16 February, 2006

Harry Potter Is The Devil If You Want Him To Be

Since I can't remember my TypeKey password I can't leave this comment on Mark Rose's blog. So I'm leaving it here. Besides, people come here from all over the world (whoopdedoo) to read about Harry Potter. In other words, if you want blog hits on purpose just write a post called "Harry Potter Book 7 Predictions" and people will hit your blog from all corners of the world.

I say that not to brag about the maybe 11 people who've come from afar, but to point out that Harry Potter is so universally popular that it will drive someone to read a stranger's blog in Tennessee just because they want to imagine what may happen next.

Yesterday, Dan The Baptist's daughter announced that Harry Potter was the devil. Today, Mark Rose reiterates and expands upon Dan's comment to me. Parents are the ones responsible for their children's upbringing and have a right to teach them whatever and however they choose.

Of course, I agree with this entirely. I'd be a crap libertarian if I didn't.

But here's the thing. I'm not a big fan of demonising anything in popular culture. When I was a kid it was Rock Music (boo-hiss). When my mom was a kid it was the internal combustion engine. Or playing cards--one or the other. I do understand the reasons behind decrying these types of things. It's not always the things themselves but the company they lead to or the corrupting influence they may have. And as Christians we do need to take that VERY seriously. But why start teaching that the thing is wrong, instead of explaining that why the situations or ideas behind the thing are the wrong/bad?

I'm of the opinion that this is a problem because it doesn't teach true discernment. It's a shorthand way of raising a young mind. Granted, you can't explain the nuances of evil to a three-year-old, but by the time they turn 7-8-9, children are capable of understand deeper significance than the stove-hot-don't-touch approach . I used to have a close relationship with some children who were brought up from cradle to voting age with this singular rearing tactic. Beer is evil, rock is evil, cards and PG-13 movies are evil. When these boys got out into the world and drank their first beer without going straight to hell they naturally began to doubt everything about the faith. Wouldn't you? If an essentially neutral but tangible object wasn't really evil, wouldn't you start to wonder if Jesus was really God? If our evils are (mostly) harmless doesn't it follow that our goods are mostly useless? If a child thinks that Harry Potter is The Devil and then reads the books to discover an innocuous children's story what are the chances that the 18- or 19- year old will think that Jesus is an innocuous children's story as well?

Funnily enough, both Mark and Dan admit to not having read Harry Potter. Which is their right as well as their loss. Even more funnily, Mark admits to reading the Chronicles of Narnia and Dan admits to reading watching The Wizard of Oz. So clearly the problem isn't with fantastical use of magic and wizardry in fiction. The problem with Harry Potter seems to be the fact that it is the backmasked rock music and playing cards of the Aughts.

10 Comments:

At 2:29 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger Dan the Baptist said...

Man I like that Mark Rose. He makes great points in his post. They are my children and it is my choice what they watch just like it is your choice to read potter. BTW I have not read the Wizard of Oz I have only seen the film.

 
At 2:37 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

You and Mark are in step on many issues.

Mark and I are in step on many issues. On others not so much.

They are my children and it is my choice what they watch just like it is your choice to read potter.

I wouldn't have it any other way. I think you're right to choose what they watch. I think it's a good thing.
I personally wouldn't have my children read HP books until I felt they could differentiate the fantastical from the real well enough to understand why Pottter isn't bad, but real sorcery is. Some kids are capable of that type of abstract thinking when they're 7. Others need to wait until they are a bit older.

But I do think it's a mistake to not acknowledge abstract concepts with any child capable of grasping them.

 
At 3:43 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger Dan the Baptist said...

I agree with you completely

 
At 5:22 PM, February 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I personally wouldn't have my children read HP books until I felt they could differentiate the fantastical from the real well enough to understand why Pottter isn't bad, but real sorcery is."

That thought process eliminates a tremendous amount of television. Which is fine. My real life experience (kids 11 and 12) is that my kids may read just about anything they want--whatever it takes to get them reading! I'm much happier having them presentated difficult concepts in book form than in tv/movies. On the other hand our TV has a "governor" of sorts and they're time on it is very limited.

--Susan

 
At 5:36 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

That thought process eliminates a tremendous amount of television.

Yep. That'd be my plan. I love TV, but also know that it requires group participation when the kids are young. It's a valuable teaching tool when used properly. In fact, I argue with my TV to this day. Then again, I'm crazy.

 
At 6:28 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger thehomelessguy said...

In Dan the Baptist's blogger bio he claims one of his favorite movies to be "O' Brother Where Art Thou." And, yet he thinks Harry Potter is the devil and won't read it, or allow his children to read it. I wonder if he let his children watch O'Brother...?

Talk about a BEAM in Dan's eyes! Perhaps someone should tell him of the origins of the O'Brother story. It's quite of the devil, don't cha know.

 
At 8:02 PM, February 16, 2006, Anonymous Glen Dean said...

I think I might ban my son from reading The Homeless Guy blog.

 
At 10:15 PM, February 16, 2006, Blogger Dan the Baptist said...

good stuff. I do know the whole story about O brother and yes I understand what all the characters portray and No I do not let my kids watch it. But the difference is that O brother is not targeted for kids. Homeless guy does it bother you how I raise MY kids?

 
At 4:10 AM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Kevin,

I keep meaning to ask you--how far have you gotten in HP? Interesting how both O Brother and Harry have the Homeric cycle all through them. I hadn't thought of that till just now.

Glen,

Frankly (hah! Pun!), if your son can read anything right now that is amazing and you should have him enrolled in a study. ;=p

Dan,

Excellent point about how the different things are targeted to different age groups. I don't recall offhand the ages of your children (Glen's son just turned one a couple of weeks ago--hence my comment to him), but am curious. I know you don't want them reading the books now, but would you have a problem if they read them as teenagers or adults?

I'm 35, and my dad has a problem with me reading them--so It's not a stupid question.

 
At 7:36 AM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

The thing that bugs me most about the Mark Rose piece is that he states--oh I've never read the books but then proceeds to judge them. Sorry, but you lose all credibility if you won't at least take the time to read for yourself what it is you're judging. Otherwise you're just spouting off what others have said and not really making up your own mind.

To turn it back on Mark, there are some who've never read the Bible but yet make criticisms and judgements of it....

Is it fair then?

 

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