Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me

By

I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books. There. I said it. Whenever I visit a bookstore I can’t resist a walk through the Young Readers section, where my heart flutters at cover illustrations of dragons and detectives and ghosts and kids dashing across fantastic landscapes. I’ve always loved those stories, and many times I take the books from the shelves and, with chills running up and down my arms, thumb through them. Sometimes I even smell them. (There. I said that, too.)

Years ago, on one of my trips through the kids’ section I noticed a book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It looked cool, and the jacket indicated that it had won a few awards. A year or so later I saw the second book, this one on display. By the time I spotted Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the shelves the buzz was loud enough that I decided to buy the first book. I read it, and although it had some great moments, I wasn’t hooked. But at the time I was writing On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and was learning so much so quickly about writing, I already knew North! Or Be Eaten would be a better book. I desperately hoped my readers would stick with me through my first faltering attempt at fiction because I had a much bigger story to tell.

So I decided to give this “J.K. Rowling” person the benefit of the doubt, as I hoped my readers would do for me. I read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and liked it better than the first book. I began to get glimpses of the scope of this story, sensed a gigantic framework beneath its surface, and bought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as it released. That was the book that did it. Rowling was no longer messing around. She convinced me with that book that she could tell a story, that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were characters I cared about, and I realized that she had created a world I adored. I’m as enchanted by Hogwarts as Rivendell. At the end of each book, when Harry found himself stuck again at the Dursleys, I grieved with him, because his time there was like my time waiting for the next story, waiting for Hagrid to show up and sweep me away into a magical world again. Opening the first page of a new Harry Potter book was like boarding the Hogwarts Express. I’m being totally serious. Well, after reading book three, I was one of the first in line to buy each new one.

Then one day about ten years ago, when I was on tour with a singer/songwriter named Fernando Ortega, I spent a few hours at a Barnes & Noble in Oregon (I think) and a guy in a bowtie was giving an author talk to a smattering of people. I slipped into the back row and listened as he lauded the virtues of the Harry Potter books, and even—gasp!—went so far as to argue that they were distinctly Christian in theme. I was fascinated, especially in light of the rumblings and grumblings I’d heard about the books from Christians. It helped me to understand why my spirit seemed to tingle when I read the books. That day I met John Granger, bought his book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, and was even more hooked than I was before. He pointed out so many interesting themes, archetypes, alchemical nuances, and even direct quotes from Rowling herself about the Christian content in the books that I became more frustrated and mystified than ever by the outcry from Christians against the books. As weird as it sounds, I felt bad for Rowling. She was working hard, telling a great story, lighting up my imagination like few authors ever have (I’ll let you guess which), and she was being demonized by the church I love–the church of which she was supposedly a part. I kept wishing there was a way I could send her a message that said something like this:

Dear Ms. Rowling,

I think it’s remarkable what you’ve done. I love your imagination. I love your characterization and your sense of humor. I love that you’re telling a story about choosing the right thing, even when it’s hard. I love that you’re telling a story that is full of wisdom, a story that reminds me how evil Evil is. Most of all, I love that your story reminds me that light is stronger than darkness, that the best way to love is to lay your life down, and that Death will not have the final say. By the way, I’m a follower of Christ, and I see him in your story. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not, but you should know that he’s in there. In fact, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to say that reading your books has helped me to praise him even more for his courage, his sacrifice, and his strength to conquer the hosts of hell to save us.

Sincerely,

Andrew Peterson

I don’t think the Harry Potter books are perfect. I don’t think they’re the greatest books ever written. Whether or not they stand the test of time like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings remains to be seen (though I suspect they will). But I was swept into the story in a way that very few books have ever done for me. When Ben Shive and I were touring in Sweden I actually heard him crying in the next room as he finished Half-Blood Prince. (Don’t tell him I told you that.) Some of you may have heard me tell this story, but for the sake of those who haven’t: when I finished Deathly Hallows I was opening for Fernando again (this was years and years after the tour I mentioned earlier–creepy how this all revolves around Fernando). I read the last, bittersweet pages of the book and was deeply moved. But it wasn’t until later that I broke. I finished my opening set that night and settled in to listen to Fernando. He was playing piano along with a string quartet, marching through a stirring arrangement of “Crown Him With Many Crowns”. In the back of the dark, crowded room I sang,

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o’er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died, eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

I couldn’t get Harry’s story out of my head. I doubled over in the back of the auditorium and sobbed with gratitude to Jesus for allowing his body to be ruined, for facing the enemy alone, for laying down his life for his friends–Jesus, my friend, brother, hero, and king–Jesus, the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave–who lives that death may die! Even now, writing those words, my heart catches in my throat. In that moment I was able, because of these books, to worship Christ in a way I never had.

Let me be clear: Harry Potter is NOT Jesus. This story isn’t inspired, at least not in the sense that Scripture is inspired; but because I believe that all truth is God’s truth, that the resurrection is at the heart of the Christian story, and the main character of the Christian story is Christ, because I believe in God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only begotten son—and because I believe that he inhabits my heart and has adopted me as his son, into his family, his kingdom, his church—I have the freedom to rejoice in the Harry Potter story, because even there, Christ is King. Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it. Lewis reminds me that even Father Christmas is subject to Jesus, just as in Prince Caspian the hosts of mythology are subject to him. The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave.

C.S. Lewis had some strange theological ideas. I still read and love his work. George MacDonald was a universalist. His book are still instructive and beautiful. Tolkien had his own theological failings. After watching the fiery debate over the Harry Potter books, I wonder if any novel, Christian or otherwise, could withstand the theological nitpicking that’s been inflicted on Rowling, either in the work itself or the author’s worldview. Of course the books aren’t perfect; of course, in a seven-volume saga, there will be inconsistencies, theological inaccuracies, moments of inconsistency; of course Rowling’s worldview isn’t going to align perfectly with yours. If you only read books that met those criteria your list would be short indeed.

But listen: we’re free to enjoy the good and the beautiful, even from the most unlikely places. We’re free—and this is huge—to look for the light in people (and things!), to give them the benefit of the doubt, to laud their beauty, to outlove unloveliness–in short, to love as Christ loves us. That includes billionaire authors like J.K. Rowling. She didn’t grow up in the Bible Belt of America; she grew up in England. And yet, in defiance of a culture that tends to snub its nose at Christianity, she wrote a story that contains powerful redemptive themes, stirs a longing for life after death, piques the staunchest atheist’s suspicion that there just might be something beyond the veil, and plainly shows evil for what it is—and not just evil, but love’s triumph over it.

As for the witchcraft debate, I heave a weary sigh. No, God doesn’t want us to practice witchcraft. Of course he doesn’t. I’ve read arguments on both sides of this, and believe we could spar for days without doing a lick of good. (By the way, no debate is raging over Glenda the Good Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. Most Americans have probably seen that film and/or read that book, and didn’t start conducting seances on the weekends—though the flying monkeys have creeped me out for years. And Oz, when compared to Potter, is practically bereft of Christian meaning.)

I have a lot of friends who have quite different theological opinions than I do, but we extend each other grace in matters of baptism, communion, predestination, etc. We do our best to love each other well, and celebrate Christ’s lordship over our differences. Life works better that way. They’ll know we’re Christians by our love–for each other and for famous authors. If I have to choose between grace or law, there’s no question where I’ll make my home. It’s possible to win an argument and still be wrong, just as it’s possible to lose an argument and be right. When I got out of Bible college I thought I knew it all. I thought my calling was to be a watchdog for my faith and the faith of those around me. I thought Scripture was for prooftexting, as if 1) I was smart enough to nail it down and 2) it could be nailed down at all. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad there are systematic theologians out there. Theology is important. But so is poetry. Math is important. But so is painting. Truth is important. So is grace. We should be people of both. All truth and no grace is no better than all grace and no truth. That means we keep our discernment and wisdom, but we do so without fear or anger. In all things, love. In all things, Christ—who is full of grace and truth.

So in my post-Bible college years, after getting into a few humbling (and humiliating) debates over doctrine, I realized that my calling wasn’t to proof-text or to argue. I washed my hands of it. “What is truth?” asked Pilate. Jesus himself was the silent answer. So in my music and my writing and in my daily life, I want to learn to let Christ’s very presence—the fact of it—be my answer. His last promise before the Ascension was that he would be with us, to the end of the age. That promise gives me a great deal of peace. What have I to fear?

Early on in the Rabbit Room I decided this wouldn’t be a place for negative reviews (Thomas’s occasionally negative film reviews nothwithstanding—though those are usually for the sake of saving you money and/or brain cells, or, let’s face it, making us laugh). That’s not just so we can be touchy-feely and nice. It’s because, of the millions of websites in the world, I want this one to be about beauty, truth, and goodness. It’s a site dedicated to finding those things in the unlikeliest places, and praising God for the infinite reach of his Word, the tremors of his death and resurrection shaking the foundations of the universe so that the dead (like us) climb out of their tombs and walk around. For us in the Age of the Church on earth, we get the privilege of proclaiming his story, of looking for its glimmers like men hunched over a river and panning for gold, pointing it out, whooping for joy, glorying in the grace of the King.

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


237 Comments

  1. Justin

    Ok. Im intrigued enough now to begin reading the series. Saw the first movie and thought “Eh.” But books are always better and I am willing to give it a shot if they are as good as you say. Loved On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness so I figure I will probably like it.

  2. Matt

    So many of the same thoughts I have had developing over these years, but you have a way of putting them into words that I do not. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and helping me to organize and share my own.

  3. John Leek

    Thank you for this Andrew. I love that I can see your increasingly Christ formed heart. Counting Stars is beautiful and remains one of my very favorite albums.

  4. JD McCrickard

    Andrew:

    In one of the earliest books, Dumbeldore tells Harry that “love is the most powerful magic of all.” As I read that it reminded me that God’s truth exists in unexpected places. Things for saying what I have felt for years.

    So what about Twilight?

    David…

  5. FishMama

    Thank you! I had heard all the grumblings years ago and believed them. At the urging of my children — and much thought — we delved in as a family last summer. We finished Book 7 last week. It has been a wonderful year. Loved your reference to Harry a few months ago. It gave me courage to keep on.

    I’m so glad that I didn’t miss out on these stories. You said everything I feel about them. You do that quite well and quite often, actually.

  6. Sally

    Your first three sentences are lines I have actually said. Many times.

    I love the fact that Harry Potter’s parents sacrificed themselves for him. And that he bears a scar as a reminder of that sacrifice. I love the fact that Harry Potter is so human that he makes both good and bad choices, but in the end good/love wins. (Hmmm… “Love Wins”… now there’s a title for a book)

    I have felt angry when people in our conservative little church stood up and quoted “The Onion”, yes, “THE ONION”!! as proof that Harry Potter is leading children astray.

    I felt hypocritical that my children had to be closet Harry Potter readers with their church friends, unable to discuss this great story.

    Thank you so much for writing this and acknowledging the great story J. K Rowlings has told. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great story.

  7. Gina

    “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” Proverbs 15:23 What a graceful and moving post, Andrew! Thanks.

  8. Chris Yokel

    Thanks for encapsulating exactly how I feel about the series. I’m very excited that my first midnight showing ever will be seeing Deathly Hallows 2 on Thursday night!

  9. John Barber

    Yeah, man. This is exactly right. It’s hard to come up with a comment, because there isn’t much to add.

    And the Santa Claus thing gets me every time, too.

  10. Bobbi Standish

    I love your writing, I love this site. Just looking for the wording on a favorite quote from George McDonald and found this web site.! It is difficult to put into words, ( I am not a writer-author) how deeply my spirit and imagination is in tune with the love and appreciation expressed here for these great authors and how for me also they echo the Jesus I know and love. Please know that I am so lifted up just to know that you have created this site and will return often. Thanks so very much.
    P S
    In C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, also is amazing in its wisdom concerning mythology. I understood it in a whole different light.

  11. Jeff Miller

    Man, skippy! That’s one fantastic blog post AP. I hope all kinds of folks read it. And cheers to this small corner of the web!

  12. Joy

    I’ll be very honest, I have not read any of your books. Not out of lack of desire, but lack of funds! But in the meantime to getting the money, I have been enjoying the things posted through your Facebook, your reviews and views on the CCM scene, etc.

    All that said, just this morning I was reading a view put up from PluggedIn Online, about the thought that Harry Potter (and children’s literature in general) is creating unhappiness, or dissatisfaction, or something like that, in kids today. The first thought I had was, what about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe? There have been kids all over the world who have, since they read that book, been looking in wardrobes, behind doors, in closets, etc. hoping to stumble upon Narnia. I’m one of them! I think it would be a travesty to try to take fantasy literature from kids. . .It was my lifeline in an abusive childhood. I knew it wasn’t real, but it gave me something more than my world at the time offered. . .

  13. Kimberly

    Thanks for reminding me once again why I love teaching literature and language. Christ is in every book I teach, and I love pointing Him out to my students…even in a public school!

  14. Sweetie Berry

    As a former gifted educator, I enjoyed teaching and sharing books such as Harry Potter and many other stories that featured magic, witchcraft, and fantasy. They stimulated the mind and many many classroom discussions. I was raised to think it was only make believe and harmless as long as kept in boundaries. When Les and I married he had very different beliefs regarding anything to do with witchcraft, in jest or in stories. I don’t know where the “correct” line is, but I have chosen to honor my husband by not allowing works that go against the grain of his deeply seeded beliefs in our home. We allowed the children to read HP when schools did, but with much discussion of why we felt even fantasizing about witchcraft and sorcery was not where we hoped they would focus in their free time. I don’t know that the stories themselves are leading anyone, but I have a difficult time with the part of the Bible Gal 5:18-21 personally…to include knowingly what can be perceived as exposure and education to a young mind of what something the Bible says so clearly we are not to engage in. My heart and my mind know that the battle is spiritual, and that some fantasy characters are soft sells of darkness that exists, yet if we over protect our children, they are in no way shape or form ready to fight the darkness either. It is an ongoing journey, each one of us called to what God gives us peace over in relationship with Him is my bottom line. Exceptional post Randy, I always value and appreciate your conversations!

  15. Colter Jones

    Beautifully crafted. Couldn’t agree with you more. However, you didn’t have to mention the flying monkeys. Here goes another restless night.

  16. Drew

    Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it.

    Though it never really did much for me in the book, when I saw the film version, the scene with Father Christmas went right to my heart in a way I can’t explain. I got that tingly feeling all up in my sinuses that tells me I’m about to lose composure in front of everybody and bawl like a baby.

  17. Sweetie Berry

    Ah, Randy Elrod shared the link and I mistakenly thought it was his writing, Sorry Andrew!

  18. Tony from Pandora

    I didn’t start the first book until after the last book came out. I’m sad that I didn’t start earlier, but happy that I didn’t have to wait months and months for the next book to come out.

    This was a great post. Thanks…

    P.S. I think more things should revolve around Fernando Ortega.

  19. Chase Stephenson

    LOVE THIS POST! But, lets be honest Andrew, looking at the camera for your profile pic would have been polite. By the way, I gave you a ride home after Behold the Lamb at Southwood Pres. this past Christmas. During our car ride I told you about a beautiful girl named Holly that I wanted to marry. Well, guess what! We’re getting married Oct. 15!! Then moving to Nashville to be your best friends. That’s all.

  20. CyndaP

    This explains why I never worried about my children reading Harry Porter after I read the first one. All I could ever say was that the witchcraft and wizardry wasn’t the evil in the story. This articulates exactly what I knew. One of the many reasons I come to the Rabbit Room is the sense of beauty, truth and goodness that is found all around us. Thank you for that gift.

  21. kelli

    I read this and realized my head was nodding through the whole thing.

    You have captured the essence of these books perfectly and delivered it in such beautiful completeness.

  22. Mark Tumney

    Beautifully written and considered. Thank you, Andrew. I’ll be passing a link to your blog along to a few of the parents in my congregation.

  23. John Christopher

    Thank you, AP. Beautifully written and I agree so very much. It’s sad that ignorance has robbed so many people of the chance to enjoy this amazing story. The Triumph of Good is not a popular theme in any story telling medium anymore, and the fact that it is so essential to Harry Potter’s life makes it even more tragic that the church has judged him Evil.

  24. JJ

    Sums up my feelings exactly.

    I’ll be at the midnight showing with a bunch of friends from church, most likely including one of my pastors and his kids. I’m happy to be able to share this moment with beloved Christian brothers and sisters. It’s sad to think others can’t do that.

  25. Christy

    I too am as enchanted with Hogwarts and I am Rivendell. This is one of the best posts I have seem that capture some of the same feelings I have had. JK Rowling created an amazing world full of memorable characters.

    This is one of my favorite things you have written here. 🙂

  26. Jamie Soles

    Good stuff, Andrew!

    I became convinced by about the end of book 4 that she was not just telling a good story, she was telling a positively Christian one. Book seven was vindication in spades.

  27. Paul M.

    Last week I finished book #1 and like you Andrew am not hooked, but already have book #2 and eagerly wait to dig in. For years I listened to the church slam Harry and this was enough to keep me away, though I wondered what all the excitement was about. I can now say that I see a great story of good versus evil brewing and Harry is on the good side. Nothing wrong in my eyes!

  28. Drew

    I had never considered the HP series as particularly Christian, though I certainly recognized the truths in it. However, a good friend of mine — a lapsed Catholic who hasn’t been to church in decades — clearly recognized the resurrection story in the final book. “So Harry Potter is Jesus!” he announced one day at lunch, catching me quite off-guard. Needless to say, that certainly opened the conversational door . . .

  29. Anon-y-girl

    I remember when the books first came out. Brothers and sisters whom I had great love and respect for were writing letters to the editor and speaking out against them. Even my husband was warning me against reading them, saying I could come away with more than I had intended to (meaning a curse of evil influence). I was very confused by all this: the same people read other fantasy novels, and praised Tolkien and CS Lewis and to some extent Star Wars. How is Gandalf’s and Aslan’s magic acceptable and Harry’s not?

    Long story short, I didn’t read them, even though I suspected that they were something very special and that I was missing it. I’m looking forward now to finally finding out for myself. Thanks for sharing, Andrew.

  30. Amy (One Day Closer)

    Your post is fair, honest, moving, and Truth-full. Thank you for writing it.

    We started watching the HP movies here, but the darkness is beyond what my soul can sit through. I should mention that I can’t watch LOTR either. It’s just too dark for me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate their presence in our culture, and of course comparing books to movies is apples and oranges. I may pick up the books someday.

    Here in our home we have to draw some lines in the sand that other people don’t. Our family is touched by witchcraft, our daughter’s birthmom practices wicca. We are, perhaps, a little more engaged in spiritual warfare than the average Christian? I don’t know. Maybe not. I’ve tasted enough of it to know I want to avoid it at all costs, so because of this I think I find it more difficult to be entertained by it. Maybe the same way that someone coming out of child slavery would be disturbed by the Fork! Factory!?

    I just wanted to say that not all hesitancy by Christians is motivated by closed-mindedness, or an obsession with the law. While all is permissible, not all is beneficial. At least not for everyone all the time.

    Thanks again for your article! I appreciate that you have taken this position, and have articulated yourself well. You’ve chosen to stand in a gap that not all of us can. Thank you.

  31. Ashley

    I’ve spent the past 7 years becoming an aspiring “Potter Pundit” and John Granger was my first source for the Christian symbolism. He’s a real super guy to meet in person, too! I have spent so many times weeping because of these stories and the Christian truth they pulled out of my spirit. It blows my mind to think about how many people who have been put on the doormat (if you will) of the Gospel by reading Harry’s story. I’ve gotten to have really great spiritual conversations w/others, that without the spring board of the story, probably would’ve made it a lot more difficult.

    I say all that to say this:

    YES! I’m glad you like those, too. 🙂

  32. Nate

    I LOVE the books, but it is so sad to see what the world has taken out of them. I see kids running around pretending to cast spells on each other. It is very sad to see the kids of today, being brought up in the wrong light. I’m 16 and I love your books way better than JK’s! Our Dad read them to us and we made dugtown (we own 3 acres of woods) and had many adventures with Janner and Tink! I would recomend to books to a “Grounded Christian. Thanks for the reminder of God’s true and everlasting love!!!

  33. PhoenixQuill

    Thanks so much, Andrew! I’ve probably lost count of the number of times I have tried to explain to people how good and (may I say it?) godly the Potter books are. Because after the seventh book it is SO difficult not to see the themes of Christianity in them (not that the themes weren’t obvious all the way though. Isn’t hindsight wonderful?)

    “Ah, music, A magic far beyond all we do here!” ( Sorcerer’s Stone)

    “Grief, it seemed, drove Voldemort out… though Dumbledore, of course, would have said that it was love…” (Deathly Hallows)

  34. Gabriela

    Amazing! I AGREE completely and have many times tried to explain why I enjoy these types of books and especially the HP books. I feel like we need to highlight the GREAT in these books, especially to my kids so it will inspire the next CS Lewis. With everything I try to have my children look at it with the eyes of a believer. See what has been inspired and use it to be inspired to be whatever God has created them to be. To be completely honest reading these books has made me be a reader. I read constantly and I am inspired to help others find that passion and do it for HIS glory. GREAT, GREAT job! Loved reading it. Kind of made me feel like I am not nuts. HE HE!

  35. Kristin

    Well said! Harry gets an undeserved bum rap–all too often from those who, unfortunately, have never really given his story a go. I love how God uses everything for His glory!

  36. Michele

    Thank you for this great article! I have to confess that I was one of those staunch opponents to the Harry Potter series and of course had never read any of the books. Then I went to study for a semester of college in England and was completely surrounded by Potter-mania (this was just before the first movie came out), and while I was there a friend of mine tried to convince me to at least read the Sorcerer’s Stone (in England it was called the Philosopher’s Stone). I finally conceded thinking that I would read it with the intention of “seeing what the Enemy was up to” – that is soooo embarrassing to admit now. After I finished with the first book I went straight out to buy Chamber of Secrets – you know, strictly for research purposes. It was when I had stayed up all night to finish Prisoner of Azkaban that I knew I was hooked. I couldn’t believe I had ever been so against them and I hadn’t even taken the time to read them (probably like the majority of the Potter-haters out there). By the time I left England I had read through The Goblet of Fire which was the latest book out at the time, gone to see the premier of The Sorcerer’s Stone movie, and even visited King’s Cross Station just to see the HP exhibits there. And now, 10 years later, I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the final movie this week…only 4 more days!!

    So to any Potter-haters out there, please read the books BEFORE you condemn JK Rowling and all of her readers to the deepest pits of Hell which by the way, I would venture to say that Jesus appreciates the hateful comments from “Christians” just about as much as he did from the Pharisees…I’m just sayin 🙂

  37. Rebecca

    This is beautiful, and encouraging, and helpful. Thank you.

    I appreciate what you say early on about your first and second goes at fiction-writing. As a non-fiction writer just sticking my toe in the waters of fiction and feeling uncertain, that encourages me to keep working at it.

    And your second-to-last paragraph – you’ve reminded me of Buechner’s Telling the Truth. I need to reread that!

    And the insight on Potter: I’ve *known* it was a good, great story, but have never yet been able to put my finger on why. I think you’ve got it. This really clarifies things for me. (And helps, and encourages).

  38. Stephanie

    It’s all about the blood…it was the blood of Harry’s mother that kept him safe while he was at the Dursley’s even!! SUCH a great article…by far the BEST article defending the HP series I’ve ever read! Those tingles you talked about?? I got them as I was reminded of instances in the book while reading your article. Thank you for the reflection on what was a great series and a great journey taken with Harry, Ron and Hermoine!!

  39. Brad Irving

    Very nicely put. As in life you can know a whole lot things about the world, but it is wisdom that puts it to use. Thanks for your thoughts. “The last enemy to be defeated is death”

  40. Fellow Traveler

    But does Fernando Ortega like Harry Potter? The central question… we must know!

  41. Jim Crotty

    Once again, thank you Andrew for another blog entry/article that hits home and inspires one to keep going forward on the path to peace. Just last night I watched part one of “Deathly Hallows” with my 12-year-old daughter, Emma. She felt strongly that I needed to watch the movie before taking her to see part two, which comes out this weekend. She had read all the books and knew the story inside and out. I, on the other hand, read the first book when it was first released but never kept up with the story as it developed over the years. In just watching the movie I could see parallels to Tolkien and parables told by Christ. Whether it was intentional or not, I agree, Rowling has connected with the eternal truth that is his love and peace.

  42. Jeff McDowell

    So well put! I love the insights and spirit the LORD has given you… we are sooo blessed by such an awesome God who is so much bigger than we give Him credit… through your music and writing you always take me deeper into that truth… keep it up my friend!

  43. Keith Branson

    Thank you Andy. I am reading your work now…actually Rona is reading it aloud to my son Mitchell and me. You are a captivating writer, she is a good reader and we are good listeners.

  44. sarah k

    Thank you, thank you. My thoughts exactly, but better said. When I finished the last book (weeping, of course), I wondered if those vociferous opponent of Potter would ever read the whole story and know how wrong they were–how wrong they had been from the beginning.

    How sad when we spend so much energy fighting the wrong things. I’m sure I do it in other areas. I hope your post helps more Christians discover the beautiful resonances of God’s truth in these books–and in other books unjustly dismissed.

  45. Loren

    I remember picking up The Deathly Hollows with fear and trembling, wondering how Rowling would pull off her finish. Would she trash it? Would she nail it? It was with relief and amazement that I read the conclusion–once again, Christ triumphed! So cool!

    When Harry Potter first hit the shelves I was helping in a Christian school library and had numerous intense discussions over the books with the librarian, a dear godly older woman. To say the least the books were too controversial to put in the school library, but I thought it ironic (and said so) that they could have Susan Cooper’s series, The Dark is Rising. I had enjoyed those books–good writing, great characters–but had found the underlying worldview profoundly disturbing because it was very anti-Christ. Nothing in the Harry Potter books came across that way; there was no Christ or Christian bashing. Like others have said, the books aren’t perfect, but they are worth reading especially because of the opportunity for discussions.

    Thanks, Andrew, for your insights, and Travis, too, for great thoughts.

  46. Shawna

    I saw an interview with JK Rowling once in which she said that there were many times as a child that she was the only one who went to church weekly. She loved the idea of good overcoming evil. I find it ironic that so many Christians are so quick to hate and condemn her instead of loving and praying for her and giving her the Truth of Jesus. Can you imagine the Seed planted in such fertile soil?

  47. Andrea

    This is my first time here and I am blown away. I normally don’t comment on a blog especially after my first reading. However, I couldn’t stay quiet. This is an amazing article. Thank you so much for a fresh perspective in this topic!

  48. Amber Leffel

    Andrew, I grew up forbidden from the Harry Potter series, non-Christian music, Disney movies, and Santa Claus. I appreciated this upbringing, though now I get a little sad to think of all I missed… But let me tell you — and this largely due to Lewis’ and to your encouragement — I am diving full force into the realm of the mystical, beautiful, true, good. It is a beautiful place to be. My parents always guided me in the way toward the Lord wherever I found Him, and have always encouraged my imagination, for which I am really grateful… And I’m loving seeing how He’s revealing Himself to me in all of it.

    Praise be to God. And thank you. Thank you for eyes for this series. I haven’t read or watched anything HP, but I’m glad to know about the good in it, and to know why not to be against it.

    We silly humans.

    That faithful God.

  49. Karen

    I am so glad you have shared this, as I have also found echoes of Christ’s sacrifice throughout the book.
    So, I am curious. Have you also seen the condition of man in relationship to the world and to God’s truth, as opposed to the lies of the Evil One in The Matix Triolgy? So many who refuse to acknowledge a Creator have given their lives over to something that controls them, though they think themselves in control. Is this not the literary and film Matrix?

  50. Vanessa

    Now that you mention liking the 2nd and 3rd books progressively more… I hadn’t thought about how the author grows in the craft of creating them. Some friends have commented similarly about tv shows, how the opening of a new show often isn’t representative of the quality of the rest of the series (Not to take away from the greater themes in your post about Potter, Jesus, the epic battles against good and evil…)

    While I was reading ‘The Monster in the Hollows’ (Wingfeather Saga pt 3) I was taken off guard by how much I was hooked or cut to the heart or found myself in tears – all in deeper ways than the first two books. Maybe I’ll call it the 1 2 3 rule.

    Anyone find that ‘1 2 3 rule’ in music, or is it too different than fiction or tv shows or story?

  51. Christy Robb

    Thanks Andrew. I loved this. I wouldn’t have come near the Potter books if it weren’t for Hutchmoot. Hearing folks like Prinzi, and yourself talk about imagination, and not sheltering children from exploring it, caught my attention as a teacher. You said something like, “children are already having adventures in their minds, why not encourage them to read about them too, so they know it’s good.” This caught my attention and made me think hard about why I was stifling my own imagination by keeping Potter books far away from my post Bible college, judgemental mind. I’m deep in the series for the first time and couldn’t be happier. These lovely posts help me better articulate to parents why their children can read Potter books, and why they should encourage them to do so. I want so much for my little ones to see the principal truths of series like Potter and understand Jesus better every time. Again, many thanks.

  52. Ugly Biscuit

    I love it how God can be found radiantly working in places where people didn’t even intend for Him to be. He speaks to me, or rather I feel Him or sense a truth or word from Him, all the time through movies. I think if you belong to Him (And even if you don’t) You see and thus praise Him and weep for joy in Him everywhere.

    Great post Andrew. A gossamer yet powerful message nicely tucked away in it for sure!

  53. Susan

    What a delight to read this post, here at one of my favorite sites – and as many who posted above, I agree completely with your views.

    I have the pleasure of being in a book club, here in Switzerland where I’ve been living for the past 4 years, with a close friend of J.K. Rowling. This exciting fact wasn’t discovered for the first year and a half, as she is a discrete friend, but it’s been such fun to hear a few “behind the music” bits of information. Simply put, Rowling is a wonderful friend in addition to being a wonderful writer.

    The redemptive themes through out the stories and the friendship of the trio are what hooked me from the start. Thanks again for a wonderful post.

  54. Jimmy

    Thank you for encouraging me to get back on ‘Goblet of Fire’. I had to put it down in recent months because of our crazy life, and unfortunately pleasure reading has taken a back seat.

    I’m going to find it right now and crack ‘er open.

  55. PaulH

    I have to admit I have been one of the “Potter is taboo” crowd.
    Now I feel I missed out on a great story. I even convinced my kids too, that it isn’t worthwhile as a “Christian”
    I have so much more to learn.
    I am making my way to the library this week, and prepared to eat crow and humblepie at the same time.
    Thanks AP

  56. Julie

    Love Jesus and Harry Potter desperately – – thanks for saying so well what I’ve thought for so long. I’ll be reading your books asap.

  57. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    Wonderfully written and so well said.

    I’ve just started reading the Harry Potter series again, and I continue to be amazed at how they can sweep me up into their world. And when I get to the line in Hallows that says, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” I get goosebumps – and want to weep and cheer – every time.

  58. JWitmer

    The following are concepts championed by the Harry Potter series:
    1. Love is the most powerful force in the universe.
    2. Good and evil are real, and opposed to each other, no matter what perspective you take.
    3. Death is not the end of a person; the human soul is both undying and the most precious possession we have.
    4. Substitutionary death carries enormous power.
    I could make the list longer, but these are some of the strongest messages Rowling includes. These concepts in particular are foreign to both modern and post-modern society. They are primitive, disturbing ideas that should be regarded as extremely dangerous to the contemporary worldview of blended materialism and relativism.

    Thank God for Ms. Rowling!

  59. Shane

    Joy, if AP doesn’t mind, I would be happy to send you all three of the Wingfeather books. I got an extra copy of Monster in the Hollows I’ve been meaning to give away. It only makes sense to add the first two as well. If you’re interested, send me an email at shane.werlinger@gmail.com.

  60. Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Shane, that’s super nice of you. Thanks for hooking Joy up with the books.

    Thanks also to the rest of you guys for your thoughts and comments. It’s been good for me to read how graciously some of you have expressed your choice to abstain from the books. I hope those of us who enjoy the Potter books will be as gracious to those who don’t. It’s easy for me to be dismissive to someone who doesn’t like something that’s precious to me–but as soon as that happens it means I’ve allowed a Thing to become more precious to me than a Person. And that’s a bad place to be.

  61. Lefty

    Well said. Having read through the series 3 times, I couldn’t agree more. I still tingle with excitement every time I begin them again. However, I must admit, I’m thrilled that Ms. Rowling is FINALLY releasing them in ebook format so they’re not so cumbersome to carry around. I wish I had the means to get this article to her. I can’t help but believe she would be pleased as well.

    Thanks AP!

  62. Carl

    I, as others have shared, grew up in a home where movies, tv, music, and books were monitored. Imagine my dismay when my burgeoning CD collection (mostly grunge/modern rock) was deposited in the trash by Mom at the age of 15. Something about darkness appealed to me at that time, but as a Christian I knew it didn’t jive with who I really was.

    When the Harry Potter books came out I had a similar feeling; almost as if delving into them was forbidden, yet I was curious. I started reading Sorcerer’s Stone and it didn’t really grab me. This post makes me think I missed out, and that my assumptions were all wrong. Now it’s time to go to the library and discover the Story behind this particular story.

    In follow up to my music dilemma, my Mom did offer to replace the CD’s disc for disc with my choice of CCM music, and for Christmas she gave me Rich Mullins “Songs.” Well, Rich took awhile to weave his way into the playlist (I would say his style is quite the opposite of grunge:-); I never knew until college what words of life these were to be. Indeed all truth is God’s truth, and it may come from places least expected.

  63. Ugly Biscuit

    So, if i were to say that i’ve been meaning to come to an Andrew Peterson concert, but i just can’t seem to scrape up the change……..would there be free tickets in my foreseeable future Mr. JWITMER?

  64. Bret Welstead

    Thanks, Andrew. It’s great to hear your thoughts. And I do mean hear: your writing reflects your voice so well that I can hear you reading the article in my head.

    I was blown away when I read Deathly Hallows. I didn’t see it until then, that Christ was such a part of the story, but I saw it in the end and wept and smiled as I closed that book.

    And, as it’s been a while since I’ve visited the Rabbit Room, I’ll also comment that I love the new look. Very clean, very open, very inviting. Keep up the good works.

  65. Kelly Kline

    As a long-time fan of yours AND of the Harry Potter Series, I was very moved by your words. You are an inspiration. Thank you for helping me find Jesus in my every day activities for over ten years. You have no idea how you have blessed my life, as well as my children’s, through your music and stories.

  66. Ashley Elizabeth

    I find myself again expressing the joy found here of not being the only one. I wasn’t alone in my hesitation to read the books. I wasn’t alone in loving the story. And I’m not alone at being broken by how the Almighty can be seen from it’s pages.

    For me it was a Holy Triduum several years back after I’d read the series. Sitting in the space of Christ’s abandonment, I recalled Harry’s anger at Dumbledore’s dying. How alone he felt. How betrayed he became. I found myself seeing Christ there and I cannot tell you how much it helped me to walk through the 72 hours from Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil.

    C.S. Lewis tells of a Mother writing him with her concern that her child would come to love Aslan and not the Almighty. Lewis tells her that no child can know the copy of the image without knowing deeply the image itself. Someone very wise told us at Hutchmoot last year that everywhere Christ walks, Story kicks up in the dust. Harry Potter would be a wonderful story if it were only one from JKR’s creation, but it is made even more great by the Story told within it.

  67. Bruce

    Although I have never read the books, my 14 year old daughter, whoops today she is 15, has read everyone, she is re-reading the last one and has already bought tickets for Fri. showing. Feel the same as you, only perfect book is the Bible, I could nick-pick Narnia, Lord of the Rings, et al, but life is too short, just enjoy it. If all one read was Christian books, how could you converse with someone who never read a Christian book. Harry Potter can open the door for one to witness to a non-believer. Jesus went into the world to witness, so should we.

  68. JWitmer

    Ugly Biscuit, while there is something compelling about the idea of trying to outdo each other in generosity, I’m afraid that I can’t match Shane’s generosity right now.

    No, no, it has nothing to do with the U2 tickets for the end of this month… okay, well, maybe a little to do with that. =) =P

  69. Jenny Corbin

    This is such a great article and thought! You have been an integral part of our family life with your music and books and now your support of Harry Potter just tips you into our will. Just kidding but the Corbin family has been blessed by you to the glory of out great God! Keep it coming…

  70. Sandra

    Nevre read the books, but my grandchildren got me hooked on the movies. Always just looked at it as a form of intertainment – BUT will definitely look at it with a different outlook from now on – thanks for this article.

  71. Lyle

    We serve an awesome God, who is able to take good things and bring light to many, as well as taking bad things and bringing light to many, or even “neither here-nor-there” things.

    Each must do as our Lord puts upon his heart. As for me and my house, when I read Galatians 5:19-21 and Deuteronomy 18:9-11, it just seems that my time and my family’s time would be better served reading either the Bible or a book that purposefully, intentionally glorifies God rather than one that centers around witchcraft, even if things can be interpreted and extrapolated from it to agree with the Truth. I think there can be an inherent danger in letting children, especially, read/see works of fiction that, in and of themselves, run counter to God’s Word. Such young minds (or perhaps young SPIRITUAL minds [new Christians]) may not be capable of divining the same theological conclusions that a mature mind might be able to.

    At the same time, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians that, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

    I’m glad that you have been blessed by finding God’s glory in these books. But I think, in my Christian freedom, that I will challenge my family to try things I hope and trust to be more beneficial and constructive.

    But that’s just me…

    God bless. Love your music. Plan on trying your books, soon…

  72. Laura

    Let me agree with everyone who has thanked you. These books have affected my life, my relationship with my daughter, and affected me deeply. I know I will be a bit disappointed by the movie in the wee hours of the morning this Friday, but I will be dying my hair pink Thursday afternoon to dress up as Tonks with a clear Christian conscience… Thinking about how Nymphadora Tonks saw Remus Lupin for who he was, and not for how the rest of the wizarding world had branded him as a half-blood and animal. <3 The books have a lot of good to say about a lot of life, and I am continually inspired… Great article.

  73. Kim

    I have not read the Harry Potter series, however, my daughter has, and bought her ticket for the midnight showing of the movie weeks ago. I am saddened, however, by your contrast of math and painting in the list of things you are contrasting. There is so much beauty in math (graphs, fractals, tessellations), and math in so many beautiful things (art, music, nature). I would simply ask that you open your mind to this possibility as you did to the possibilities of Harry Potter. Thanks!

  74. Alden

    Andrew, let me be the next to re-state what a great job you’ve done voicing your thoughts on this. The first time I heard someone criticize the Harry Potter series, it was some one I respected and though I knew they hadn’t read it and were more than likely jumping the gun, I avoided reading it myself to remain above reproach in my ministry to them. A few years latter my daughter won the book from her teacher as a reward in class. She wanted to read it, and was delighted when I instructed that I would read it first then she would be allowed.

    As I suspected, the anti-potter-hype was just that, “hype.” Nothing to it, in fact it had kept me from reading a story that had an aroma of godly love. Jesus himself said “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

    Those who of us who have read it know that this is demonstrated in the Harry Potter series.

    Thanks again for your mature opinion and the dignified clarity with which you’ve expressed it here.

  75. Shelley

    Thank you for this article and for saying what my heart feels about Harry and the goodness of this series. I have never been able to express it so eloquently.

  76. rabidhunter

    Just because something has “redemptive qualities” doesn’t make it good. Just because something parrellels Christianity doesn’t make it Christian. Just because something shows the quality of love doesn’t make it Christian.

    Just as something that is all natural and tastes good doesn’t mean that it is indeed healthy and good for you. I submit to you the akee fruit it is all natural and is supposed to be a delicious fruit, but eat it too early and you die almost instantly.

    Also, fugu (Japaneese word for pufferfish) is all natural and is considered to be a delicacy, yet if you eat a piece that was cut even a millimeter off you will die instantly.

    Consume the akee and fugu at your own risk, and if you choose to consume them you should be well educated about them. Those are just cautionary examples of why discernment is much needed. The themes in Harry Potter may seem harmless, may seem Christian in nature, may seem good for consumption, does not mean that it is necessarily good for consumption. And if you do choose to consume it, you should be educated about it.

    Remember that it was an object that looked good for consumption and pleasing to the eye that brought on the temptation which brang sin into the world. The ones who consumed were deceived, thinking they were doing something that might honor God.

  77. J.H. Friedrick

    “Theology is important. But so is poetry. Math is important. But so is painting. Truth is important. So is grace. We should be people of both. All truth and no grace is no better than all grace and no truth. That means we keep our discernment and wisdom, but we do so without fear or anger. In all things, love. In all things, Christ—who is full of grace and truth.”

    Well done! This is one of the most well put descriptions of balance in the Christ follower’s life that I have ever read. Thank you.

  78. Christina

    As is so often the case, Andrew, you’ve said exactly what I’ve tried to say, only better! 🙂 Love this post and will be passing it on.

  79. Christina

    @Rabidhunter, the only way you are going to discover whether or not the “Fruit” is actually good –if you won’t believe the counsel of wise & godly men– is going to be for you to take a few bites yourself! Clearly, everything you said is theoretical. It doesn’t mean anything. Something can appear to be good and be GOOD, too. Something can even appear harsh and be good…

  80. Jamie

    So lovely. Both the sentiment and the way it is expressed. I think you could easily exchange the words “Harry Potter” for a host of other wonderful works of fiction, music, art, etc. Nowadays it seems Christians are known more for policing the creative world than contributing to it. Thank you for articulating what so many of us Jesus loving closet readers already harbor in our hearts.

  81. Britney

    Thank you for writing this. I have been planning to delve into the Harry Potter series this summer. I was a child when they came out and my mother was opposed to letting it into our house. When I became old enough to make my own decisions I didn’t much care about it by then. But, my brother became a huge fan of the series, so I was planning to watch all the movies when him very soon. Thank you for your reminder not to be so quick to judge, and to remember our freedom to look at all things through the Light of God’s Truth. God bless.

  82. Lee

    I love it. Your review is so well thought out. I wish I had been able to say all that as clearly as you did while talking with a group from my church. 🙂

  83. rabidhunter

    @ Christina, the serpent came off as wise, did he not? Solomon was wise, yet he bowed down to other gods. It is not merely theoretical, go ahead and try the food items I mentioned. It works out in practice, one must be carful with that which one consumes.

    I do not need to take a few bites into the aforementioned books to know that I will not be consuming them. I have tasted and have seen the Lord is good, and that is what I need most. There are other books and activites that are more worthy of my time.]

    But think about this, if a majority of Christians, several popular pastors, and big name biblical teachers give something a nod, does it make it right? Or does it matter more what God says?

    Or what if I told you that there was a man who really liked to help out the poor and that he started several soup kitchens to help those in need during some of the most desperate times in America. Would you say that this person is a good person? What if I told you that that person was Al Capone? Would you think differently about that person?

    Or what if I told you about a person who committed adultary and had someone murdered? But what if I told you that the person was called a man after God’s own heart? Of course, it’s not hard to guess that that is a description of King David.

    My point is obviously that things are not always what they seem. That which may seem good and even Christ-like may be from the devil himself, will he not masquerade as an angel of light?

    The point with the illustrations of previous post is that Christians should excercise discernment in everything, even the things that popular and accepted theologians say should be ingested with discernment. After all, the Bereans where known for being more noble than others because they studied everything that was said to them, even statements made by the great apostles were taken under intense scrutiny.

  84. Nikole Hahn

    I’m ashamed to say I was one of those Christians who jumped on the “I Hate Harry Potter Band Wagon” without ever reading one book or seeing one movie. Hypocrite that I was I stumbled into the movie on tv and became hooked. The redemptive qualities of the story changed my mind. The chapters in context made sense. Now I want to read the stories and remember the lesson in hating a book I had no foreknowledge on.

  85. Tony Heringer

    Well done Barliman!

    I always found the “Potter controversy” to be a tempest in a teapot. I’ve walked the trails of Lewis, Tolkien and Rowling with my kids through the years. One of my reasons for leaning into stories like these with my offspring is based on something Mark Twain notes in the preface to “The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer”.

    Twain says that part of his plan in writing this book was to “pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves, and of how they felt and thought and talked, and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.” I think that is why I enjoyed these stories (and films) so much through the years, it reminded me that I am growing young.

    As Christians we are living into a story that is much larger than any of us–the greatest adventure of all – Eternity. Stories like these always remind me of the battle I fight each day in service of a soon coming King and inspire me to rise to the task. I can do so with great hope and no fear because of the perfect love He has for me.

    This line really resonated with me: “That means we keep our discernment and wisdom, but we do so without fear or anger.” To be able to maintain our poise in a world where we even take “friendly fire” is no small thing. Thanks for putting together a very thoughtful essay on a series that will, as you noted, stand the test of time.

    A couple of great resources for this topic:

    Our own Travis Prinzi: http://thehogshead.org/travis-prinzi/

    An interview with Connie Neal on Steve Brown etc.: http://stevebrownetc.com/2007/09/podcasts/steve-brown-etc/fantasy-reality-christianity/#comments (Connie had put together a Gospel bookmark using Harry Potter that eventually was used by a missionary to reach Muslim children. If for nothing else listen to hear that story and the potential for using all stories to point to The Story.)

  86. Literature Links « Honey and Locusts

    […] Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me — Besides being a fantastic singer/songwriter and author, Andrew Peterson is a fellow book-lover. I heartily affirm everything he writes in this article (right down to the unapologetic love for the Harry Potter series), but especially would call your attention to the second half, where he speaks of the power of storytelling to point to Christ by reminding us of the existence of Real beauty, truth, and goodness. “Because I believe that all truth is God’s truth, that the resurrection is at the heart of the Christian story, and the main character of the Christian story is Christ, because I believe in God the Father, almighty maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only begotten son—and because I believe that he inhabits my heart and has adopted me as his son, into his family, his kingdom, his church—I have the freedom to rejoice in the Harry Potter story, because even there, Christ is King. Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ.” […]

  87. Rachel

    @Rabidhunter, I hear what you’re saying. I’ve heard it many times from many mouths. The problem you have with your argument is that many HAVE tested the taste of Harry Potter and found it to be good fruit. They didn’t drop dead or get struck with lightning.

    I’ve done a lot of research on the subject of HP and witchcraft and the Bible, and the argument of people who say Harry Potter teaches what the Bible calls, “witchcraft,” is unfounded. If you actually understand what the writers of the Bible were speaking of when they spoke of “suffering a witch to live” or the lists of those ending up in hell, you’d know it had nothing to do with what we see in HP.

    The things forbidden by God in the Law:

    1. Calling up the dead/Necromancy/Muttering strange sounds as if channeling (an example: [1 Samuel 28] the medium of Endor, sometimes called, the Witch of En Dor. The Hebrew word used in the txt is “owb.” This word has in mind the “sound” the channel makes as they speak. The English word, “medium” has in mind one who stands between the world of the living and the dead.)

    2, Sorcery ([Exodus 22:18] The Hebrew word, “m’khashepah,” used in this verse and many others is usually interpreted as “sorcerer” or “witch.” The literal meaning of the word is, a woman who speaks curses of harm against another.

    3. Foretelling the future (by way of reading the clouds, casting lots [runes], or animal entrails [Deut 18: 10-11]. Hebrew words in txt: “yid’oni” person who makes contact with spirits not of God, “sho’el ‘ov” making contact with the dead, “qosem q’samim” is telling the future by casting lots, “m’onen” predicting the future through nature signs, “m’nachesh” a charmer of a snake–“nachesh” means snake, “chover chavar” using knots to cast spells, “m’khaseph” as above in Ex, woman who speaks curses to harm others, “doresh ‘el hametim” another method of speaking to the dead.)

    Many people quote Revelations 21:8 as the verse to condemn HP, but the trouble with that is the Greek word in that txt, referring to what we now translate as sorcerer or wizard, is “pharmakeus” which has NOTHING to do with magic at all. It means drugs, or some say, poison.

    So, you see, we have to seek the truth, not just judge out of ignorance.

    Daniel worked as a “sorcerer” in Babylon under king Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, he was their overseer (Daniel 5:11)

    In Genesis 44:5 Joseph is spoken of as a sorcerer. When he instructs his servant to catch his brothers, refers to the “stolen” cup, telling the stewart to say: “Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination?”

    God’s power (or magic) is the most powerful, but those who are Evil in the sense of what we’re talking about here, are those who use the power (or magic) of the Enemy. Words are ever-changing, and when we strike out at others we need to be sure we truly understand the words we’re using to condemn them.

    And always remember, God sees the heart. We do not. Let people judge for themselves what is right for them–between them and God. You will not be answering for them in heaven, on for your own heart.

    *also, the serpent didn’t seem wise to Eve–he told her what she wanted to hear. He spoke to her flesh and said: “Be selfish, give in. You know better than God.” And she listened. HP tells us to do the HARD thing. To sacrifice and love, especially when it’s the hardest thing to do. If that’s not godly and Christ-like then I’m not sure what is!

  88. Becky Collier

    What an insightful article. I have never commented on any of these. I want to speak slowly and thoughtfully and not remove any doubt of my own ignorance. However, the heart of this article is just my thoughts beautifully expressed. It took me several years to get past the legalistic view and if I am honest, the fear of what others would think, and read these books. I remain grateful that I did. There is so much good out there to be read and experienced. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  89. The Mom

    I am never surprised that books with any element of “magic” are polarizing for Christians, no matter how well-written, well-intended, and well-reasoned in their tone or tenor. Apparently, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s altogether benign and lovely book, The Secret Garden, stirred a similar debate with its reference to the “good magic.” And of course there are those who will argue that C.S. Lewis went too far with his fantasy narrative by employing Greek and Roman mythological elements, thus compromising the strength of his Christian allegory. I personally have no quibble with Harry Potter and am making plans to attend a viewing of the final movie this weekend with my adult children. However, my husband finds the books and movies abhorrent and disturbing, and I respect that while I thoroughly enjoy them, he cannot tolerate or even countenance a discussion so I and my adult children take great care not to ridicule, tease, cajole, or stand in judgment of his heart-felt concerns. Within my own household it brings to mind Paul’s discussion about some men being able to eat meat sacrificed to idols while others cannot. We must continually strive to remain gentle and forbearing with those who differ with us greatly on certain matters, but who nonetheless share with us the precious body and blood of the Lamb. Furthermore, we must always be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, for in the course of my five decades on this earth I have learned to eat many of words and change many of my opinions as the Lord has humbled me and gracefully led me in The Way of His choosing. Moreover, I am willing to submit that my husband could be correct in his assessment of the movies and the books, but in the meantime, I feel the freedom from the Lord and from my husband to enjoy a little Harry Pottery now and then.

  90. Becca

    There is a haunting old poem by Christina Rossetti called, “The Goblin Market.” It features two sisters named Laura and Lizzie who live alone in a house that requires a journey to a stream for the fetching of water.

    Along this path, a nefarious band of goblin men lure young damsels to try their wares, fruits of glory and wonder. Laura is the reckless and impassioned sister; and she gives in to temptation, trading a lock of her hair for a gluttonous feast.

    A wasting sickness ensues, for once the goblin fruit is consumed, the one who has eaten dies for want of a second bite. Brave Lizzie saves her sister by tricking the goblins to hurl their fruit at her, and without consuming it herself, provides a redemptive second taste to her sister.

    There are numerous interpretations of this poem. However, it has always made me thing of a faith-filled exploration of the arts.

    The analogy isn’t perfect. However, over the years, I have watched several friends become drunk with Bacchian wonder over beauty, then waste into cynicism and frustration. And a few times, I have watched their “sisters” walk into places of danger, collecting truth that translates into life.

    I wouldn’t depend upon this as a strategy, because strategies are anti-gospel. And we are not able to save anyone in our own power. There is one Messiah, and it is proud and foolish to charge Don Quixote into places not meant for us. But I have seen how sometimes God leads us on a journey into unexpected realms that results in the restoration of a brother. And it is a beautiful thing when that happens.

    There are some books I cannot read with an upright heart. Maybe I am too young in my faith still for them. But I am thankful that I have brothers and sisters who have been led into certain lands in faith, so that they can return to places of need and communicate redemptively about what they have learned.

  91. Joey

    Wow. I must admit, I haven’t read the books (although my wife gave them to me for Christmas). I am in the military, and a short-notice deployment took me away from my books, but these will certainly be on the top of my “to read” list when I return.

    This article was amazing, even for someone like me who has never read the books. I definitely understand grace a little better because of your words. Thank you so much for this article, Andrew. The Rabbit Room continues to be a place of wisdom, wit, and encouragement (especially on long deployments where there isn’t much encouragement). Thank you so much.

  92. Aaron

    Over a hundred comments without going off the rails on a crazy train. Nice going, Rabbit Roomers!

    I remember myself and my friend giving an impromptu ride to Andy & Ben to a Jill Phillips show in Lodi, California. Order of the Phoenix was about to be released, and Andy was the first person I’d met who was positively geeking-out for its release. Before that, I hadn’t given the books or films much thought. I believe it was later that year that I picked up Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, and was sitting in my back yard with tears in my eyes as I finished it. (Those conversations with Dumbledore kill me every time)

    I’m encouraged to see so many people here that are going to pick up these books for the first time. Unlike the rest of us, you won’t have to wait years between book releases. Lucky you!

  93. Katy

    Okay, I just gotta say this, I don’t care what any one else would desire to respond to this.

    I started reading Harry Potter about a month after it was first released. I was about… I can’t even remember, but it was an impressionable age. I’ve heard people tell me I’m going to hell, though a Christian, because I read the Harry Potter series. –I’m going to hell for reading a bunch of books that are obviously fictitious, as they are in the FICTION section of the library and children’s books are generally fictitious… HA– The point I like making is, I can tell that magic as performed in the books is not exactly what God needs people doing, or GUESS WHAT, they’d have wands and perform magic when ever they desired. Again, a FICTIONAL story, a fantastic one at that!

    I’m very glad there is at least one Christian ‘adult’ that can see what ‘naive’ little children can see. I’m a born again Christian, and every time I watch a children’s movie or read a children’s book, SOMEHOW I find God somewhere in the story.

    ~~~~~~
    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matt. 19:14

    People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” -Luke 18:15-17
    ~~~~~~

    We should all, no matter how far along our Earthly walk we are, go to Jesus like the little children that read these fictitious stories. While the Old Testament is good for reminding us how loving and mighty a God we have, remember that Jesus died for the sins of the world, creating a new covenant with us.

  94. Dieta

    My family has unabashadly read/loved/re-read and loved some more these books. This is maybe my favorite post from you, ever my friend. In the words of sweet Sara Groves…”I want to add to the beauty to tell a better story”

  95. Jonathan Rogers

    @jonathanrogers

    Well, AP, I’m a little late on this one. But this is just great. I love your point that Jesus said nothing in response to Pilate’s aggravating question. “What is truth?” Was there ever a clearer invitation to proof-texting and apologetics? As you say, Jesus himself is the answer to such questions. And to show Jesus in his beauty is the great privilege of every Christian. Like you, I’m glad that apologists exist. But the real apologetic, it seems to me, is a life lived in the freedom and beauty of the gospel–“approving the things that are excellent,” as Paul phrased it. You phrased it thus: “We’re free—and this is huge—to look for the light in people (and things!), to give them the benefit of the doubt, to laud their beauty, to outlove unloveliness–in short, to love as Christ loves us.” Amen and amen. Thanks for this.

  96. Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    Rachel, love the summary of the Bible’s actual teaching on witchcraft. We so often just repeat what we’ve heard: “The Bible condemns witchcraft.” And then we insert the Bible’s meaning of witch into every appearance of the word witch that we come across, regardless of context (either the Bible’s or, in this case, Harry Potter’s).

    The Bible is a lot wilder and messier than our moral categories, isn’t it?

  97. Katy Richmond

    Thank you for sharing this. I just posted this link on my blog. I use my blog to discuss books I’m reading and things that are happening in my life. I have, for the past five months (almost to the day), been reading Harry Potter from start to finish. I have 60 pages left of Book 7 and was having trouble making myself finish the book. I couldn’t describe my feelings on these wonderful, magical books. But you explained them exactly. Thank you! I titled my blog post Free to Enjoy the Good and the Beautiful and pointed to your blog. Thanks for sharing!
    pingandpal.blogspot.com/free-to-enjoy-the-good-and-the-beautiful.html

  98. Kayla

    Thank you for addressing this. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments you have expressed. This was so beautifully written, I got a little misty-eyed.

  99. Lee Randall

    Thank you Andrew! What an insightful look at the world of Harry Potter. I need to post this on my FB page, so other friends can see. I’m weary of hiding my love of the Potterworld to many Christian friends… This post shows we can shamelessly admire good literary work. Thank you again… Lee (sleeping Mackenzie’s mom – from Oak Mtn Church – in Birmingham, AL)

  100. Lindsey

    “But listen: we’re free to enjoy the good and the beautiful, even from the most unlikely places. We’re free—and this is huge—to look for the light in people (and things!), to give them the benefit of the doubt, to laud their beauty, to outlove unloveliness–in short, to love as Christ loves us.”

    This sums up my top reason for loving the Rabbit Room, and makes me jittery in anticipation for Hutchmoot. Bravo, for this post!

  101. Bryan Sanders

    I love your article and I completely agree… I love how no one else talks about Gandolf and his magic, or Star Wars, or Aslan’s magic… The reality is that Fantasy is Fantasy and to take it as such… The point is what the author is trying to portray… I love the imagery in the Force of Star Wars and how Obi Wan functions much like the Holy Spirit speaks to us and tells us what we need to do and where we need to go… I love seeing those like metaphors and similes that point us to a greater reality and little glimpses of God… Even Jesus preached saying the kingdom of heaven is like this—- I love finding those like this— in everything…. My favorite song showing that would be the Foreigner Chorus – I want to know what love is and I want you to show me, I want to feel what love is and I want you to show me… In worship I use that all the time in my alone time and in services… It pairs very good with the Misty Edwards song Arms Wide Open.. – This is how I know what love is – Arms wide open heart exposed- Arms wide open bleeding… Because we ask the question show us love and then we find it in the person of Christ Jesus…

    All you need is love – John Lennon
    God is love – John the Beloved
    Do the math…

    I appreciate what you do and keep up the good work

    Peace

    Bryan Sanders

  102. Tony Heringer

    Lee,

    Shout out to Oak Mtn Church. Just got an email from one of my favorite ministries
    Wellspring Group (http://www.wellspringgroup.org/) noted Oak Mtn.’s John Lankford (an elder there) is joining their team. Oak Mtn. is a partner of WellSpring as has been our church — Perimeter in Atlanta.

    Cheers!

    Tony

  103. Heather

    Thank you for this. You put into words how I feel about the books as well, but have difficulty explaining to other Christians.

  104. Amy

    Woot! I hope that like me, you believe that Fred Weasley isn’t dead because, yes, that made me cry. I always thought it was funny that John Granger and Hermione have the same last name.

    Excellent post, Andrew.

  105. Greg Phipps

    Thanks Andrew. People ask me all the time why I like you, Andy Gullahorn, and Randall Goodgame so much and continually sing your praises. This article is a prime example. Keep up the good work!

  106. Claire

    I love the Harry Potter books (in fact I have a costume ready to wear tonight at the premier – although I’m pretty much up for anything that involves wearing a fun costume haha) and hated for a while how much grief I took for it.

    I remember I bought the first one because it was on sale at Kroger and I was on my way to Canada on mission trip – I needed a long book. I read it on the bus and heard some mixed reviews. I’m so glad I stuck with it!

  107. Megan

    I read the first book and put the series away because it was so similar to Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy. Boy finds out that he’s a wizard, boy goes to wizard school, boy gets kindred wizardly friends, boy has a special pet, etc etc. The Earthsea trilogy was really enjoyable and I kind of felt like I was just re-reading it. I don’t know enough about the Potter series to have much to say about it. HOWEVER, the people (adultos)that dress up in costume and wait overnight for tickets and have blogs and nicknames and role-playing games and lunch boxes…aye. I’m not against some good imaginative fun, mind you. But fans always seem to have their Potter Party in line at McDonald’s and act sort of obnoxiously about being in a strage, temporary club. We get to act like silly maniacs for a day! Whoop whoop! Holla.

  108. Becca

    Haha, Megan.

    If you lived in NASCAR world, you would miss the scarves and round glasses. Trust me.

    Watching fifty-something-year-old women have to turn their heads sideways so they can fit their hair in a car is something else.

    These things I have learned during the Great Migration:

    The faithful make pilgrimages to beef jerky outlets (at what point does beef jerky make it to the outlet, anyway?)

    They stick numbers on their children, and on their cars, and shave them into their back hair. When we first arrived in East Tennessee, I thought this had something to do with the Electric Company. Go number three?

    They chant in sweaty masses stuffed into hot concrete sanctuaries.

    They drive through parking lots like junebugs tied to a piece of dental floss.

    Save me.

  109. Mike Smith

    I appreciate your thoughts! I enjoyed the books and movies. I appreciate the contrast between Harry and Voldemort. Harry has genuine friends and builds loyalties. Voldemort is lonely, self-centered and uses people to further his existence or power. Voldemort sacrifices others where Harry sacrifices himself. The contrasts could go on!

  110. Eileen K

    Love your take on this. I am also a Christ-follower, and alas(!) at one time saw only the bad in HP. Then I saw one of the movies on television, and I was HOOKED! Harry Potter is just a great story in which the good far outweighs any bad one might see, and JK Rowling is a great writer!! The “gigantic framework” was lost on me. I really admire a writer who can know exactly where things are leading through seven books.

    I am a writer working on a book that I hope people will love. It too, is fantasy fiction and your words of encouragement about how God can use this genre mean a lot to me. I am deliberately, although somewhat subtly also trying to convey a Christian message. So thank you so much for your words!!

  111. Joel

    Hey Andrew, let me first say that I’m a huge fan of your music. I was at a concert you played in Louisville, Kentucky in 2009. I moved to Texas last year and I am basically on the buckle of the Bible Belt. Anyway, I am so excited for Deathly Hallow Part 2 to come out. I started reading the books right after high school (I started from book 3) and worked my way forward. I am a huge fan. I pray constantly for Rowling. I am praying that she finds Jesus. A woman with that much influence could serious do some good in the world. I pray for her the same way that I pray for Oprah and other big name people in the world. That their lives would be changed. I am sure that Rowling is more of an agnostic than anything. But I want to have hope that she will bow down before the Lord of Hosts and declare him to be King of her Life. I do agree with you on the fact that the Potter books have so much in them that reinforce positive themes, like taking a stand against evil. She also dealt with a lot in her life that inspired what she wrote about. If you ever want to learn more about her, watch the documentary that was on the 2 Disc “Half Blood Prince” DVD, it talks about her life writing Deathly Hallows and where she gets all this inspriation from. But it is encouraging to know that I am not alone in saying that there’s a great deal of Christian based themes that Rowling portrays in the book. Most people sort of shun me when I do this saying “oh it’s Demonic garbage” and I say, “Have you even read the books”. I enjoyed reading your post.

  112. Sarah Thrash

    Good article…. I LOVE the Harry Potter Series. They are so well written and create such an imaginary world. I look at the books as purely fictional and do not relate them either way to Christ and witchcraft. Anyway, I wish everyone would enjoy the books and not try to make them “OK” for the religious and non-religious.. I think that is reading way, way too much into the stories.. just let your imagination go 🙂

  113. Bob

    Sarah, I agree with your point of making too much of the books, either positively or negatively. We all know the extremes to which people will go on the negative side-we’ve beaten that horse to death. On the other side, though, it seems a bit of a stretch to me to try to read too much Christian symbolism into the story. Sure, there are positive themes there that resonate with Christians. After all, as has been said here, “all truth is God’s truth”. But, I don’t think the series has to be deemed a Christian allegory in order for us to feel good about liking it. Enjoy it for what is there, and if it speaks to you in a special way, that’s a bonus.

  114. Sis

    Well, I don’t know that I’ll go out and read these books now but I might look for yours. 😉 I enjoy your style of writing.

    I do wince at the use of witches, wizards and such in books like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Oz, Tower of Geburah, et al, and the tho’t that there can be “good” witches as in Oz worries me, and yet I have seen/read them and love the Narnia series. I think the difference, from my understanding, is the use of spells. While the others may have wands or “abracadabra” types of “spells”, it seems the spells in Harry are more realistic? I hated the Smurfs for the same reason. : )

    My personal reluctance comes from my own brush with witchcraft. I don’t think it’s something that should be romanticized, played with, encouraged, or mimicked. All the paraphernalia that is sold along with the Harry books seems to be about spells, not the love and sacrifice you describe.

    Can lessons be learned. I’m sure there are things that can be taken away from Harry that are positive, as you’ve pointed out in your excellent blog post. Can they woo some people into experimenting with witchcraft? That is also a possibility and one that I hope is rare.

  115. Kristi

    Well-written article. To be fair, I have to say I have never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies. I am sure these stories are captivating and that Rowling is a talented writer. I have heard enough from different places to believe that is true.
    I am not wishing to open debate about this at all, only point out that there are several Scriptures that clearly state God’s position about witches and wizards. I did see LOTR when it first came to the big screen, and I found myself cheering for the ‘good’ wizard vs. the ‘bad’ one. But I find in God’s word that there is no such thing as a good wizard, nor a good witch. It is an interesting study. I would just encourage anyone to search out God’s word in the matter and make their own decisions based on what you find. Just some thoughts.

  116. Kathryn

    Lovely article. And, I go back to what Sirius told Harry, “The world isn’t divided into good people and bad people. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

  117. Tiffany Perry

    I have loved fantasy/fiction since i was 14! For the last 8 yrs I have really struggled with Harry Potter, though! I love it, but I didn’t want to enjoy something that my Savior has spoken out against. Even though i am not practicing witchcraft, I felt that loving it as much as i did was as much an offense to my Lord as sorcery itself. Now we can see a savior in almost every tale! Even children’s tv shows have good and bad guys. I think because people need a Savior they love stories about them! Superman, Frodo, Bruce Willis (!). I think every Christian truly needs to seek the Lord’s face when deciding to approve of this. Not automatically label it forbidden, likewise not endorsing it, either. i’m still not sure how to feel about it. I love this genre and this series in particular, but if I am sitting at His feet what will I hear? “Go ahead, beloved, you are free because of me” or “You are set apart, you have been crucified with Christ, you are a stranger here, if the love of the world is in you, then the love of the Father is not”
    I welcome any feedback 🙂

  118. Ralph

    Interesting article. Although I’m always hesitant when fans of a genre of books have to justify their pleasure in reading/or attending movies by trying to shoehorn in Christianity. Are they trying to convince their Christian friends who frown upon that genre, or are they trying to assuage their own conscience? There are several novels of various genre which have Christian truths in them. This does not mean that they are Christian, but rather that the author was raised in a culture where a Judeo-Christian ethic was the overarching ethos they were raised in. The result is, that ethos shows up in their writing. If you enjoy a genre and are not convicted as to whether you should, then enjoy it. Just don’t hold it up as some herald of Christian faith to make it palatable. I enjoy B-movie action flicks and westerns, but I don’t feel the need to justify them as having Christian themes. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 10:23 “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” And if we find that we are having to justify what we do to those around us, then perhaps we should follow Paul’s other words in Romans 14:21 “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”

  119. Heather Rose

    I have to say I do not agree. There are just some things that we have to say no to as Christians. Yeah, Jesus is Lord of all and I’m not trying to limit Him but if God told David to rid the land of witchcraft, I’m going to rid my heart and mind and spirit of it, too. I love the Wingfeather Saga with a passion but REALLY!? You’ve accepted this? There IS evil in the world, people! I’m concerned that so many people cannot recognize it.

  120. Tiffany Perry

    That sums it up nicely, Heather. God wanted it eradicated in the land, and my body is His temple. I am to glorify Him in my body and spirit!

  121. Linda Hartzell

    My words are inadequate to express my gratitude, so I simply say THANK YOU for the post! It was great to share it on my FB wall, and to receive comments from friends that they might just read the books because of the encouragement received from your article. As to your penned thoughts, Amen and amen. Kudos to you for founding the RR; what a treasure!

  122. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Some thoughts on the sinfulness or worth of the Harry Potter series.

    1. It is a story. Stories continually deal with “What if?” The magic in HP is part of the “What if?”

    2. The power of sin is the Law (1Cor 15:56). When we make Big Rules, we often create the opposite in ourselves and others – the desire to bend or break the rules. One of the things that made me want to see The Last Temptation of Christ many years ago was all the Christians freaking out over it. I rented it and watched it. I didn’t become a follower of the Jesus Seminar or cease to believe in the Deity of Christ. Although the movie went too far (and it was just a bad movie), it did make me recognize more fully the humanity of Christ.

    Since Christ lives in me and is my Keeper, He is perfectly able to keep me from deception. A few years ago I banned Yu-gi-oh cards from the house because the story involves a boy becoming possessed by the 3000 yr old spirit of an Egyptian king. The result? My son became obsessed with Yu-gi-oh. He couldn’t have the cards, so he drew comics and stories about Yu-gi-oh and thought about it constantly. The solution? I bought him some Yu-gi-oh cards for Christmas (yes, that pagan holiday that was grafted into Christianity), and started playing the game with him. I found it to be a highly intelligent game that required skill and memory. But the end result was that he lost interest in Yu-gi-oh very quickly after there was no more hard-and-fast rule against it.

    All we have to do is think of Preacher’s Kid Syndrome. The pressure put on some preachers’ children to be “good” and “avoid evil” causes many of them to go in the opposite direction. The power of sin over a believer is derived from all the “ought-tos” and “should-nots” of the Law, rather than relying on “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

    3. I took a different tack with Harry Potter. Harry Potter has been a great opportunity with my son to talk about the occult, possession, witchcraft, and the beauty of taking up our power as men and using it for good, no matter what the cost. There was one movie in particular where we talked about how Voldemort was getting into Harry’s mind and giving him dreams, trying to change his thinking, trying to make him fear, and it turned into a discussion of the Enemy doing the same thing to us.

    We enjoy the stories as a “what if?” What if magic and witchcraft were not evil in and of themselves, but only bad when used for selfish purposes? That’s the nature of Story.

    4. The problem in our society is not with things like Harry Potter. It’s with parents who let their children read and see everything with no parental commentary or discussion (I was one of those kids), and also with Christian parents who are so afraid that God doesn’t have the power to guide and keep us that they want to shut themselves up in a little Christian subculture compound listening only to CCM praise music to wait for the Rapture. As a father, I have plenty of things we avoid – television (dvds only on Fri and Sat nights) video games (Saturday only). But they aren’t done out of fear or Law – just out of a sincere desire that my children don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter.

    5. If you believe you should never crack open Harry Potter and it should be left to experienced professionals to tell you what to believe about it, then that’s fine. Follow your convictions. But the thing that happens with me is that the negative furor makes me want to read the rest of the novels to see what the big deal is. To promote Law/self-effort/fear, rather than Christ and His indwelling power, is to go against the Pauline injunction, “For we preach Christ, and not our selves.”

    6. The Christian life is not primarily about being “against” things. Many believers live in the Old Covenant; that is, they have this system of rules through which, if abided by, God is pleased with them; if they do not live by these rules, God is displeased with them. But Hebrews tells me what pleases my God, the God who fills Jesus Christ full, is faith. Trust. Reliance. If anything pleases God, it is wholehearted reliance on His indwelling Spirit. Not just faith in what He says in the Bible; faith in who He is, and, specifically, faith in who He is inside of me. All the fulness of the Godhead lives in Christ in bodily form; Christ lives in me in bodily form, and I am filled full in Him. If I trust Him within me, He lives. I don’t need to worry about being deceived if I put my faith in the one who says “I am the Truth.” I don’t need to worry about losing the Way if I am relying on the one who says, “I am the Way.” I don’t need to worry about death because I am filled with the one who says, “I am the Life.”

    7. I am not very organized so the numbers on these paragraphs help keep the illusion of organization intact in my mind.

  123. Matthew Clark

    Andrew,

    I saw the finale Potter movie last night and woke up thinking about it still. All day I’ve been trying to grasp at understanding the longing it awoke in my heart. I remember the finale of LOST which was way off theologically but spot on in relational effect. After seeing the losties or the Potter-friends push through in faith and love and find that their choices and love for one another was really going somewhere and worth it after all, I was left with a deep ache for the Kingdom Table on the other side of faith after Jesus has come back. I wonder if he wont say something like, “Look what we made together, here is the Kingdom. You fought through confusion, pain, and a sense of meaningless because you tasted love through faith. It mattered, all of it really mattered, and this Kingdom is ‘made out of’ our very lives together… yours in mine, mine in yours.”

  124. laura grace

    @Ron Block, holy mackerel, that was great. I might have to steal it. 🙂

    I hope, for the sake of consistency, that no one who refuses to read Harry Potter has ever read a King Arthur story (oh noes, a good wizard!) or Spenser’s Faerie Queen or… well, any medieval tale, really. I hate when people violate their consciences. 😉

  125. Suzannah Land

    Thank you SOOOOO much for writing this!

    I think you should send this article to J.K. Rowling, not kidding at all. I’m guessing there’s a way to send her fanmail, and maybe if God wants her to read it she’ll read it amongst all the fanmail she presumably gets 🙂 I really feel for her and I want her to know that it’s definitely NOT all american Christians that shun her and her books. Think, if you had half an entire world religion’s followers AGAINST YOU, is that super inviting for you to JOIN their faith?? I really think she’d really appreciate this article, and it might bring her to Jesus or closer to him if she’s already a believer. 🙂

  126. Monday Morning Worthwhile Reads (7/18/11) « The Recovering Pharisee

    […] Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (by Andrew Peterson, Rabbit Room) As for the witchcraft debate, I heave a weary sigh. No, God doesn’t want us to practice witchcraft. Of course he doesn’t. I’ve read arguments on both sides of this, and believe we could spar for days without doing a lick of good. (By the way, no debate is raging over Glenda the Good Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz. Most Americans have probably seen that film and/or read that book, and didn’t start conducting séances on the weekends—though the flying monkeys have crept me out for years. And Oz, when compared to Potter, is practically bereft of Christian meaning.) […]

  127. lindsay clements

    Hello Andrew. Thank you so much for this. Our oldest child is 8 and just starting to show an interest in HP. I read the first 4 books and loved them (and then began having children and thus less time to read). I’ve been so confused by my love for the books and the reaction of many church friends. This was a very helpful read! Thanks.

  128. A Potterhead With Chirstian Beliefs

    This was awesome. Can I quote this? xD So awesome. I’ve loved HP since I was in sixth grade and my parents let me start to read them. They waited until I could tell the difference between fantasy and real life. Thank you for being awesome…

  129. Aaron

    I have enjoyed this essay. I have enjoyed it and yet have and still am very opposed to the Harry Potter stories because of the use of witches and witchcraft. I have been told that the witchcraft in these books is different from that which (no pun intended) the Bible says is evil. (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). Can anyone justify this?

    Please know this: I am a huge fan of different stories with things I believe to be wrong. I try to justify my interest in these things because they do not challenge my faith in God and the Bible. But, like Harry Potter they could indeed lead children who do not have good teachers and “translators” of the fiction they read or watch, down the wrong path. The path of eastern religion or witchcraft. Without a good teacher in their life, how will a child who is already predisposed to an interest in the occult be able to tell the difference from Harry Potter magic and evil magic?

  130. Rachel

    Wow. You really made me think. I have been dead-set against this whole movie/book series because of the themes of sorcery and evil. When my children play together and one pretends to be a mean witch, it makes my skin curl and I jump all over them. I think we are supposed to run away from it as fast as we can. So I am challenged tonight as I read your post…knowing your background and your college teachings (and your sister as my roommate), I am encouraged to step back and put my judgment in check for a moment. Maybe I have been too quick to judge something that I truly know nothing about. Thank you for making me think and consider whether I, too, have been critical of something of which I am truly ignorant.

  131. Grace

    Thanks Andrew Aptly Put! I’ve always judged this series of books and movies based on the judgment of others. I have to say this is pretty ignoramus of me haha!! After seeing the final movie last night I am now inspired to read the series for myself. Keep the faith and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  132. Cynthia Guy

    Wow! What an AMAZING amount of comments. I’ll toss mine in. What a great post to have read. My nighst have been filled with much reading due to my husband’s late work schedule. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with so many of us readers. I hope this comment finds you and your family doing well. Enjoy the day…

  133. Andy

    I have been a big fan of JKR’s writing ever since I read the first Harry Potter book. As a principal of a Christian School I have at times caused angst in some of my more conservative parents by “admitting” this dark secret (!) I loved this post as it summed up so eloquently what I have been trying to say. Now I have sent it on to all my staff.

    Thanks Andrew for your gift of grace and truth

  134. Tracey

    Absolutely brilliant! I love this blog, your insights are amazing! God is Light, and Love, Darkness is the absence of Light… and Love and where evil and lives in apart from God. My favorite line is “plainly shows evil for what it is—and not just evil, but love’s triumph over it.” The Truth, The Way and the Light! Amen!

  135. Alyssa

    First off, LOVED the article.
    Second, I’ve read a lot of stories on the internet from Christians who say they know someone who turned wiccan from the Harry Potter books and whatnot. I know a girl at school who is wiccan and she hates the Harry Potter books for over-romanticizing witchcraft and magic, and she says it’s not like that at all. She even says the books are too Christian!

  136. Aaron

    Alyssa, you are not realizing the impact of your statement. If it is true that some children have turned to real wiccan and witchcraft as a result of Hp, that is horrible. Remember this, a real wiccan may say HP is not what it is really like and think it is too Christian, but anyone who my have actually strayed into the occult as a result of these stories don’t know what real wicca is like.

    I was drawn into the world of law enforcement because of the romanticism of this field by hollywood. Once I was in the academy I learned what real law enforcement was like…harsh, gritty, not romantic at all. But I also developed a much more deep respect and bond with it. Now when I look at cop movies and tv shows I roll my eyes and say, “HA, thats not at all what it is like!”

  137. Travis Prinzi

    @travis

    I think Alyssa‘s point was not: “It’s no big deal if someone turns to Wicca because of Harry Potter.” I think her point was, “We hear these stories on the internet, but the evidence isn’t really there; there’s no direct correlation between HP and people joining the occult, and at least some Wiccans see HP as more representative of Christianity than of Wicca.”

  138. Hannah Ruth

    I love Harry Potter movies and i could never ever get into the books.. this post has made me want to try and read them again… im really glad Andrew Peterson posted about this on twitter because i probably wouldnt have read it if he had not.

    Keep Seeking Jesus <3

  139. Jessica

    Your article on Harry Potter changed my life.

    When I first read Harry Potter I remember sitting on the rug in my bedroom and crying over it, the good kind of crying. For me, it was like a piece of music that makes the heart thrill and the whole world seem more beautiful than it ever seemed before. It made my spirit shine a little and made me love the good in othe people more.

    But I was a coward and when other Christians didn’t like Harry Potter or thought it was evil I thought maybe there was something wrong with me for liking it. I tried not to talk about it with people. I was ashamed of myself and rightly so, but not for the right reasons. Then I read your article and it gave me courage to say, “Yeah, I’ve read Harry Potter! I see beauty in it! I think it’s good and I’ll stand up for it!”

    But it’s not just about Harry Potter for me. It’s about courage, and not being afraid that other people will disapprove of me. They will, and that’s OK. But I can still hold my head up high and believe as best I can in the truth, and not creep about hoping no on will make me confess what I believe.

    Thanks for that, Andrew Peterson! 🙂

  140. Amy | She Wears Many Hats

    Thank you so much Andrew for putting into words what I couldn’t. I’ve been trying to share with my kids that all gifts are from God, whether the one gifted acknowledges it or not, the gift is from God. And God can, and will, use those gifts for good even if the gifted doesn’t intend it for good.

    Thanks again!

  141. Tyler Smith

    Great post! It’s been awhile since I’ve read the HP series, but your words have rekindled the feelings that I had while reading the series.

  142. Katie

    Crying as I read your words about these beloved characters in some of my most favorite books. Harry has taught me so much about love, and I love that you have taken the time to inform others of what they may be missing. Thanks.

  143. Why I Love Harry Potter: The Eternal Metanarrative « The Recovering Pharisee

    […] August 18, 2011 by Anthony Alvarado Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it. Lewis reminds me that even Father Christmas is subject to Jesus, just as in Prince Caspian the hosts of mythology are subject to him. The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave. – Andrew Peterson […]

  144. Why I Love Harry Potter: The Eternal Metanarrative « The Recovering Pharisee

    […] August 18, 2011 by Anthony Alvarado Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it. Lewis reminds me that even Father Christmas is subject to Jesus, just as in Prince Caspian the hosts of mythology are subject to him. The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave. – Andrew Peterson […]

  145. Lynixious

    I”m confused. First i heard people saying that this book is all about evil and there’s nothing good about it. Church elders were adamant, and still are, to the point of burning any hint of Harry Potter material found anywhere within 50 miles of the church. Then now there’s Jesus in Harry Potter? Wow. Why can’t a Yes be a Yes and a No be a No? So much twisting and turning making me confused.

  146. amy

    I’m revisiting this tonight after just having finished the last Harry Potter book. This article is what made me finally give the series a chance. Now that I’ve listened to all seven books…I feel the need to say THANK YOU for writing this article. I’m so glad I was so wrong and that you prompted me to give Harry Potter a chance!

  147. Joel Linton

    Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Beauty Will Rise” would have made a great closing credits for the last Harry Potter Movie — “Out of these ashes, beauty will rise, and we will dance among the ruins; we will see it with our own eyes. Out of this darkness, new light will shine for we know that joy is coming in the morning…”

  148. Tasha

    This is the most AMAZING and wonderful and insightful post EVER!!! I LOVE how you write, I love your ideas, and I love everything about this post! 🙂

  149. Abbie

    I am, perhaps, one of the last people to watch the Harry Potter series. But after reading the first part of your post I decided to take the plunge. I have to say, through the first few movies I was skeptical there would be much redemptive about all of that darkness, but as they say, it’s darkest before the dawn.

    I cried and I worshiped. I’m thankful for your perspective and for my Jesus, who delights in showing up in the strangest of places.

  150. amy

    I am still referring people to this post in hopes of convincing them to give HP a chance 🙂 Thanks again for your beautiful and wise words here!

  151. Laurel

    I was going to type what Amy did, as I just shared this link again with a friend wondering about HP. Glad I’m not the only one still sharing this treasure!

  152. Carson

    Man, I wish this didn’t have spoilers in it so I could show my friends! This is exactly how I feel about the series but I’m in the homeschooled Christian group so it’s hard to find people who feel the same way. I’ll have to bring up some of these points! Thank you for your incredible thoughts, Andrew!

  153. Rebecca L

    You have no idea how much this post means to me. I could type an entire post myself about my own Harry Potter experience. Thank you for putting it in words that I’ve tried to say for years. Just thank you.

    And as a side note of encouragement, I think your books will stand the test of time too. They sit on our “beloved” shelf next to our collections of C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Stephen Lawhead, and JK Rowling. Cheers.

  154. mayajt

    I haven’t read these books yet, but can’t wait to. Thanks, Andrew Peterson, for writing another awesome post. I love your books, songs, and articles – and why yes, I do post these comments on various webpages in hopes that you will respond, someday, somehow. See you at Hutchmoot in a few years (hopefully)! Thanks again!

  155. Stacy Smith

    @stacysmith

    Thank you!  This resonates deeply as I walk today.  Your words apply beyond Harry Potter to so much more.  We ARE really free to enjoy the good and beautiful in unlikely places.  I’m afraid there were too many in my small circle that didn’t accept this and when I was new in my faith they had a strong influence.   These last years I’ve been sensing that taking on the role of watchdog isn’t for me… and I’ve been seeing that beauty and goodness can be found in all of God’s people — even if they don’t know him yet.  Thank you for putting words to what so many of us feel!

  156. Simmer Starters - August 5, 2016 - The Simmering Mind

    […] Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (Andrew Peterson) – ALL OF THIS. “I couldn’t get Harry’s story out of my head. I doubled over in the back of the auditorium and sobbed with gratitude to Jesus for allowing his body to be ruined, for facing the enemy alone, for laying down his life for his friends–Jesus, my friend, brother, hero, and king–Jesus, the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave–who lives that death may die! Even now, writing those words, my heart catches in my throat. In that moment I was able, because of these books, to worship Christ in a way I never had.” […]

  157. Rick

    @rabbithole

    This is one of the most absurd and ridiculous posts I’ve ever read. Your logic is so flawed as to be unworthy of arguement – emotion laden and so circular as to make one literally dizzy, I condemn your use of your Christian “celebrity” (or rather abuse of it).  Endorsing Harry Potter and the Coven attending, high-ranking Luciferian witch who wrote it is akin to blasphemy. Then again, your obvious enthrallment of it speaks volumes regarding your shallow apostate Protestant “theology”. Just another touchy-feely sentimental singer-songwriter, who makes his living off of not ruffling any feathers (angel’s or demon’s) and having limited knowledge of, and thus convictions regarding the truth that so many of the great Protestant Reformers were martyred while standing for.

    The idea that Luther, or Wycliff, or Wesley, Huss or Jerome, Calvin or Knox would have been closet fans of a series of blatant witchcraft books is well beyond preposterous. Whatever happened to “the faith once delivered to the saints”?  Don’t ask Andrew Peterson. He’s apparently too busy reading books which were demon-dictated to an uneducated welfare mother of three who joined a powerful coven and cut “the deal” (you know, the billion buck-er) to be all that versed in the Scriptures.  But what the heck: if you like his middle-of-the-road, pedestrian three chord songs maybe you’ll accept him as a “two-edged sword, rightly dividing the word of truth”.  I warn you – DO NOT!  This man has stumbled (or rather parachuted) over the edge, and he is, unfortunately, at this point, in spiritual free fall.  Pray for him if you will, but cease to listen to him and his heartfelt (even tear-drenched) promotion of such foolish and wicked fables.  I wouldn’t take his advice, from this point on, about anything – anymore than I’d take Mick Jagger’s advice regarding the joys of casual sex.

  158. Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Let the record show that I have approved the above comment, but should anyone in agreement (or disagreement) wish to follow it up, please use this as a cautionary example. Rick’s comment is not civil discourse. Disagreement is welcome; ad hominem attacks are not. Neither is a tone that wants for grace.

    Keep it polite folks.

     

  159. Goodgame

    Wow, Pete. That was an amazingly mature and gracious response to Rick’s breathtakingly immature and pseudo-Christian attack on your brother. Well done.

  160. Brad

    Rick,

    May grace go with you as you live in accordance with the Law.  May Jesus grant you mercy as you stumble down what is at least a slightly different road from that on which Andrew walks.

    I can see from my limited view that you write intelligently and with conviction.  You also seem, to me, to be dead sure of knowing what you are talking about – so sure, in fact, that you have left yourself very little room for error.  I can’t presume to know more about you than what can be safely inferred by the nature of your post, but it at least strikes me that you just might be the type of disposition that is so convinced by what he believes about the look of Christianity that he actually burns all bridges that lead away from the mindful place where he currently abides, either in fearful rejection of dealing specially with new things that don’t conform with the presumed symmetry of his world, or sometimes, perhaps, even just in prideful confidence…

    I pray God’s grace over these sort of people; the Formalists who do not believe that the day invariably comes in every life where one must rethink some very fundamental things and conclude that we ought to traverse back to an older road in order to move forward differently.  Of course, this happens for various reasons as everybody is uniquely made.  Perhaps one eventually becomes spiritually dissatisfied with living a strictly lawful life and wishes instead to discover the boundaries of Christian liberty, if they even exist. Or perhaps we desire a way to extend grace to our own selves in a way that the rigidity of our current abiding place does not allow.  These ideas may seem foolish and fanciful to you at this moment, being so convinced of your position on matters.  So I’ll leave that part to you to discover in your own time.

    But I pray for you, Rick, that when the time comes in your life when the road ahead is exhausted of possibilities and cannot be salvaged, that there will be a path remaining behind you that is not so badly charred and smoky that you have not left for yourself a way of returning from your spiritual dead end.

    So be militantly affixed to the idea of your own law if you must carry forward that way, but make way for grace and don’t burn bridges to other ideas that could one day end up being an oasis of safety for you when the waters that spring up from the well of your current worldview become bitter or even toxic.

    All the best to you.

     

     

  161. Jilly

    @jilliancomrie

    Loved the article and you convinced me to give Harry Potter a try!! So, I don’t want to nit-pick, but I noticed you said something about my favorite author that he wouldn’t have said about himself. George MacDonald purposefully tried not to let his theology get categorized into “universalism”, so I think it would be nice if you could describe his theology, however imperfect, in a more nuanced way! Thank you! =)

  162. Brian

    I would love to know if Rick is a fan of Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, as all have sorcery and occult themes.  The point is that it is make believe.  All of the classic fairy tales have dark themes.  These stories are means of introducing to kids that there is darkness in the world, but that we can trust God to overcome.  If kids are old enough to read HP, Chronicles, SW, LOTR, then they are old enough to understand make believe from real and old enough to understand that evil is present in our fallen world.

  163. Lydia

    This post made me cry.  It was not even because of Harry Potter at all, though I have long been a champion of the series among homeschoolers–possibly the most anti-Harry Potter crowd I’ve found.  You were eloquent in your explanation of how these small stories that we read and tell are just pictures of a much greater story that God is telling.  The best stories are always those that exemplify the traits of God.  Shouldn’t we always be moved by the truth, beauty, or goodness in a story (or song or work of art) that points to the God that is the originator of all things?

    The motto of the classical Christian school my children go to is “truth, beauty, goodness.”  It was wonderful to read that your website is dedicated to those things.  Before my children started attending there, I had never really thought about how important those virtues are and how important it is that those are the things we talk about and look for in the world.  We have possibly lost or misplaced the idea that truth, beauty, and goodness are treasures to be pursued and that we can (and should) discard anything that is not.  Whether or not people read Harry Potter (which I have learned isn’t really an important discussion in itself–if you don’t want to read it, don’t), that standard of truth, beauty, and goodness applies wherever you fall on the Harry Potter, or any other type of fantasy, continuum.

  164. clay

    @flindor12

    I completely agree with you on this. I love Harry Potter and the examples it portrays. My favorite Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I like it because of all of the conflict and confusion happening in the book all at once. One of the biggest reasons why I like this particular Harry Potter book, is because of the character change with Draco Malfoy. Throughout all of the books before, Draco Malfoy thought he knew what he was doing, that he was in control; now we find him in this book scared and overwhelmed with responsibility. We find him questioning his actions and his parents actions. We find him not wanting to do what he has to do, which is to kill Albus Dumbledore. We this new Draco Malfoy struggling with the same problems in the Deathly Hallows. This is why Draco malfoy is my Favorite Harry Potter Character.

  165. Lynn Maudlin

    I’ve really struggled with the Harry Potter/witchcraft dynamic, specifically because the HP universe is set in a world which is ostensibly *ours*. You cite the Oz books as having a lot more witchcraft yet stirring up less Christian objection but Oz is a different world; Dorothy is *not* in Kansas any more. For both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the practice of witchcraft by humans is invariably evil or destructive, Tolkien’s wizards are not human (created beings more on the order of angels) and Lewis’s witches also arise from other worlds and races, despite their ability to appear fairly human.

    So I think of the child who reads and loves HP –and now they can read books far too advanced (“dark”) for their maturity level, if they start at 8 or 10 years of age– and then at some point a Christian child comes across the scriptural admonition that “You shall not suffer a witch to live” – and tries to reconcile a good God with the idea that He wants Harry, Hermione, and Ron (etc.) to be stoned. Or at least that they should be stoned. Understanding the real dangers of witchcraft is far deeper than HP goes into or than most parents/priests/ministers/youth leaders are prepared to unpack.

    Simultaneously, there are wonderful aspects about the books and Rowling does at least portray witchcraft as being evil and destructive as well as good and fun – and there is some redemption and death does not win. But its purpose is not to sneak the Gospel of Christ past the watchful dragons at the Sunday School door, as was CSL’s with Narnia.

    So I hope that people are three-dimensional in their thinking about HP and speak truth and light to their kids when they read the books or watch the films – it’s tempting to embrace only the positive (or only the negative), if only because that’s the easiest thing to do–

  166. A Visit to Hogwarts - Travel with Kids

    […] One of our favorite film series is the Harry Potter movies, though the books are better. In the early years of Pottermania, I rejected the books, but about six years ago, had a change of heart and realized how faith-filled and Jesus-saturated they are. They now rank high on our list of family favorites. For my rationale on these books, go here. […]

  167. Miracle Quelle

    I’ve never read the Harry Potter books but I have to say, your books did for me what you describe from HP. I was so moved by Janner’s sacrifice, I thought about it for days. We’ve listened to the audios three times through now and still haven’t gotten tired of them. Every time I hear more themes that resonate in my soul. And I love that you accomplish what so few do, amazing characters, wonderful plot, great humor and deep thought provoking themes. Characters that face huge trials without resorting to children who are disrespectful, disobedient, rude, etc. My husband and I enjoy it as much as our seven kids. I see the gospel all through the series in so many ways.

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