Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What Are You Reading?

The other day I was sitting in my car in the parking lot with my windows rolled down reading, as I like to do from time to time when the weather is actually cool enough to do so. A coworker walked by and asked if I were working.

“No. I’m reading,” I responded.

“Harry Potter?,” she asked.

“No. The Bible.”

She walked away rather quickly after that. I’ve written before that there is very little fiction I find worth reading. Often, even if I do find fiction that is worth reading, I have trouble making time for it amidst all the non-fiction that I have on my “must-read” list.

But Harry Potter? You must be kidding! What is it about this series that would captivate young and old alike? Doug Philips recently wrote an excellent article about this entitled, Dining on Harry Potter, in which he likens this stuff as poison to your soul. I could not agree more.

Let me state for the record that if you name the name of Christ, you have no business reading this filth. If you are a Christian parent and you allow your children to read this filth, then you are a child abuser.

In speaking of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33:6, the scripture states plainly:

And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
(2Ch 33:6)

God says these things “provoke him to anger.” Witchcraft falls right in the middle of a whole host of things that God warns will prevent a person from inheriting the kingdom of God.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Gal 5:19-21)

Witchcraft is not child’s play. It is not something with which to trifle. Witchcraft, whether “good” or “evil,” is all evil. It is from the father of lies. (John 8:44)

You may object saying, “You haven’t even read Harry Potter. How can you soundly condemn it?” I answer you that the scripture gives reason enough to stay far away from this stuff.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.
(1Th 5:22)

We are told what we are to fill our minds with.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
(Php 4:8)

Does Harry Potter fit this bill? I think not.

If your children want exciting fiction to read, there are plenty of better choices than “Harry Potter.” Consider R.M. Ballantyne or G.A. Henty. Both of these authors wrote extensively about adventures that took place in the annals of history. So, as your children (or even yourself!) read these works, not only will they be entertained, but they will gain an understanding of history that is rare among today’s poorly educated youth. Both of these series are available from Vision Forum. We have some of the Henty books. We’d like to order the Ballantyne books. Yet, even with these excellent resources, you must excuse me while I return to my excellent non-fiction reading list, of which I feel will never end. (Ecc 12:12)



Eric said...

By this same standard, parents who allow their children to read The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are also child abusers.

Mike Southerland said...

I would not make that statement about The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. The subject of this blog article was not The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. It seems as though you are trying a bit of logic that says 1) Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia are good; 2) These are no different than Harry Potter; therefore 3) Harry Potter must be good as well.

In this case, I don’t know about assumption #1. For me and my family, we’ll not be reading Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia. However, I don’t feel strongly enough about this to condemn others who may make other decisions. Part of this reasoning is that there are so many other good books of no questionable value that we just don’t have time for these fantasies.

I disagree on assumption #2. I believe there are clear differences between Lord of the Rings and Chronicles vs. Harry Potter. Having not read any of the three, I don’t feel qualified to detail these differences though I have read other Christian’s defense of Rings and Chronicles. I do know that C.S. Lewis was a Bible believing Christian, and I have enjoyed reading some of his other non-fiction works. So, based on the worldview of the authors alone, I would see plenty of difference between that and “Harry Potter.”

Since I disagree on point #2, the deductive reasoning falls apart in point #3. From what I’ve heard from third parties, Harry Potter has no redeeming values. He is rebellious and does not submit to the authorities over him. Yet, he is a “good guy” and uses his magic for “good.”

In my opinion, those who try to connect Lord of the Rings and Narnia with “Harry Potter” are simply trying to justify their consumption of witchcraft by connecting it with seemingly harmless “Christian” resources.

Eric said...

My reasoning was more along these lines... A) Mike hates Harry Potter because the series tells a story set in a world of wizards, witches and warlocks. (I've never read them either, so I don't know precisely how accurate that characterization of the series is.) B) Mike (in true Christ-like fashion) calls parents who allow their children to read Harry Potter, "child abusers." C) LOTR and Chronicles also employ magic, and make heroes out of wizards, etc. Therefore, D) to be consistent Mike ought to condemn the dead men who wrote LOTR and Chronicles with the same venom he so chivalrously spews in the direction the lady, J.K. Rowling.

I have heard that J.K. Rowling is a faithful, practicing member of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, and that she has explicitly said this fiction is a vehicle for expressing her faith in Christ. Whether it is true or not, I don't know. Whether it is a good expression or not, I don't know. But I think the contempt and hatred she and her books receive from many professed Christians is unseemly and ought to be curbed. You can be critical without it.

Mike Southerland said...

The point remains that in this article I am not dealing with Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. If you want to condemn those books on your own blog, go ahead. I am maintaining a neutral position on those.

While the assertion that allowing a Christian child to read Harry Potter is child abuse is a strong statement, I must point out that I believe it would be absolutely wrong to take a young mind and teach that child actual incantations or spells. It is a spiritual abuse, not a physical one. I also took care to claim that such abuse is only attributed to Christian families. Those parents who are leading their
families in another religion are already leading them down the path to destruction. So, if they want to throw a little satanism on top of their false religion, what's the big deal? Hell is just as hot no matter which lane of that "wide road" you are traveling. (Matt 7:13) Yet in 2007 America, where we have "freedom of religion" (a whole different concept than the founding fathers intended), training your children to become a master wizard or warlock is your "right." So no, this abuse will not land you in jail. It carries a much stiffer penalty. Read what the scriptures say concerning leading little children astray. It would be better for a millstone to be tied to his neck and cast into the sea. (Matt 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2)

J.K. Rowling may claim to be Presbyterian. One need not wonder long at what the mighty man of God, John Knox of Scotland would have to say about teaching Christian children witchcraft. The scripture says, "suffer not a witch to live." (Exo 22:18) How then can we ever justify teaching our children how to become a witch?

Part of my calling is to challenge fathers to lead their families according to God's precepts. You state (through sarcasm) that I am not being Christlike in admonishing Christian parents that they may be harming the flock God has entrusted in their care or in throwing darts at Rowling for producing such an “anti-Christian” manual. If she claims that Harry Potter gives a Christian message, she needs to be exposed as a false prophet. Leaders of households need to be warned of such attacks against their families.

Thank you for your challenge on my article, but this will be the last series of communications on this subject.

Mike Southerland said...

As the author of this article, I reserve the right to add one more comment... I just heard an excellent radio interview with Doug Phillips on this very topic. The callers bring up the whole LOTR and Narnia issue there as well. Check it out. I believe Doug states the case very well.

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