|Harry Potter Observations|
(by Chris Long)
Back around when the first Harry Potter movie came out and the first book was super popular, there was some debate in Christian circles regarding Harry Potter with several high profile ministries and organizations putting up red flags, while others claimed they were harmless. But after a few years, by the time the 3rd movie came out or so, pretty much all the debate had stopped. It was like many Christians just decided it was a losing argument. Very similar in some respects to what is now happening with gay marriage (a topic for another day). Basically many Christians just ended up accepting Harry Potter as "harmless entertainment".
The Harry Potter movies have all been made now and in some ways this article may seem like it's 10 years too late, but it is still a series that is ultra-popular and ingrained into an entire generation, so I felt like there is still very much value in discussing this today.
I saw the first 3 movies shortly after they came out. I personally found the first movie entertaining, but I definitely had concerns. By the third movie, there was no doubt to me that the devil was behind them as by the third movie, the semi-light presence of the first movie had descended into some pretty dark stuff by the third, and I realized this as the same way the devil most always works ("seems somewhat harmless at first, then takes you progressively further down the road..."). And so I didn't watch any more. Until just recently (~10 years later) during a marathon on t.v. where I decided I was spiritually at a place that I wanted to watch them to really see what all the devil was really doing (i.e. where the story actually goes). In retrospect, I think this was probably a mistake on my part, as part of me definitely wishes I hadn't. If I could, I would erase every last one of them from my brain. However, the fact is that I did see them. And because of that I do feel I can offer a very clear view of concerns.
So here are the concerns I noted, in no particular order:
- Heavy witchcraft / magic / wizardry portrayal. This isn't anything like the Narnia type which has much more of a fantasy feel. This is a very gritty, potion-making, broom-flying, wand waving, spell casting, type with a lot of very dark overtones. It basically makes witchcraft and associated stuff that has long been perceived as of the occult seem "acceptable" and "fun" to kids through the main characters - Potter, Hermione, Ron. There's the witches who are cool and powerful and then there's the "muggles" (regular people / non-wizards) who are shown as weak and not cool and helpless. The message is very clear...
- Problematic morality. There is a "good" and "evil" but Witchcraft itself is seen as fine. There are those that choose to use it for evil and are portrayed as such, but those that choose to use it for good are portrayed as good. The net result not-so-subtle message is that witchcraft is okay when used properly. See the previous point. There are some right moral lessons: lessons about bravery, loyalty, self sacrifice, problems of murder etc. But the primary good character - Harry Potter - also has anger issues, revenge issues, and is not above telling a lie or two if it helps him. It leaves a mixed morality message. Even some characters that we think are "bad" (i.e. Snapes) and obviously have issues, it turns out in the end actually were "good" and to be looked up to. So even though there's light and darkness and good and evil in the Harry Potter world, they all just get jumbled around and even the good/light is using things and doing things that the Bible forbids. It just all jumbles together into this mixed morality mess.
- The dead routinely talk with the living through the power of witchcraft/magic. This is a regular occurrence throughout the movies and there are several major scenes in this arena. There is summoning to talk to the dead etc. This expressly violates God's Word.
- Wrong afterlife portrayal. When characters die, there's no heaven or hell they go to. They live on "in your heart" and "with you". In the last movie, there's a major scene that takes place when Harry dies (before he comes back - see next point) and there's no God shown there. Just a "bright light".
- Harry dies and is raised again by a "resurrection stone". In the Harry Potter world, immortality is possible - death can be defeated by people (the 3 "deathly hallows") - not through God mind you, but rather through artifacts that death itself provided (as told in the "deathly hallows" story). We know Biblically that only 1 has defeated the grave and that's Jesus - and it is through Jesus that death has been defeated for us as those who trust in Him.
- There's just plain a lot of very dark overtones. The first movie was pretty light and fun and airy and while it had some tense and darker moments, the overall tone was reasonably light. The 2nd movie had some of that, but less. And the third movie was much darker. The fourth restored a bit of the lightness of the first, but was still very dark in tone. And all the rest were very dark. Just look at the color tones of movies 5 through 8 - they largely take place in dark scenes. A lot of intensity with more intense witchcraft-esque stuff: spell casting, "death eaters", blood, death, destruction, etc. The lighter tone of the first movie is mostly absent. It kind of makes you wonder if the devil planned it that way all along. To woo people in with the first one and then progressively immerse them more and more...
- Fate is the guiding force and lots of eastern mysticism type stuff (i.e. souls contained in inanimate objects). None of which is compatible with the Bible.
- Lots more...
In the final analysis, while there are some good messages that the movies portray and they certainly are very engaging and entertaining, the net result messages that one walks away from are a normalizing of stuff that is expressly forbidden in the Bible including sorcery and necromancy. There's no "God" in the Harry Potter world except yourself. In fact the only character that's called "Lord" at all, is evil.
My opinion is that these movies and books are, under the guise of "harmless entertainment", actually subtle (and arguably not-so-subtle) tools that the devil is using to desensitize people to things of the devil. The insidiousness of the devil is he actually portrays an evil character (Voldemort) as evil (i.e. like the devil in many respects) but yet all the while normalizes a bunch of other stuff. It's really very insidious and clever and I really do think many Christians have downright been duped by him, not realizing the depth of what's going on...They got distracted by the entertainment and the good messages including the destruction of Voldemort, all the while not realizing that none of this was ever really about that but was about something else entirely. Hand in hand with the recent increase in Vampire and Zombie-related movies and themes, do you not see a pattern in the increase in focus on both witches, vampires, and the "undead" in modern culture? Do you really think this is just coincidence? Or could something else be going on behind the scenes?
This is version 1.1 of this document (May 26, 2014).