Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's the opposite of a naysayer?

Hey, did you guys know I'm a Harry Potter fan?

I just recently saw the eighth movie, and it was brilliant. As with all the other movies, and as with any movie based on a book, I have my little quibbles here and there. But overall, it was fantastic. It pulled all the same heartstrings as the book, and I cried just as much at the movie as I did with the book, pregnancy hormones notwithstanding.

And, like my friend, Angie, I've been reading about all things Harry Potter lately. I've looked at photographs of the premieres, watched behind-the-scenes videos, read interviews with the actors, read articles and reviews. I've even, as a means of scratching an itch and as a means of kicking off my vacation, begun re-reading the books. Or, rather, re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reading the books. (That is not necessarily a definitive number of re's.)

And after reading another few articles today, I was struck by something. We all know about the criticism put forth by certain people (ahem) that these books and movies are evil, that they are about witchcraft and the occult and are therefore bad. I remember having this conversation with someone close to a decade ago, and it was all I could do not to laugh. I honestly thought she was joking at first.

Oh, if only.

My urge to laugh has faded, and I'm now left with an eye-rolling sigh. I won't go into what I believe is the ridiculousness of these claims: how the books are obviously fantasy and deal with fantastical magic, nothing at all like real-life occult; or how struck I am by the similarities between the magic in these books and the beloved Chronicles of Narnia, and, no, it does not make one whit of difference what the intentions or religious beliefs of the respective authors are--if you claim magic is bad, then it's bad, no matter the author's background. I won't go into the obvious Christ-like themes in HP, or the power of sacrificial love that overcomes evil and death. I won't go into all that.

I'll just say that the argument I've heard most often is that people will be drawn into the occult because of Harry Potter. People will be negatively influenced in dark spiritual ways. And yet, in all of my reading (and it has been extensive), I've found the exact opposite to be true. I've heard of no instances of people joining the occult or being drawn to darkness because of these stories. Sure, it may be out there, but that's just not the normal result. Instead, I've read and heard of dozens of instances of people being drawn to the Lord, knowing him or knowing him better, because of these stories. People are drawn to truth and light, and isn't that the real test? Not how do certain people *think* these stories will influence culture, but how have the stories *actually* influenced culture? People like those who wrote in to John Granger to tell how these books had affected them, people like Andrew Peterson, even people like Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio have all experienced a draw toward God, not away from him.

The results are in, folks. After more than a decade, the influence of these stories can clearly be seen. For the excellence of writing; for the cleverness in turns of phrase; for the demonstrations of friendship, loyalty, and love; for the brilliant depth and breadth of the story; for the enduring characters and places; for the pure, beautiful artistry of it all; and, yes, for the way my eyes have been opened even a little more to Truth, I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan.


Angela said...

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't comment on something like this. I'm not a card carrying member of the club, you might say. But the truth is these kinds of people affect us all. I joked about this on Banned Book post, but I was only using humor to mask anger.
I don't have a problem with a few people being ignorant, and missing out on one of the greatest stories of our time. I have a problem with these people attempting, successfully sometimes, to push their ignorance down others' throats. I have a problem with these people being given a platform.
This is not a case where we should fight fire with fire, it's a case where fire should be fought with water. Ignorance fought with facts. So thank you for this post.

Amy said...

Not being a card-carrying member does not exclude you from having a valid opinion. =)

I thought Leslie's comment on Facebook on your J.K. Rowling post was particularly relevant to this conversation: "None of the pagans I know think it [Harry Potter] is anything but fantasy novels." Shouldn't that be a big sign to the naysayer camp?

Aside from that are the dozens of card-carrying members that I know (in addition to my family and me) that absolutely adore the books and movies. It's particularly offensive to me that this debate rages on, because Christians have a hard enough time as it is appearing relevant in the culture. Like we really need the fanatics to keep raving. *Sigh.*

Angela said...

I went through and read some of those comments yesterday. (I had avoided them previously, for the sake of my blood pressure.) It's odd to me how insistent they were that all magic was bad. It seemed they all believed that magic was possible but that it is was always "black magic". How do they explain the miracles they clearly believe in?

Semantics are powerful. I had a similar conversation with my mother about being called the Son of God vs the son of God. Most people become so comfortable with their cliches and specific phrases that they cease to understand the meaning of them at all. They interpret them so narrowly it's almost impressive.

Angela said...

It is always (no was). Oops.

Amy said...

And very, very often, when I've asked naysayers about the difference between the magic in HP and the magic in the Chronicles of Narnia, there's indignant argumentation. Of course the books are different! One set was written by C.S. Lewis and are therefore good!

Really, having just listened to the Chronicles on CD, I was strongly reminded of how much magic (GOOD magic) is in the books. Good grief, the power that raised Aslan from the dead is called Deep Magic! Again, we can't say that the magic in the Chronicles is okay because they were written by a well-known Christian apologist, and the magic in HP is bad because. . . it just is.

I never did read the comments on the article. I just read the article and thought it was great.