My wife and I went out for a movie last night for the first time since our new daughter Molly Katherine was born three months ago (thanks to my sister Laurel and her husband Scott for the babysitting!). So off we went to the current big movie Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. We had seen the first one last year and it spurred me to try the book, which I read with some skepticism. My skepticism mainly grew from the whole 'phenomenon' of it; it was just a little too popular to be entirely trusted.
Now compared to a truly great work like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings--or even The Hobbit--Potter can't really compete. But the first book impressed me with its ability to keep my interest. I went on to read the other three books, and now so has my wife.
I'll make a confession--I like Harry Potter.
The Potter series is something I would have absolutely loved when I was a kid. It's an exciting world of make-believe with hidden passages, ancient books and likeable characters...
...and magic, wizards and witches. Is Potter repackaged Satanism attempting to sneak past our defenses in order to plant the seeds of witchcraft into young minds who will then grow up to join a Wiccan cult? Or is it harmless fun--a good story with a strong, positive moral message to kids? Despite the wide-ranging views, I'm going to side with the latter. Will Harry Potter lead anyone to Christ? No. Rowling's world is a secular one, by and large, despite some attempts to show an innate gospel message in it. I think it boils down to harmless fun. (My favorite criticism of the Potter books/movies is how we don't want children to admire characters who break school rules--oh please!)
I have a number of Christian friends (adults) who have read and liked the books: my wife Traci, my two sisters, my friends Dave & Mary Ann, Jennifer (despite her husband Sean's misgivings!) and Judy R. all immediately come to mind. Of course, none of us have a problem with Halloween, either. I just have serious doubts that there are large numbers of young readers being led down the path of witchcraft following the Pied Piper of Hogwarts.
Should parents be concerned what their children are exposed to? By all means, yes! My wife and I are very restrictive about that with our older daughter (just ask others who think we're very odd). But quite frankly I'd rather let her watch (and later read) Harry Potter than watch Sesame Street.
I loved reading about King Arthur and Merlin as a child (I still do). I devoured Lloyd Alexander's Prydain's Chronicles. I read fairy tales to my children. As my old boss the late Russell Kirk--a great fantasy and ghost story writer himself--said, children need fantasy and imagination, not 'see Jane run'. And if Harry Potter is not on a level with the greats, I don't believe it will do our children any harm. Read on!