Harry Potter (Part 1) – A Personal Story

Posted: July 31, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Action, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is a gross understatement to say that the Harry Potter story is popular.  The books and films are a worldwide fantasy craze.  The magical world of Harry Potter has its own theme park and has even become part of the fabulous Lego video game series.  Although Harry Potter mania may have begun to die down a bit recently, the story has become a cultural icon that is here to stay.  The series has had such an impact on the world that J.K Rowling and Lord Voldemort were included in the opening ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics in London along side stories like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins.

Since the release of the first book (1997), Christian reactions have run the gamut of perspectives.  Some Christians have welcomed this coming of age story of an underprivileged wizard as nothing more than an innocent children’s fantasy tale.  (I know one family who reads the series every year.)  Other followers of Christ have taken the opposite extreme – condemning the books because they involve witchcraft and wizardry. (I talked to one person who believes that Harry Potter is “from the pit of Hell!”)  It is obvious that there is some disagreement on the subject.

As a pastor, I am often asked for my (hopefully biblical) perspective on controversial cultural issues.  I read the first book as the story began to gain popularity, shared some of my concerns, and personally lost interest in the series.  I wasn’t a fan.  I notice some troubling ideas in the narrative (I will share these in another post) and quickly boarded the “Anti-Harry Potter Express” – cased closed.

As the books gained momentum and led to the making of the motion pictures, my interest was piqued again.  Harry Potter mania was in full swing at the time.  While I didn’t want to spend my time reading all the books, I figured I could at least watch the films and try to figure out why this story was such a cultural hit.  So over the years, I have watched all the movies and even now have read the books.  As I watched the story unfold, I found that my perspective on Harry Potter began to change.

It was not that some of the troubling themes were no longer a concern for me.  They still are, as you will see.  Rather, what happened was that I began to see the series as a whole, instead of just a mere collection of individual stories.  I began to  notice the “meta-narrative” (big story) that Rowling was telling.  While there are themes that need to be addressed (as with any story), I have come to a place of repentance concerning the saga of Harry Potter.  I have disembarked from the “Anti-HP Express,” developed a much deeper appreciation for the story and would now even consider myself a fan of the series.

While I am sure that the Christian debate over Harry Potter will continue to rage on (I am under no illusion that I will stop it with a couple posts), I think that my personal experience with the series may help to illustrate the way in which Christians should approach cultural critique.  Let’s call it the “The Baby and the Bathwater” approach.  Over the next two Tuesday posts…I will consider each of these themes in relationship to the Harry Potter Series.  It is my desire that this approach will be helpful for Christians watching any film.

Next Week – “The Bathwater”

  1. […] Two weeks ago I shared how, over time, I have moved from skeptic (maybe even “hater”) to fan of the Harry Potter series. (The overall story that is, not necessarily the quality of each film.) My desire in telling my story is to illustrate the way in which I believe we ought to view films (or any story) as Christians. I have called it, “The Baby and the Bathwater” approach. […]

  2. […] Last week I shared my personal journey concerning the Harry Potter film (and book) series. In these next two posts, I will use the HP series as an example to illustrate what I am calling “The Baby and Bathwater” approach to film critique for Christians. * […]

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