British author J.K. Rowling took the children’s world by storm with her series of books featuring the fictional character Harry Potter, a young wizard. Most parents would view the books as innocent fun, but the immersion of young minds into a world of witchcraft and the occult, however engagingly portrayed, has more disturbing implications.
The books chronicle the life of a boy named Harry Potter, son of wizard parents who were killed by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort. The young boy is invited to attend the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to develop the powers he inherited from his parents. Each book in the series describes a year at the Hogwarts Academy.
The stories, set in a make believe world of flying cars, gnomes, unicorns and the like, portray the occult as a positive and virtuous way of life. This has caused some parents and educational and religious groups to question if the books are appropriate reading material for impressionable young minds.
Their concerns are reflected in what God says about actual witchcraft and sorcery. The Bible consistently condemns all things associated with the occult: “There shall not be found among you anyone...who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium [‘consulter with familiar spirits,’ KJV], or a spiritist [‘wizard,’ KJV], or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD …” Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
Although the witchcraft and sorcery described in the Harry Potter books bears only a superficial resemblance to actual black or white magic, the witches in the story are taught to use what are designated as spells, incantations, magic potions and charms. The promotion of such practices in a fictional world, even in name only with little resemblance to the actual practices, can encourage an interest and crossover into reality, by innocent, immature fans of the stories.
If we are not careful, we can be lulled into a greater acceptance of such practices in the real world. This is particularly true for young children, who have a hard time separating fantasy from reality. Even when children get a little older, they are still extremely impressionable as witchcraft in these books is portrayed as a noble pursuit. If some innocent Harry Potter devotees succumb to the notion that witchcraft is noble and later seek to become Wiccans or join covens, they will soon discover it’s not at all like the practices portrayed in the stories.
Parents need to warn their children against the falsehood of the occult, but so many are devoid of understanding in this area. How, then, can they be expected to warn their children of the danger of stumbling headlong into spiritism? Fundamentally, the occult and all things associated with it represent a way of life that undermines and competes with the godly character God wants Christians to develop.
The Good News magazine