A Christian’s Defense of Fantasy and Particularly Harry Potter

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A quick look around my blog will tell you that I’m not the bookseller to ask about books that are “nothing like Harry Potter because I’ve heard too many negative reviews about it being satanic.”

Chances are that this customer is probably the bookstore equivalent of a “Christeaster”1, and I will never see her (at least till next year) to give her a history lesson in fantasy and a lesson on not judging a book by the outcry of a few—but that doesn’t prevent me from doing so here, does it?  Maybe she’ll even stumble upon this post while looking for articles to bolster her delusion.

Fantasy in general is not satanic.  In fact, it can be a great vehicle for Christian morality and theology.  The Chronicles of Narnia have brought nonbelievers and believers a greater understanding of the nature of God for nigh sixty years now.  This portal fantasy series (the same subset as Harry Potter) is written by one of the best-known names in Christian inspiration and especially Christian fiction—C. S. Lewis.  Lewis is especially well-remembered because he brought his Christian message to those outside the faith, something well-known modern Christian writers like Rick Warren and Joyce Meyer cannot claim to anywhere near the same extent.  His stories scaled the walls of ivory tower Christianity and wiggled into the hearts and bookshelves of many within and without those walls.

Yet, while Lewis’ books I would argue are Christian fiction, they are not so because of Lewis’ profession of Christian faith but rather by his decision to include Christian allegory in his texts.

Lewis’ friend and fellow Christian J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I would argue, is the founder of modern-day high and epic fantasy and a hero of many modern fantasy writers.  His books, despite Tolkien’s public profession of faith and J. K. Rowling’s silence on the subject, are as Christian as Harry Potter.  Neither Tolkien’s nor Rowling’s books preach Christian theology like Lewis’ Chronicles, but their books teach a good triumphs over evil worldview, that not only the mighty can have great influence, that friendship and loyalty are immensely important, the power of persistence in the fight against evil, forgiveness, the possibility of redemption from great sin and evil….  Harry Potter’s Christian morality is in fact stronger than that of its main fandom rival, Twilight, though Twilight is written by an openly religious Christian writer.

When Harry Potter’s morality began to waver, Rowling had made it so clear that Harry’s actions were illegal and punishable by life in prison that I can only assume that she meant to lead the fandom into the discussions that we had about Harry’s uses of the Unforgivables, as Les Misérables asks if Fantine’s prostitution is forgivable or Jean Valjean’s thievery and evasion of the law.

While some may have picketed Harry Potter (oddly, Meyer’s declared Christianity seems to have widely saved Twilight from the same condemnation), just as many Christians and Christian media outlets, including the magazine Christianity Toady, have positively reviewed the series.

So, don’t judge a book by a few negative reviews.  Don’t judge a book by its genre.  Don’t judge a book by how open the author is about his or her faith.  Do your research.

1A term for those who show up in church only on Christmas and Easter.

This rant is not endorsed by the authors or the estates of the authors here mentioned nor any of their publishers.  It is an independent, honest rant by a fan.

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6 responses »

  1. Hey, I just want to say that this post seems so much like a conversation that my sister and I were having last night about faith and literature. I appreciate your pondering about the subject.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I love the fantasy genre, and realize that the authors’ personal faith perspective does not dictate the way it is perceived by readers . . . but it still seems to me that the “intended” meaning or significance in their work is not unimportant. Lewis and Tolkien were quite devout, while Rowling has been very open about her own “state of spiritual flux.” Thus, the originating worldviews likely vary. That’s not to say that her purpose is malevolent–I don’t see that in the Potter series at all. However, there are noteworthy differences, not least of which her role modeling of heroes and heroines involved in witchcraft (the occult, which is very real). Still, you’ve offered a thoughtful argument. Thank you.

  3. Such a good point to make that people should DO THEIR OWN RESEARCH. If someone reads HP and decides its satanic, then that’s their thoughts. If they don’t read it but still come to that conclusion, then they don’t have a leg to stand on!

  4. Hello! I’m a fellow wordpress blogger who writes about fantasy from a Christian worldview. I was wondering…is your blog a free one? Or do you pay for the domain? I love the layout of the blog and was wondering how you got so many sub-pages from your home page and how you got the “What you’re looking for” section with links to your blogs. If you could help me out, I’d be so grateful!

    Thank you,
    Alysha

    • It’s just one of the free layouts from WordPress, Alysha. Let’s see… the subpages are under… the Pages on the WordPress dashboard, and then the “What’re you looking for?” button is just the Categories widget renamed. If you mess around in WordPress long enough (and I’ve been on WordPress a while now), you find more and more that’s customizable. Which blog is yours? There’s no wasn’t a link left in your comment.

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