Why Christians should Read Harry Potter.

Since I grew up in the homeschool scene, I have met a lot of people who refuse to read or let their kids read Harry Potter. Most of them were Christians. Indeed, I’ve met more Christians than I think is normal or healthy who refuse to read any sort of fantasy at all.

This, to me, seems intensely bizarre and soul-crushing. It was G.K. Chesterton, famed author on Christian apologetics, who said “Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.”

If that isn’t a strong enough argument right there for you to read fairy tales, then just close this page because nothing I say will get through to you, and for that I am sorry.

But if you’re still here, perhaps it will mean something to you when I declare that reading fantasy stories and fairy tales stirs the imagination, awakens the soul, and touches the hearts of children (and adults) in a way that the historical accounts in the Bible can’t– not yet anyway.

Personally, I don’t believe I would have the imagination or moral character to still believe in Jesus if it wasn’t for my healthy diet of fantasy growing up– stories chock-full of honor and redemption.

Redemption is such an abstract concept. I still have trouble grasping its entirety sometimes. It is too profound for children to understand while they’re still thinking in concrete terms, so presenting it in a fantasy format makes it accessible.

Which brings me to Harry Potter.

The two main arguments I’ve heard against the series are that it promotes witchcraft and that it promotes rebellion because Harry is rebellious.

The first argument I honestly find to be a little ridiculous. There is no real-life witchcraft in the books. All magic is performed with a wave of a wand and a short incantation, not unlike the fairies in your Disney movies. And as for the potions and whatever, well, when bezoars become available on the market along with other fictional ingredients, then I’ll be concerned.

The magic is simply the thing that makes it fantasy, and frankly the thing that keeps it fun.

As for the second complaint, that Harry Potter is rebellious, yes. He is. But I ask you, have you ever known a teenager who didn’t have that flaw? Because it is indeed a flaw of Harry Potter’s and isn’t presented as good or admirable. Ultimately, Harry grows out of an overcomes his rebellious streak. At the end of the series, Harry is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

But that’s just one part of my point about why Christians should read Harry Potter.

One of the classes that the characters take is Defense Against the Dark Arts, which is a clear example of the distinct dividing line between Good and Evil in the series.

Remus Lupin, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is a werewolf. “Oh no,” you may decry, “Werewolves are so evil, he must be a bad influence.”

Lupin is a fascinating study of denying your baser/evil nature in favor of doing what is good and right, as opposed to the other werewolf character, Fenrir Grayback, who completely buys into his evil side and indeed revels in it.

But I could go on all night about character studies. I shan’t go into any more detail, but consider Arthur and Molly Weasley, who continually and repeatedly lay their lives on the line for their family, Sirius Black, whose pride eventually gets him killed, and Hagrid, whose faith and loyalty greatly outshine any of his faults.

As a last measure, some may say, “But Dumbledore is gay,” and to you I say, so what? J.K. Rowling announced that after the last book was published, and I see it as naught but a publicity stunt. Dumbledore’s sexual orientation never comes into the plot or the dialogue and has no bearing on the stories, so it’s basically as irrelevant as the color of Ron’s nosehairs.

Besides, if you refuse to read a book because one character is or might be gay, there really is no help for you.

Christians should read Harry Potter for the same reason they should read Lord of the Rings– the battle between Good and Evil, characters growing and developing, sacrifice, and Redemption.

  1. Interesting. Though, I would argue both that Harry Potter does not outgrow his rebellious streak, and that it was never a flaw to begin with. Indeed, isn’t it the trio’s refusal to comply with the rules that allows them to be the heroes they are? Sure, it also results in some disasters, but overall it’s a positive trait that makes all the difference.

    I think you’ve read a little too much into some of the characters, which is fine. However, all of the controversy around Harry Potter resulted from people reading too much into the story, so I would advice readers of all religions to just take it for what it is: it’s a children’s story written by someone who was looking for a way to make a buck. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s really all it is. If you try to find hidden meanings, either positive or negative, you’re going to run into trouble, because the story simply isn’t that deep.

    • Indeed, throughout most the the series Harry’s rebellion is a catalyst for the adventures, but I think that he is a fully mature character by the end of Deathly Hallows with no need for a rebellious streak any more.

      I admit I usually wouldn’t analyze any of the characters like I did. Typically I find that takes all the fun out of fiction. However you’re right that the people I’m responding to have over analyzed as well, and typically without even reading the source material. I hate to just let that be.

      “Dumbledore is gay” is the kind of hidden meaning that’s going to run you into trouble, because it has nothing to do with the plot. But that Remus Lupin fights against his dark side isn’t that hidden, and is a part of the plot, even if small.

      • What evidence is there that Harry’s rebellious streak is outgrown? It’s true that he’s grown and matured a lot, but from beginning to end, he is rebellious my nature. The unfortunate epilogue gives us a peek at Harry in adulthood, but only briefly. All we see is that he’s dropping his kids off at the train station; there’s really no opportunity or reason for to rebel then, so that’s not enough information for us to evaluate his adult character.

        Dumbledore’s homosexuality is not a hidden meaning, it’s merely a publicity stunt by J.K Rowling. She wanted to get Christians riled up again so Harry Potter would be trendy. The author herself doesn’t want Christians to read it, that would be bad for her finances; she wants Christians to hate it and drive others to read it.

        It’s been a while since I’ve read, but I don’t recall any struggle on Lupin’s end to suppress his dark nature. Once a month he drinks a potion and locks himself in his office. It’s really no more dramatic or significant than a woman buying tampons for HER monthly problem.

        All that being said, Harry Potter is neither the devil’s handbook nor a valuable piece of literature. It’s a children’s book, and in my opinion a great one, but nothing more than that. There’s no reason to rally for the banning of this book, but nor is there any reason to try to get people to read it, as if it were significant work like The Great Gatsby or what have you. The truth of the matter is, Harry Potter was just a blip on the cultural radar. Last weekend I was at a yard sale and I saw a child holding a copy of The Goblet of Fire. He said “I’ve seen this kind of book at the last three sales. I wonder if it’s famous or something.”

        • I admit I would need to read books 6 and 7 again to better support my point about Harry outgrowing his rebellion, but I can’t remember any specific incidents that would support that he IS rebellious after his little meltdown at the end of book five.

          That being said, I agree with you about the Dumbledore’s sexuality. It’s an obnoxious publicity stunt meant to rile up more controversy.

          It is a blip on a cultural radar– but I’m going to keep it in my house for at least my own offspring or nieces/nephews to read, because I like it.

          My point isn’t that reading Harry Potter specifically will greatly affect a person’s life. My point is that Christians should stop mindlessly hating something they haven’t even read. If people are going to tell their children that a series of books is evil, causing their children to give other children flack for reading them, I want a good, strong argument from them as to why the series is evil. I wrote this because the only arguments I’ve ever heard are the excessively weak ones I presented.

          Thank you for your feedback– I appreciate how you can always dissect my writing. It forces me to grow.

  2. True. Fantasy is a platform for escapism and a place where our imaginations have a chance to teach us valuable lessons.

  3. Whether it was intentional or not, there is always parallelism in stories. Character development is always a reflection of real life. And J.K. Rowling had no idea her stories were going to make her money. She was a single mom trying to support her family and never knew anything past the first book would get published.

    JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis spent ample time declaring that their stories were not meant to be allegorical or to reflect what they believed at all. Does that mean that there is not significant parallelism between deep spiritual truths and the ‘stories’ of Middle Earth and Narnia? Stories are always about more than the plot line.

    • Rae
    • May 24th, 2012

    The qualities of the book and the characters aren’t even something you really need to read into the book to see. You just have to have your mind and eyes open to realize that they’re there.

    • Jacob
    • May 24th, 2012

    Lol i notice you say “indeed” A LOT…. anyway really good blog, one of my favorites you’v written. I personally have gotten a bit of “hate” because I read and enjoyed the harry potter books.

    • Yes, indeed is a favorite affirmative of mine.
      Thank you, I’m really glad you like it! I suggest you send it to anyone who gives you flack for liking Potter. ;)

  1. May 25th, 2012

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