Christian Fantasy & Harry Potter

So we’ve known for years that some fundamentalist Christians disapprove of the Harry Potter series because it depicts humans using magic. It seems to me that this stance is uniquely fantastical: Magic is only to be feared if it’s real, right? This just confirms my feeling that believing in witches, warlocks, and quidditch is not so different from believing an old man in the sky impregnated a peasant girl and the resulting child rose from the dead a few decades later.

In anticipation of the release of the last Harry book this Saturday (yep, I’ve pre-ordered my copy), the Washingon Post reports on alternative Chrisitian fantasy books. Although even James Dobson believes J.K. Rowling‘s series is a positive moral influence on children, some literalists disagree:

The use of magical powers by humans is a controversial theme for Christian writers and readers. They cite this biblical verse from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament: "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead."

The writers of the Old Testament clearly believed sorcery was a real, powerful force for evil in the world. Why would contemporary religious people stigmatize themselves by continuing this line of reasoning?

Kids (and the young at heart!) effing love Harry Potter. In "Jesus Camp," the documentary about fundamentalist Christian children’s programs, preachers scream at kids that Harry stands alongside the devil. But as the film depicts, just a few minutes later while eating lunch, the children buzz about which person’s glasses are more like Harry’s and who has seen the most recent Potter film. And I think this is why, like Matt Yglesias, I’m totally sick of all the bitter Potter critics. It isn’t often that a piece of pop culture comes along and truly unites so many of us in delight.

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