Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Harry Isn't Worth It

The last Harry Potter movie is out, and thousands are flocking to the theaters to watch the final chapters of The Deathly Hollows enacted on the big screen. And though I know many who can't wait to see the film, I cannot wait until it's gone. As reflected in the poll, which ended today, many people love these books detailing the life of a boy sorcerer, yet almost as many people are willing to admit that they find them to be dangerous on a much deeper level. Why? How could "children's" books cause spiritual harm?

According to Fr. Gabriele Amorth (Rome's head exorcist), "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of darkness, the devil," (O'Brien 16). To clarify, this is not an accusation against J.K. Rowling; I do not mean to say that she herself is possessed, but her characters use magic and incantations that reflect "satanic arts," (O'Brien 16).

Before I continue, I must remind everyone of an important point. Movies will always water down the message behind the stories, especially when evil is involved. It happened with The Golden Compass- the movie misrepresented the books, causing parents to falsely assume that His Dark Materials Trilogy was safe for their children to read. It's happening again with Harry Potter. Does this mean the movies are fine to see, as long as one does not read the books? No, by going to see the movies one would still be exposing himself to some of the evil contained within the stories.

In order to fully understand the harm these books are causing, it would be helpful to pinpoint the biggest problem. To quote an interview with Michael D. O'Brien, regarding the Potter series, "Certainly, the themes were increasingly violent, although to some degree children’s literature has always had an element of violence. More worrisome was the corrupting of Western civilization’s traditional symbols of good and evil, and also the growing presentation of occult powers as the way to defeat evil, as though occult activities were morally neutral," ( 2). It's the blurring of the line between black and white, right and wrong. Suddenly, the "good" guys aren't so good. They too, use dark magic, cast horrible spells, and do many bad things. But they're nice, and ultimately they end up trying to do right, so without warning young minds are twisted into believing that a little wrongdoing is okay. This can be seen in the Twilight saga as well. The vampires are turned into heroes because they are handsome, their skin is shiny, and they restrain their desire to suck human blood. Yet, even Edward asks, "What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?" (Meyer 92).

Now, many who adore these books love to talk of how well written they are. Yet, what aspect of Rowling's writing is earning so much esteem? "...the Potter stories are actually closer in style to television than to literature. They use in print form the visceral stimuli and pace of the electronic media, flooding the imagination with sensory rewards while leaving it malnourished at the core. In a word, thrills have swept aside wonder..." (O'Brien 17).  So, the readers of these books might not care what they're about. They're simply looking for the emotional and mental high that results after reading them. What a clever disguise...

Still not convinced that these dramatic tales are destructive? I will end with one final quote, "But there are hundreds of other incidents where Harry uses immoral means to destroy his enemies. For example, in an earlier scene one of Voldemort’s servants insults a professor at Hogwarts whom Harry is very fond of. Harry curses him with what is called a “cruciatus” curse — a crucifying curse. It is unspeakable torture; there is no pain like it in the world. Harry just simply decides to crucify him. This is the same Harry who throughout the whole series has lied, has committed violence against others — human enemies, fellow students — sometimes in retaliation for their attacks on him, sometimes to further his cause. Lying is a very big thing all the way through, as well as other kinds of deceiving, uttering hundreds of curses and spells, along with contempt and sneering, violence, bloodshed, death — it goes on and on," ( 10-11)

My advice, obviously, is not to go see the movies, not to read the books, and definitely not to promote them. But I would suggest that those who remain unconvinced go do some research, look into it, and pray about it. These articles helped me:

Michael O'Brien responds to his critics re: Harry Potter
The Potter Controversy: or Why that boy sorcerer just won't go away.

Any other articles on are very helpful. Just click, "Writings on Fantasy." Michael D. O'Brien is a Catholic writer and artist whose opinion I highly respect.

St. Michael the Archangel, Pray for Us!

Works Cited:

Meyer, Stephenie. "Blood Type." Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and, 2006. 92. Print.
O'Brien, Michael D. " - Interview with Lifesite News
Writings on Fantasy - Michael O'Brien." - Home - Michael O'Brien. 26 July 2011. Web. 30 July 2011.

O'Brien, Michael D. "Why That Boy Sorcerer Just Won't Go Away." St. Austin Review July-Aug. 2003: 16-23. Web. 
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  1. I have to disagree, being that I absolutely adore the Harry Potter books and movies, and am still very much in love with my faith too. So I mean no disrespect :)

    I hear a lot about how something bad influences one to be bad themselves. Personally, I do not find myself wishing to practice magic from reading these books, torture anyone from reading these books, or applaud anyone who lies all the time. Yes, Harry is a flawed character, but one can recognize those times that he has chosen wrong. And this presents a learning experience.

    I will consent that these are definitely not children's books. I started reading the first ones when I was ten, but if ten year olds go through the whole series, poor examples will be presented to them. I myself often seek out opposing viewpoints so I can form my own opinions and be educated on matters that are sometimes controversial. Just because the characters in this series are not always good, though, doesn't mean one should not read the books.

    I will argue that the writing style is good. Of course it's not literature, but it is entertaining. I do not like it only for the action -- on the contrary, my favorite parts are the character development: watching characters grow through their struggles.

    The lines between good and evil are kept strong in the end, and whenever characters have done something wrong, there is always regret.

    The Cruciatus Curse is one of the 3 illegal wizarding spells, and they're illegal for a reason. There are things that are illegal in our society, but people still do them. That doesn't necessarily make those people bad, if they repent, but it also doesn't necessarily make the viewers begin to see those acts as "OK."

    So...I think that's all I have to say for now, but I do think the Harry Potter books can be a great learning experience for older readers. I find them entertaining, and find something to like in all the characters (though I find something more to hate in all the evil characters).

    --Liz B

  2. Hey Liz!

    I do not see the need to add any additional comments since my opinion is clear in the post. I do respect your opinion, though, and thank you for commenting!

    God Bless!

  3. I partially agree with what you said. I do not believe the books cause people to become interested in witchcraft, but they do encourage bad conduct to some extent. For example, the scene you mentioned where Harry Potter tortures a person for insulting a teacher at his high school he does not like, that seems to encourage bad behavior in people to me. There are other scenes where Harry Potter is shown speaking disdainfully of his human family, the Dursleys, it seems to encourage disrespect to me. Harry also bullies his nemesis Draco Malfoy back throughout the series, that also seems to encourage bad conduct to me. One of the "good" characters, Professor Snape, is an extremely spiteful, petty, and vindictive person. I think it's troubling that such a character would be a hero in the book.


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