As I said in my summer reading 2016 blog, I am going to begin a series on this page called “Potter Ponderings” in which I examine something that I did not have the opportunity or courage to examine as a child. I grew up in the middle of the argument from fundamentalist Christianity against anything and everything that contained magic. Harry Potter came out when I was in elementary or middle school, and all of my friends started reading it, but I was not allowed because it was “witchcraft.” This was enough for me at the time, but as I got older, I began to wonder about the difference between the magic depicted in Harry Potter and such instances of magic as were depicted in stories that were slightly more acceptable to the Christian community, namely The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. When I got to college, I wrote a paper on this question entitled “Deeper than the Magic.” I posed my question, and the thesis I came up with was that fact that both Tolkien and Lewis were Christians made their stories okay.
Clearly, this was too simplistic an answer, and the more I studied and questioned, the more I wondered what the real answer was. I came to the conclusion that it all depends on ones definition of magic. The Bible expressly forbids soothsaying, conjuring, and witchcraft (Leviticus 19:26 “…Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.”). But what is witchcraft? Is it distinct from magic? What are miracles? What is the fundamental difference?
The difference is the origin of power. Witchcraft, wizardry, etc., is the manipulation of powers of unknown origin (or of known and expressly dark origin). From the biblical worldview, there are only 2 sources of supernatural power in the universe: God and Satan. The difference between magic in stories like The Lion, ,the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and other stories, is that the magic of the protagonists is coming from what one can define as the fairy tale equivalent of God. In many other fantasy stories, the magic is coming from within the protagonist (humanism). Still other stories have magic coming from some occult source (witchcraft).
As I’ve gotten older and observed much, gone to school for English, and read dozens (if not hundreds) of pieces of literature, I have begun to identify these elements within stories with increasing discernment. I no longer rely on blanket statements that “all of this genre is bad.” It is for this reason, that I want to take a critical look at this series that has become a global, multi-generational phenomenon. I want to see what is at the heart of this story. Is it humanistic? Does the power come from within? Or is it true witchcraft, where the power comes from a dark, ambiguous source?
I have 2 real reasons for writing this series. One is to finally put to rest all of my personal questions about the series. The other is to explore what religious people see in and about these books that produces such a hung jury. Some Christians have no problem allowing their children to read these books, while others would like to see them all band. As a Bible-believing Christian, as a Christian educator, and as a lover of tales, I want to know.
There are 7 books in this series. If I complete my series by writing one post per book, there will be a total of 9 blogs, the final blog being a summary of my entire experience. There may, however, be fewer posts. I hope some of you will go in this journey with me. Post questions. Tell me your own experiences and opinions on the subject. (Please be respectful).
I remain yours ever,
Regina, the Pensive Ponderer