Is Harry Potter What You Want For Your Children?
–by Father Dennis
It was not too long ago that we heard about a new TV serial called “Charmed.” From the description, it sounded “cute.” When at my mother’s house one night, I decided to watch it. I was quickly surprised at what I saw! I must say that it was subtle, but maybe since I do not watch TV very much, I was able to see through the subtlety. It was a show that was supposedly about three good witches. This was certainly a switch from the past.
Throughout my life, witches had always been wicked and bad. Their opposite in stories that were told or movies that were made were presented as “fairies,” which made the distinction very clear. It was also the distinction between good and evil. Even in the popular show, “Bewitched,” or some of the older Walt Disney cartoons there was a fantasy aspect that told those who were watching that this was not real. It was presented as “fantasy.” Jeannie was a “genie!” This is from the fantasy world! Besides, Barbara Eden was the attraction for most; the rest of the show was just pure fun.
As I watched the episode of “Charmed,” I noticed something quite different. They were presenting something that could never be true. They were telling the viewers that witchcraft could be used for good purposes as well as bad. They were presenting three good witches as examples. This is impossibility. As I spoke with parents about this, they slowly began to agree with me. Witchcraft is always evil. It is delving into the occult. But isn’t this on par with the rest of the way society behaves? It is always confusing good as evil and evil as good.
Maybe you cannot see what I am driving at here. Maybe you have not seen the effects that the occult can have on persons and families. I have been asked to help on a number of occasions. It is not a pleasant task. And so, I went to the Harry Potter website to check it out. One mere example of what they offer is the Harry Potter Trading Card Game. You can purchase the “Harry Potter Starter Set!” Why? It tells you right there (but it’s a game, right?):
Test Your Wizarding Skills! With the Harry Potter trading card game, you become your favorite wizard-in-training at Hogwarts — like Harry, Hermione, and Ron. And, just like author J.K. Rowling’s popular characters, you can use spells, potions, and magical creatures to harness your powers and master your abilities.
I know I write this at the risk of being very unpopular or going against the tide of so many who are supporting and promoting the “Harry Potter thing.” But as Catholics and Christians, as people who have grown out of the Judean Tradition, there is something at stake here. It is God’s teaching. It contains a severe warning too! The First Commandment tells us that “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.” And he tells us quite clearly, “You shall have no other Gods before Me.” Besides teaching the duty of religion, the commandment forbids superstition, idolatry, divination and magic, and many other forms of irreligion. Isn’t Harry Potter telling our children they can safely play with this? We read in the Catholic Catechism about Idolatry and Divination and Magic:
Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.
Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who “transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God.”
God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.
If you ask me, and I know that you didn’t, this is not something I would want my children to be involved in. I suppose I would have to risk being unpopular with them, their friends and also the neighbors. But isn’t that what parental responsibility and guidance is all about? Or maybe I should just ask: Do you think you child or children can safely play with this stuff? Is this what you want him or her to be influenced by? The occult is real! Witchcraft is real! Neither is fantasy at all. They do have powers. They are not from God!
© Copyright 2002 Father Dennis All rights reserved. Used with kind permission.
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