The Gospel According to Harry Potter

     My sons love Harry Potter! My older son read ALL the books, as soon as they came out. My younger son is partway through the series right now. They both thoroughly enjoy them. I can remember a parishioner once who “had a chat” with me before church on Sunday. It went something like this. Parishioner- “What do you think about Harry Potter?” Me- “Personally…or in general?” Parishioner- (impatiently…I CAN be a bit sarcastic!) “Do you think kids should read those evil books?” (Don’t pull any punches…how do you REALLY feel?) Me- “Well, let me put it this way- MY kid reads Harry Potter.” The initial response was a face that seemed to say either, “Pastor, there is a large tarantula on your shoulder!” OR “Pastor, the four horsemen of the apocalypse are riding up behind you as we speak!” They then said, “You let HIM read…THAT?!” I replied, “Yep.” Them- “How could you do that?” “Me- What’s the problem?” Them- “They are evil. They promote witchcraft and black magic!” Me- “Have you READ any of them?” Them- “Well…NO, but…I’ve heard about them!” Me- “Let me ask you something else- did you grow up watching the Wizard of Oz?  Sleeping Beauty? Snow White? Mary Poppins? Bewitched? Nanny and the Professor (aka Mary Poppins for the small screen)? They ALL center around witchcraft! And who doesn’t like The Wizard of Oz or  Mary Poppins?”
     So, you are now saying to yourself- pastor, what’s the point? Here is the point! Would I let my 9-year old watch The Blair Witch Project, The Covenant or Burn Witch Burn? Probably not! (OK…NO!)  They are too “adult”, intense, graphic and frightening for someone his age. But does my kid know the difference between the fantasy portrayed in Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia or The Wizard of Oz and real-life devil-worshiping or devotion to “black magic”? Yes, in fact he does! Just as he understands that, while fun to read and pretend about, people don’t really fly like Superman or spin webs like Spiderman.  If I tell my kid, “NO! You can’t read Harry Potter!”, he immediately wonders what’s so great about Harry Potter that I’m keeping from him. But if I tell him (as we did earlier), “you are a bit young right now, but soon you’ll be able to read them, and we can talk about them”, he has something to look forward to and at least understands our postition, even if he doesn’t agree with it. We have always been on the more conservative side at my house when it comes to what movies our kids are allowed to see and what they are allowed to watch on TV. And yet, there’s a fine line between monitoring which outside influences are allowed to impact our kids and shielding them from the world to the point that they have difficulty discerning for themselves between right and wrong, good and evil.  We need to put our children in a position where they can think for themselves- set them up for success. They need to be always challenged to think through things and come to a logical, well-informed decision. OK- enough preaching for the day! By the way, our youngest just finished the 2nd Harry Potter book and moves on to the 3rd one tomorrow! Have a great day, read with/to your children/grandchildren, share this with your friends, and stick with Jesus!

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