>Because the Cool Kids are doing it…. (oh, no spoilers, too)
The Magic of Harry Potter, and Why it’s Not Biblically Evil
Exodus 22:17 : You Shall Not Let A Sorceress Live
(all quotes from New American Bible, c 1987, Nihil Obstat and Imprimature listed)
Now, why would it say that? Well, if you go to Deuteronomy 18:10-11, it says: Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead.
These are all pretty good examples of idolatry– putting something above God, either by sacrifice or by trying to do an end-run around God. Other than the first or possibly the caster of spells one, they are all attempts to gain knowledge beyond the norm; the other two do material harm to others.
Harry Potter talks to Nearly Headless Nick, he waves his wand around, he takes Divination– aren’t I making the exact point I’m arguing against?
Only if you are glancing at the words and making snap judgments. Hardly a very Christian thing to do, when you’re trying to figure out if someone has committed a grave sin. Honestly, I think most of the problems stem from the English language being so much different than ancient Hebrew.
Consulting with Ghosts: I’m guessing we’re all familiar with King Saul getting a medium– a witch, a consulter of the dead– to speak to Samuel. (Goggle “witch of Endor” if not.) He finds someone who can call ghosts from their rest in order to try to get information that isn’t available via human means. This is much different than an imaginary world where some people, after death, are not ready to move on to the Hereafter– the “ghosts” of Harry Potter could be elves, fairies, aliens, or just about anything else; they are ghosts because it is a classic English story-item to have immaterial, faded forms of those long dead haunting old buildings, especially if they died by bad means.
So Potter isn’t guilty of consulting ghosts and spirits, Biblically.
Casting Spells— What is Biblical magic? It’s gotten by making pacts with powerful, mystic beings. What is Harry Potter magic? An apparently genetic quirk.
Bible magic: can be acquired by anyone; only evil beings would give it to you.
Potter magic: natural born ability that must be trained for the safety of everyone around the Wizarding folks; can be put to good or bad uses. (See earlier post on wands=guns.)
If the magic isn’t morally the same, then the spells cast via the magic will also not be the same. So he’s not guilty of that one. (Open to possible arguments on the subject of Unforgivables.)
Divination (and all the other flavors): This one is probably the most solid accusation, seeing as they read tea leaves, use crystal balls and various other things at Hogwarts itself– there’s an entire class devoted to it! One small problem: even at Hogwarts, it doesn’t work. (Please notice the scorn heaped on it by Hermione, and the utter boredom that everyone else save the flakes has– and the dozens of predictions that don’t pan out. If anything, I think the lady author has managed to make it less interesting than the real world version.)
The only valid prophecies that we see are spontaneous, unsought, and the Prophet doesn’t even know it’s happening– a plot point, in fact. (As is all of the magic in the Potterverse.) It’s even given as the only reason that they HAVE a Divination class– Dumbledore needed some excuse to keep the woman who made the real prophecies around. There is no calling on those who have gone beyond the veil, there’s no Ouija board even. Most importantly, there is no actual information to be had at will, and those who think there is are shown as deluded fools.
Now, tea leaf reading in the real world is something I refuse to touch– my grandmother had a nasty run-in with it. So bad that she doesn’t allow non-fiction in her house– and that includes Disney. If something happened that was strong enough to make my very pragmatic, Scottish grandmother scared for the better part of a centry… well, I’ll give it LOTS of space. Once again, however, things are different in the Potterverse, due to the nature of magic being different. If there were demons and powers to be called on, we can be sure that Voldemort would have done so– it didn’t fit into the story, though, so it doesn’t exist in this fictional world.
Seeing as the Divination in the Potterverse is much different than in the real one– and that she goes to great lengths to make sure that it’s not made to look cool, or charming or even funny, just rather pathetic… we can find Potter not guilty on the charge of divination, etc.
Conclusion: Harry Potter does not fit the Biblical standards of a ghost-caller, a curser or a fortune-teller. Therefore, we are free to decide if we find them right for ourselves and our children– but should refrain from calumny against those who find it does not damage their faith, and who can find the good themes in the story.