s given name. His real name is Tom Riddle, which because Thomas comes form the Aramaic word for ‘twin’ is a pointer to how important the doppelganger structure is….” Page 43
“Alchemy helps unwrap the riddle. As you’ll recall, the principal activity of alchemy is the chemical marriage of the imbalanced ‘arguing couple’: masculine sulfur and feminine quicksilver.These two qualities have to be reconciled and resolved (die and be reborn) before then can be rejoined in a perfected golden unity. Opposites have to be reconciled and resolved for there to be a new life.
“Alchemists frequently cited Christ’s words: ‘…except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth froth much fruit.’ (John 12:24) Alchemists took this verse and the hope of eternal life in Christ’s death and resurrection as a scriptural confirmation that their doctrines were correct.” Page 44
“You find a balance of hot and cold water by pairing the opposites.” Page 47
“Dumbledore points to Christ.” Page 47 (see his quote below)
It sounds as if Granger is referring to Hegel’s dialectic process — the yin-yang of the West — the heart of Communist brainwashing. Hegel was a student of alchemy, kabala, Rosicrucianism and hermetic magic. See Hegel
Granger also sounds fascinated with the worlds of Carl Jung (known to his disciples in Zurich as the “Hexenmeister” or sorcerer).
Chapter 7 – The triumph of love over death
“The mystery of death meets the ultimate answer“ Page 59
Granger: “Dumbledore explains to Harry that ‘to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.'” Page 60
Harry admits to Dumbledore that he thought he saw his dead father save him from the dementor’s kiss. Dumbledore’s response is that the dead we love never ‘truly leave us’ and that James Potter ‘is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him.” [See Harry Potter and the Postmodern Church]
“…the love of the departed lives on in us as a protecting grace.” Page 62
They do? Pagan ancestral worship clings to that belief, but it clashes with God’s Word. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” wrote Paul. “…I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” Philippians 1:21
Granger: “Only cowardly wizards like Nick, afraid of death, ‘choose to remain behind’ as an ‘imprint of themselves.’ This shatters Harry— until he is reminded by Luna [moon, a common symbol in witchcraft] that they have evidence of an afterlife. In the Department of Mysteries… are the Death Chambers… Luna reminds Harry that, yes, death if final, but the fact that they hear voices on the other side of the veil means there is good reason to hope for an afterlife.” Page 64
What kind of comfort is that for the reader? If a Christian, he receives a far clearer and more certain message from the Bible. Those who need Harry Potter to affirm life after death in order to believe God’s truth are probably not true Christians. As for unbelievers, this “encouraging” wizardly message would only bring deception and false hope.
Granger: “Dumbledore calls the ‘ancient magic’ he used consequent to Lily’s sacrifice ‘the bond of blood.’ He places Harry with Lily’s sister because her home is a place where Harry’s mother’s blood dwells. As Dumbledore put it, ‘Her blood became your refuge.'” Page 66
Their confidence was not in the blood of Christ, but in the blood of a witch who demonstrated maternal love. Granger goes on to describe what he sees as the meaning of salvation.
Chapter 8 – The question of identity
“Harry defines himself through choices, change, and destiny“ Page 71
Granger: “Let’s look at the choices Harry makes — choices that will define who he is. … He chooses (with one exception that has heavy consequences) loyalty to the good. Page 71
He does? While he usually shows loyalty to his friends (a good trait in all cultures — Christian or pagan), he also lies, steals, breaks rules, “snarls,” and becomes increasingly rude and angry as the years go by. What’s worse — he models all the levels of magical training for an adept in an actual occult order — such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
Granger: “We participate imaginatively with the characters when they make good choices — and this reading experience positively influences the decision making in our own lives. Sort of like vitamins for the soul.” Page 74
“Young wizards and witches at Hogwarts are taught from the first year on the basics… up to the advanced magic of ‘turning [your] friend into a badger.'” Page 75
“By the end of Goblet of Fire, Harry has transformed into a real he-man of sacrificial virtue and is nearly a superhero….
“By the end of [Order of the Phoenix], Harry has learned to look to his heart for his bearings and to the world for very little.” Page 78
At the end of Phoenix, he is an angry, bitter, and grieving wizard desperately searching for ways to communicate with Sirius Black who died because of Harry’s mistakes. But his conversations with Luna (moon), eases his mind. She, like Harry, is set apart because of her sensitivity to occult messages and mystical experiences.
Chapter 9 – Evidence of things unseen
“The symbols in Potterdom are powerful pointers to Christian reality“ Page 83
Granger: “Once we understand symbols we can better understand what it means to be human. As creatures made in ‘the image of God,’ we are three-dimensional symbols, in time and space, of the Trinity.” Page 83-84
The next statement is amazing! Reality would be incomprehensible except in the light of God’s Word — not the light of subjective symbols that can be interpreted according to cultural values and changing beliefs.
Granger: “The world we live in is incomprehensible except in light of symbols. As Martin Lings, tutorial student and friend of C. S. Lewis, wrote:
“‘There is no traditional doctrine which does not teach that the world is the world of symbols, inasmuch as it contains nothing which is not a symbol. A man should therefore understand at least what that means, not only because he has to live in the here below but also and above all because without such understanding he would fail to understand himself, he being the supreme and central symbol in the terrestrial state.'” Page 84
Mr. Granger validated his point about symbols with a quote from Symbol and Archetype: A Study of the Meaning of Existence (1991) — a book which offers a metaphysical alternative to the Biblical view of reality and existence. The author, Martin Lings, a British authority on spirituality, Islamic symbols and mysticism, graduated from Oxford in 1932 and became the Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the British Museum. His other books include The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrine of Faith, Wisdom and Gnosis(1952), Ancient Beliefs and Modern Superstitions (1964), A Muslim [Sufi] Saint of the Twentieth Century (1961), The Secret of Shakespeare, and The Eleventh Hour: The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern World in Light of Tradition and Prophecy(1989).
A review of the last book reveals that it mentions the millennium and end-time prophecies, but not from a Christian perspective. It includes a Scripture to validate its metaphysical message, but the Scripture is taken out of its Biblical context:
“The Eleventh Hourhas its roots in the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. The following questions run through the book: why did the latecomers receive the same wage as those who had laboured throughout the heat of the day? Why were they the first to be paid? And why, did Christ say ‘And the last shall be first?’
“These questions are answered in the light of the concept of the Millennium, which is clearly the equivalent of the new Golden Age of the next cycle of time, and which isfound in all three monotheistic religions, bringing them into line, in this respect, with Hinduism, Greco-Roman Antiquity and Buddhism. This new and expanded edition now includes the fascinating ‘St Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes’, a remarkable twelfth-century prophecy which Lings analyses in depth, according to which the end of time is predicted and also an appendix concerning the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal and other places.“
Remember, adding a few Bible verses doesn’t make a human observation true or good. Satan’s deceptions are often cloaked in Scriptures taken out of context. From the beginning, he has been a master at deceiving people with tempting blends of truth and lies.
Granger: “This is the power of myth: that we can experience invisible spiritual realties and truths greater than visible, material things in story form. Tolkien described Christianity as the ‘True Myth,’ the ultimate intrusion of God into the world through his incarnation…. Tolkien’s explanation of this idea was instrumental in C. S. Lewis’s conversion to Christianity; it is this understanding to the purpose and power of story that gives his fiction its depth, breadth, and height.” Page 86
“Knowing that symbols are points of passage between this world and the greater world ‘above’ and ‘within’ us explains a lot about Harry Potter and Potter-mania. Magic, for example is not demonic or contrary to Scripture when used (as it is in Harry Potter) as a symbol of the miraculously power of God that mean as images of God are designed to have.”
God never designed man to manipulate supernatural power with his own will and imagination — which is what Harry and the other wizards demonstrate. They practice the timeless formula for magic taught by Starhawk, the Wiccan founder of the Covenant of the Goddess. In The Spiral Dance (p. 62), she explains that the purpose of magical training is –
“To work magic is to weave the unseen forces into form, to soar beyond sight, to explore the uncharted dream realm of the hidden reality… to leap beyond imagination into that space between the worlds where fantasy becomes real; to be at once animal and god…
“Spells [and magic]… require the combined faculties of relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection…. To cast a spell is to project energy through a symbol.”
Mental projection means using your will to project the visible or invisible images created in the mind as needed to accomplish the magical feat. It works in these times, because America has changed. As the masses shifted their love from our sovereign Lord to countless other gods, forces and enticements, more and more people were able to communicate with the demonic realm through pagan rituals (spirit quests, sweat lodge ceremonies…), which yielded few results some years ago. It seems that God is withdrawing His protection over his land — just as He did in Old Testament days when Israel sought and followed “other gods.” SeeDeut 8:10-20
Granger: “Books that are rich in symbolism necessarily support a Christian worldview. … Symbolic literature requires — and celebrates — this otherworldly perspective that magically undermines the worldly, atheistic, and materialistic perspective of our times.” Page 87
“Tertullian said that ‘all souls are Christian souls‘ and Augustine echoed him in writing that ‘our hearts are restless ’til they rest in Thee.'” Page 87
Who is our authority in matters of faith — God’s Word or human quotes? If Tertullian did make that universalist statement, he was wrong. In contrast, Augustine was speaking as a Christian would be speaking to his church family.
The fact that Granger would quote the statement attributed to Tertullian causes me to wonder if Granger believes in universalism. Does he believe in a broad, universal “Christian” umbrella of spiritual safety that includes people from all the “major” religions he mentioned earlier (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam with its mystical branch Sufism)? It almost sounds that way.
Granger: “Unlike most contemporary novels, which portray realistic morals or earthbound allegories, Harry Potter is very much a myth pointing to the True Myth…. I already explained how Harry’s two friends are ciphers for the ‘quarreling couple’ of alchemy.” Page 88
“The trio’s love for one another and our identification with them makes their hard times with each other the most painful parts of the stories…. We become aligned in this identification—spirit to mind to body—and fell strangely upright and all right for the change. Good literature trains us in the ‘stock responses’ and lets us see and pattern ourselves after the right alignment of the soul’s powers. When our desires are in line with our will, and both will and desires are obedient to directions from the heart or spirit, we are in operation the way we were designed to be.” 88
In light of Granger’s quote leading up to this point, ‘all souls are Christian souls,’ do you wonder whether that “spirit” is the Holy Spirit or a human or universal “spirit” in all people? Since he didn’t capitalize “spirit” — and since elsewhere in his book he refers to man’s “spirit” — I tend to believe he is referring to the human spirit, not God’s Spirit — unless he sees the two as one.
Granger: “Harry also decides to go to Hogsmeade on Ron’s advice and against Hermione’s pleas—and narrowly misses being expelled.” Page 89 (always chooses good?)
“Mythical Beasts in Harry Potter – Page 91 (All these real or mythical beasts are popular pagan symbols — often featured in the complex symbolism of Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.)
“The Unicorn: ‘the symbol of Christ.’ … Scholars of symbolism as diverse as Carl Jung and Narnia expert Paul Ford confirm the interpretation of the pure white animal whose single horn symbolizes the ‘invincible strength of Christ.'” Page 93
“The Phoenix: … Fawkes, Dumbledore’s pet. … How is the phoenix a symbol of Christ? In the Middle Ages, the phoenix, because of its ability to ‘rise from death,’ was known as the ‘resurrection bird.’ Like the griffin, it was used in heraldic devices and shields to represent the bearer’s hope of eternal life in Christ.” Page 94
From an occult website: “The Phoenix completes this process of soul development. The Phoenix bird builds its nest which at the same time is its funeral pyre, and then setting it alight cremates itself. But it arises anew from the ashes transformed. Here we have captured the alchemists experience of spiritualization. He has integrated his being so much, that he is no longer dependent upon his physical body as a foundation for his being. He now stands upon the sureness of the spiritual – he has in this sense attained the Philosopher’s Stone, the Spiritual core of his being. Thus we can sketch shortly the process of Soul alchemy, the integration, purification and transmutation of the soul, as pictured in this series of bird symbols.”http://www.crystalinks.com/birdsalchemy.html
“The Stag: … Just as the phoenix is the ‘resurrection bird’ because it can rise from its own funeral pyre, so the noble stag ‘came to be thought of as a symbol of regeneration because of the way its antlers are renewed. The stag’s antlers break off and grow back, tying the animal symbolically to the tree of life and the Resurrection… a symbol for Christ.” Page 95
In Celtic mythology and witchcraft, the stag is the horned god, the consort of the sensual goddess.
|From Peter: The graph on page 99 of his book says the stag is the tree of life > Christ. This is bizarre Bible bungee. What the stag has to do with the tree is life is absolutely NOTHING. Take a look at this site: http://www.crystalinks.com/kabala.html Here is a picture of the Kabbalistic tree (Qabbalistic) of life. A stag has nothing more to do with this tree of life than it does with the tree of life in the garden. This is a true Kabbalistic website.|
Scroll down to see the word alchemy in blue (it’s a link). When you click on the link you come to this site: http://www.crystalinks.com/alchemy.html where you can read the history of alchemy and how alchemy has been a part of all the world’s major religions back through the centuries.
“The Centaur: The head and chest of a man are man’s will, thought and spirit; the horsy bottom is his desires and passions.” Page 96
“The Philosopher’s Stone: (not exactly a beast) The end result of the alchemical Great Word was the stone that produced the Elixir of Life (often called the red lion). This magical object… gave its owner immortality and infinite wealth. Historians of science, region and literature…. do agree that the philosopher’s stone is a symbol of Christ…. The end product or aim of alchemy is life in Christ; English authors and poets of many centuries have used this symbol of Christ… to dramatize the search for an answer to death and human poverty of spirit.” Page 97-98
The occultists that practiced alchemy were not seeking for the Christ of the Bible. They had invented their own counterfeit alternative to the Biblical story.
“The Red Lion: … the Elixir of Life coming from the philosopher’s stone, a symbol of the blood of Christ received in Communion.” Page 99
“The Harry Potter stories, in their formulaic journeys that end every year with love’s triumph over death in the presence of a Christ symbol, find their power and popularity in the resonance they create in our hearts. We connect with them because they point toward the True Myth that saves us.” Page 100
Or is it because Rowling tickles our ears with the kinds of enticing stories and power-filled myths that gratify natural desires and stir the imagination with images of supernatural power?
Granger: “Much of Harry Potter…. foster a Christian perspective by ‘baptizing the imagination.’ The gospel has rarely, if ever, been smuggled into the heart and minds of readers so successfully and profoundly.” Page 100
“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:24
Chapter 11 – The purification of the soul
“Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” Page 117
Granger: “Perhaps the scariest scene … is the detention in the Forbidden Forest where Harry and Draco see the Dark Lord drinking unicorn blood.” Page 118
“As we saw earlier, the centaur is a symbol of a perfect man and an imaginative icon of Christ riding into Jerusalem. … That the blood of the unicorn will curse those who drink it unworthily, and that it has life-giving power, echoes Paul’s discourse on the unworthy reception of Communion, which is the blood of Christ.” (1 Cor 11:23-29) Page 118
Remember, Satan counterfeits all that God offers His own people. The blood has also played an important part in occult rituals performed by the various occult orders that grew during the Middle Ages, blending selected Biblical phrases with Egyptian mythology, alchemical symbolism, the Kabala and Hermetic magic. The blood rituals in these groups were a mockery of Christ and His holy Word, as it is in the Harry Potter series.
Granger: “The authentic and accomplished alchemist is able to produce the Stone because of his spiritual achievement. It is a by-product to that perfection, as are the immortality and the riches of transcending the world…. We know Dumbledore and the Flamel are of this perfected type because they destroy the Stone at the book’s end.” Page 123
Three problems: (1)The two wizards follow a path God forbids in His Word! (2) The word “perfection” here doesn’t correspond to Biblical sanctification. (3) Granger gives credit to human achievement in contrast to Christians who know that achievement is by God’s grace, not our own wisdom or strength.
Granger: “So what is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone about? Written in the symbolism of alchemy and traditional Christian doctrine, it is an ode to the purification and perfection of the soul in Christ and His saving, sacrificial love. The perfected soul at death will experience the glory and love of God as joy.” Page 126
Where is the cross, repentance, confession? This is a counterfeit gospel, twisted to justify and accommodate popular occultism and “white magic.”
Chapter 12 – Dangerous books and edifying Books
“Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets“ Page 127
Granger: “When Harry and Ron discover the diary in Moaning Myrtle’s toilet, Ron warns Harry about the dangerous magic contained in books to keep him from looking at it. Harry, after Ron’s hysterical warnings and barely concealed prediction of a fate worse than death, decides he’ll have to read it to find out. I don’t doubt that this is a bit of advice for the sensible, sober reader: in the matter of a controversial or supposedly dangerous book, you should read it and decide for yourself what it is about.“ Page 128
Should you? What about the occult books in Acts 19:17-20? What if you were told this “dangerous book” was full of spells or pornography? Would it still be wise to read it and decide for yourself? See Harry Potter and the Power of Suggestion
Granger: “The effect of the book on Ginny is that she turns into a rooster-murdering, basilisk-releasing servant of Riddle. She thinks she is losing her mind—and she is right. Her mind is now Voldemort’s.” Page 129
Yes. She became possessed by his spirit. Yet, Granger doesn’t see the danger of introducing occultism to children. Instead he equates the magic in these books with “a counter-spell” that would protect young readers from “the enchantment of modernity” or materialism. [Page 130] But much of the occult world has been steeped in materialism! After all, possessions are some of the coveted rewards for successful magic or alchemy. That’s one reason why the early alchemists sought to create gold!
Granger: “…this kind of book [by the arrogant Gilderoy] is as corrosive to right spiritual formation as the moral relativism and other poisons hiding in textbook. Godless fiction is slow poison to the soul.” Page 132
Do you wonder what Granger means by “right spiritual formation?”
Chapter 13 – Despair and delivery
“Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” Page 137
Granger: “Prisoner of Azkaban is really a book about escapes and revealed secrets…. Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban….”137
“Harry… escapes from Privet Drive and the badgering of Aunt Marge…. revealing himself to be an angry young man with a host of unresolved issues about his parents and his own identity. He escapes from these passions via dissolution of his confusion…. in the alchemical crucible of the Shrieking Shack.” Page 139
“Lupin tries to teach Harry… how to conjure a Patronus using the Patronus Charm…. [concentrate on a happy memory, then project with the will using the words ‘Expecto Patronum!’ ” Page 141
Remember Starhawk’s formula for spells and magic: “relaxation, visualization, concentration, and [mental] projection….” Here the key is exercising the will and counting on results. In other words, expecting the power tapped by the magic to deliver results. In Hermetic magic the process is summarized thus: As above, so below.
Granger: “As Harry said, ‘I’m not doing this [preventing his father’s friends from killing Pettigrew] for you. I’m doing it because I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted them to become killers. This humility, compassion and mercy is evidence that he has indeed achieved a degree of spiritual perfection; his will and his father’s will are one and the same, just as we see in John 17:21 and Matthew 6:10; 26:39.” Page 144
In other words, Harry has gone through the alchemical process (dissolution, purification and perfection) and ends up perfect. Of course, he is anything but perfect when we start the next book, and this formula for occult transformation has nothing to do with Biblical salvation. It’s absurd to equate an alchemical process in a pagan setting with God’s sanctifying work in a person joined to Him through the cross.
Granger: “Harry is not equal to this magic until his ego concerns have been purified and dissolved.” [More Jungian and alchemical psychology]
Jung received his information from at least three different spirit guides. These revolutionary teachings would captivate the world. See Carl Jung, Alchemy and Neo-Gnosticism. Notice the references to those spirit guides, to Gnosticism, and to the occult practices of channeling and automatic writing.
Chapter 14 – Girded with Virtue
“Christian keys to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“ Page 149
Granger: “The social drama of good versus evil. Page 150
“The Tournament tasks are keyed to the four elements of alchemy: air, earth, fire, and water.” Page 150
“The Harry Potter books seem to be telling us that it is not study, your special external preparations, or even your piety that save you in the end. Rather, it is your internal quality—the courage, love and virtue within—that determines your receptivity to the graces that will save you in spiritual warfare.” Page 154
What about confidence in God’s promises, the cleansing Blood of Jesus, His righteousness in us, and the shield of faith of God’s armor? Or the meekness and humility taught in the beatitudes?
Granger: “In Arthurian legend, the magical object that selected those champions worthy to behold it was the Holy Grail. … It has power because it is the Communion cup of Christ’s Last Supper; others say it caught the blood of Christ as He was crucified. … Readers of the Arthurian tales know that it could be found only by the most pure of heart.” Page 156
The apparent surface similarities between Christian truth and occult myths cannot not make the myths true or holy.
“…what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Satan is a deceiver who twists God’s truth and mimics His promises in order to tempt and divert Christians from the true truth.
Granger: “The strangest characteristic of the fire in this Goblet is that it is a nonconsuming fire…. Though it may seem a stretch to modern Americans, most Christians can’t help but note its parallels with the nonconsuming fire of the burning bush on Mount Sinai, the purifying flames of what Catholic believers call purgatory, and the glory of the love of God….All these are signatures or correspondences with God’s Word….” Page 157
“‘Hear this now, O foolish people, without understanding,
Who have eyes and see not, and who have ears and hear not:
Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.
‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea….
But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart….
They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God….
‘An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.“ Jeremiah 5:22-30
Chapter 15 – Dark night of the soul
“Order of the Phoenix“ Page 159
Granger: “Lyndy Abraham’s Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery describes the nigredo as: ‘The initial black stage of the opus alchymicum in which the body of the impure metal, the matter for the Stone, or the old outmoded state of being is killed, putrefied, and dissolved into the original substance of creation, the prima material, in order that it may be renovated and reborn in a new form.’
“Citing the alchemists’ dependence on Christ’s teaching, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 12:24, KJV) — Abraham concludes:
“The beginning of spiritual realization is always accompanied by some kind of sacrifice or death, a dying to the old state of things, in order to make way for the new insight and creation. Burckhardt [his metaphysical philosophy was introduced earlier] observed that the turning away of the outer world to the inner to face the shadow of the psyche is frequently experienced as anox profunda, before the dawning of the new light of illumination).” Page 161-162
“If the language of alchemy and Christianity makes your eyes go glossy, look at it as a psychology course. Understand the ‘old man’ as ‘dad,’ the way we use the phrase in common speech. Phoenix is, in large part, about Harry’s coming to term with his being the heir of his biological father, James.” Pages 164-165
“Our discomfort with the Phoenix segment of the Harry Potter saga might be summarized as our resistance to the demands of Christian life.” Page 167
“Reading about the Bond of Blood that protects Harry, we must examine our understanding of the bond of blood we have in Christ by his sacrifice and the Eucharist he left us to preserve us in that bond.”Page 167
“Order of the Phoenix contains the most explicitly Christian references of the series so far. Harry gets a glimpse beyond the Veil, a reference both to the Veil of the Temple and the Shack in Lewis’ Last Battle —to an afterlife where the righteous will meet again. She [Luna] points again to the Mysterious power behind the door which is both ‘more wonderful and more terrible than death, than Human intelligence, than forces of nature.’ Page 168
Granger’s arguments make the occult seem one and the same with Christianity — thus prompting the kind of dialectic thinking that has blurred the line between truth and deception throughout history. The dialectic process leapt into greater prominence — first under Communist leaders such as Lenin and Stalin, then in Western education and culture — through the more sophisticated methodology of Georg Hegel, who studied Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Hermetic Magic, Kabala and Freemasonry.
Granger: “The word ‘order’ is a religious term, after all, referring to a group with a specific vocation (until modern times almost always primarily contemplative) within the Church. That this order is the ‘of the Phoenix’ a traditional symbol both of the ends of alchemy and of Christ Himself highlights this otherworldly meaning.” Page 169
Note from Berit: Although I have debated John Granger on radio and exchanged email with him, I don’t know him personally. This analysis is not a personal criticism of his beliefs and values. Instead it is an open response to his public teaching on the topics of Harry Potter, alchemy, sorcery, magic and Jungian psychology — and how all these supposedly enhance a Christian’s understanding of God. Since Mr. Granger’s book is already in the public domain, it calls for a public and Biblical response.
Harry Potter and the Postmodern Church
By Berit Kjos – June, 2004
“…new behaviors are learned through storytelling and a sense of togetherness prevails that makes recovery and the sense of community and belonging stronger and more functional.”Storytelling as a Pedagogical Tool
“Reality has become fluid, and no medium has done more to make it so than film, with its wide accessibility, its sense-and-psyche-altering format and its effortless gift for persuasion….”
Harry Potter’s wizardly world is becoming strangely familiar to today’s youth. No longer do mystical incantations, transforming potions, dark omens or “the noble art of divination” (as Harry’s divination teacher called it) shock or alarm those who call themselves Christians. Popular magic — real or imagined — has become a normal part of our postmodern culture.
So have rebellion, rudeness, and the kind of feel-good revenge that Harry Potter demonstrates in the latest Warner-Brothers movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It seems perfectly okay for the famed wizard to tell Aunt Marge to “shut up” and, wielding his mystical power, cast a spell that turns her into a ballooning blimp that floats away into the sky. After all, she said cruel things about his parents. She deserved it! Didn’t she? In this context, viewers are led to agree. For J. K. Rowling knows well how to evoke sympathy for her key character.
Harry’s magical revenge may seem funny as well as justified in this fictional setting. But even wizards have rules, and Harry had once again broken “the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry.” Such use of magical powers was forbidden by law. The fact that the angry young wizard escapes the consequences only makes his rebellion and revenge more enticing. Instead of punishment, he won a quick journey on a magical bus back to the safety of the enchanting world of the occult.
“Whether impulsive or planned, each magical spell is an expression and extension of Harry’s will,” said Peter, a former occultist. “That’s a foundational occult reality, and it clashes head on with Biblical truth.” God calls His children to trust and submit to Him and His will, not their own. “Not My will, but Thine, be done,” prayed Jesus. “I can of Myself do nothing,” He told His disciples earlier.”… I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (Luke 22:42, John 5:30)
The contrary messages aren’t lost to the millions of children around the world who read Joanne Rowling’s books. Her images, suggestions, beliefs and value system have established a growing consensus that equates paganism with entertainment and occultism with dark but delicious thrills. What’s more, they have spawned a huge new brood of occult books for children as well as adults. Tearing down the old boundaries, they multiply the world’s cravings for the mystical thrills and occult chills that animate life at Hogwarts.
Few realize that what appears to be fantasy is actually an allegory — a dramatic description of the year-by-year “training of an initiate in an occult order.” [See Harry Potter Overview]
This third Harry Potter movie touts time travel and shape shifting, two pagan illusions that are best understood by the multitudes who have read the book. A deadly werewolf (Harry’s helpful teacher transforms when the moon is full) and a saving stag (the latter word is significant to European witchcraft and its enticing myths of a horned god, the consort of the ancient goddess) become part of the viewer’s imagination and memory bank. Since Lupin, the werewolf, is also the best “Defense-against-Dark-Arts”-teacher Harry has known, the audience tends to be sympathetic toward his paranormal plight.
Most of the young viewers are already familiar with these and other words that describe the traditions of powerful witches, shamans, and medicine men around the world. Those belief systems have been reinforced through social studies and multicultural lessons as well as through children’s books and popular movies. Many of these themes are repeated again and again — speeding their adoption into the public consciousness. In the process, the wall between America’s “Christianized culture” and the world of the occult is crumbling.
Harry’s wizardry corresponds to contemporary occult practices
An excerpt from Peter’s longer chart: Harry Potter Overview
|References from book 3||The corresponding occult practice|
|Page 83. Harry has a confrontation with several dementors.Page 236-237. Lupin teaches him a spell to put a barrier between him and the dementors.||In the occult, psychic vampires are similar to dementors. They feed on the emotional energy of people, especially on fear.|
|Page 247. The Dementor’s kiss. Lupin explains that when dementors wish to destroy someone utterly, they suck the soul out of the person through their mouth. “You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working.”|
|Page 250, 251. Hermione is reading a Rune translation.||Today’s neopagans view the old Nordic Runes as a useful tool for magic and divination.|
|Pages 426, 427. Harry has a conversation with Dumbledore regarding saving Pettigrew’s life. Dumbledore tells Harry that when one wizard “saves another wizard’s life, it creates a bond between them. This is magic at its deepest and most impenetrable.”||This bond and debt is called an ON in the occult world.|
|Pages 28-30. Harry attacks his aunt Marge for her disparaging comments about him and his family by placing a swelling spell on her.||This is a psychic attack. Harry’s lightening bolt scar on his forehead is a symbol of his psychic strength. The lightening bolt is similar in nature to the occult “Sword of the Cherubim.”|
|Page 133. Harry’s class practices on a bogart to remove whatever fear they have. A bogart is an entity that morphs into whatever anyone is afraid of. It is a shape shifter and will change itself into “whatever it thinks will frighten us most.”||Bogarts, called something else in the occult world, are real. They are used in occult training as practice for conquering fear and for perfecting their craft.|
Earthy spirituality and the Circle of Life
One particular scene stands out in this third Harry Potter movie. Since it’s based on the third book, let’s review the scene as the author described it. While the movie version is shorter and less detailed, both evoke nightmarish images of the soul-sucking dementors:
“By the feeble light of his formless Patronus, he [Harry] saw a dementor halt, very close to him. It couldn’t walk through the cloud of silver mist Harry had conjured. A dead, slimy hand slid out from under the cloak. It made a gesture as though to sweep the Patronus aside…..
“A pair of strong, clammy hands suddenly attached themselves around Harry’s neck. They were forcing his face upward…. He could feel its putrid breath…. His mother was screaming in his ears….. He could feel them watching him, hear their rattling breath like an evil wind around him. … Then it raised both its rotting hands–and lowered its hood. Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, gray scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets. But there was a mouth…. a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air….
“And then, through the fog that was drowning him, he thought he saw a silvery light growing brighter and brighter…. He felt himself fall forward onto the grass….. The blinking light was illuminating the grass around him…. The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away…. Something was driving the dementors back…
“With every ounce of strength he could muster, Harry raised his head a few inches and saw an animal amid the light, galloping away across the lake…. It was bright as a unicorn…. …. Fighting to stay conscious, Harry watched it canter to a halt as it reached the opposite shore. For a moment, Harry saw, by its brightness, somebody welcoming it back…. raising his hand to pat it…. someone who looked strangely familiar…. but it couldn’t be…”[2, pages 384-385]
Later, a conversation with Hermione clarified some of the puzzling images:
“Harry, there’s something I don’t understand… Why didn’t the dementors get Sirius? I remember them coming, and then I think I passed out…
“Harry sat down too. He explained what he’d seen; how, as the nearest dementor had lowered its mouth to Harry’s, a large silver something had come galloping across the lake and forced the dementors to retreat…. ‘There’s only one thing it could have been, to make the dementors go,’ said Harry. ‘A real Patronus. A powerful one.’
“But who conjured it?”
Harry didn’t say anything. He was thinking back to the person he’d seen on the other bank of the lake. He knew who he thought it had been…. but how could it have been?…
“…it must have been a really powerful wizard, to drive all those dementors away…. Who did you think it was?”
“‘I think–‘ Harry swallowed, knowing how strange this was going to sound. ‘I think it was my dad.'”
“‘Harry, your dad’s — well– dead,’ she said quietly.”[2, pages 406-407]
To save the lives of Sirius Black (the falsely accused prisoner of Azkaban) and a mythical creature nurtured by the friendly giant Hagrid, Harry and Hermione return to the same scene by magically turning back the time. During this second round, Harry identifies the Patronus — the mysterious savior who chased away the soul-sucking dementors. The action is slightly different:
“And there were the dementors. They were emerging out of the darkness from every direction, gliding around the edges of the lake….. On the opposite bank the glimmers of silver were suddenly extinguished….
“‘Com on!’ he [Harry] muttered, staring about. ‘Where are you? Dad, come on.’
“But no one came….. And then it hit him — he understood. He hadn’t seen his father — he had seen himself–
“Harry flung himself out from behind the bush and pulled out his wand.
“‘EXPECT Patronum!’ he yelled. And out of the end of his wand burst, not the shapeless cloud of mist, but a blinding, dazzling, silver animal…. It was galloping silently away from him, across the black surface of the lake. He saw it lower its head and charge at the swarming dementors….
“The Patronus turned. …. It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn either. It was a stag. It was shining brightly as the moon above…. it was coming back to him. … Slowly it bowed its antlered head and Harry realized…
“‘Prongs,’ he whispered. But as his trembling fingertips stretched toward the creature, it vanished.” (pages 410-412)
The next part shows Harry’s brief discussion with Lupin, his “Defense Against the Black Arts” teacher who also happened to be an unwilling werewolf:
“Lupin said, ‘From what the headmaster told me this morning, you saved a lot of lives last night, Harry…. Tell me about your Patronus.’
“Harry told Lupin what had happened. When he’d finished, Lupin was smiling again. ‘Yes, your father was always a stag when he transformed,’ he said. ‘You guessed right…. That’s why we called him Prongs.’ (page 424)
The last set of quotes from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban shows a sobering glimpse into the new blended spirituality that is becoming an acceptable global religion. The discussion is between Harry and Dumbledore, Hogwarts’ revered Headmaster.
“‘I knew your father very well, both at Hogwarts and later, Harry,’ he [Dumbledore] said gently….
“‘I thought it was my dad who’d conjured my Patronus. I mean, when I saw myself across the lake…. I thought I was seeing him.’
“‘An easy mistake to make,’ said Dumbledore softly….
“‘It was stupid, thinking it was him,’ he muttered. ‘I mean, I knew he was dead.’
“‘You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night….’
“‘Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi,’ said Dumbledore, smiling…. You know Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night… You found him inside yourself.‘”[2, page 428]
Compare the above message with the following scene from the Disney movie, The Lion King. At this point in the story, the evil Scar and his hyenas reign in Pride Lands. The land lies dry and barren. One day, the monkey sorcerer Rafiki looks into his magic gourd and sees Simba’s living image. He sets out to find the reluctant heir to the throne, then demonstrates a worldwide pagan tradition: reliance on help from ever-present, ever-living ancestral spirits.
“I know your father,” says Rafiki.
“My father is dead,” answers Simba.
“Nope! He’s alive. I’ll show him to you.” The shamanic baboon leads Simba to a pool of clear water. “Look down there.”
First Simba sees his own reflection, then the face of his father.
“You see, he lives in you!” says Rafiki.
Simba hears a familiar voice call his name. He looks up. His father’s ghostlike image appears among the stars.
“Look inside yourself…” says the apparition. “You must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are…” The vision fades.
Simba believes. He sees that the dead are not separated from the living, nor earth from the realm of spirits. Everything is connected. Empowered by a new sense of identity, he races back to Pride Lands to challenge his uncle, win the throne, and restore the land. Soon, Pride Nation celebrates the birth of the next lion prince, Simba, the son of King Mufasa and his cubhood friend Nala. Again, Rafiki lifts a royal infant for all to worship. The circle of life continues.
Perhaps you doubt that anyone would take these suggestions of magical feats and mystical unity seriously. Why would people trade God’s strength and the Biblical hope of life after death for the timeless deceptions that led to the worship of magical forces and ancestral spirits around the world?
Keep in mind, today’s postmodern thinking has little love for the old facts and certainties that have grounded genuine Christianity in God’s revealed truth for the last two thousand years. The old truths don’t fit the new dialectic or collective ways of thinking. Nor do they seem as exciting to our thrill-seeing generation as the “fresh, new truths” offered as replacements. That’s why the old emphasis on an individual’s relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is being replaced with a more global emphasis on one’s relationship to the collective, a greater whole which reaches far beyond the boundaries of old Biblical “box.” That’s one reason why many postmodern churches hide the old emphasis on absolute truth and a sovereign King and Judge behind a more contemporary preference for ever-changing truths that match the new permissive, all-loving God of the subjective imagination.
In other words, there are no constants, no absolutes. The group consensus based on feelings and imagination determines what is true. This postmodern consensus will either discard God’s Word or adapt it to fit. As a result, Bible-based discernment fades. For when people discard absolute truth, they lose their mental anchor and flow with the currents of the changing culture. Having no certain truth with which to filter the flood of conflicting suggestions, they lose the capacity to resist popular deceptions. Any new information that captures the public imagination becomes acceptable, normal and real — no matter how fictional or fantastic its source. And if our children are not prepared to take a stand, they may yield their hearts to this process with little resistance.
While many pastors and church leaders have written books that describe this spiritual transformation, the message of Pastor Brian McLaren carries more weight since he is an acknowledged leader in this movement. Some of his articles are posted at www.pastors.com, a website founded by Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christian, is written as a semi-fictional dialogue, so that readers can experience the thrill of questioning old truths and discovering new truth through the dialectic process. Notice how the introduction touts the postmodern worldview while raising doubts about Biblical faith:
“I realize, as I read and reread the Bible, that many passages don’t fit any of the theological systems I have inherited or adapted. Sure, they can be squeezed in, but after a while my theology looks like a high school class trip’s luggage–shoestrings hanging out here, zippers splitting apart there….
“I read what other people who are having similar experiences are saying, including people writing outside of the religious context — like this from Peter Senge: ‘In any case, our Industrial Age management…. our Industrial Age way of living will not continue…. It’s not sustainable in ecological terms, and it’s not sustainable in human terms. It will change. The only question is how….’
“Doesn’t the religious community see that the world is changing? Doesn’t it have anything fresh and incisive to say? Isn’t it even asking new questions? Has it nothing to offer other than the stock formulas that it has been offering? Is there no Saint Francis or Soren Kierkegaard or C.S. Lewis in the house with some fresh ideas and energy?’…
“I meet people along the way who model for me, each in a different way, what a new kind of Christian might look like. They differ in many ways, but they generally agree that the old show is over, the modern jig is up, and it’s time for something radically new…. You begin to wonder if maybe you’re at the front edge of something — if your tentative and anxious steps ‘off the map’ are actually the beginning of a new adventure into terra nova, new ground, fresh territory.”[3, page xiv-xv]
“…if we have a new world, we will need a new church. We won’t need a new religion per se, but a new framework for our theology. Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality. Not a new Christ, but a new Christian.“[3, page xvi] Emphasis added
Something new and fresh! That’s an ongoing quest of the Church Growth Movement. Leaders like Rick Warren may not go as far afield as Brian McLaren, but they know well that the diverse seekers want something more contemporary than the old gospel that has opened eyes and changed hearts for the two millennia. As Pastor Warren wrote on page 325 in The Purpose-Driven Life, “I have deliberately used paraphrases in order to help you see God’s truth in new, fresh ways.” [emphasis in the original] Are our leaders forgetting that the freshness comes when the Holy Spirit breathes God’s life-changing message through those treasured old words? [See Psalm 119:11]
A little later, Brian McLaren describes — through the mouth of his leading character “Neo” — what many postmodern leaders see as changing mental “Models” or worldview. Ponder his quotes from The Discarded Image, apparently the last book written by C. S. Lewis. But first he gives an interesting description of the dialectic process. The proper Hegelian (and Soviet) dialogue doesn’t allow a participant to argue a point from his own point of view. Instead of taking a stand on God’s unchanging Word, you are trained to let go of your own convictions in order to empathically (or emotionally) enter into the convictions of the other members and, in the process, question and criticize your own beliefs in light of the new suggestions:
“Most modern people love to relativize the viewpoints of the others against the unquestioned superiority of their own modern viewpoint. But in a way, you cross the threshold into postmodernity the moment you turn your critical scrutiny from others to yourself, when you relativize your own modern viewpoint. When you do this, everything changes. It is like a conversion. You can’t go back. You begin to see that what seemed like pure, objective certainty really depends heavily on a subjective preference for your personal viewpoint. In this next quote, Lewis makes exactly these very postmodern moves and emphasized how one’s subjective posture affects what one sees and ‘knows objectively.’… Listen to Lewis in his own words:’
“There is no question here of the old Model’s being shattered by the inrush of new phenomena…. When changes in the human mind produce a sufficient disrelish of the old Model and a sufficient hankering for some new one, phenomena to support that new one will obediently turn up….”[3, page 36] [4, 221]
“We must recognize that what has been called ‘a taste in universes’ is not only pardonable but inevitable. We can no longer dismiss the change of Models as a simple progress from error to truth. No Model is a catalogue of ultimate realties, and none is a mere fantasy. Each is a serious attempt to get in all the phenomena known at a given period, and each succeeds in getting in a great many. But also, no less surely, each reflects the prevalent psychology of an age almost as much as it reflects the state of that age’s knowledge….”
‘Lewis concludes his book with a fascinating prediction…
“It is not impossible that our own Model will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts — unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendents demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence.’ [3-page 37] [4, 222-223] Emphasis added
“What Lewis imagined to be ‘not impossible’ some generations away–the death of the modern model or worldview–turns out to be happening just a single generation after he wrote…’[3-page 37]
McLaren didn’t complete the above sentence but his point was made. Two paradigm shifts have occurred in the last thirty years, and the years ahead promise to be more wrenching than any previous time. The world’s hostility will surely be aimed at those who continue to walk in “the old paths, where the good way is….” Jeremiah 6:16.
Our website often receives angry email from youth- and children’s pastors who echo Pastor McLaren’s doubts and desires. They have embraced the world’s intolerance toward those who take a stand on Biblical truth or use its teachings as a filter to discern God’s view of good and evil. How then can they prepare our children to follow God?
Never have our children been surrounded by so many spiritual counterfeits, seductive suggestions and occult images. And seldom has the Christian community been less prepared to resist such spiritual temptations. It’s up to us as parents and grandparents to teach them to stand strong against these deceptions, put on the whole Armor of God, and walk by the light God gave us in His Word. We can’t trust Christian schools or youth pastors to fulfill our God-given assignment. But when we do trust God, prepare our own hearts, teach His Word and train our children to follow His narrow way, we will know a fellowship in our families that far exceeds the fleeting, deceptive fun that the world offers.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:6
Please read Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies
Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
by Berit Kjos, July 2005
“Malfoy’s hex missed Harry by inches, shattering the lamp on the wall beside him; Harry threw himself sideways, thought Levicorpus! and flicked his wand, but Malfoy blocked the jinx…. “Sectumsembra! bellowed Harry from the floor, waving his wand wildly. Blood spurted from Malfoy’s face and chest as though he had been slashed with an invisible sword.”
“The story of Harry Potter is an allegory: It is written and packaged to look like fantasy when, in truth, it is a carefully written true description of the training and work of an initiate in an occult order…. The story line aligns with real occult books written by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, who, themselves, run the foremost school of witchcraft in the British Isles.“ Peter, a former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 1
‘I’m a fanatic. I love reading them. They get you hooked.” Ashley, age 14.
As Potter-passion soars to new heights, it’s time to take another look at the young wizard’s influence on Christian beliefs. After all, the sixth book in Ms. Rowling’s spine-tingling adventures into the world of the occult has broken all records. Almost 7 million copies were sold in the United States in its first 24 hours – averaging better than 250,000 sales per hour! What is happening? Why is Harry’s virtual world so enticing? Could this new mythology become the great equalizer of religions — fusing Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities with 21st century paganism?
An anonymous visitor to our website illustrates its enchanting power to deceive “Christian” youth:
“Harry Potter is merely a work created for readers to enjoy. It teaches children to read and to imagine. Our society has really overreacted to this, especially the church. I myself am a faithful follower who does enjoy reading…. Harry Potter encourages magic and I hope you all have the good sense to celebrate what gods gives [sic] us through wonderful stories like Harry Potter…. Are these evil? Are we not to celebrate halloween? When do you draw the line?”
Actually, our wise and caring God has already drawn some very specific lines for us. To guard us from dangers we can’t even grasp, He has given us clear boundaries that we would be wise to heed. For example, He tells us that anyone practicing witchcraft, sorcery, spell-casting, necromancy or divination (all occult skills that Harry learns and practices at Hogwarts Schools of Witchcraft and Wizardry) is an “abomination.” [Deut 18:10-12] What does that tell us about God’s attitude toward spiritual models such as Harry and Dumbledore? How does it relate to His warning in Romans 12:9: “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
If those questions offend you, you may want to stop reading right here. I’m not trying to “impose my beliefs” on you or force you to hear what you don’t want to know. But if you want to understand the power of a tantalizing story and how to guard your children’s minds from the almost overwhelming pressure to conform and compromise, please join me in examining some timeless strategies of the mastermind behind all the corruption in the world.
Using the imagination to create virtual experience
The human imagination is key to transformation. Impressionable and gullible, it asks few questions and rarely resists deception. Through it, occult images and suggestions take on life-like dimensions that can distort and change our values as effectively than can facts or actual reality. It’s no coincidence that educational change agents want to train children to use and follow this popular alternative to rational thinking. Conditioned to respond to exciting suggestions with their imagination rather than intellect, children can easily be led and manipulated. [See “Brainwashing in America“]
Dr. Donald A. Cowan, president emeritus of the University of Dallas, summarized the strategy well. “What will take the place of logic, fact and analysis in the coming age?” he asked. Then he gave the following reply to his own rhetorical question:
“The central way of thought for this new era will be imagination…. Imagination will be the active, creative agent of culture, transforming brute materials to a higher, more knowable state.”
Our wise Maker is well aware of our imagination’s thoughtlessness. He told us that “…the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” [Genesis 8:21] And in Matthew 5:28, He equates the moral impact of imagining something with the actual deed. (“…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”)
The fact that enthusiastic Potter fans “merely” imagine the spell-casting, hexing, and deadly cursing doesn’t nullify the impact of the mental images. So, for the peace and safety of our hearts, we are told not to entertain these things in our minds! That may sound intolerant to those who have reinvented a more positive or permissive god for our times. But our unbelief doesn’t change the heart or will of our sovereign God. It only shuts Him out, leaving us to rely on our own futile resources. [Proverbs 1:27-33]
God has good reasons for warning us to shun virtual as well as actual occultism. Our minds may be able to separate the two, but our emotions blur those divisions. Think about it. Potter fans are saddened by the deaths of fictional heroes as well as real-life heroes. In their minds, they cheer each winning spell cast by Harry — just as they cheer a homerun by a favorite athlete. In the imagination, fantasy and reality flow together.
So do the light and dark forces of the occult. Harry’s adventures lead you to imagine that the young wizard’s magic is good and Voldemort’s magic is evil, but in reality, the seductive power behind both remains the same. Both rely on (1) a focused, intentional command of the human will and (2) some kind of occult formula designed to invoke a supernatural force. While the “dark side” seems more deadly, the “light side” is far more deceptive. People let down their guard, because it feels good, not evil. It seems exciting, not frightening.
Look with me at the following scenes from the latest book. They illustrate the kinds of encounters that readers enter into vicariously with Harry and his friends and enemies. What kinds of belief and values do they plant into “open” minds? What worldview do they seal in the reader’s memory?
In the first encounter, you meet Professor Snape, Harry’s hostile old “Potions” instructor, who has now been promoted to teaching “Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
“You will now divide,” Snape went on, “into pairs. One partner will attempt to jinx the other without speaking. The other will attempt to repel the jinx in equal silence. Carry on.”
…A reasonable amount of cheating ensued; many people were merely whispering the incantation instead of saying it aloud….
“Pathetic, Weasley [Harry’s friend, Ron],” said Snape, after a while. “Here — let me show you —“
He turned his wand on Harry so fast that Harry reacted instinctively; all thought of nonverbal spells forgotten, he yelled, “Protego!” His Shield Charm was so strong Snape was knocked off-balance and hit a desk. The whole class had looked around and now watched as Snape righted himself, scowling.
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying. Several people gasped, including Hermione. Behind Snape, however, Ron, Dean, and Seamus grinned appreciatively.
“Detention, Saturday night, my office,” said Snape. “I do not take cheek from anyone, Potter. . . not even ‘the Chosen One.”
“That was brilliant, Harry!” chortled Ron, once they were safely on their way to break a short while later.
“You really shouldn’t have said it,” said Hermione, frowning at Ron. [179-180]
The key character in the next scene is Ginny Weasley, Ron’s younger sister and Harry’s secret love. Some will remember that in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, she was possessed and controlled by the evil Voldemort after finding his old diary implanted with a portion of his soul. What kinds of values might it transmit to the reader?
“How come you ended up in there, Ginny?”
“He saw me hex Zacharias Smith,” said Ginny. “You remember that idiot from Hufflepuff who was in the D.A.? He kept on and on asking about what happened at the Ministry and in the end he annoyed me so much I hexed him — when Slughorn came in. I thought I was going to get detention, but he just thought it was a really good hex and invited me to lunch! Mad, eh?” 
Stirring emotions and creating memories
Our minds are far more receptive to contrary values than we like to think. And the more these occult images and suggestion arouse our emotions — whether love, laughter, fear, hate or rage — the more effectively they plant new values in our minds and seal those values in our memory. As a result, youth around the world have learned to love evil and despise truth — just as God warns us: “You love evil more than good….” Psalm 52:3
The anticipated release of Book 6 illustrated this principle well. The date, July 16, 2005, stirred excitement and fierce loyalty around the world! At 12.01 AM, huge crowds of children from America to Australia were lined up at their nearest bookstore to receive their coveted copy of Harry’s latest adventures. Dressed in black capes, glasses and pointed hats — and with scars on their foreheads and wands in hand — they celebrated the Potter domain of tantalizing power and mystical thrills.
‘I’m a fanatic,” announced 14-year-old Ashley, who apparently has read each of the first five books about five times each. “I love reading them. They get you hooked.” Her sister Lauren, 10, confirmed Ashley’s zeal. “She takes them everywhere,” she said.”
Of course, Harry Potter is not the first character — real or fictional — who learned how to excite the masses through evocative imagery and clever words. China’s revered leader Mao Zedong knew well the power of “emotion work.” That’s why he so effectively won the hearts of the people. He knew how to stir “bitterness” against landowners, hatred toward Christians, love for communism, and a sacrificial spirit that would give its all to his totalitarian reign. By identifying and isolating the key “enemy” as the most threatening evil, the new evils no longer seem so bad.
Some of Mao’s strategies, now seen in churches as well as other organizations, were described by Elizabeth J. Perry in a report given at Harvard University in the spring of 2000. Referring to the manipulative effects of myth-making fantasy (here expressed through community theater rather than books, but with similar effect), she said,
“The growth of the revolutionary movement was marked by increasing attention to the importance of ’emotion-raising’ in the process of mass mobilization.
“Theater was a critical means of eliciting an emotional reaction that was used intentionally to solidify popular commitment. … Staged public performances have constituted the very heart and soul of the Chinese Communist revolution…. This is not to imply, however, that the emotions expressed in such contexts are somehow phony or inauthentic. A distinctive facet of human feelings is of course their ambivalence and malleability; the genius of the CCP approach lay in its capacity to appreciate and capitalize on this fundamental reality.”
When Ms. Rowling wrote the first book, she could neither foresee nor plan the influence she would one day wield. The story, she said, came to her mind long ago as she was riding the train.’ But many others are intentionally riding on her coattails. Her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, has prepared public school curricula based on its pagan world view. Churches have designed Harry Potter Sunday school lessons and small group dialogues — a growth-producing “carrot’ for engaging children and youth in fun “learning” activities. Much of the learning takes place in small groups through the dialectic process as students share and blend their feelings about Harry with each other. Led by a teacher/facilitator, they are trained to think dialectically — for the sake of unity and tolerance, they practice reconciling relevant opposites.
But how do you reconcile opinions dealing with Christianity versus paganism, unity versus separation, good versus evil, etc.? What attitudes would the children learn from each other concerning good and evil in the Harry Potter books?
It would be natural for them to reconcile the conflicts between pagan myths and Biblical truth by redefining traditional words, find more tolerant interpretations of the Bible, rationalize away Biblical boundaries, and cheer the group consensus. They might even celebrate their new-found “freedom” to “think outside the box” of the increasingly offensive Bible. But none of those “solutions” can counter the truth of Scriptures such as these:
“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
Consider the next example. Harry and his classmates are listening to the effusive Professor Slughorn, the potions teacher who replaced Professor Snape. He shows them a bottle of golden liquid, which Harry soon “won” by somewhat dubious means. What similar confidence-building, highly addictive “potion” is available to thrill-seeking youth today? (This year, Meth has captivated about 1.5 million users, but next year it could be something else.)
“Well, that one, ladies and gentlemen — is a most curious little potion called Felix Felicis. I take it,” he turned, smiling, to look at Hermione, who had let out an audible gasp, “that you know what Felix Felicis does, Miss Granger?”
“It’s liquid luck,” said Hermione excitedly. “It makes you lucky!”
“Quite right….Yes, it’s a funny little potion, Felix Felicis,” said Slughorn. “Desperately tricky to make and disastrous to get wrong. However, if brewed correctly, as this has been, you will find that all your endeavors tend to succeed… at least until the effects wear off.” 187-188
[Later in the year] “So, Harry — you going to use the Felix Felicis or what?” Ron demanded.
“Yeah, I s’pose I’d better,” said Harry. “I don’t reckon I’ll need all of it…. Two or three hours should do it.”
“It’s a great feeling when you take it,” said Ron reminiscently. “Like you can’t do anything wrong.”
“What are you talking about?” said Hermione, laughing. “You’ve never taken any!”
“Yeah, but I thought I had, didn’t I?” said Ron, as though explaining the obvious. “Same difference really….”476
“Well, here goes,” said Harry, and he raised the little bottle and took a carefully measured gulp.
“What does it feel like?” whispered Hermione.
Harry did not answer for a moment. Then, slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all…. He got to his feet, smiling, brimming with confidence.
“Excellent,” he said…. I’m going to Hagrid’s, I’ve got a good feeling about going to Hagrid’s.”
“You’ve got a good feeling about burying a giant spider?” asked Ron, looking stunned.
“Yeah,” said Harry, pulling his Invisibility Cloak out of his bag. “I feel like it’s the place to be tonight, you know what I mean?”
“No,” said Ron and Hermione together, both looking positively alarmed now. …
“Trust me,” [Harry] said. “I know what I’m doing… or at least” — he strolled confidently to the door — “Felix does.”477-478
“Sensory immersion helps learners grasp reality through illusion,” wrote Harvard Professor Chris Dede, a global leader in the development of education technology programs.
Of course, the “reality” these “learners” grasp through “sensory immersion” is not true reality, but a pleasing illusion — a pseudo-reality designed to please our human nature and change the way we think. These illusions seduce adults and children alike. Knowing the difference between truth and fiction doesn’t really matter. We may be perfectly aware that a carrot or piece of chicken will serve our body better than a piece of candy, yet our feelings drive us to choose the latter. [See The Power of Suggestion“]
Through television, movies, music and ads, most Americans are immersed in a sensory environment that bombard their minds and emotions. Without any effort of our own, we are trained to be receptive and “open-minded.” Yet, we are poorly prepared to resist these cultural pressures. Today’s postmodern ideas — which mock facts, truth and certainty — have stripped away the mental tools needed to make wise choices. And with each repetition, the deceptions become more believable.
“…till at last the child’s mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child’s mind,” wrote Aldous Huxley over seventy years ago in Brave New World. “And not the child’s mind only. The adult’s mind too — all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides — made up of these suggestions.”
When children are so enchanted by Harry Potter’s world that they read each book again and again, discuss it among their friends, dialogue in classroom groups and write “fan fiction” based on the myth, they “make it their own.” Their minds and emotions are so “at home” in the story, that their old familiar home might even seem strange and foreign in comparison.
A former student at Clinton’s Governor’s School in Arkansas, who had happily read and played in an unreal learning environment isolated from his family, summarized it well: “The students. . . say, ‘This is the perfect place. I never want to go home.’ I caught myself saying that several times.”
This Governor’s school for future leaders had embraced several key brainwashing techniques that help us understand today’s strategies for change:
- Isolate students from family and friends (who cling to the old values)
- Discredit or undermine former authorities (parents, pastors, etc.)
- Reinforce new beliefs and values (those that fit the vision for pluralism and unity)
- Emphasize feeling-based learning
- Immerse learners in a desirable fantasy world
“It would be impossible for me to describe to you just how exciting and unusual this educational adventure is,” said former president Bill Clinton back in his days as governor of Arkansas. That was before one former student became so depressed that he committed suicide.
Immersing children and youth in a wildly exciting pagan belief system will change their minds, memories, beliefs and values. “Christian” fans who find the story irresistible will facecognitive dissonance, a form of mental and emotional confusion. To social and educational change agents, this intentional dissonance is an essential step in the process of “unfreezing” minds and “opening” them up to a new way of thinking. It occurs when the child tries to reconcile the shocking new suggestions with the beliefs they learned from their parents.
The next scene involves three characters so obviously evil that Harry and other “good” occultists seem almost saintly by comparison. The three villains serve Voldemort, the ultimate evil in the story. Narcissa is the mother of Harry’s taunting classmate Draco Malfoy. Her sister Bellatrix, a member of Voldemort’s cruel army of Death Eaters, killed Harry’s “godfather” Sirius Black and tortured to death the parents of Harry’s friend Neville using an excruciating spell.
“Certainly, Narcissa, I shall make the Unbreakable Vow,” he [Snape] said quietly. “Perhaps your sister will consent to be our Bonder.”
Bellatrix’s mouth fell open. Snape lowered himself so that he was kneeling opposite Narcissa. Beneath Bellatrix’s astonished gaze, they grasped right hands.
“You will need your wand, Bellatrix,” said Snape coldly.
She drew it… and placed the tip of her wand on their linked hands.
Narcissa spoke. “Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord’s wishes?”
“I will,” said Snape.
A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from the wand and wound its way around their hands like a red-hot wire.
“And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?”
“I will,” said Snape.
A second tongue of flame shot from the wand…
“And, should it prove necessary… if it seems Draco will fail…“ whispered Narcissa… “will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?”
“I will,” said Snape. 36-37
This vow, made early in the book, was fulfilled at the end. The hateful Professor Snape — who turns out to be the mysterious Half-blood Prince — did what Harry’s hostile classmate Draco Malfoy failed to do: kill Albus Dumbledore as the revered schoolmaster lay injured near the top of a staircase. But this fictional tragedy will probably strengthen Harry’s influence in the real world. For — just as terrorism justifies increased government surveillance — this evil deed helps justify Harry’s use of dark magic to finish his unbiblical mission.
Isolation and uncertainty
Though millions of children around the world are now absorbing the message in Book 6, most of them make this dark and disturbing journey into the occult realm alone. Unless the book is read aloud in a group setting, each reader encounters Harry, Dumbledore, Snape, and the Death Eaters through their own minds and imagination. Even if parents discuss the action afterwards, each individual reader must face the ominous atmosphere, the lighthearted spells, the cutting remarks, and the murderous cruelty alone. No one else shares their personal reactions as they turn each page.
Once planted in the mind, those memories will continue to color a child’s view of God. They will probably stir cravings for more occult thrills. Each new book and reading will reinforce the person’s growing familiarity with forbidden realms. Few realize that the actual world of the occult is far darker and more frightening than they can conceive. And few know God and His Word well enough to discern the spiritual distortions. Vital Scriptures needed for spiritual warfare seem alien to those who have embraced the postmodern mindset.
I have received many letters from children, youth, parents, pastors and teachers who all claim to be Christians yet love Harry Potter. Their emotional arguments show that their understanding of God’s Word has been compromised beyond recognition. In many cases, their expressed faith fits right into the spiritual transformation I described in The Rising World Religion.
They had learned to love the occult and to justify their rejection of Scriptures such as Jeremiah 10:2: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles.'” That last word refers to the pagan nations that surrounded His people. They were not to learn the occult beliefs and practices of the heathens who worshipped other gods and lived in bondage to demonic forces. Yet, Israel ignored that warning and was destroyed.
God alone can lead us safely through the tempting lures and illusions that bombard our children in this thrill-seeking culture. And He proves His faithfulness again and again to those who trust Him.
I was speaking at a Sunday School Convention about 15 years ago on the topic, “The Unholy Power of Charms and Symbols.” Parents and teachers were still crowding into the small auditorium, when I began showing transparencies of simple symbols such as the yin-yang, the peace symbol, and the ankh. We discussed their meanings — and why their popularity has skyrocketed today.
I showed my compound symbols, but had not had time to prepare a transparency with the multifaceted Theosophical symbol. So I began to draw its many parts on a clear transparency: first, a large circle, then two overlapping triangles forming a hexagram, then a small pentagram and swastika…. Suddenly, something large and dark hit me hard in the chest. For a moment I lost both my balance and my breath. Then, in a flash, I knew what was happening. I had made myself vulnerable by unwittingly performing what might have been a ritual with mediaeval alchemy and other religious traditions.
Still in front of the crowd and the microphone, I cried out, “Forgive me, Lord! Cover me with your blood. In the name of Jesus Christ, I declare Your victory over the evil one. In You, we are ‘more than conquerors!’ Thank you, Jesus, my Lord and my King!”
As fast as it came, the entity disappeared. I apologized to the startled audience, asking their forgiveness for foolishly, though unintentionally, opening the door to this evil. Then we all thanked God for His lesson and protection.
Among the people gathered around me afterwards was a woman who said, “I think I know what happened to you. While you were drawing that symbol, the man sitting next to me was moving his hands in strange ways and murmuring something as if he was casting a spell. He may have come to bring occult interference.”
Only our sovereign, omniscient God knows exactly what happened that day. I may not fully understand the details of the ongoing and intensifying spiritual war operating in the unseen, but He impressed on my mind three important lessons:
1. The reality and power of the evil one operating in the physical as well as the spiritual world we inhabit.
2. The victory we have in Christ who makes us “more than conquerors” when we know, love and follow Him.
3. The importance of living each moment in this warring world ready, with “the sword of the Spirit… the Word of God” at hand to wield against any assault on mind or body.
“Therefore keep watch… be ready,” Jesus warned His disciples. “Be on guard! Be on the alert!”
Today, more than ever, we must be alert and ready. We need to be “hidden in Him,” wearing His armor — the protective covering of our Lord Himself. We can’t afford to be presumptuous; we must not forget that whenever we choose our own way rather than His, we “take off” the “breastplate of righteousness” and stand defenseless in the raging battle. But walking with Him, in His ways, we are safe.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand….” Ephesians 6:10-13
For an in-depth study on the Armor of God, see A Wardrobe from the King
See also this chart: Opposing World Views
1. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic Inc., 2005), page 522.
5. Spoken at a 1988 forum address at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. This address formed the nucleus for his book Unbinding Prometheus: Education for the Coming Age.
6. Elizabeth J. Perry, “Once Again –With Feeling: The Chinese Revolution Revisited.” Report given at Harvard University CBRSS Events, Spring 2000. (Apparently the article is no longer available online.)
7. God tells us that “the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 john 5:19). We don’t know all the ways he “sways” the people of the world, but his goal has always been to “free” minds from true devotion to Jesus Christ and manipulate our thoughts and feelings so that we serve him rather than God.
8. Chris Dede, “The Transformation of Distance Education to Distributed Learning.” While this and other papers by Professor Chris Dede focuses on education technology, it emphasizes the value of sensory immersion into synthetic environments as a tool to mold minds by instilling a programmed perception of “reality.” http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/distlearn/index.html
9. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (New York: HarperCollins, 1932), page xvi, 28
12. Mark 13:9, 22-23, 33, 37; Matthew 24:42, 44; 25:13.