Over the past 14 years, I have not kept up with the Harry Potter mania that has swept across the globe. I did not read any of the 7 books and only watched one of the movies. Safe to say, I am in the minority. The book series has now sold in excess of 450 million copies (that’s not a typo), the film series has taken in well over 6 billion at the box-office and to top it all off, the merchandise earned from Harry Potter makes him a $15 billion brand. This Friday (July 15th), the last of the movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2), will be released. No doubt millions will flock to the theatres to get one last glimpse of Harry. But as John Granger has argued in a recent Christianity Today article, Harry Potter is here to stay. There have already been several successful book series (ie: the Twilight series) that have used the same writing techniques as J.K. Rowling used in her Harry Potter series.
I am not the first to chime in when it comes to this type of question. You could easily find scores of articles and blog posts that have already entered this conversation. But as a new father of twin girls, I guess I have more a vested interest in this question. Many Christian parents have concluded that even though they are not thrilled with the content of the books, at least their children are reading. Others have even come out in favor of the books because they feel the Potter books give a mostly positive message. Then there are the parents who simply conclude, our kids are going to read what they’re going to read and we can’t stop them – if all their friends are reading Harry Potter, then they will too.
In my estimation, parents would do well to not expose their children to Harry Potter and other similar forms of books and movies. The bible clearly condemns all forms of witchcraft and sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). As the apostle Paul explains, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The clincher for me is Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Clearly, Harry Potter does not fit into this category.
Like my good friend Dick Sherman once said, if you dig long enough through the dumpster behind your local MacDonald’s, chances are you will eventually find something of a meal, but you are going to have to dig through a whole lot of trash to find that meal. The same is true of Harry Potter. If you dig deep enough, you might find something positive. But is it really worth exposing yourself and your kids to all kinds of trash and garbage in order to find a cornel of truth? Do you really think your children will benefit in the long run?
The reality is that there is no shortage of good books. When it comes to children’s books, the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia come to mind, but there are tons of other good books for your children. However, the best thing you can do for your children is to get them in the Word of God. By all means, encourage them to read, but encourage them to drink deeply in the Scriptures. It is my prayer that we may be able to say, like the apostle John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).