Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Nor do I own the works cited from ("Muggles and Magic," "Harry Potter and Philosophy").
Note: This was an essay I wrote in my Composition I class in my senior year of high school. We had to write a persuasive essay about something we felt strongly about. Rather than do one of the cliched topics (abortion, drinking age, etc.) I chose Harry Potter. I thought some of you guys might like to read this.
Here you go ObsessiveConcierge. :)
The Devil's Work?
It is a series that enchants millions, a series that has been critically acclaimed by prestigious publications such as the New York Times and The Boston Globe. However, it is also a series that has had lawsuits filed against it in an effort to ban it from schools, a series that is described as "pure evil." This series is Harry Potter.
For, as many – children and adults alike – are enthralled by the boy wizard, there are just as many who consider the series to be "evil" and to encourage "witchcraft and occult practices." I count myself among those who adore the boy wizard and his maker, Joanne Kathleen Rowling – best known as JK Rowling to readers of the series – and can, when called upon, recite a scene from the movie or book by heart. No doubt due to this, I became a victim of such prejudice when letting slip to the pastor of my church that I read Harry Potter. I remember as if it were yesterday, even though it's almost two years ago now. He haD asked me what I liked to read when I revealed my love of literature to him.
"I read Harry Potter," was the first thing I said, with almost a prideful note in my voice, because, for me, that was something to be proud of – reading, instead of spending hours on end staring mindlessly at a television screen.
However, this increase in reading for enjoyment rather than finding Spark Notes for a paper or report, is dismissed by anti-Potters, just as my pastor did; in the Sundays subsequent to that one, he continued to pester me about what I was reading at the present time. I innocently told him the first time about a book by Eoin Colfer and not exactly on his Top Ten list, as it was filled with elements of the supernatural, just as Harry Potter was; therefore, it was fittingly called The Supernaturalist.
Though I did not catch on to my pastor's true motive, my discerning mother did, and, after warning me, I was struck dumb. I could not believe that anyone could think that a series such as Harry Potter - a moral treasure trove for those who read between the lines - was evil! Then, I did the one thing that I still do to this day when hearing about such an abomination as censorship of the highly popular series - I ranted. And, to those who have experienced them, my rants on Harry Potter are not enjoyable.
However, this is not a rant. This is the truth being told.
Sadly, the truth is that many detest Harry Potter. They burn the books, tear them, make hate speeches about them, and anything else that can demote the series. Even more sadly, they have succeeded in making others believe this as well, for their arguments are strong ones. For, to some Christians, it seems that children are being opened up to all sorts of practices of the occult in the Harry Potter series, for it makes witchcraft seem like all fun and games, not the very real Wicca religion that is still alive in this day and age. In their opinion, both forms of magic - good and evil - are bad, as they both stem from the same source - witchcraft, to which the readers of the books – especially impressionable children – are exposing themselves.
The first issue that must be addressed is this issue of good and evil both stemming from witchcraft; therefore, in some people's points of view, both are evil. The task that they are trying to accomplish is unimportant, but both are simply dismissed and categorized as "evil." However, the task, contrary to anti-Potter opinion, is of the utmost importance. For, Voldemort (the main antagonist in the stories) and his followers, called Death Eaters, use magic to harm others, such as with the Cruciatus Curse, which causes pain and Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse. In short they practice the Dark Arts. Contrary to Voldemort and his evil minions, the Order of the Phoenix (an anti-Voldemort group formed by the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore) along with Harry - who has sparked this volatile debate - and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, battle the forces of evil with both good spells – after all, taking a Defense Against the Dark Arts class must mean something – and good friends that stand by each other's side to the bitter end.
As Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, fervently put it, "Then you should have died! Died rather than betray your friends, as we would have done for you!" (Prisoner of Azkaban, 375). As is a main point in books and as the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore (his full name is Albus Percivale Wulfric Brian Dumbledore) stresses constantly, that "it is our choices, far more than our abilities, that makes us who we truly are," (Chamber of Secrets, 333).
If one looks close enough, they can see that the six Harry Potter books printed thus far are full of morality; they are allegories, or a story with two levels of meaning – a concrete level and an abstract level – just as The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, are. In the same way, they contain references to both good and evil magic, which, those who are so quick to condemn Harry and his pals, uphold as a perfect Christian book for children. Why is it that when the lion, Aslan (who is meant to be a portrayal of Jesus), comes back from the dead and explains that it was a "Deep Magic," Christians cheer, but when Sirius Black fell through the Veil of Death (and, by many, is thought to return), they threw it into the fire? Why do anti-Potters love Gandalf (a wizard much like Dumbledore in Lord of the Rings), but hate Dumbledore?
The answer is simple yet confusing to many who are in love with Harry; some believe that the books are evil and reading them will do nothing but give you a first-class ticket to hell. However, if magic is so malignant to these anti-Potters, why do they uphold Narnia and Lord of the Rings, which also use magic? Why are they praised as allegories, while Harry is thrown on the funeral pyre?
Of course, anti-Potters make up a plethora of arguments downgrading the boy wizard and upholding Lewis's and Tolkien's works. I've only heard a few, such as Narnia and Lord of the Rings being moral, about kids not actually believing that they can find Narnia or the Shire. Guess what, folks? It's the same thing with Harry Potter.
Even though Narnia and Lord of the Rings may be moral, they have no reason to exclude Harry Potter from the small group of allegories. To the discerning reader, the Harry Potter septology, or seven-book series, is as much a treasure-trove of morality as Narnia and Lord of the Rings. To quote one of Harry's best friends, Hermione Granger, "There are more important things [than books and cleverness] – friendship and bravery and – oh, Harry – be careful!" (Sorcerer's Stone, 287).
These virtues and more show in the Harry Potter books and movies – friends sticking by friends, such as with the trio and the Marauders – Harry's father, James, and his friends – dying to defend what you know is right, and family, which the reader gets a crash course in when they meet the nine-person Weasley clan who basically adopt Harry into the fold.
Even if one does not want to see Harry as an allegory, you don't have to be an anti-Potter. As the esteemed JK Rowling has said in Talking with JK Rowling, "The book is really about the power of imagination. . . . If anyone expects it to be a book that seriously advocates learning magic, they will be seriously disappointed." This is not a "Witchcraft for Dummies" guide; it does not support witchcraft and the occult. Instead, it shows "the power of the imagination," lets the readers of Harry Potter escape their own world and go to Hogwarts, though you must leave it when closing the book. Kids know that, they don't go running into solid brick barriers or poking random things with a stick picked up off the ground, just as the anti-Potters don't expect kids to go banging on the back of closets or trying on their mother's rings, waiting to turn invisible as Bilbo and Frodo have done. It's simply imagination and a fun book just as the Narnia and Lord of the Rings books are. As Moseley said in Kids Have the Right to Read Harry Potter, "It's just a story. The kids know it's make-believe; that's what novels are all about. Have you ever read one?"
I agree with Moseley on this one; as the imagination of these Christians is something I question daily. If they simply refuse to imagine, then, to quote Professor Trelawney, their minds must be "hopelessly mundane" (Prisoner of Azkaban, 298). Indeed, if one cannot visualize something as simple as Harry's world, cannot read about it and consider it simply fun, how can one believe in something as intangible as God and Heaven? To quote my godmother, "He [God] doesn't just send a lightning-bolt down with a note attached to it." No, you must envisage what He wants from you, what He wants you to do. Imagine Him to be there when you pray to Him. I know I do, and that's because I have power. No, not magic – the power of imagination.
And, if you visit me in my study (also called the sun porch, but you have to admit "study" sounds wealthier) you may see a dry-erase board counting down the days until the seventh book, a few posters of the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie adorning the walls, and maybe even me, typing with a fresh idea for a new story or with my nose buried in a book.
However, I will certainly not be stirring a cauldron.
Note: I hope you guys liked it. I apologize if my writing isn't totally up to par. As I said, this was written several years ago.
To readers of Distorted Reflections. I am working on Chapter Five - Bonfire, right now. I would like to have it up early next week.