I suppose this is a follow-on from my post last week, Catholic-tinted Glasses. Earlier in the week, I was looking for any good websites that discussed or reviewed movies from a spiritual perspective.
While perusing the web I found an awesome Christian site (in fact, I’m pretty sure the main reviewer is Catholic) called Decent Films Guide which rates movies on their Moral Value and Artistic Value before giving them an Overall Rating. On the site I stumbled upon an article called Harry Potter vs. Gandalf: Magic in JK Rowling, Tolkien, and CS Lewis. I’m a huge Lewis fan, I enjoy Tolkien and I have been a Potter-maniac in the past, so this article sounded quite interesting.
I have a good friend who I often talk to about this issue: is fictional magic OK to read about/watch in movies? I personally believe Narnia and Lord of the Rings are spectacular Christian series, though I’ve always been unsure about Harry Potter. Praise the Lord – this article answers all my questions!
The writer covers a lot, but central to his discussion are seven characteristics he identifies in the writings of Lewis and Tolkien which are “in effect saying ‘Magic is not for the likes of us’“. They are:
- Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to wholly imaginary realms, with place-names like Middle-earth and Narnia.
- The existence of magic is an openly known reality of which the inhabitants of those worlds are as aware as we are of rocket science — even if most of them might have as little chance of actually encountering magic as most of us would of riding in the space shuttle.
- Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are numbered among the supporting cast, not the protagonists with whom the reader is primarily to identify.
- Tolkien and Lewis include cautionary threads in which exposure to magical forces proves to be a corrupting influence on their protagonists.
- Tolkien and Lewis confine the pursuit of magic as a safe and lawful occupation to characters who are not in fact human beings.
- Tolkien and Lewis emphasize the pursuit of magic as the safe and lawful occupation of characters who, in appearance, stature, behavior, and role, embody a certain wizard archetype — white-haired old men with beards and robes and staffs, mysterious, remote, unapproachable, who serve to guide and mentor the heroes.
- Tolkien and Lewis devote no narrative space to the process by which their magical specialists acquire their magical prowess… the wizard appears as a finished product with powers in place, and the reader is not in the least encouraged to think about or dwell on the process of acquiring prowess in magic.
You may notice that Harry Potter has none of these seven ‘barriers’. This doesn’t mean that Harry Potter is evil – it means that it should simply be read with an awareness that magic is not for us, and we should never play with it. So if children (or anyone not aware of this) are reading Harry Potter, watching the movies, or any other magical entertainment, let them know the dangers involved.
Wait, what dangers are involved? Oh yea, I didn’t mention it but magic is real – and evil. God has given us charismatic gifts, and the devil has made a cheap imitation of these gifts. Tarot, seances, talking to spirits, witchcraft, reading tea leaves, all magic is evil and is extremely dangerous to your soul.
So it’s good to know what’s what. Don’t go running around screaming that anyone who mentions the word magic is evil, but be aware. And understand that most people probably won’t agree with you if you start telling them all this over a cup of tea – pray, suggest they read this article, pray, be available for questions, pray.
Jesus will sort it all out in the end!
God bless you all,