Monday, July 25, 2011

Lucia Best to keep children away from Harry Potter



I've not read the Harry Potter series, however my husband has read the first four books to our oldest boy when he was much younger. We still have them on the shelves and our youngest knows not to read them.

Given that the last film on Harry Potter has just been released in New Zealand, I was prompted to buy the book on the left, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, by my oldest who wanted to know more specifically, what was wrong with the Harry Potter series so that he could answer questions from his friends and their parents in conversations.

Now that I'm reading Michael O'Brien's book, I find myself almost succumbing to the temptation to wishing that I'd never allowed the books to be read to my son when he was younger and more impressionable.  The thing is, we can't go back in time, but we can undo some damage once we are aware of it, and O'Brien's book is helpful in that respect.

In comparison to Christian writers C.S.Lewis and J.R.Tolkien and their fantasy books, one of the problems with Potter is how magic is dealt with.  With the former, magic is corrupting, while as in Potter, use of evil magic results in no dire consequences for Potter and his friends. 

Rowling’s Potter-world is fundamentally Gnostic. Magic is presented as an inherent faculty of human nature that only needs awakening and formation through the pursuit of esoteric knowledge and power.

There is not even a whiff of divine presence, whereas Tolkien’s and Lewis’ worlds are radiant with this unspoken presence. In Potter-world, magic is portrayed as a morally neutral power, which in the hands of “nice” characters serves the good, and in the hands of negative characters serves evil.

When the war between good and evil is portrayed as thrilling and highly rewarding emotionally, a child reader will be imprinted deeply with messages about the way in which the “good” characters defeat the evil.

Tolkien’s central character, Frodo, defeats evil by fidelity to truth, by rejecting unlawful power, and persevering in a state of weakness. Rowling’s central character defeats evil by amassing enough power to overcome his archenemy, yet this power is the same as that of his opponent.

There is much more of course, and for any parent whose children have read this series or want to read the Potter books, I highly recommend Michael O'Brien's book to help you with either undoing the damage the books will have done or preventing it in the first place.

More reading:
Why Harry Potter goes awry
Preface to Harry Potter and the Paganisation of Culture

11 comment(s):

Medusa said...

There are time when you talk utter BS, I feel sorry for your children, time will tell how much damage YOUR attitudes and ideas will do to them. You haven't even read the books for heaven sake!

Jeremy Harris said...

Ain't even read them, never will. I heard JK Rowling is planning a new book: Harry Potter and the Maximisation of Profits.

Danyl said...

Tolkien’s central character, Frodo, defeats evil by fidelity to truth, by rejecting unlawful power, and persevering in a state of weakness. Rowling’s central character defeats evil by amassing enough power to overcome his archenemy, yet this power is the same as that of his opponent.

This isn't a very accurate reading of the final book. Harry Potter isn't even remotely as powerful as Voldemort.Harry perseveres because of the solidarity of his friendships. Voldemort destroys himself because he cannot comprehend that humans love each other (via the Snape, Lily plotline).

Lucia Maria said...

Medusa,

No, I haven't read the books. However, I am very familiar with modern Western paganism, having been one myself for many years, so what O'Brien talks about with regards to Harry Potter is very much territory I am aware of.

He also writes about the extreme reaction of pro-Potter people to any criticism of their hero, and here you are making a personal attack on me. Not debating the poin the points that I've raised, just attacking me. If the Potter books areso harmless, why such a reaction?

Lucia Maria said...

Danyl,

He doesn't mean as powerful, he means uses the same power, ie power as a noun rather than as an adjective.

Muerk said...

"Rowling’s central character defeats evil by amassing enough power to overcome his archenemy, yet this power is the same as that of his opponent."

No, that's not right.

Harry Potter defeats Voldemort by first sacrificing himself.

Whilst I don't think the series is specifically Christian, it certainly isn't anti-Christian. I have no problem with my children reading it.

Danyl said...

He doesn't mean as powerful, he means uses the same power, ie power as a noun rather than as an adjective.

Whatever - he still hasn't described the events in the books correctly.

If you want to read an anti-Christian fantasy book you should take a look at Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'. That's pretty damn overt. Rowling is a member of the Church of Scotland, the themes in her books are broadly Christian, although they differ from C S Lewis and Tolkein in the sense that she uses magic as a metaphor for technology, not spirituality.

Lucia Maria said...

Muerk,

Harry Potter defeats Voldemort by first sacrificing himself.

Yes, he does do that. But, from memory, doesn't that destroy Voldemort's soul? God doesn't even do that to people in Hell.

It is anti-Christian, Muerk, just not overtly. In how it deals with magic to start with, but there is alot more that is below the surface. When I have time after dinner, I'll list some examples. In the meantime, please read both the links at the bottom of the post.

Danyl, that may be as the interview was given in 2001 and at that point, I don't think he had read all the series in depth as he has before writing the book on it. I may be able to do a follow up post on this as I'm just relying on what he's written rather than reading the books myself. I don't even want to buy any more of them!

Yeah, Pulman is far more overt. That makes him less dangerous than this series.

Psycho Milt said...

Banning your children from reading popular books (or film, music etc) because you find it ideologically unsound is a high-risk parenting strategy. At some point the kids are old enough to start thinking for themselves, and one day they'll decide to read the book to see for themselves what the problem with it is. If they then decide it's actually just an entertaining story like their friends told them it was, your credibility is shot.

Medusa said...

I actually agree with PM for a change.

Lucia Maria said...

PM,

My oldest has already had the first 4 books read to him by his Dad a number of years ago. We have already had discussions about what is wrong with them and continue to do so.

I am very aware that my children will grow up and then do stuff that I may not want them to do. Until they grow up, I do what I can with preventing corrupting influences, teaching them what to look out for and in general, helping them think critically about all sorts of subjects.

Parenting is high-risk overall. At the end of our lives we will all be accountable to God as to how well we looked after the children He entrusted to our care.

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