Thursday, August 6, 2009

Harry Potter and the Christian's Dilemma

It was shocking to me that upon seeing the most recent Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I have not written anything about either the books, or the movies. It is time to fix that little oversight.

First of all, let me go on record as saying that I came late to the world of Hogwarts. I had to be convinced to start reading the books. However, I did, and I have read all seven installments. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was my favorite book. I felt that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the weakest book. I have also seen all of the movies. And naturally, some have been better than others.

JK Rowling as a good writer, but she is not great. Those who have compared the Harry Potter books to Narnia or other classic children's literature are mistaken. Harry Potter will live a long life because his stories are committed to film. Frank Baum wrote a series of books about Oz. We remember his stories because one of them was turned into a movie that we all have seen. JK Rowling and Harry Potter are in this category.

There are many people, usually Christians of a particularly narrow theological persuasion, who are against Harry Potter and everything about him and his Hogwarts world. Witchcraft, wizardry and the like are the works of evil is their belief. Good Christian people should avoid all association with anything however remotely related to witchcraft or the occult. At this point, I would like to point out that in these stories, Harry and his friends, Hermione and Ron, are the very personification of good. And although they often appear fallible and human, they are always struggling for virtue. They are "disciples" of Dumbledore, the benevolent headmaster and gracious teacher. It would not be stretching too far to talk about Dumbledore as a figure of God and Harry as a Christ-figure. I will not do that, however.

Suffice it to say that I do not believe the Harry Potter books or movies are bad, or detrimental for Christians (or anyone for that matter). They are fiction after all. Most Christians would protest if someone tried to take all stories with magic in them away. There would be no more fairy tales. (Cinderella, Snow White and Sleepy Beauty would all be gone.) Additionally, I am just obstinate enough that I want to know for myself what is good or bad for me. I am afraid if I take your word for what I should or should not see or do, I might miss out on something great. Consequently, I tried Harry Potter and I kind of liked him.

The most recent Harry Potter movie has very little in the way of action or violence. There are stories of teens growing up. There is good vs. evil (again). There are sad things and there are great victories. But the movie was good. The only shortcomings I came away with are:
  • Even more than the book of the same name, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was nothing more than a lengthy set up for the final installment of the series. Stories are left unfinished. I would like more closure.
  • I am a little upset that the last book will be turned into two films. Of course the books do get longer as you continue through the series. However, this seems to be nothing more than a money making scheme. I one movie can make you rich, two can make you filthy rich.
  • The much ballyhooed opening sequence seemed to be tacked on with little relevance to the story or the rest of the film. The effects were good, but it was hard to make the connection.

I will, under protest, see the last two films. And I suppose that I believe the total cycle makes for good story-telling. In it we learn a lot about good and evil, growing up, and making good decisions. And that's not bad.

1 comment:

B Bone said...

I am not a big reader either. Just to many words and not enough pictures. :)

I love all of the movies except for the Half-Blooded Prince. It was not as good as the others. I was more pleased with the previous ones because they were action packed and at the end of them you say, "I can't wait to see the next one." I totally did not have that feeling this time. I think the story is great, but it's a let-down compared to the others.

I don't see how christians can be against Harry Potter. I could understand if he was idolized but hes not. It is pure enertainment. So what makes it okay to watch primetime television. Now days all you hear is cursing and violence and is more evilish than Harry Potter.

I agree with you on not believeing that the movies or books are bad. They do not promote wizardtry or anything of that nature. It's pure enertainment.

I really think that people need to start putting things into perspective and realize what is truely good and bad. There are so many other things in this world that are unchristian like that occur everyday that should have more attention than an innocent, enertaining book/movie.