The Harry Potter Palaver


To be clear, this discussion’s crosshairs are trained on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d like to open up a double-standard dialogue that seems to be swept under the rug often. Let me set the table.

Star Wars films, Lord of the Rings: Trilogy, The Hobbit: Trilogy, The Avengers films, Shazaam!, Aladdin. What’s a common denominator in all of these great works of art? Magic is present.

  • Star Wars—The Force
  • Lord of the Rings—Wizardry
  • The Hobbit—more Wizardry
  • The Avengers—Magic and Sorcery
  • Shazaam!—more Magic
  • Aladdin—even more Magic

Now, I’m not trying to advocate what you choose to watch versus what you stay away from. That’s your business. Quite often, I hear church folk say to kids, “If Jesus was in the room, would you be watching that?” My intent is not to condemn or accuse you of hypocrisy in regards to your choice of movies. This is more a question I’m hoping will actually invite conversation.

The aforementioned films and trilogies are considered cinematic classics and desirable movies to watch, based solely on their content and storylines. No self-acclaimed movie buff would dare turn a scowl toward the movies on the list. In truth, it’s the fantasy elements that make most of these movies entertaining. We all enjoy the mesmerizing action and human emotional elements of these films.

So why is it that the Christian community has declared war on the Harry Potter films and their spinoff prequels? Usually, when I ask this question of some of my Christian-friends, the immediate answer revolves around the Potter films promoting dark magic. But, when I bring up something like, “Well so do ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films; so what’s the difference,” I’m usually met with either a subject change, or an awkward stare.

Personally, I always thought the Potter films were about the never-ending struggle between good and evil, just like the rest of the films and trilogies on my list. It just seems, in my opinion, that while we Christians take no issue with Doctor Strange mastering the dark arts in the name of protecting humanity, or Gandalf the Grey (or the White depending on which trilogy you’re in) wielding magic in defense of the light, we are up in arms about Professor Dumbledore teaching Harry Potter to be a Wizard.

How exactly does that work, without being hypocritical?   

Personally, the Harry Potter films don’t bother me, because I’ve watched them along with everything else on my list. It’s entertainment. I don’t really think there was any malicious intent involved in the creation of any of them any more than C.S. Lewis had, while penning The Chronicles of Narnia. I think my question is more pointed at the “why”. Why were the Potter films blacklisted among the Christian community where the others were not? Why are the Potter films deemed dangerous, where the other films are not? Why is the House of Gryffindor more of a threat to our spiritual growth, than The Jedi Temple?

I think what I’d like to see is a hard stance from the Christian community regarding such entertainment. I’d like to see Christians take one stance or another, either completely for fantasy, or totally against it. See, I witnessed a Pastor condemn the Harry Potter films in front of a group of kids, but enthusiastically post photos of his family at the theater on opening day for one of the Star Wars movies. That’s not confusing? Like I said, I’m all for the entertainment of the films. Fantasy is my favorite genre of story, so I like them all. But, I think it sets a bad example and maybe even confuses kids if we begin to pick and choose which fantasy movies are fine to watch, when they all contain the same content.

I enjoyed watching Harry grow up learning his craft, back in the day. I think it would be interesting to see what his children’s adventures would be like today. The thing is, I understand that it’s all entertainment, just like the Wizards of The Lord of the Rings, or the Sith and Jedi of Star Wars, or the Genie of Aladdin. It’s all entertainment. That’s why we watch it. It entertains.  

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Drop a comment, and let me know how you feel about it.