I will start with this disclaimer. You might be offended here and although that is not my goal I won’t apologize if it happens. Pretty much everything I write has the potential to offend for 2 reasons.
- the Gospel of Jesus is offensive
- truth is offensive
and I share both as often as I can. But the good news is that both of these can change lives if we let it. And I would rather see you offended and become closer in your walk with the Lord, then have you like me. So there it is. All for the sake of His love.
I personally wouldn’t read anything even closely relating to Harry Potter and that series. There are a lot of things I won’t let in my house. But since I haven’t read it I can’t exactly tell folks why. I just know. Which is why I am even more appreciative of a good review. Love this one, written by a friend named Raquelle Sheen, she posted it publicly on facebook and gave me permission to share it with y’all here. It is well-written and based on facts, not necessarily just her own convictions.
Public service announcement to parents: Read the entire Harry Potter series before you let your kids read them. I know Harry Potter has been controversial for a long time, primarily due to all the magic involved. I finally read the entire series for myself and here’s what you need to know.
Frankly, most of the magic stuff is not really a big cause for concern, unless your family prefers to avoid all light science fiction (Narnia, Lord of the Rings, etc.). Most of the magic is very much along the lines of Cinderella’s fairy godmother–waving a wand and saying variations of “Poof!” Honestly, sometimes it is even clever or funny. However, there are a number of other causes for concern.
1. There is profanity–the d-word, h-word and the softened form of the f-word. Harry and his friends use these words themselves, not just the bad guys.
2. There are some completely inappropriate sexual innuendos, besides the problematic young-teens-falling-love premise.
3. There is potty humor and a lot of just plain gross stuff.
4. There is sickening, disgusting, very disturbing violence, particularly in books 4-7. People die hideously. People are tortured gruesomely. Some of these vivid depictions I found very disturbing even as an adult. There is no way under the sun I would give these books to anyone under 15.
5. While the run-of-the-mill magic stuff is tame and even kind of cute, there are a number of instances, especially in the later books, where Harry is essentially possessed by the wicked nemesis, Voldemort. He unwillingly sees inside Voldemort, knows what he is thinking, and even feels like he IS Voldemort. He has terrible scary visions, that leave him unconscious, in pain, and sweating on the floor. I found the likeness to demon possession bothersome.
6. There is (spoiler alert) endorsement of euthanasia. In the last book we find that Dumbledore, the school headmaster, had suffered a curse that will eventually kill him within the year. While there are other factors involved, he gives instructions to someone to kill him nicely so he can die a dignified death. The person complies and outright kills him, but it’s all okay ‘cuz it threw the bad guy off the scent. It is tidily presented as nobleness all around. Here is the actual conversation that takes place:
“If you don’t mind dying,” said Snape roughly, “why not let Draco do it?”
“That boy’s soul is not yet so damaged,” said Dumbledore. “I would not have it ripped apart on my account.”
“And my soul, Dumbledore? Mine?”
“You alone know whether it will harm your soul to help an old man avoid pain and humiliation,” said Dumbledore. “I ask this one great favor of you, Severus, because death is coming for me as surely as the the Chudley Cannons will finish bottom of this year’s league. I confess I should prefer a quick, painless exit to the protracted and messy affair it will be if, for instance, Greyback is involved.” [Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows]
7. Harry is a lousy role model. His friends praise his “noble soul,” but the best you can say for Harry is that he is brave and loyal to his friends. (Big deal…the most wicked people on earth are often brave and loyal to their friends.) Harry lies frequently and remorselessly, and not just for “the good of the cause.” He cheats on his schoolwork routinely, copying his friend’s work. He is continually angry and has a poor grip on his temper. He is appallingly disrespectful. He is reckless and thoughtless. He breaks rules all the time, seldom with any consequences. There really isn’t much to admire about him. If you have a kid who likes to harbor resentment and fancy themselves a victim, the last thing they need is to hang out with Harry.
8. I found it bordering on the blasphemous to find Rowling using Scripture in the last book. Harry finds on his parents’ tombstones the quotation (not attributed to Scripture) that, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” This is a verse referring to the powerful work of Jesus Christ, not to a mythical world of imaginary wizards using wands, jinxes, curses and spells.
When I finished reading the series, I pulled out my Bible and read the last few chapters of Revelation to clear my mind and remind myself of the REAL ending to the story of evil. When I read Narnia or Lord of the Rings, the underlying philosophy and the admirable characters in those books are compatible with Christianity and I have never felt a need to sort of “cleanse” myself afterward. I definitely felt like I needed Scripture after Harry Potter.
So, you can decide for yourself what you think, but I strongly encourage parents to read ALL the books for themselves before deciding they’re okay. The books get worse the longer the series go, so if you just read the first one and think it’s innocuous, you need to read books 4-7.