Skip to comments.Harry Potter and the Dark Side
Posted on 07/18/2005 6:36:15 AM PDT by Kitten Festival
J.K. Rowling is historys richest-ever author, enjoying an incomparable global readership. With eager consumers lined up at midnight to buy her book on the date of release, she stands as the literary phenomenon of our times.
Rowling resembles no one in popularity so much as Charles Dickens, who inspired excited crowds in America to meet the packet ships from England, calling out for the next installment of the story of Little Nell.
She also rivals Dickens in her ability to create some of the most delightful names in literature. Uriah Heep, meet Severus Snape.
Few authors today write books for adolescent boys, who readily fall away from reading and are lured to the video tube. Daring to write long and complicated plots, Rowling doesnt underestimate her readers. Her books contain delightful inventions on almost every page: from mail delivery owls to the winged boars (flying pigs) that grace the Hogwarts school gates.
But huge success makes for a big target. Rowling does not lack for critics.
Some are bothered by her abundant use of adverbs, or worry about exposing very young children to the violence in the books good vs. evil plot lines. Occasional gross-out humor and love of annoying practical jokes dismay some adults, but meet the literary tastes of the adolescent boy.
By far the most serious criticism of the Harry Potter series comes from those Christians and Jews who believe any mention of magic in literature is completely and automatically off-limits based simply on the Biblical prohibitions against witchcraft.
I respect such critics, but I disagree with them. A few of them go overboard, muttering darkly about bargains with supernatural forces. But many are sincere and intelligent.
There is a basic difference between reading a Harry Potter book and invoking the dark forces. Casting actual spells is one thing. Reading about them while engrossed in a struggle between good and evil on the magical plane of childrens literature is quite another.
Magic has become a literary convention of imaginative literature, positing forces fo
Klaatu barada nikto.
I suppose in these days, some of the books I used to read as a teen would be on the 'Do NOT View' list also.
Where is the Oh Geez! Not this s**t again picture?
Thinks I'm too stupid to know what a winged boar is. PHHHHHHPTT!
"By far the most serious criticism of the Harry Potter series comes from those Christians and Jews who believe any mention of magic in literature is completely and automatically off-limits based simply on the Biblical prohibitions against witchcraft.
"I respect such critics, but I disagree with them. A few of them go overboard, muttering darkly about bargains with supernatural forces. But many are sincere and intelligent."
If kids read the Bible (or any other worthwhile religious literature), prayed, and attended church with the same enthusiasm and dedication they read these Harry Potter books, this would be a better world.
It's not really the magic I take issue with. I have seen some Harry Potter films in parts, and what I certainly don't appreciate is the dark, disturbing violence in them, particularly when these films are targeted at children. But, hey, Hollywood producers and J. K. Rowling are laughing their way to the bank.
I agree the movies are a little dark. But you should see what other movies are marketed to kids. It's awful. Look at Fantastic Four. It's PG-13 (my 14 year olds have only seen one PG-13 they are so bad) and is marketed in Toys R Us! There really are so few movies that are good for the whole family.
I for one was happy these are there for all of us to enjoy. No sex, no graphic violence, hey, a little troll snot, but you can't have everything!
Before I read this -- does it have spoilers? I'm just starting book three, and am trying to avoid.
"Yea, I said the words. OK. Well Most of them anyway. You've got the damn book, now send me home!"
"Shop smart - Shop S-Mart"
"You're in charge of two things right now. JAck and S&*T. And Jack just left town"
"Yo - she-bitch"
"Ok, you primitive screw-heads listen up. This is my BOOM STICK. It's got a blued barrell, checkerd stock, and a hair trigger. Can be found in the sporting goods section of your local S-Mart. $99.99.
"I feel bad, but it feels good."
Sorry, but you started it TheBigB.
"It's a trick. Get an Axe..."
Good. . .Bad. . .I'm the one with the Gun. . .
. . .notice The Bruce's LATEST role ? He's the Coach in the new kids movie, "Sky High", about a high school for Superheroes. . .
I have never understood some Christians' perspective of the Harry Potter series. They embrace the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series, which includes the character of the White Witch. There is a horrible scene in which the White Witch kills the Jesus character of Aslan by first having him tied to a stone table, shaved of his lion's hair and then brutally stabbed to death. Very dark stuff. You can buy the books in every Christian bookstore. The difference? C.S. Lewis was a devote Christian and the books reflect his Christian beliefs. Many Christians do NOT share the perspective that the Harry Potter books promote witchcraft; we recognize the deep moral truths in the books and can appreciate the good vs. evil theme throughout every one of the 6 books to date. Fairy tales are full of witches, and they always lose their battles. The Harry Potter books are just that: fairy tales. Most of the kids who read them do not embrace witchcraft as a result of having read the books.
"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagh'nagl fhtagn."
Oh sweet lord....
Look it is pure fiction.
It got my boy away from the computer and the TV and back into books! For that alone I am thankful. For those of you who think that this is "EVIL". Whats that saying about glass houses?
Sure its dark but there are other and darker young adult books out there and no one so much as says boo about it.
So long as the children enjoy the read and understand that it is fiction and make believe then there is nothing wrong with it.
The things you do for fun are always going to be done more enthusiastically than what you do for duty, and one really should not read scripture, pray or go to church for entertainment.
At least it wasn't spelled "winged boer"...
That would probably be considered racist.
You seem to be suggesting that anything one enjoys is "entertainment." I enjoyed tax accounting when I was employed, but it wasn't entertainment. I enjoy cleaning the floors, if I can get all the kids out of the way for an hour, but it's not entertainment.
If you mean that Scripture, prayer, and worship aren't enjoyable, then that's pretty sad.
This is probably true. I'm just saying that would be about the only way the writer's parenthetical "literary aid" worse. Seeing "(flying pigs)" was irritating to me, as well.
hummm....good point...let's see....a holy man parting the Red Sea.....turning a snake into a staff.....raining down loaves of bread and fish to feed the multitude....casting an evil angel out of heaven....turning water into wine.....a burning bush bursting into fire....hummmmmmmm
I knew something bothered me about thar post. Your rebuttal said it beautifully.
It reminds me of an article in our state's tourist publication, about a slave who wrote poetry - specializing in love poems for college students to woo their girlfriends. The article's author kept providing definitions of words the slave used in his poems and letters, even though the man didn't even learn to write until he was in his 50's; someone had to copy down what he composed orally.
Education has really declined!
Enjoyable, yes. But, still a bit of work. Entertainment like Harry Potter is more of an escape. A relaxation. I can't explain exactly the difference, but there is.
Are you saying that they don't read the Bible because they read Harry Potter? To the extent some kids don't read the Bible as much as they read Harry Potter, I don't see any reason to infer that the two are connected even remotely. It's not like they sit down and say "well, I could read either the Bible or Harry Potter. Gee, I think I'll go with Harry Potter today."
Kids just don't read as much, and that has nothing to do with HP.
"In his house in R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
I understand what you mean. There's a difference between picking up a mystery novel and a serious history book, even though I'm doing both for enjoyment, neither because I have to.
I was just taking issue with the apparent contention that we only read the Bible (pray, attend church) out of duty, not because we like doing it. We like going to church, and we have a great time with the Bible.
What I mean is that you should do these things even if you don't particularly find them enjoyable, especially since the pleasure is, for most, an acquired taste rather than an instinctive one -- unlike fiction.
I saw that stupid movie on the sci-fi channel recently. Unfortunately (?) I couldn't quite stay awake long enough to watch it all. What was the name of it, anyway?
I worked (and will be working again this fall) at Lucasfilm. Lucas has his share of critics on this forum because they believe the Force is an actual New Age-style religious belief. Some of the people who work for Lucas (one of whom is an Academy Award winner for sound design) are Christians and conservatives. We are surrounded by liberals, but somehow manage to get along.
If some Christians believe I am going to hell because I work for Lucas and enjoy science fiction/fantasy, so be it. It's not worth debating. I've read the Harry Potter series--as has my homeschooled son--and at no time did we forsake our religious beliefs and turn to witchcraft. Of course, both my son and I think that Rowlings' books are no where near the literary level of Narnia and the Ring trilogy.
I decided to read Harry to see what all the fuss was about and make a judgement for myself. I never was a fan of book burning or listening to others who refused to read the material, but somehow knew it would lead to the dark side. (Ooops, sorry, couldn't help myself with that last line--force of habit, you know.) I came to the opinion that Harry Potter is no worse or better than The Wizard of Oz. There is definitely good vs evil within its pages. And, yes, Harry is a good guy--about as good as Glinda, the Good Witch of Oz, if you're into that stuff.
Just because a book is fiction doesn't mean it can't be harmful. Pullman's "Golden Compass" trilogy is positively diabolical, expressly designed to subtly undermine the faith of children and persuade them that God is evil.
Harry Potter is just fine. Rowling shows none of that evil intention in my view. In the war between good and evil, she clearly sides with good. Indeed, her theodicy, if that isn't too grand a term, is on much more solid ground than that silly and confused business about "the dark side of the Force" in "Star Wars."
Thanks for the explanation - that's much clearer.
You posted while I was mulling my post. Yes, I'm bothered by "the dark side of the Force." It's more Manichean or Gnostic than Christian. Fortunately, it's vague enough to slip by most people without much effect. I don't think the intent is malign, as with Pullman.
Perfect! Sadly, for most people in our current society the world of Harry Potter, and it's ongoing struggle of good against evil is a major step up.
It will be a few steps along that walk for not a few...
I had to chuckle when I read your post. No, the Force was never meant to be malign, but I will admit, the STAR WARS universe has changed a bit over the years. Die-hard fans (Force Freaks) know all the discrepencies, confusions, and ins and outs of the series' evolution--oft times better than most of the employees at Lucasfilm.
your comment makes no sense to me other than it references the bible... which I didn't make comment on...
In high school I asked one of my teachers who didn't approve of Harry Potter what he thought of The Lord of the Rings. He said it was ok because it was a classic. I asked him if that meant in 50 years Harry Potter would be ok. He said no, but couldn't tell me what the difference was between the two books and the magic in them.
Heh heh. I shudder to think the questions and demands-for-explanations that get thrown your way at Lucasfilm...
My kids think the whole Force thing is silly.
I see it as drawing more from the Oriental philosophies and their condept of balance in the universe (yin and yang and that sort of thing).