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.