December 5, 2020

Wizards or Idiots? It’s your choice

Every time Baptist Press lights one up on the subject of Harry Potter, I want to hit the pause button and ask a few questions.

Assume that a child has no one to help him/her understand what they are reading. Should we be more afraid of him/her reading Harry Potter or the Bible?

In Genesis alone, God destroys the world once because he’s unhappy with things like people building towers and being bad. One of the characters has incestuous sex with his daughters. (No moralistic explanation supplied.)

Later, in Genesis 22, God tells the hero Abraham, who has been good and believed God, that he must murder his own son as a sacrifice. At the last minute, God calls it off, but it’s a close one. (Little explanation offered.)

Jacob is a bigamist, and then some. His wives bargain for his manly attentions using mandrakes. (Sounds rather magical, doesn’t it.)

I’ll stop. If you want an overview of what the kid would be reading in Leviticus 18 or the whole book of Judges, then go elsewhere.

Point is, the Bible, left unattended, is pretty awful. Violent. Sexual. God does some pretty scary stuff. But some people would do all they could to get the Bible into schools, where anybody can read whatever part they want, without anyone to explain it.

Anyone afraid someone might think God wants them to do some of the same things they read in the Bible? Pluck out an eye? Run the fat kid through with a hidden sword? Have sex with your relatives? Put a tent peg through someone’s head during nap time? Carve up the first person you meet at home tonight?

I’m being silly. Right? Riiiight.

It’s this kind of thinking that Baptist Press offers us in the name of thoughtful Christianity. Does the writer entertain the possibility that Harry Potter, like LOTR or Troy or dozens of other violent movies, may have some redeeming value when properly exegeted by “thoughtful” people? Like thoughtful parents, teachers or youth ministers?

Or is the power of Harry Potter so great that we will turn into witches despite ourselves? Maybe Baptist Press should just publish guidelines on burning all classic literature that doesn’t pass muster with “Biblical” critics. See ya later Merlin, Narnia, and the rest of mythology, children’s literature and fantasy/science fiction. We’ll be replacing you with the latest offerings at the Lifeway fiction counter.

I’ve decided that given a choice between my kid reading Harry Potter or 99% of what I hear from Southern Baptists and the rest of evangelical fundamentalism these days, I’ll take my chances with the wizards.


  1. I totally agree…kids half the time do not pick up on the negative stuff that some people say is in all of their entertainment. They probably wouldnt think anything of the stories (other than that they were just harmless fun) if people weren’t foaming at the mouth and telling them how bad they are.

    I remember when someone threw a fit about Bert and Ernie being gay (was it the Baptist Press that did that one too?) and most people I talked to said that they never would have thought anything subversive at all had no one said anything. I for one just thought they were brothers…same for the Teletubbies…

  2. Long ago, before this sort of thing became illegal, my mother’s public school teacher read the class Bible stories. One of them was Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, and it scared the crap out of my mom. Her parents were atheists, so she had zero context for the story. So yeah, it’s a book that should be handled with extreme caution.

  3. Oh fine, here I not only add you to the rolls at last night, but headline you as one of the notable new guys and here you go with the subversive stuff …

    … what’s next, comparing kids left unattended to interpret the violence in a Bugs Bug Bunny with the Passion?

    Shee-stinking-louise …

  4. David Scott says

    Eh, this is a harder one for me than for some-as a person who has always been a part of the sci-fi/fantasy/fan-boy/gamer subculture, I’ve heard a lot of things that I like called evil.

    On the other hand, though, there is a lot of pressure on teens especially to reject an old-fashioned, useless Christianity in favor of a vibrant, powerful neo-Pagan faith. Believe me, I know: I left behind a Christian-tinged agnosticism in its favor years ago.

    Though, then again, their primary argument against Christianity is that is is spiritually dead, and unaware of the world’s hidden things, so, maybe, a little enlightenment would be good for them. I wouldn’t stop my daughter from reading them, though I would talk to her about them, BUT this is something the average Evangelical christian may not feel well-prepared to do.

    My point, if there is one, is that there are reasons beyond simple close-mindedness that Harry Potter is railed against, though perhaps a boycott is not the best way to deal with the problem of a church that is vulnerable to a vibrant neo-paganism.