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Christians Enjoying Harry Potter – Good Idea, Bad Idea?

Is Harry Potter good or evil?

That question may sound silly to some readers, but there are many Christians who believe it’s wrong to watch movies like Harry Potter (some very close to me whom I love dearly feel this way). I know because I’ve seen every HP movie in the theater, and have had this discussion with more than one Christian after they heard I was a fan.

Some Christians believe it’s wrong because Harry and his friends make witchcraft look like fun, and guess what – I understand their point of view.

Witchcraft is a serious sin as the Bible points out – check it out:

Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who “live like this” – that is, those who practice witchcraft as part of their ongoing, unchanging lifestyle “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Wow! Sounds like Harry Potter could be dangerous if it causes someone to want to practice witchcraft, but is it?

Patrick Mead made a post on Tentpegs today that I’d like to share with you … he writes:

… this is a timely question that came in recently via Facebook.

I saw on your Facebook page that you and your wife went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. How could you??? The Bible is very plain in condemning witchcraft. How can you support this evil with your money???

I’ve heard things like this many times since the first draft of Harry Potter was written on the back of napkins over lukewarm cups of tea. Why did I see the movie — and all the others? Because I’ve seen evil, and Harry Potter isn’t evil. It is a fantasy. I am just barely old enough to remember preachers condemning Rex Harrison and “Doctor Dolittle” for talking to animals (and, yes, there was even a Cincinnati preacher who railed against Mr. Ed for the same thing… and claimed that playing the song backwards revealed Satanic messages). I’ve read the articles written against C.S. Lewis for engaging in fantasy, calling him a supporter of witchcraft. Tolkien fought against the same charges.

Some people have a very hard time differentiating between fantasy and fun on the one hand and evil and darkness on the other. In the Bible, the witchcraft being condemned involved ritual murder, the killing of children, bloodletting, serial adultery, etc. I’ve met with witches (self styled), coven leaders, Satanists, people who were convinced they were Warlocks… and found them almost without exception to be sad, lonely people. They are the precursors to the lonely man/woman playing computer games where they are a twentieth level mage… while in real life they work at the Quiklube.

Then I have met others — sorcerers and necromancers and pagans of a different ilk. They were evil. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their words, and watch them as they spread darkness wherever they could. I have seen photos and films made of butchered men, women, and children; pregnant women whose wombs were ripped open and their babies killed for the amusement of this or that army that stomped its way through their village, raping and burning all the while. THAT is evil.

Harry Potter — and thousands of other like minded books, plays, and movies — are allegories. They are stories of light versus darkness where light is treasured, heroism is lauded, and courage, honor, and loyalty are elevated highly. The characters are told to do the right thing, regardless of personal cost. TRUE darkness mocks the light and encourages people to follow the Satanic slogan of “Do whatever you want to do” (that is translated from their faux olde English styling).

You find witchcraft everywhere nowadays, but it is disguised as comedy, music, and drama. Watch carefully and you see that everyone’s problems are solved by self love, self esteem, etc. and by applying either sex or violence to the situation. Self sacrifice, humility, and grace are never in sight. Light is covered up in darkness. Witchcraft no longer uses brooms and the devil no longer cares about cauldrons and potions. Darkness has moved into the cultural center and calls itself light.

And if Christians can’t see that but, rather, spend their time fighting about Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Harry Potter… if they can’t tell the difference between metaphor, symbol, and reality… then we are in real trouble.

As Patrick points out, I don’t believe enjoying fantasy movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia is the same as practicing real witchcraft.

But could Harry Potter and movies like it still be dangerous? I mean, the Harry Potter stories do glorify witchcraft by practicing it in the books and movies, don’t they? Could the books and movies cause a younger person (or even an older person) to become interested in looking into real witchcraft?

Of course they could.

But could watching the latest season of American Idol or America’s Got Talent influence someone to become obsessed with fame?

Could watching Jack Bauer handle business in 24 influence someone to commit an act of violence?

Could watching Judge Judy influence someone to act like a condescending jerk to everyone they come into contact with?

Yes, yes, and yes – the potential for evil is there in all of those things.

Here’s my feeling: almost any television show or movie a person watches has the potential to influence them for evil. I believe it’s up to individuals to decide how they’ll allow themselves to be influenced, and I believe it’s up to parents to do a good job teaching and explaining things to their kids (like the dangers of real witchcraft, and how Harry Potter is just a story that someone made up).

That’s how I feel, and I’m going to stop right there and ask you these questions:

Do you think Harry Potter be should be completely avoided by Christian families? Why or why not?

If you do believe it’s ok for kids to read the books or watch the movies, do you believe any precautions should be taken (i.e. should you talk to your children about real witchcraft before allowing them to read the books or watch the movies)?

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Now, for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Harry Potter smoking a cigarette:

Harry prefers menthols ...

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Last Night With OutReach America and a Spoonful of Cinnamon

I had a good time speaking with the members Harding’s student organization OutReach America tonight.

 

They say ‘hi.’

I talked with them a little bit about the all or nothing relationship God desires to have with us, and the call of Jesus to true discipleship.

OutReach America is a group that challenges students to structure their goals after college around spreading the kingdom through team based, Harding graduate led church planting efforts. Tonight was the first meeting for OA to kick off the new school year, and it was fun helping them get things started. Marvin Crowson, founder of OutReach America and Harding University’s domestic missionary in residence, has played a vital role in seeing the work in San Francisco get off the ground. I’m proud call to he and his wife Judith friends, and look forward to hearing of many other plants occuring as a result of their motivation,guidance, and continued work with OA.

I also recieved a couple of really thoughtful gifts tonight. Marvin presented me with the Maxwell Leadership Bible (since he heard my other Bible flew off the top of my car in St. Louis – grrr) and he had everyone at the OA meeting sign it.

In addition to that, Rob Halbe got me something totally unexpected. He knows of my love for old comic books (particularly G.I. Joe and the X-Men), and he knows my favorite character of all time is Wolverine. That’s why I was very happy to get this:

 

 Yes, that would be issue #1! This is a collector’s item, and will no doubt shoot up in value after next summer’s new Wolverine movie (the first in a trilogy) gets kicked off in theaters. I can’t wait!

One last thing. Ever watched someone try to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon? Well, I did tonight, and I got it on video. Watch this:

Ha!

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Monday at The Well

Yesterday marked my last day at North Little Rock’s River City Ministry for a while as we’re relocating to Texas for three months on Monday. My morning started off right. Here are a few pictures of the day’s events:

An early morning Bible study resulted in a homeless friend named Kleo giving his life to Jesus. This is the prayer before his baptism.

Me, Kleo, and Burly

Kleo having his sins washed away

Group Bible study before lunch - Downtown Church of Christ domestic missionary Don Williams preaches the Word.

Line of people waiting for lunch after the Bible study is over

Thousands of plates are served by RCM staff to the poor and impoverished in North Little Rock throughout the year.

 

Anthony Wood, a friend and the RCM staff evangelist, describes River City Ministry as a modern day well.

Most of you reading this are familiar with the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4. The woman comes to the well outside Sychar to draw water as she probably did every day, only this time Jesus is sitting there and she has and encounter with Him. She came to the well for one thing, but she got something else. She had an encounter with Jesus – it changed her life, and it changed the lives of many others in that city as a result.

River City Ministry is a well. The poor, impoverished, and homeless come for the food and services, but they find something else. With the evangelists doing their job they run headlong into an encounter with Jesus, and their whole world changes. Sometimes as ministers all we need to do is find a well, sit by it, and help the people that come for one thing find something else – an encounter with Jesus.

Just like RCM, today’s university campus is a modern day well. Students come for an education (at least that’s what their parents think), but with an evangelistic campus ministry present they find something else – an encounter with the Son of the Living God.

A meeting with Jesus.

Two things I’ve got to keep in mind: 1) my job is the point people to Jesus, and 2) I’m not Him.

I may try to be like Him, but I’m not Him. It’s good to be like Jesus in how you treat others, but proclaiming the reality of His presence must never be absent when attempting to help someone else encounter Him.

Want to help someone encounter Jesus? Open your mouth and tell them about Him! There’s supernatural power in that action!

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