It was too late when I received an urgent e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org warning me about “the curse of an abomination with which Satan seeks to fill our land.”
Naturally I assumed it would be a prophetic word against racism, sexism or materialism, but as I read further I was shocked to learn that parents are encouraging their children in “a demonic recruitment into Satanism and witchcraft of mass proportions” (a threat presumably even greater than that posed by the Smurfs). These foolish parents are taking their children to see a movie that “makes demonic possession look harmless, useful, even funny.”
If only email@example.com had warned us earlier. You see, and I hesitate to admit this, my family and I went to see “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” We honestly didn’t feel like we were participating in a “massive demonic assault against our children and families.” (As a rule, Carol and I try to steer clear of demonic assaults against our children.)
In fact—and I say this knowing that I am endangering your immortal soul—it seemed like fun. But now I realize how blind I was! When the movie didn’t start on time a group of very young girls started chanting “Harry Potter, Harry Potter.” It seemed innocuous, but they were obviously trying to lure other second-graders into their coven. I had what I thought was a harmless conversation with a guy in front of me about why Steven Spielberg didn’t direct Harry Potter. He seemed like a nice person, but he must have been recruiting me into a Spielberg-worshipping cult.
Or maybe the lesson we need to remember is that sometimes Christians are goofy. Last year, the Arkansas Baptist Convention passed a resolution condemning the Harry Potter books and movie. (There is still no word on how Arkansas Baptists feel about The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland or The Chronicles of Narnia.) Fundamentalists have led school districts to ban the books.
This has become one of those occasions on which well-meaning Christians should be ignored. We can only hope that non-Christians don’t paint us all with the same brush. Judging Christianity by firstname.lastname@example.org is like judging music by the Backstreet Boys, art by a Precious Moments catalogue, Mexican food by Taco Bell, or preaching by, well, use your imagination.
As followers of the one who said, “I am truth,” we keep looking for truth wherever we can find it. The Harry Potter books are not about brooms, potions and chocolate frogs, so much as they are about loyalty, loneliness and love. What’s magical about Harry Potter is that it takes readers into the world of imagination and the wonder of story.
I’m not sure how to respond to email@example.com. I may write:
“Dear P2ViC, I know you’re not going to like this, but I saw the movie and thought it was OK (not as good as the book). You might want to consider lightening up. You are, of course, right that there are real enemies of God’s grace out there, but Harry isn’t one of them. Have you thought about going after the Wiggles?”
Brett Younger is pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.