A catalyst is a person or thing that facilitates a change without itself
undergoing change. The biggest Catalyst of them all was Jesus Himself. He was a
'Rock of offense' and a 'Stumbling block' to the religious mind-set whilst being
a healer, saviour, friend to the sincere and innocent (Romans 9:33; Matthew
11:28-30). Yet, He Himself, on His own was blameless and true. God loves a
catalyst. It brings the worst and the best out of people. Even if that can be
uncomfortable for the catalyst. The insincere heart is revealed by the
double-minded thought life being offended. The pure in heart and innocent being
given life, encouragement and comfort by the real truth which transcends the
counterfeit in the world.
Harry Potter is a catalyst. In and of itself free from harmful and evil
intent. But, the problem of association with the world of real witchcraft is
causing an understandable stir. By association I am referring to the activities
associated with witchcraft as found in the HP stories. Mixing of potions,
certain types of clothing, cursing, using powers over situations. The answer to
some minds is ban them altogether. But, this is valid only if inherent within is
an agenda or purpose for harm. There is none. For that is the nature of the
catalyst. I would no more ban HP than I would deny Jesus for the same reasons
and Him I would not deny for many more. The Bible is clear about witchcraft. It
is also clear about a life associated with drinking.
Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses
brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
The believer has an alternative.
And, do not be drunk with wine, in which is
dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit . . .
Dissipation is here the losing of one's senses which leads to excessive
behaviour and by Spirit Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit who indwells in a more
intensifying measure as we worship in song and other associated activity as per
the context of this verse. So, the Bible does not promote witchcraft and it does
not encourage drinking. Yet Jesus is accused by association of condoning this
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they
say, 'Look, a gluttenous man and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and
sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children.
You look closely at Jesus' life and words and you find nothing of this
life-style. Equally you look at HP and real witchcraft is absent. Even though
both are respectively associated with these practises. It was equally argued
. . . there was much murmuring among the people
concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the
contrary, He deceives the people."
Reminiscent of the things being said about HP. For that is the nature of
things with a catalyst. Harry Potter is one of those gems of literature which,
not unlike Jesus is on the one hand a stumbling block and a rock of offense
whilst on the other a source of life, joy and fun.
So, how does one deal with the issue of association? If banning and a
witch-hunt is not the answer, what is? With Jesus the religious leaders decided
to kill Him, but found that this proved counter productive as a martyr often
will promote a cause rather than quench it.
The 'easy' option to ban is not the way through. Any voice against HP is a
publicist of the very association the voice would like to stop. So much so that
if there were, for example, a warning notice of the 'association' within the
books many to whom this had not occurred would be made aware and arouse their
The answer I believe is the same as given for the difficulty the religious
leaders were having with the first disciples of Jesus. They were concerned that
the people were being led astray by the disciples (as previously they were
concerned about Jesus) and they sought to do away with them. This is when a
Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel stood up and gave the following counsel. He
gave examples of various people rising up with various ideas leading people
astray, but that after a time they disappeared. And he then said,
. . . now I say to you, keep away from these men and
let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to
nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to
fight against God. And they agreed with him . . .
What about the children?
The idea that a child cannot discern is false. The idea that a child can
discern accurately is the challenge. The same is true of an adult. It can be
hard work or, dead easy. It depends how much time any one spends with the real
thing as to whether they recognise quickly the counterfeit. Anyone reading HP is
deliberately subjected to what is not real, but instead wildly imaginary that a
child instinctively knows the book is fiction. There are varying degrees of
fiction, but plenty is fantastical in HP to make the point no matter how little
of life one has experienced.
The Bible is clear that the enemy who is a group of fallen angels can still
appear as good angels. So the appearance of an angel is not on it's own to be
And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself
into an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:14
If we teach children that those who appear in clothing as a priest or a
witch are to be trusted or not because of the appearance alone, we fail them
from any lesson in discernment. It is this attitude that has permitted much
children abuse from 'trusted' emblems of society. If we explain that trust is
gained over time and a regular demonstration of genuine care then we are nearer
the mark. The signs of evil have been mentioned above. We all do well to
recognise them and teach these.
As for the association alluded to the answer, as I believe, is not to
mention HP but perhaps to present schools with a list of the bodies of activity
which are a bad influence on children. A list of various cults and facets of the
occult explained in a manner suitable for children which would prove a valuable
general resource as supplied by the local Christian community to all the schools
in that area. The organisations mentioned in general earlier would do well to
invest in such a programme. I recall using a good Handout entitled Doorway
to Danger produced by the U.K. Evangelical Alliance several years ago. It
was a valuable means to help remove Tarot card reading from a local radio
station. This general help and advice to the media and schools about evil and
deceived organisations with good examples of this is a way forward. To do any
more than that as regards HP is as shown the danger of appearing like
manipulation of the truth. An attempt to impose an out of context view. Which
could be seen as a form of 'control' which in itself is a danger of being
The Church and HP
In some ways I believe J.K.Rowling has done the Church a big favour. HP
gives a valuable lesson in discernment. The books help illustrate the following:
to take the eyes off the traditional stereotype trappings of witchcraft to the
reality of evil in the hearts and lives of individuals as witnessed by their
fruits. For there is the real place where evil is to be combatted. A writer
about monks with their robes, practises, life-style real or imaginary would have
done no different in revealing the truth that it is in the heart that evil or
goodness is found. For that is the beauty of story-telling. And it is in seeing
the fruit from those hearts which reveal the source. A lesson which Jesus valued
so highly He placed one He knew was deceived in the midst of His immediate
followers so this truth would be realised. The illustration He used for them was
Judas Iscariot himself.
The popularity of Harry Potter is bringing to life issues of reality which
the Church needs to face. The issue of recognising and fighting evil where it
really is. By the fruit and not the trappings. No longer to quench and by
religious zeal condemn what is not our enemy.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of
this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
. . . be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what
judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it
will be measured back to you.
If the quotes out of context is the measure by which judgment has been
passed on HP, in the light of that last Bible quote I do not wish to be in the
shoes of those who have done so. I do not wish them to remain there either.
Hence this article. After all the motive to protect children is good, but the
way it is done is equally important. In righteousness and truth. If we are to be
perfect as our Father in heaven, then we are to check things out thoroughly as
. . . I am He who searches the minds and hearts.
God finds out what the motives are in people for doing things. A practise of
God regularly mentioned in scripture (Psalm 7:9; Jeremiah 17:10). Should we do
any less? Indeed we are explicitly told to 'Test the spirits', 'test all
things', 'Examine' (1 john 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 13:5). If
this sounds like hard work. I have news for you. It is. As the late Queen
Elizabeth, the Queen Mother used to say 'the price of peace is eternal
vigilance'. All these things require constant effort. In my looking at HP I have
discovered no evil. Let us be wise as to the association in which it is found.
What of toys?
The issue of merchandise related to a story depends here upon the purpose of
it. If it is not in practise something which involves addictive role play and
unhealthy influence or, if it is not a clear door to an evil spirit's activity
like a ouija board or a divining tool then I have no problem. But, see my final
counsel under 'Paul's Advice'. In other words, clothes, hats and such like are
not in themselves any more than food would be as per Paul's counsel in Romans
. . . whatever is not from faith is sin.
This was a final statement following a discussion and instruction on how to
behave in relation to eating meat or vegetables only, keeping or not a certain
day as special and, any other activity of special meaning to one brother and not
another. His words about whether to eat meat or not illustrate this well.
. . . one believes he may eat all things, but he who
is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does
not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has
His aim was not to cause unnecessary offense or be a cause of stumbling to
another's faith on the one hand, whilst preserving the freedom to act with a
clear conscience on the other. If you believe something is okay then do it
within the realms of clear conscience and with due respect to what is explicit
as wrong. If you doubt if the practise is okay then it is better not to do so
until such a time as you are confident. And your practise in which you feel free
is not to be imposed upon another.
Fiction has brought with it what is now a wealth of past stories of magic
and monsters. Witches have in the past largely been seen as bad people using bad
tricks to harm others. HP on the other hand has changed all that. A witch is not
bad unless it purposes to do bad. Since a real witch is a deceived person whom
Jesus also died for, is that not truer to the real world? History has shown us
how witch-hunts have by and large killed many more innocents than real
practisers of evil. In places drastically reducing the population of women. I
think a witch-hunt on HP is a dangerously similar practise to the wisdom of
Jesus' accusers. When Jesus said 'wisdom is justified by her children' He knew
the hold it had. The 'idea' of wrongdoing holding the accuser to 'have to' speak
up and thus opening the way for mis-quotes and seeing little else. However there
are fears and uncertainties which until recognised as having little truth do not
permit me to impose upon the individual my viewpoint.
This is my practise as regards Harry Potter. They are stories I would read
and recommend in the knowledge of their purpose as seen by the fruit, but I do
not think anyone who feels unsure should do so: and by the fruit I am
specifically referring to the fruit of evil or good in the lives told about in
the stories. A valuable lesson for children of all ages. The occult and real
sorcery exists, but from my perceived absence of these from the books it is only
the appearance by association due to the traditional trappings which are a link.
This makes the books suitable, but if the trappings associated with real
witchcraft are a cause for stumbling then, let those in that apprehension not
read them, but one who is happy to read them should be free to do so as per