Harry potter and christianity?

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
Here's the thing,i enjoy the harry potter books and i like the movies but i have friends that are absolutely fanatical they worship the book and await the movies like the second coming and theyre good christians and i feel this to be wrong whenever i tell them this they go nd quote the books("there is no good or evil only power and those too weak to seek it.")and laugh is this wrong? do fantasy books invite sin?i just wanna tell them off,i really think its worth discussing how much adoration is too much? 


  • If they are positively quoting the sayings of those who are presented as evil in the series, such as...

    "there is no good or evil only power and those too weak to seek it"

    then it is rather problematic.

    It is possible to take the courage of various characters and draw lessons from them, but it is hardly Christian to take the lesson from those presented as being wicked. I don't think that the book itself can be blamed for a person choosing to take the example of the evil character. It would be a little like blaming the Bible if someone took as the basis of their life the words, 'Am I my brother's keeper?', in a negative sense. They would have misunderstood the message.

    And much as I find the Harry Potter series extremely weak, boring, and derivative, I am not one of those who blame it for all the ills in the world. I would suggest that the current fad among 13 y.o. girls for Vampire books is much more damaging. There are not many young girls who imagine themselves in love with an elderly wizard with a long white beard, but there are many who find attraction in the gloomy and shadowy world of vampire charm, and begin by dressing in black and end up with thoughts of suicide.

    I don't have any problems with fantasy as a genre, or science-fiction. It can be a useful and interesting medium for developing moral parables with value, just as with all aspects of life it can be misused and be encouraging of temptation. It is the content that matters not the medium. I find the Lord of the Rings trilogy very moving and used to read it at least once a year. It is filled with bravery, courage and self-sacrifice, set in a context of a world in which evil is very real, and reflects to some extent the situation of war in which Tolkein and his generation found themselves.

    Aesop's fables are also fantasy, there is no such thing as a talking fox. But using the medium of a created and imaginary world it is possible to provide moral instruction in an informative and memorable manner.

    But there must be balance in all things. When a person starts living in a fantasy world we consider it a mental illness. When a youth becomes obsessed with a fantasy world it prevents them engaging with their real problems and issues. But this is not the fault of the genre (in my opinion), since a person can become obsessed with many things, even hobbies, even sports, so as to prevent them facing the spiritual and personal challenges which confront them. If someone spent all their time playing sport and training for sport and their spiritual and personal life suffered then we would consider this harmful, but we would not say that sport was harmful.

    Likewise, in my opinion, it is not the fault of a genre, but of particular examples of that genre, of the manner in which they are marketed, and the extent to which a person becomes absorbed into them.

    Father Peter
  • I found this article online:

    A lady asked me at the Southern Diocese Family Convention, "Anba Youssef, what do you think about Harry Potter for the children?" My reply was "Who is Harry Potter?"

    Upon asking others in the Diocese that are familiar with the book (and now a movie I am also told), these are the facts that I have collected regarding a small orphan boy named Harry Potter:

    1) He is born a wizard with parents who have been murdered.

    2) He carries a deep flesh scar on his head from an evil person who murdered his parents and is now seeking to murder him

    3) He converses with snakes

    4) He attends a school of wizardry and black magic, can ride a broom, and practice witchcraft with ease

    5) Befriends other small wizards his age who can perform special feats of wizardry almost as well as he

    6) Some say it is sorcery actually not wizardry that he performs; both have connotations of black magic

    7) A unicorn is killed within the plot of the book/movie and the blood is drunk of this dead animal to restore youth and life to another human

    8) Evil and ominous creatures are throughout; one lady stated that her son kept his eyes covered for most of the movie and could not sleep alone for nights

    9) The adoptive parents of Harry Potter abuse and neglect him

    10) A wrong move in a "game" of chess can result in a someone's head being cut off swiftly and unmercifully with a sword

    These are only points derived from conversations of others. I cannot image a parent encouraging this type of reading for any child, particularly their own. What type of message does this give to our children? Evil in some forms are acceptable and good?

    I do not think so. It amazes me that a mother would not leave surroundings where her child becomes this frightened from "entertainment", showing visible signs with covering his eyes and looking down at the floor and most probably wishing to leave but not wanting to say this in front of older siblings or peers. How did it make her feel when her child could not sleep at night? Is there a message here?

    Is this living a Christian life in the modern world? Does this type of reading and entertainment away from God satisfy us? The basic Christian issue here is, is this right or wrong?

    Through the grace of God we can become better than societal influences, which surround us by using discretion. Parents should not escape responsible behavior. The parental Christian role of parents is to teach their children the Will of God. His Holy Word, Teachings of the Church, Lives of the Saints, Guidance in selecting reading and program participation, seeking inner peace, and quiet thinking and reason.

    "All things are lawful for me but all things do not edify. Give no offenseto the Church of God" (I Corinthians 10:23,32).

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).

    Parenting is a great and serious responsibility.

    "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

    God bless you and grant you wisdom for the sake of our children.

    H.G. Bishop Youssef
    Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
  • Thanks father peter,          can you point out to me some bible verses on witchcraft.
  • I see your point your grace,while i agree with your points im left asking what other alternatives are there?the church needs to have more books published for children.there are so many moving stories and histories of saints that inspire the mind and invigorate the soul that can be written for children and the church and its leaders must work to bring them about children are the future and sadly in this world where violence,death and evil are glorified they have little to turn to. God bless us all!
  • I think it has to be said that His Grace has not fully appreciated the content of the Harry Potter films and therefore is offering his advice based only on the hearsay of those who have already decided they are inappropriate.

    I agree with kalsam that there should be many more books written for children from an Orthodox perspective, but unfortunately many of these might tend to be lecturing, moralising and not very exciting.

    Harry Potter is fantasy. He does not attend a school of black magic. Those who are evil are always treated in negative terms as being bad examples.

    A person could open the Bible and find countless examples of evil behaviour, this does mean the Bible is evil.

    i. A man kills his own brother because he is jealous about the sacrifice he has offered God.
    ii. A city is filled with people who lust after homosexual activity with strangers.
    iii. A woman kills her enemy by driving a tent peg through his forehead.
    iv. Babies are offered to the god Molech.

    etc etc.

    It is not reasonable to take excerpts from a book, especially when performed by evil characters and given a negative moral value and then say that the book must also be evil. Otherwise almost all history books would have to be considered evil because they deal with evil people and evil actions. I am sure that His Grace would revise his comments if he had studied the book and the film itself.

    Personally I find it very weak rather than frightening, and certainly not evil. There are very many really evil films, these are what should be avoided.

    The Narnia films are no less filled with good and evil than Harry Potter, and no-one could suggest that C.S. Lewis was anything other than a committed and devput Christian. The main character is killed. Children are placed in dangerous situations. One is led astray by an evil witch.

    Indeed were I in a position to produce films about the lives of the saints they would not be quiet affairs full of prayer and monastic retreat, but they would be necessarily filled with controversy, with violence and murder, with argument and intrigue, with conflict between good and evil. Because life is filled with violence, death and evil does not mean that when it appears in books or films it is glorified. On the contrary it is placed in a proper context by the struggle of good and love and life.

    Yesterday I visited the Imperial War Museum with some of my family, I have been before with my own children. The Holocaust exhibition which we visited is very moving indeed, yet it describes a history of violence, death and evil. Should it be hidden from our youth? The same experience is that of the entire Armenian community, should they not recount it to their children? I took my children to the battlefields of Nothern France and Belgium and they were struck unusually silent by the thousands and ten thousands of white gravestones which illustrate the cost of the conflict between good and evil.

    So as far as my own views are concerned, I want to know if a book or story glorifies evil, or treats it as the enemy? Is the hero or heroine on the side of good or evil? I am not concerned so much if violence is described (I don't mean in a graphic manner). How could the life of most of the saints be described without mentioning the treatment they received at the hands of evil men? The Synaxarium is full of such descriptions.

    When I was a child I read many stories of heros of the war, which had only ended 20-25 years before. They were often stories of brave men who lost their lives, but I was not harmed by understanding that there is a cost to defending that which is right. I do find the Harry Potter stories badly written, but the fact that Harry Potter and his friends face danger for the sake of good is not a bad example as far as I can see. The fact that Ron Weasley is willing to be killed to allow his friends to save others is not a bad example. I do not encourage people to read Harry Potter because I do not think it is very good. There are however other 'children's' series of books I would not encourage Christian children to read at all.

    But where are the Orthodox authors who can write exciting, dangerous stories that entertain and encourage rather than bore children to death? There are not so many. Is there a budding children's author here on tasbeha?

    Father Peter
  • going a little bit off topic here, but in regards to the narnia series, that first book was completely about Christ. i thought the symbolism in that was really cool, and i didn't see it until someone pointed it out to me.  really very cool;)
    but anyways, about the obsession with harry potter, i'd just tell them to get a life  :D
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