Friday, July 15, 2011

Is Harry Potter anti-christian?

With the new harry potter movie coming out, one can scarcely go about without hearing haters and praisers alike. It is deeply amusing to see people hating on it, proclaiming that is is "gay" or "retarded," when the movies they watch and the books they read (if any) are utter trash. Seriously, it's one thing to read harry potter uninspired if you have read the works of authors such as Umberto Eco, Robert Heinlein, Neal Stephenson, George R.R Martin, Michael Crighton, and J.RR Tolkien. But, alas, I can personally attest that I have never - Ever - seen a teenager read any of those authors with the exception of Tolkien.

What is even more amusing is how Christians rationalize their loathing of HP by arguing it is satanic and unbiblical. Leaving aside the obvious absurdity of dismissing anything with magic - in other words, every fantasy theme out there - their argument makes zero sense from an historical perspective.

The concept of a fantasy novel has explicit Christian origins, starting with George McDonald and then popularized by Tolkien and Lewis. There is nothing inherently satanic about fantasy. The fact that magic and witchcraft are frowned upon by the Bible is irrelevant. But because most people are logically and intellectually inept that they don't see why this is the case, I shall elect to spell it out for them.

While it is true that in our World Satan and the evil side of the supernatural are behind witchcraft and other magical themes behind much of the fantasy genre, it need not be that way if you postulate a different World governed by a different set of parameters. Hence, magic may be satanic in this world ( although it is doubtful that all of it is, there is a good side of the supernatural as well) but it may not in another world. Heck, depending upon the Rules set by the Creator, it may not even be considered "supernatural". For all we know, the particular median of our material world that defines the mode of our existence is completely arbitrary. Moreover, there is no reason at all to believe that our universe is not one of many universes that are across the spectrum of what's "natural" and "supernatural." And from what can be interpreted from the Harry Potter books, magic isn't even a "supernatural" phenomenon in the sense that it transcends the natural, let alone an exploitation from a malicious being working outside their realm like Satan presumably does in our world. In the world created by J.K Rowling, what we consider magic is little more than a convenient set of natural laws that have been exploited by certain individuals. Quantum Mechanics is arguably more weird and remote in comparison to the traditional conception of our world, and yet I don't see these same fantasy haters beat down on the latest research collected by Switzerland's Super Collider.

As should be obvious to anyone who is not socially autistic, making a statement about a different world is not tantamount to making that same statement about this world. That's all fantasy is: world building, which is an ability that God specifically endowed Mankind with when he gave him abstract thought. And there are strong logical reasons to believe that the species that God made in His own image was designed to live, love, and create from the ground up


  1. God gave us creative ability in accord with His creating us "In His image", but you ignore that He gave His word as definition of how that creative ability should be applied. Post Modern culture attempts to remove definition(e.g. abstract art or even something like pushing to remove the right of parents to discipline their own children). You sound as though you've been swayed by this type of philosophy in that you would promote creativity without definition. My friend, that is what this idea of a fantasy world detached from the standards of reality is. It is lack of definition, abstract, mindless, pointless. Today's culture emphasizes this constantly. Sex is OK because you can abort the result, homosexuality is OK because you can do it if you want to, etc.
    Let me explain to you why people have arguments over things like HP. If I am able to convince you that HP is wrong because of X,Y,Z, you will react in strong opposition, because your conscience bears witness against you that those standards are going to have to apply to other areas of your life - and honestly - it'll hurt. That's the sum of it really. You can argue until your blue in the face that HP is acceptable for a Believer, but only to keep the heat from burning you in other ways. I say this because I love you even though I don't know you. I only recognize these things because I see it in myself.

  2. Good points. I have to say that the blurb concluding the article about using creativity was more rhetoric than an attempt to espouse a philosophy. I suppose I could have been more clear, my apologies. However,I also wanted to hint at the fact that HP haters usually have a distaste for abstract thought and world building, even if they wouldn't admit it directly. And yes, alot of creative endeavors are junk by almost every standard. I don't promote a blind pursuit of art or literature.

    Your explanation for why people argue about these things makes sense. Humans as a rule don't arrive at conclusions through reason or rationality, they instead concoct post-facto explanations to rationalize their irrational desires. No one is exempt from this; I call myself a Superintelligence but I still spin on the hamster wheel more than occasionally. I'm not bothered if I am unable to convince the other side to agree with me. I write for my pleasure and self-improvement. If I can manage to convince someone, so much the better.

  3. Please feel free to make this comment not visible to your blog readers. On a personal level, and unrelated to your blog topics(posts), do you find yourself wrong at times? And when you do, are you willing to admit it? This will give me an idea whether a discussion with you is valuable or not. I don't mind this discussion myself.

  4. Yes, I do find myself wrong at times, although I try to minimize those occasions by not opining on an issue before I am sufficiently informed of it. To give some examples of where I have changed my opinion, I am no longer pro-free trade, no longer a Calvinist, am more inclined toward the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics than the Copenhagen one, and have abandoned conventional shoes with padding in favor of using minimalist shoes or simply running barefoot.

    But I have to say that in all of those occasions, the change was a slow and gradual one. And I was never as convinced of those things nearly as much as I am about the efficacy of the free-market or the undesirable destination that our post-Christian, secularized, feminist society will inevitably take us.

    But then again, I went with my brother to the department of safety today and talked to a lady about something. After we came out, my brother and I had different interpretations of what she said. After a few exchanges, I knew my brother was right, but I didn't admit right way... As with everybody, my intellectual flexibility has everything to do with how much emotion I have wrapped up in the issue.

  5. Bruce G. Charlton has done a very astute series of posts on the Christian message inherent in the HP books. Here's a good exemplary post, though I recommend doing a site-search to find the others. He's also wonderful on the same topic re: Tolkien

  6. Very interesting post by Bruce, outofsleep. I have to say that I never understood the Christian hostility towards HP, especially considering that the virtues glorified in the books and movies, such as courage and sacrifice, are revered Christian virtues.

    I like the way Bruce points out the many supernatural phenomena, both implicit and explicit, in the series, like prophecy and the immortal soul. So while some of it may fall into the realm of superstition, it is welcoming compared to the blatant materialism infested in our culture.