I just finished reading all seven Harry Potter books, an endeavor that took almost a year thanks to the fact that I was attending Bible school, traveling like a maniac, moving, working, going to school, and more.
Some of you may be gasping, “She read Harry Potter at Bible school??” Yes. Yes, I did. *More horrified gasping* “Why?” Well, as it so happens, Harry Potter has become a huge part of the youth culture in the world today, churched and unchurched alike. It has been a formative part of many people’s world-views, morally and socially. Even though I’d never read the books, the fact that I use the internet on a regular basis meant that I was aware of the basic plot line. However, the fact that I had not read the books was a hindrance in weighing in fairly in conversations regarding Harry Potter.
Honestly, the only argument I ever heard against reading Harry Potter had to do with the use of magic in the books. Here’s what I discovered: big deal. The magic isn’t the issue. How the magic was used wasn’t even the issue. What I took issue with was the greater theme of “the end justifies the means”. There were some really good themes in the books, loyalty, friendship, and ultimately that love is the most powerful force in the world – more powerful than magic. These are all great things, but even in the midst of those things I found sections where Harry and his friends mislead people in order to eventually defeat the evil Voldemort. Forgive me for not providing specific examples, the drawn out amount of time I took to read the books has confused the order of the stories a bit in my mind and caused me to remember an outline of the stories rather than specific moments.
This is the same problem that I found when reading the 13 books in A Series of Unfortunate Events, books that have never been publicly criticized or condemned by the church. I find this subtle “end justifies the means” theme to be much more dangerous than an outright use of magic (the source of which is never really discussed in the Harry Potter books, demonic/scientific/whatever, it is simply presented as a tool that can be used for good or evil). Now, I’m not saying that the presence of this theme in both of these series means that they should be thrown out, avoided, or condemned. No, if you are aware of this theme, or simply go into the books with some critical thinking skills then go ahead and read them! They’re decently written, now I have read better than both A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter, but they make for an interesting and entertaining read.
Please, don’t hate me for this. I say all of this with no ill-will towards J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, or any fans of these series (Some of my best friends LOVE these books and I love them). I am simply providing my honest opinion after having read all seven books Harry Potter books and seeing all eight movies, as well as reading all thirteen Series of Unfortunate Events books and seeing the movie. There’s more I could say, I’m sure, but I didn’t take notes while reading either but that’s not the point. Most of the time the things that are most dangerous in our lives are subtle. The use of magic evokes a far stronger reaction than saying that the end justifies the means. Does that make magic worse? No. In fact, I think the second is far more dangerous than the first. It’s far more pervasive in our culture and creates a moral snowball effect. My point is simply, don’t shut your brain off when you start reading. Be aware of what you’re putting into your head and how it might be influencing the way you think.
I’m completely open to hearing your thoughts, opinion, comments, whatnot. In fact, I’d love it. Just don’t get angry, people who get angry online just look silly.