Harry Potter Will Not Build Our Nation (26 June 2003)

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Dear Sir

Harry Potter mania has struck again as the fifth in the series of children’s novels was launched at midnight on the summer solstice (in the Northern hemisphere) 21 July 2003. Despite its hefty price (almost R270), Exclusive Books in Cavendish Square, Cape Town admitted that they had sold 1000 copies in the first two days.

We are really concerned about the effect of this series on the youth. Proponents of the Potter books say that they promote courage, loyalty and friendship. This is not surprising – a story line is unlikely to work if it completely excludes Christian values. However, an examination of the books reveals that despite the presence of some good values, there is also cruelty, revenge, hatred, terror, fear, rebellion against authorities, lying, cheating, stealing, gossip and even punishment for appearing happy. Ironically, despite these characteristics, the “good” characters end up looking good simply because the “bad” characters are so bad. Will Potter teach the youth noble values, or bad attitudes and behaviour?

JK Rowling depicts the “real” world as grey and boring, populated by unattractive, uncreative and narrow-minded people (unaffectionately named “muggles”). The “fantasy” world of witchcraft is painted in vivid colour and is full of fascinating people, ideas and events. In contrast, the Bible teaches us to love Almighty God and our real life neighbour. In Deuteronomy 18, God made it clear that divination, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft and consulting the dead makes a nation detestable to Him. If fed a diet of Harry Potter, will the youth want to serve God and others in the real world, or seek escape and power in the realm of witchcraft?

Although Potter is helped by a number of people (and creatures and spirits), he is also attacked by numerous individuals (and creatures and spirits). His only hope appears to be to learn more witchcraft to defend himself. He seems to have little sense of sin, his concerns about his actions being limited to the potential negative consequences to himself. He certainly has no sense of being accountable to even a Higher Power. Professor Quirrell told Harry, "There is no good or evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."

Potter’s “white” magic includes extensive contact with supernatural spirits (including Nearly Headless Nick and Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher), making drugs (described as “the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses, I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death.”), and a plethora of spells, curses, charms, potions, poisons and divination. Do we want the next generation to highly value drugs and occultism?

Parents should carefully consider the material and values their children are being exposed to. There are plenty of wholesome books available to build strong minds and characters. We need to take God’s warnings about witchcraft seriously. If we choose to reject His commands and shake our fist in His face, we cannot expect that God will bless Africa.

Jeanine McGill
National Co-ordinator

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa [email protected] - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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