A question about magic in fantasy books

Why are most Christians against the Harry Potter series, but very few of them have a problem with Tolkein and C.S lewis’s series? The LOTR and Narnia series both have magic and supernatural creatures in them. So what makes those series okay, but Harry Potter is wrong?

The distinction is that Tolkein and Lewis wrote with Christian symbolism in their stories. They are not pure fantasy. Their stories represent Christian truth.

Harry Potter has no Christian meaning at all. It is fantasy that teaches that there are forces available to combat evil which are not necessarily from the Living God. If such power does not come from God, where must it come? Albeit evil is seen as being vanquished by good, but good is meaningless unless its source is from the triune Godhead. This isnt to say there is no truth in the powers of goodness over darkness, but for children it can be confusing and lead in the wrong direction.

While I dont see the demonic in Harry Potter and fear it as much as some do, particularly for older children with some faith formation, I do think the Harry Potter can be harmful to some younger children who dont have attentive parents to guide them in their viewing of such movies.

Have you even read Harry Potter? There actually is quite a bit of symbolism that if it was not intended as Christian could certainly have deep significance to a Christian–especially in the seventh book. The inscription on the grave of Harry’s parents? “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Sound familiar? I promise you that doesn’t come from any ancient work of witchcraft–it’s straight out of St. Paul. And the overall theme of the work, the struggle between good and evil, the hope of deliverance, all of these things are very much similar to how other fantasy works (Tolkien and Lewis in particular, but others as well) operate and show forth something essentially true about the world. One cannot dismiss something as being totally devoid of anything favorable to Christian sentiments; we’re all human, we all seek God, whether we realize it or not, and because God became man and walked among us, it’s very difficult for us to avoid talking about him, even if we’re trying to run away from him. Which I don’t think the Harry Potter books represent anyway.

You say that “evil is vanquished by good, sure, but good is meaningless unless it comes from the Triune Godhead.” I don’t recall reading too much about the Triune Godhead in Tolkien or Lewis, at least not directly. And if you say that it’s only because that’s in there indirectly, I could point you to how that’s true of Harry Potter or any other story where good overcomes evil.

-ACEGC

The main thing that people take qualms with is that it glamorizes the occult - we may say it doesn’t, but children aren’t able to tell that distinction. Exorcists the world over have said (in their own experiences) that this has caused some children to “play” with the occult, leading them headlong into possession.

As well as this, I have heard - though can’t confirm- that some of the spells used in the books are taken from real-life satanic rituals.

Fr Amorth had a lot to say about it, as did Pope Benedict.

lifesitenews.com/news/archive//ldn/2006/mar/06030104

What do you mean by “that distinction”. The distinction between what?

Also, some of the “magic” in Harry Potter, such as immortality and splitting souls in half and teleportation, as well as creatures like elves and unicorns and centaurs, is more like fantasy. It has nothing to do with real life occultism and witchcraft. It can’t be compared. Some Christians even argue that Harry Potter promotes the religion of Wicca, but that’s totally false, since they don’t worship nature in harry potter.

Nonetheless, there still are some occult elements in Harry Potter, such as spellcasting (which happens a lot in every HP book/movie.)

The problem that some ( I don’t know about “most” given the sales of HP) have comes from seeing stereotypical witchcraft being practiced in popular movies based on the series.

The double standard you point out is spot on.

The Catholic Church has always advocated artistic development outside of pornography and intellectual property rights violations.

I have only read one or two books of the HP series so I may be wrong but I think fantasy books can be dangerous if the main characters use magic to gain control or power to manipulate their world/environment.

In the HP books, the main characters all practice magic and have power and control over things/people. In the Narnia series the main characters, the children, do not practice magic but the world they enter into is magical and beyond their understanding. To me, that is a big difference. I could see kids walking away from the HP series and wanting to try magic, but the Narnia series doesn’t present its main characters as practicing magic. Instead the main characters must abide by the supernatural laws that govern the world they enter into. In LOTR also, the main character is the hobbit. Since the main character is usually the one that the reader identifies with, again you don’t come away with the notion that magic is something that you should try if you could. Also, the good wizard in the LOTR must undergo many trials in order to progress in his abilities. In HP you see many young/inexperienced wizards practicing magic without the benefit/aid of wisdom or experience. I think it’s an important detail to point out that Gandalf is presented as an old man.

That being said, the HP books have themes of the importance of family and self-sacrifice throughout. I think many teens/tweens could read them without harm, assuming a good faith formation and involvement in a positive church community.

In fairness, I doubt any sane kid thinks magic exists. Most ‘try’ it out at a young age…but the force in Star Wars and Mary Poppins are as much to blame for that; no one accuses them of being Satanic! Actually, like finding out if animals can really talk, trying magic is one of those early experiences doomed to failure that should hopefully help them see te difference between fantasy and fiction.

Some people say there’s a difference. There ain’t.

JK Rowling actually refrained from admitting to being a Christian because she thought it would give the book’s ending away. The ending (spoilers) is VERY Christian in theme…submitting to death and both finding the afterlife, life and the destruction of death by doing so.

As for magic, Gandalf’s a wizard. He does spells. Bilbo finds a magic ring (that turns out to be evil) and uses it.

Obviously devil worshipping and the occult are sinister acts…they are clearly the actions of the ‘disturbed’. I think most childeren deserve more credit than for us to assume they will start practicing ‘dark arts’ because they’ve read a book on wizards.

CS Lewis (in his book on essays) states that he likes witches. That’s right, one of the most Christian men of the 20th century liked FICTIONAL witches. No, he didn’t condone REAL attempts at the supernatural he just liked fairy tales and there’s (as we say here in Yorkshire, England) nought wrong with that lad.

I like fantasy and sci-fi monsters. I’m not planning on mimicing them and if they existed, I’d be horrified. But, that is, ‘fantasy’ and science-‘fiction’. In their current form I adore them.

I am a Senior Citizen, and have no children around to be influenced by Harry Potter. However, I have the entire series in both book and film format, and either read the books (which contain a great deal more detail than the films) or watch the movies on tape or DVD (I now have all of them on DVD, since my tape player broke), at least once a year, just because I enjoy them. I was impressed by the theme of ‘good is better’ throughout the stories, and that true friendship and loyalty are more important than power, and that the greatest power/protection is the ability to LOVE, which the character of Voldemort lacks completely. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for young children, who can’t distinguish that well between fantasy and reality, but for an adult who does not confuse fantasy and the True Faith, I think it is harmless, enjoyable, and has some excellent moral themes: family, friendship, the ability to love, loyalty, etc… It also has a strong theme of tolerance toward the ‘non-magical’ people (muggles) in the story, as well as persons of different countries, cultures and races being depicted as just people, and not hated or feared because of external differences. Voldemort himself has the appearance of a snake in human form, which could be a satanic reference to evil, but the sections which refer to Christmas are totally without any Christian references – i.e., only a feast of good food and gifts are part of Christmas in the stories, and only once is there a reference to hymns and a church in the final book.

Since I enjoy a lot of Science Fiction books, I found myself surprised to actually enjoy the Harry Potter series, which supposedly was written for teens. Of course, The Lord of the Rings was basically written for older children, but the author actually wrote it as a result of his disillusionment regarding the War in Europe (WWI, I believe). I found nothing in Tolkien’s book which referred to the hero using magic, although magic was in the story, and also found no references to Christianity in it either. Not directly, anyway. Same theme in both Harry Potter and LOTR – i.e., good vs. evil – friendship/loyalty/love vs. greed and desire for undeserved power, which was represented as evil. Others may find Harry Potter as anti-Christian or anti-Catholic. I think it is more about loyalty and friendship vs. greed for power, without any commentary about Christianity. I just read it as a story, much as I would read any fantasy book, including “Red Riding Hood”.

These fantasy stories are a unique mixture of truth and falsehood produced by the creative imaginations of their authors, and they can reveal some thing of the author himself. There wouldn’t be any fiction if there wasn’t non-fiction. Interest in the supernatural is because we were created for the supernatural, God. A battle between good and evil has always been a strong theme for authors because it is real and not fantasy. There is inherent danger in fantasy where falsehood is mistaken for truth. There is plenty of evidence in society of people delving in the paranormal. When there is evidence that society manifest strong pagan tendencies, paranormal influence becomes stronger. We know from the truths of Christianity that society is being mislead. Many in society are doing things we know are morally wrong, contrary to the teachings of Christ. Sin is not sin any more, corruption is wide -spread. The acknowledgment of God is lacking among many. If Satan (a reality of our faith, and one that has been confirmed for me personally) can convince society that people have undiscovered supernatural powers like ESP,clairvoyance, fortune telling, astro-projection, telekinesis etc… then he can work undetected. It would make them believe they have god-like powers and in effect divinize humanity. It would counter the first commandment. ’ I Am the Lord thy God thou shalt not have false gods before me" Many people are already worshiping false gods. One big one is "The Golden Calf- money followed by greed and selfishness and the human body also. We do share in divinity by the grace of God through Jesus, but at no time are we divine. Satan seeks the down fall of humanity, he is a liar and a murderer, wars for example. He uses his angelic powers to push his agenda, and there are many human weaknesses he can take advantage of. We as Christians must manifest openly our Faith in Christ to repel this evil force. I am not talking fiction. Not remembering all the details of Harry :Potter and the others, I would venture a judgement that there are many more pagan elements in the story of Harry Potter than the others, the authors have a christian theme, much more non-fiction than fiction.:thumbsup: Quote: Jesus came to redeem us from the works of Satan… ST. Peter. We are not fighting flesh and blood but Power and Principalities, the spirits of evil… St, Paul. :thumbsup:

Okay if no “sane kids” believe in magic why do kids visit Santa Clause on Christmas and put their teeth out for the Tooth Fairy?

I don’t think you actually read my post if you think that I am accusing HP of being Satanic. Please make an attempt to read and understand posts before you respond.

Obviously devil worshipping and the occult are sinister acts…they are clearly the actions of the ‘disturbed’. I think most childeren deserve more credit than for us to assume they will start practicing ‘dark arts’ because they’ve read a book on wizards.

I don’t know if you’re statement is based on any experience working with kids but I know several of the students that I work with that now claim that they have special powers from reading books like Twilight and Harry Potter. Things like mind-reading and smelling colors. Again I don’t think it is a reason to ban those books altogether, but a reason to be involved in helping a student/child to know how to interpret these things correctly.

I wasn’t saying you were saying that- good grief! I was saying SOME say that!
Sorry if you took offense!

I think enjoying those things as fictions is interpretting them correctly (I’m sure you agree). I know adults who believe in telepathy who read nought but Jane Austen. We live in a World of profound mystery…imagining a wardrobe can teleport you or a ring can make you dissapear are wonderous, enchancing ideas. I see kids imagining that they might have special powers as, not threatening, but instead an example of their ‘wonder’ at existence. They believe they might be more than they appear. Christianity affirms that.

Any kid reading Harry Potter I take to be older than the Father Christmas, tooth-fairy age. And as for both FC and the TF, I see those as ‘spiritual beginnings’ that will, one day, blossom into Christ. Even when I believed in those things I remember (remember with some humour as it makes no sense!) how I DID NOT believe in magic. If you asked in Reindeer could fly, yes. Does magic enchantments? No.

Again apologies for last message. It did not mean what you took it to mean (I wasn’t accusing you for a second!). I wish I could delete it if it looks so bad but the site won’t let me.

Oops I guess I got confused and misread your message. It wasn’t offensive at all, I just thought you were disagreeing with me on things that I hadn’t really said. I re-read it and realized I took it wrong. No offense taken.

I will add my voice to those supporting fantasy books.

Magic, as most children will quickly recognize, is not possible in the “real” world we live in. A few Latin words and a wave of a wand will not transform anything, or call up a spiritual protector.

C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkein were both fervent and spiritual Christians–respectively Anglican and Catholic. The symbolism they include in their books, and the morality they rely on make that clear.

Similarly, J.K.Rowling has a strong faith as well. Her symbolism is not so clear, but from the first book she advocates good moral behavior–loyalty to friends, the importance of family, even when they are not nice in return, as well as the responsible use of power in whatever form–and the fact that there are those who are not so good in return, people who indulge in prejudice, violence against innocents, and other sins.

Magic, as any of them (or others) write about may not be possible in our world, but the lessons they teach still matter.

Nothing that makes sense to me.

There is a lot here we simply need to “get over”.
All my children read the Harry Potter books and saw the movies. As did I and their mother. We all enjoyed them immensely.
Must have ruined them though. They all chose Catholic confirmation.

I very much enjoyed The DaVinci Code, and Angels and Demons. Funny, I’m still a Catholic and I don’t believe Mary Magdalene is the Holy Grail, or buried beneath the marble pyramid in the Louvre.

Did yo know the Marovingian Society exists today? So do all kinds of other foolish beliefs but should we not write about them, even in fiction in order to “protect” our delicate selves?

And you really can’t judge something to be evil if you are ignorant of what it really contains.

Perhaps the answer would be in better parenting. Letting our children know the difference between fantasy and reality, and teaching them to enjoy both.

Michael Hager

I find this issue particularly funny because I am a Germanic pagan, and we like the Catholics have a special connection to Tolkein and his works.

The magic of Harry potter is entirely secular, not being derived from any higher power, but found genetically within people. Despite the very clear difference of good vs evil in the Potter series the fact that there isnt a blatant messiah/Christ/YHWH figure (in fact there honestly may be if you look at Harry, he even dies and rises again.) means its just devilish to some folks.

But its funny for me when Tolkien is then brought up. The Lord of the Rings is certainly a quasi-christian epic, but the trappings and even some of the themes come from a distinctly unchristian source, Germanic paganism, the Anglo-Saxon branch specifically. Gandalf is absolute clone of Odin the wanderer, Elves and Dwarves are very important creatures in Germanic mythology, The Orcs are very similar to the Svartalfs (Black Elves), Sauron is an obvious Jotun, and even the ring is very similar to several classical stories. On the surface,lord of the rings is a Pagan epic at its finest, and its only when you look at the whole of Tolkien’s work on Middle earth the Christianity of it becomes realy evident.

I know several people who came to paganism at least partially through Tolkien, but know of none he converted to Christendom. I just find it funny that a book which is on the outside so blatantly pagan is so beloved by Christians when a book like Harry Potter (which does not bread real witches, trust me) is so ridiculed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.