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Harry Potter and the Dark Side
The American Thinker ^ | 7 18 05 | Elizabeth Bennett

Posted on 07/18/2005 6:36:15 AM PDT by Kitten Festival

J.K. Rowling is history’s 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 doesn’t 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


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bookreview; culture; harrypotter; literature; religion; satanism
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To: Mr. Blonde
He said no, but couldn't tell me what the difference was between the two books and the magic in them.

It's so cute when they try to think...

51 posted on 07/18/2005 8:28:07 AM PDT by null and void (You'll learn more on FR by accident, than other places by design)
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To: dighton
Harry Potter and the Dark Side

So I take it the next movie shall feature ...

??

52 posted on 07/18/2005 8:31:07 AM PDT by MozarkDawg
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To: Junior; Tax-chick

I tend to agree with Tax-chick. If you took that "dark side of the force" business seriously, it would undermine basic Christian ideas about the nature of God and of good and evil. But I believe most people laugh at it.

The same with Harry Potter. People dress up as witches and wizards to go to the opening, but they do it in the spirit of fun and games, not some dark yearning to practice witchcraft. Kids wield light sabers in the same spirit of fun.


53 posted on 07/18/2005 8:33:49 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Kitten Festival
Harry Potter distorts the soul, says Pope

Pope Opposes Harry Potter Novels - Signed Letters from Cardinal Ratzinger Now Online

54 posted on 07/18/2005 8:34:47 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

If I remember correctly, the evil witches die and the good prevails.
And, Dorothy does not use any evil and/or witchcraft.

True?


55 posted on 07/18/2005 8:36:16 AM PDT by It's me
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To: Pride in the USA

Again, in the Chonicles of Narnia, good prevails and the children do not ever use evil to prevail.


56 posted on 07/18/2005 8:39:09 AM PDT by It's me
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To: tiredoflaundry; HungarianGypsy; JenB; Grendel9; dead; TwoWolves; js1138; MineralMan; ...

Potter Ping!! This article (and so far the thread) is FREE OF SPOILERS! So click away....


57 posted on 07/18/2005 8:40:26 AM PDT by retrokitten (www.retrosrants.blogspot.com)
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To: Cicero

I think parents have to be discerning. Some children and teens are spiritually unstable, and reading Harry Potter books may lead them into investigating ritual magic seriously. (Someone pointed out on another thread that bookstores are marketing books on witchcraft and even Satanism in conjunction with the H.P. blitz. I noticed some of this myself when the new editions of LOTR were issued, in conjunction with the films.) In my opinion, a young person in this situation should be distracted from any fantasy or magic-related literature, not just Harry Potter.

For me, the point where any fiction becomes a spiritual danger is when the reader wants it to be non-fiction.


58 posted on 07/18/2005 8:40:38 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: SouthernBoyupNorth
It got my boy away from the computer and the TV and back into books! For that alone I am thankful.

The end does not always justify the means.

59 posted on 07/18/2005 8:41:17 AM PDT by It's me
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To: Junior

Thanks for the heads up!


60 posted on 07/18/2005 8:41:26 AM PDT by retrokitten (www.retrosrants.blogspot.com)
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To: Cicero
Kids wield light sabers in the same spirit of fun.

You should see my 3-year-old and 18-month-old waving paint sticks at one another, going "ZZZZZ! ZZZZZ! ZZZZZOT!"

61 posted on 07/18/2005 8:42:25 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: smiley
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

That's "magic"?? !!!

Oh boy are you misguided.

62 posted on 07/18/2005 8:43:07 AM PDT by It's me
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To: Kermit the Frog Does theWatusi

Ping.


63 posted on 07/18/2005 8:44:07 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity

Do you have an "Incredibly Long Screen Names" ping list?


64 posted on 07/18/2005 8:44:49 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: Kitten Festival
I don't remember wanting to burn Elizabeth Montgomery at the stake?

And after watching years of BeWitched, I only cast spells upon liberals.

65 posted on 07/18/2005 8:46:14 AM PDT by TexasCajun
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To: TexasCajun

Spells are so 1990's. Now we stune liberals with our beeber-like devices.


66 posted on 07/18/2005 8:48:13 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: It's me
Again, in the Chonicles of Narnia, good prevails and the children do not ever use evil to prevail.

You're painting with an awfully big brush. Certainly there are times when the children in Narnia do things that would be considered "evil" -- in "Wardrobe" Edmund, of course, betrays his siblings; in "Dawn Treader", Eustace is a selfish prat, and even Lucy succumbs to envy and starts to read the spell in the Magician's book to make her more beautiful than Susan. There are good magicians and bad magicians in the book -- it is the characters actions, not their vocations, that make them good or evil.

67 posted on 07/18/2005 8:48:41 AM PDT by kevkrom (WARNING: If you're not sure whether or not it's sarcasm, it probably is.)
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To: Kitten Festival
The exact same criticisms being made against the Harry Potter books were being made against the works of J.R.R. Tolkien just two generations ago. They were too dark for the young reader and many religious groups tried banning Tolkien's works because they introduced the young read to black magic, witchcraft and sorcery, etc. In fact, the controversial game "Dungeons & Dragons" was derived from Tolkien's writings.

As one who grew up with reading Tolkien, I can say that The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings helped to instill a love of reading that I continue to this day for those were among the first books I picked up to read "just for fun" as opposed to being made to read a boring classic assigned by a teacher. In fact, I later came to appreciate many of the classics that the teachers force-fed me as a kid as a result of all my independent reading, of which Tolkien played a key role.

Before Harry Potter came on the scene, it was even a worse situation with the current generation. Many children couldn't even read Tolkien even if they wanted to because they were too difficult for the average child to get through. I tried getting my kids to read The Hobbit when they were young but they found the book ridiculously long and boring. Even though Hobbit wasn't that long (compared to LOTR), the average children's book rarely exceeded 100 pages. Harry Potter changed all that. I believe the 5th Harry Potter book had close to 900 pages! Never again will my kids look at a thick book and be intimidated.

Fans of Tolkien's work today don't realize that Tolkien wrote those books for children. Back in the 1950s, your average 6th grader could read LOTR with no problem. Today, many high school kids are intimidated by it!

So if the Harry Potter series can get kids reading again, I'm all for it. Since my two sons started reading the Potter books, they have been much more open to reading other books that they never otherwise would have even attempted.

68 posted on 07/18/2005 8:50:18 AM PDT by SamAdams76 (Need a Waffle House in Massachusetts)
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To: Tax-chick

I think C. S. Lewis says something like that in his essay on Fairy Tales. For most people, fairy stories are less dangerous than stories about becoming rich and famous, because they don't feed into the vein of self-absorbed wish-fullfillment (Lewis was writing at a time when Freud's take on literature was dominant). But I agree, if a kid seems to be taking the idea of magic seriously, then he needs to be educated or diverted to something else.

The difference between magic and religion, which some folks on this thread don't seem to get, is that religion is about service to God, and magic is about power over others. It's clear to me that Rowling disapproves of greed for magical power in her stories, and approves of magic used wisely as a trust in the service of others, but perhaps naive readers might not get the distinction.


69 posted on 07/18/2005 8:54:03 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: pa mom
Off subject, but I saw Fat Albert yesterday, and I think it is a great movie for young teens. It isn't very often that I recommend movies, but for a good clean movie, this one is kind of fun. I have a 15 year old boy, and he enjoyed it.

Back to the subject of Harry Potter, my son has already finished his first reading of it, and starting it over again. I don't think he played video games all weekend! I am just starting it, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. (We bought two copies)

70 posted on 07/18/2005 9:00:35 AM PDT by codercpc
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To: SamAdams76

You know, when I was in high school, I gobbled up Tolkien and just about any E. R. Burroughs story I could lay my hands on. I tried rereading both series not that long ago, and I found the prose to be stultifyingly thick. I may have killed far too many brain cells in the past couple of decades...


71 posted on 07/18/2005 9:01:21 AM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: retrokitten
Potter Ping!! This article (and so far the thread) is FREE OF SPOILERS! So click away....

Somebody dies in the book...

72 posted on 07/18/2005 9:02:01 AM PDT by null and void (You'll learn more on FR by accident, than other places by design)
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To: BibChr
Before I read this -- does it have spoilers?

No

73 posted on 07/18/2005 9:02:28 AM PDT by reformed_dem
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To: kevkrom
I never said that evil/White Witch/Satan did not tempt them. Was Edmund remorseful? Lots of kids are selfish brats, they don't call on evil. Did Lucy continue with the spell?
74 posted on 07/18/2005 9:02:52 AM PDT by It's me
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To: It's me

To a third-party observer, those would be magic.


75 posted on 07/18/2005 9:03:02 AM PDT by Junior (Just because the voices in your head tell you to do things doesn't mean you have to listen to them)
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To: codercpc

LOL! I'm buying our second, too. Five people in our family and most want to be reading it at 8:00 at night!

"Saw" Fat Albert on a plane. My 14 yo liked it. ( I say "saw" because I didn't have headphones!) We all also liked Madagascar, if the big guy will still go to cartoons.


76 posted on 07/18/2005 9:03:59 AM PDT by pa mom
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To: Tax-chick
Spells are so 1990's. Now we stune liberals with our beeber-like devices.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic...

(and vice versa)

77 posted on 07/18/2005 9:04:01 AM PDT by null and void (You'll learn more on FR by accident, than other places by design)
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To: reformed_dem

Thanks!


78 posted on 07/18/2005 9:06:32 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: It's me
That is true but it got him interested in reading.... Now I can buy him books and steer his reading in good directions. He is now a voracious reader and has read his way through half my considerable library (over 2500 books at last count). He reading level has improved to a point where I would put him up against a college junior. His vocabulary is that of some one far exceeding his 15 years of age and hes is reading Everything in my library....including my philosophy,history,physics,math,religious and other books.
And he is generally plowing through them at a rate of 1 a week.... THAT is impressive as far as I'm concerned and in this instance the end HAS justified the means.
79 posted on 07/18/2005 9:06:33 AM PDT by SouthernBoyupNorth ("For my wings are made of Tungsten, my flesh of glass and steel..........")
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To: Cicero
that religion is about service to God, and magic is about power over others.

Excellent point.

It's clear to me that Rowling disapproves of greed for magical power in her stories, and approves of magic used wisely as a trust in the service of others,

The moral problem with that is, who decides what "wise use" is, and who decides what's good for others? This is, of course, the moral problem with any sort of power. I haven't read the Harry Potter books, so I don't know how Rowling deals with these issues.

80 posted on 07/18/2005 9:06:41 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: It's me
Did Lucy continue with the spell?

No, but only because Aslan intervened. Read the book again.

81 posted on 07/18/2005 9:07:02 AM PDT by kevkrom (WARNING: If you're not sure whether or not it's sarcasm, it probably is.)
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To: Tribune7

I don't think Rowling is quite as sophisticated theologically as Lewis, but I would agree that, so far at least, her outlook is basically compatible with Christianity. Just start with the fictional hypothesis that some people are endowed by inheritance with magical abilities, and she treats this endowment much as a Christian would treat endowment with talents.

If God gives someone great talents, of intelligence, strength, quickness, these talents can be put either to good or evil use. But talents are good in themselves. Similarly, if you had magical powers you could use or abuse them. The good people in Harry Potter play games with magic in a spirit of joy, or use them beneficially. The evil people seek power.

Pullman's books are basically Gnostic: the creator of the world is evil, there is hidden knowledge known only to the initiate, knowledge is power, and so forth. I wouldn't be surprised if Rowling drew on Pullman in portraying her villains. A recent review suggests that she also drew on the great duel between Hitler and Churchill, displaced for a while by the appeaser Neville Chamberlain. Hitler, of course, was also saturated with ideas about dark magic.


82 posted on 07/18/2005 9:07:27 AM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: null and void
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic ...

Yes, I believe my husband and his networking group spend time in their lab cutting the heads of chickens.

83 posted on 07/18/2005 9:07:49 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: Cicero; Lil'freeper; JenB; Corin Stormhands
It's clear to me that Rowling disapproves of greed for magical power in her stories, and approves of magic used wisely as a trust in the service of others, but perhaps naive readers might not get the distinction.

Absolutely!!

84 posted on 07/18/2005 9:09:09 AM PDT by SuziQ
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To: pa mom

He generally will go to cartoons with his younger cousins. He always says he is "taking them", yet he always comes home enjoying them!


85 posted on 07/18/2005 9:10:08 AM PDT by codercpc
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To: Cicero

I never read a Pullman book. Just the reviews. He sounds pretty hate-filled.


86 posted on 07/18/2005 9:10:20 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: Tax-chick

"off chickens."


87 posted on 07/18/2005 9:10:29 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: Tribune7

Deeply creepy. George Felos creepy. Don't-let-this-in-your-door creepy.


88 posted on 07/18/2005 9:11:17 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: codercpc

Sounds like a good kid, er, young man!


89 posted on 07/18/2005 9:13:12 AM PDT by pa mom
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To: Cicero
A recent review suggests that she also drew on the great duel between Hitler and Churchill, displaced for a while by the appeaser Neville Chamberlain.

That's the overall impression I've always gotten from the books - that they are WWII allegories (Lord of the Rings, too).

90 posted on 07/18/2005 9:15:35 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("Some people are like gravy, spilled on God's Sunday shirt..." -- Spock's Beard)
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To: Junior

The mindless daemon sultan Azathoth lies at the center of nuclear chaos, writhing to the pipings of idiot flute-players.


91 posted on 07/18/2005 9:20:29 AM PDT by Cyclopean Squid (Time is a wonderful teacher; unfortunately, it kills all its pupils. --Hector Berlioz)
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To: Tax-chick

Do you have an "Incredibly Long Screen Names" ping list?

Unhappily, no. Although that's a good idea! I do have the "copy" and "paste" right-click menu which comes in handy for them. LOL!

92 posted on 07/18/2005 9:23:33 AM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: rrstar96
My kids read the Bible ... they also love Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" ... and they love Harry Potter to the point of memorizing the dialogue. I don't have a bit of problem with it because my kids realize that it's fantasy and escapism and not true.

As far as being dark and violent, are they any darker or more violent than the Universal horror films and Hammer horror films (the ones which added color and gore) that I loved when I was a kid, and I'd at least like to THINK that I turned out OK. :)

93 posted on 07/18/2005 9:24:47 AM PDT by GB
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To: pa mom

I'll bite, what was so horrible about Fantastic 4? It seemed really tame to me.


94 posted on 07/18/2005 9:27:29 AM PDT by Melas (The dumber the troll, the longer the thread)
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To: Kitten Festival
This is witchcraft. The witch delights in manipulation -this out of her contempt for light, beauty, and men. At heart, the witch is driven by pure unbridled hatred of the pure, envy, baser desires,  and covetousness. I notice the author of this piece and of the books are both female, yet the author asserts the writings to be the interest of adolescent boys. Can you see how conceited, disingenuous, and disrespectful of man she is? The ones I encounter overly infatuated with these Potter books and story lines are uniformly women and girls.

Where's the danger you might ask? The danger lies in projections and perceptions. The author of the books is projecting when at best she can only perceive. Her main character is a boy and she purports to write from within outwards, something she can not truly do, a complete lie. To deal with every problem the boy (really a girl -projection people) uses convoluted logic and a magical spell to fix everything. This is a very bad foundation for young girls to adhere for it leads to delusion. Skim closer and you will see the soullessness of this women. You might again ask yourself what is it she desires so much that she has to broach it as a man would as though she's a man?

95 posted on 07/18/2005 9:37:28 AM PDT by Chief_Joe (From where the sun now sits, I will fight on -FOREVER!!!)
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To: Tax-chick

I'll take your advice :-)


96 posted on 07/18/2005 9:48:18 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: It's me

no...not really...just pointing out the obvious as to the silliness of this issue....


97 posted on 07/18/2005 9:56:37 AM PDT by smiley
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To: Kitten Festival
There is a basic difference between reading a Harry Potter book and invoking the dark forces.

to assume their is no danger is itself absurd.

98 posted on 07/18/2005 10:01:59 AM PDT by Raycpa
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To: Chief_Joe

You're right. There's no such thing as universal concerns or interests, or the general "human condition." Only an author of the same ethnic group, gender, race, religion, economic class, or handicap-status as the subject can write insightful fiction.


99 posted on 07/18/2005 10:11:15 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Democrats ... frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.)
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To: Tax-chick
I think parents have to be discerning. Some children and teens are spiritually unstable, and reading Harry Potter books may lead them into investigating ritual magic seriously.

My ten year old agrees. I let my children be exposed to culture while taking on the added burden of talking about what the bible says (ie in this case OT bans on witchcraft, and NT advice to not make your neighbor stumble ). In the long run I see this as the best way to protect my children. If they can discern evil and be equiped to consult the bible and use it as direction for their lives, I have accomplished more than out right bans.

While discussing Harry Potter, I asked my youngest son of ten, whether he thought Potter stories could tempt him toward occult activities. His answer was a quick no, followed by a concern that it could affect other children his age. The danger here is not that everyone who reads Potter will become a satanist. The danger is that some will and that Potter will be one link of the chain that leads them there.

100 posted on 07/18/2005 10:13:56 AM PDT by Raycpa
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