Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter Review

As noted last week, I'm now posting the Bishop's movie reviews (farmed out to Catholic News Service), but there is only one film out new this weekend, so I thought I'd go a little more in depth with the film. This weekend sees the cinematic conclusion of the Harry Potter series with the second installment of "The Deathly Hallows"

My family and I have a history of "midnight showings" and since Friday is my day off - last evening (or this morning) I joined the fam in taking in the film at the stroke of midnight.

I must confess up front as well that I have not read any of the books. That being said, I really enjoyed the movie, while my siblings who are avid fans of the books left the theater disappointed. I'm not exactly sure what they were disappointed about, but I have no doubt they have their reasons.

Purely from a film standpoint, I actually found the only slow parts to be those times where you could tell they were trying to include something from the books that, in the flow of the film, was completely useless. One example - at the beginning of the film, Harry visits an older gentleman with questions about two wands - and the dialogue is lengthy, and I kept waiting for what was said in that meeting to matter but it never did. While apparently some readers were disappointed with the film, I'd give it a 8.5 out of 10.

Some Catholics and Christians have been concerned with the magic aspect of wizards/witches/spells since the series first took off in book form. I must say that none of it concerns me as a priest - although I would certainly talk to any of my own children about those aspects of the films/books. In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, considered by many the gold standard of Catholic fiction, one encounters all of the same elements of wizards, spells, curses, wands, staffs, elves, goblins, ghosts, etc. "Magic" in both the books and the films serves simply to provide a context for good and evil to do battle. I think it is no coincidence that we see this fascination with portrayals of good and evil actually doing combat as we've also seen a rise in the last hundred years or so of a scientific atheism that says everything can be explained, evil is fake, there is no mystery, etc. People know the message of a deconstructive atheism to be false, and so when bombarded with a message that people are moronic for believing that there is some sort of spiritual contest going on - most turn to stories as that which portrays what they know to be experiencing in their own lives.

Granted, the mediums of film and fiction can do a nice job of portraying more realistic, subtle, and nuanced forms of spiritual warfare, but sometimes we just need those stories of an all out royal rumble of good vs. evil - and I see "magic" serving as a catalyst in which that narrative can effectively play out. I'm also open to other takes on this from parents - leave a comment if you agree or if you feel differently.

After I watched the movie I told my brothers in sisters as we were breaking it down that I enjoyed it immensely, but there is something that kept the entire franchise from being included in that same pantheon with the likes of the Lord of the Rings films. For me, the Harry Potter films stand right along side the first three Star Wars films - they did a nice job of portraying good vs. evil in an exciting and realistic way. The main thing that knocked both Star Wars and Harry Potter down a rung from the LOTR series was the times where the characters slip in some theology/philosophy that seemed contrived (and also problematic from a Catholic perspective).

At the end of the film last night the priestly Dumbledore tells Harry two interesting things - "Don't pity the dead, pity the living, especially those who live without love" and "Of course this is happening in your head; that doesn't make it less real." These bits of spiritual talk are Yoda-esque and seemed like an attempt to fit in a sermon where it didn't belong. As a clarification, the Church teaches that being alive is the best gift we can receive - and dying is never a good thing - being raised to new life whenever that might happen for us is a great thing, but death in itself is never good.

All that being said, I'd be curious to hear other people's thoughts on this film specifically, all the films together, the books, etc. - let me know your take on any of this.

Finally, I leave with the movie trailer for the film and then the official Catholic review of the film which I found to be very well done.

John Mulerding (CNS) - One of the most successful movie franchises of all time goes out in style with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Warner Bros.).

Though this eighth installment in the series that began with 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" may bewilder newcomers -- if there are any of the uninitiated left, they will not find themselves mollycoddled by patient exposition -- director David Yates provides a gratifying wrap-up to a decade of blockbuster adaptations.

Based, like its immediate predecessor, on the last volume of J.K. Rowling's run of phenomenal best-sellers, Yates' fantasy is too intense for the youngest viewers. But scenes of combat, although frequent, are mostly bloodless, while the dialogue is marked by only one mildly improper turn of phrase, making this climatic adventure acceptable for most other age groups.

As the titular wizard (Daniel Radcliffe, needless to say) continues to battle his nemesis, evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), the epic struggle brings Harry's innate courage to the fore but also tests his willingness to sacrifice himself on behalf of others.

At Harry's side once again are pals Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) -- friends acquired, of course, during his student days at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once the scene of happier proceedings, during the tenure of its late headmaster, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Hogwarts is currently under the apparent misdirection of Dumbledore's enigmatic successor, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).

Many of symbols deployed and themes highlighted in Rowling's narrative echo Scripture and comport with Judeo-Christian beliefs. Voldemort, for instance, is constantly accompanied by his pet snake Nagini, a slithering embodiment of wickedness.

Similarly, Voldemort's ambition to obtain immortality though illegitimate means parallels the serpent-inspired temptation to which Adam and Eve gave way. And here, as in salvation history, a path to redemption is opened by self-surrendering love.

As with many a time-honored tale -- ranging from "The Wizard of Oz" to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy penned by devoutly Catholic novelist J.R.R. Tolkien -- the element of sorcery in Rowling's story serves merely as a fictional device and a stimulant to the imagination.

Even impressionable audience members are as unlikely to think that the wands and spells they see in use on screen are things to be dabbled with in the real world as they are to believe that they may someday graduate from Hogwarts.

Like a poignant graduation ceremony, this final chapter in the adventures that have taken Harry -- and many of his fans as well -- from childhood to full maturity manages to strike notes both elegiac and exciting, thereby bringing to an apt conclusion one of the iconic sagas of recent years.

The film contains much action violence, brief gory images and a single crass term. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


  1. I love how well you write. You do so more personally then the 2nd article.

    I am looking forward to seeing the movie. I know most of the Band saw it last night. I am sure they will share their experinces

  2. After German sociologist Gabriele Kuby published her book "Harry Potter-Good or Evil?", outlining her position that the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy, she received a letter dated March 7, 2003. This letter thanked Kuby for her "instructive" book and informed her, "It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly." That letter was signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. He is but one of a number of very holy men in our Church who have advised against the Harry Potter craze because of the spiritual harm these books/movies can cause. Your thoughts Father?

  3. Mike, I heard about the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger several years ago, but I also read somewhere that the Holy Father (or the Vatican under Benedict) later spoke very favorably of the Potter series.

    A thread over at Catholic Answers seems to have a lot more to offer than I do on it - including, it seems, a question about the authenticity of the original Ratzinger letter. Anyway the link is here. I think all of the commenters raise good points.

  4. I'll keep looking for more - if anyone else finds anything that would be of help in this discussion please post!

  5. I also should say I'm not the authority on the matter because I've only seen the movies - someone with a more thorough sense of the books could help out more than I.

    I will share that one of the best priests I know, Fr. Denis Robinson, the rector at St. Meinrad and a very orhtodox priest who is a convert from the Baptist faith was and continues to be a gigantic fan of the books and films.

    I think this is some good discussion, and I appreciate any thoughts or comments!

  6. Sorry it took so long to reengage...busy p.m. at work!!! Another very credible opinion was provided by Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s Chief Exorcist, who said, “Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil.”

    Having scrolled thru the string you provided Father, and having read a number of different articles on this subject over the years, it is apparent to me that there is a lot of confusion on this question. And as I think we all know, confusion is one of Satan's most effective weapons.

    With so much wholesome entertainment out there, both in writing and video (and I do believe there is a world of difference between LOTR and Potter), I have to choose as a father those movies which I can be certain will both entertain my family and help me to raise virtuous children. Considering the back-and-forth on Potter, I have to choose to avoid that stuff.

    As an aside, we saw a great movie last week which I highly recommend, "Expecting a Miracle." Check it out.

  7. Harry Potter is the ultimate GOOD vs. EVIL book. It is a great series that has really gotten so many people to love reading again. Plus its a fascinating story that makes you use your imagination and really "know" the characters. I will argue with anyone who tells me its "Anti-Christian/Catholic." NOT true. Harry is the good child brought into a chaotic world where evil is reining. He, along with friends, chooses to be the one to fight this evil. He does it for his friends and for all people. Its a similar story to Jesus and you could even discuss how Jesus and Harry are similar. Harry believes he must die in order to save all the other people. He will notlet his friends die for him, even though he is given the opportunity. Its a great story of good and evil and I wish those AGAINST Harry would actually read the books before they go on record bashing him.

  8. I think Harry Potter is fine for Catholic and Protestant kids who have had a solid Christian formation. However, for kids who are unchurched, I think it can trigger an interest in the occult. One of my friends overheard a preteen asking the librarian where the witchcraft books are located. The librarian countered with, "you've been reading Harry Potter, huh?" The girl said, "yes." and the librarian directed her to the occult section. My kids have read Harry Potter, but I know that they can place it properly in an entertainment category.

  9. Father I love your blog but I could not believe what I was reading regarding your take on the Harry Potter series.

    It may be a good idea to ask a priest that engages in exorcisms about his take on the Potter series. I have only heard negative feedback on reading Potter due to the fact that the spells and wizardry are not made up but rather true witchcraft that is being quietly entered into the lives of children and their families not only in movies but in games at home and playing cards with young children. Regardless of the movies there is an entire Harry Potter agenda going on in our country that is opening up occasions for evil to penetrate into the minds of children and adults. There are playing cards that young children read that in essence are casting spells on one another. No one would recognize it though because it is hidden under the guise of entertainment.
    Recently during the 40 hours devotion Father Chris Crotty spoke about the dangers of Harry Potter and the danger one faces in reading the books and how it brings in the potential of a portal to the spirit world through the spells and true witchcraft that are being displayed for all to read and encounter.

    I hope you do some more research on your own regarding this matter and in the future decide differently so that more Catholics will refuse to watch these movies that could put their souls and the souls of their children in danger.

    Thanks Father for reading my comment.

  10. I have not read the books or seen the movies and neither have my children and here is my reasoning. I have read reviews of them on both sides and I have decided to err on the side of caution. If a priest, who is also an exorcist, suggests that the witchcraft in these books may lead to an opening of the door to spirits that are not from God, then I can find better books and movies for myself and my children. Just because it is popular, does not make it the best. I also do not like all of the scary violence from what of I have seen of the trailers. I think it is best to protect our children's innocence for as long as we can. Why subject them to such violence before they are mature enough to handle it?

  11. I just dont understand how people can be against something they dont know anything about. It makes NO sense. Read the books. THEN and only then can you comment on whether or not they are good "for our souls." How can you possibly be educated on the subject if you refuse to even research it and read it?

  12. Father,
    I normally do not engage in these types of discussions, but as a mother of 4 children ranging in age from 15 to 8, and an AVID Harry Potter fan, I feel I can add a different dimension to this discussion. I have read all 7 books multiple times and we have seen and own all of the movies. I too was at a midnight viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II, with 2 of my children. While I have not read the above mentioned reviews/articles and do not claim to be an expert, I would like to weigh in with my humble opinion. When these books first came out, my oldest was in the 1st grade. I listened to the Christian/Catholic media and vowed that my children would NOT read the series or see the movies. I did this not because I had read the books for myself and made a solid decision, but because of the media hype. I will not do that again. After a few years, I decided to read them and see what all the fuss was about. I must tell you that I was absolutely CAPTIVATED by the books (she had 4 out by this time). They are not just the classic Good vs. Evil stories; within the books are other teachable strands such as friendship, love, loyalty, and the ability to choose what is right and not what is easy. This refreshingly doesn't just involve Harry, but the other characters as well. As a reader, we have the privilege to see these characters grow up and develop as young men and women. Magic is truly not the main event, it merely is the vehicle which JK Rowling uses to set the stage, so to speak.

    Additionally, I do not think it is fair to compare Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings. I have read that series as well (multiple times), along with owning those movies. I am an immense fan of LOTR as well, but to compare the series is like comparing apples to oranges. LOTR is an epic history (like thousands of years), with sweeping themes and adult characters that play amazing roles. Harry Potter really deals with a distant past (13 years prior) and the 7 years at Hogwarts. Even though some parallels could be drawn, LOTR is a much "bigger" story.

    What I would advise any parent who questions the Harry Potter series is that each parent knows their individual children and what will be good for them and what could potentially sway/affect them. For me, I try to know and understand as much of the Catholic teachings as I can and I try to pass them on to my children. However, I also do try to allow them to be "of this world, but not in the world" and to "be salt and light to the world". Exposing them to current literature is one way I do this. I read with them and we discuss, often as a family, the stories and how they fit into or do not fit into our belief system. My husband jokes that our family dinnertime often resembles a book club meeting! This might not work for every family, but for my family I have found it to be instructive as well as immensely enjoyable. Harry Potter has allowed great connections to be forged between an non-sporty, bookworm mom to her children and I am very grateful!

  13. I'm asking a serious question to those who say the books/movies are bad - what is the difference between the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter? I really am asking this. LOTR has curses, spells, wizards, magic, and is scary as all get out. I really am curious as to the difference between the two.

  14. I respect Fr. Amorth very much and read his book "An Exorcist Tells His Story" many years ago. However, he also trashed the new exorcism Rite in a very public way and so I must say I lost some respect for him because of that. I'd ask Fr., "Does't the Holy Spirit work through the Church? Then how can one of its rites be flawed?"

  15. the conclusion to a lengthy but well-written summary of a nice article I read - which you can find here:

    Thesis: there are differences between LOTR and Harry - not necessarily fatal, but it could be.

    Stephen Greydanus - film critic for National Catholic Register

    By now it should be clear that I am neither an enthusiastic pro-Harry cheerleader nor a vehemently anti-Harry polemicist. I embrace neither the view that parents must ban the Harry Potter books from their houses, nor the view these books ought to be welcomed and read — though I have no quarrel with parents who follow either course of action.

    What I do object to is the claim that it is inconsistent or hypocritical to allow Tolkien and Lewis, but to object to Rowling. The Rowling books are significantly different from the Tolkien and Lewis books, and there is good reason to make a distinction between them, perhaps even to draw a line between them separating the allowed from the disallowed.

    I also object to the portrait of Harry Potter as a poster child for the occult, and the claim that parents who permit reading Harry Potter are necessarily exposing their children to harmful influences. The absence in Rowling of the hedges I’ve been discussing doesn’t make her books automatically harmful or even dangerous for all children, though it may make them harmful for some.

    For whether a book or movie or any other form of narrative is harmful to its audience depends as much upon the audience as upon the narrative. 150 years ago, The Three Musketeers was a potentially dangerous and immoral influence in a world in which duels to the death were real-life occurrences. Today, duels are no longer a viable social threat, and consequently we can read and enjoy the swashbuckling exploits of D’Artagnan and his companions without fear that anyone will be influenced to draw swords to kill another.

    The lure of magic remains a viable threat today, of course — though the fantasy broomstick-and-wand magic of Harry Potter, for most balanced readers, will remain quite distinct in their imaginations from the world of the occult. To the right reader, Harry Potter can be as harmless as Glinda the Good Witch or Cinderella’s fairy godmother. For another young reader, he could be a stumbling block.

    No one is better equipped to judge which is the case for any particular child than the child’s parents.

  16. For the record, I have not read or watched the LOTR books or movies either and neither have my children, so I do not know if there is a difference. For me and my family, the reason we have not read or seen LOTR is the violence and fright factor. My children are sensitive to scary images, which cause them nightmares and sleeping problems.

    I freely admit that I have not read these books or seen these movies, but as a parent, I think I am more than capable of making a decision about what is best for my family by reading other people's reviews, especially from people that I respect and value their opinion. As I said before, just because something is popular, does not mean that it is the best. There are many other books and movies for my family, althought they are becoming increasingly harder to find.

    As a side note, I would just like to point out that since HP became popular, we have seen an increase in shows and movies about witches and witchcraft- Twilight, shows on the Disney channel etc. I also have not read or watched those books and movies and my children have not either.

    I wish there were more movies made for children that are not so scary and made for adults. Anyone seen the new Winnie the Pooh movie?

  17. I agree with you Father, that the book is enjoyable story about good vs evil

    One scene in particular that reminded me of our faith was when all the evil ones where attempting to break into Hogwarts by destroying the forcefield around it. this is symbolic, to me, of how the devil uses all his resources to attempt to capture our souls and we must stay united to God to defeat evil

  18. Sarah, Anonymous, Emily, Tricia, Kellie and Father, you all make very good points and I appreciate the civil dialogue!!! There are too many responses to address with the limited time I have, but I’d just like to put my cap on this discussion (since I was the LUNKHEAD who started it in the first place).

    First, I have to reiterate a point I previously made. Look at the division the Potter craze has created in the ranks of our priests. Many of the articles I have read over the past several years were written by priests and theologians very well-versed in the dangers presented by the New Age movement. And most of them, literally, have advised staying away from Harry Potter. And there are other very orthodox priests, such as you Fr. Hollowell, who I greatly respect and whose opinion I hold in high regard, who hold different views. Shouldn’t this lack of consistency among the men tasked to guide us to Heaven raise a red flag???

    Father, to address your question of the difference between Tolkien/Lewis and Rowling, in my mind it comes down to a question of authority, and I have to give credit to John Andrew Murray for helping me to explain this. In his “The Screwtape Letters,” Lewis explained that demons strive to disassociate magic and supernatural evil. If they are able to do so, it then becomes possible to portray “magic” as “good” and “healthy,” contrary to the scriptural declaration that such practices are “detestable to the Lord,” thus opening the door for less discerning individuals, including children, to become confused about supernatural powers. Legitimate power is granted and guided by authority. In the Rowling books, power is effectively divorced from authority. There is no sovereign power or principle governing the use of the supernatural. Harry Potter’s magical power is gained through inheritance and learning. It is not granted by a higher authority, because there is no Higher Authority. In Narnia, on the other hand, power and authority are wielded together. Peter, Susan and Lucy use gifts bestowed on them by an agent of Aslan (Christ). And in Middle Earth, Gandalf derives his power from Eru, the One (God), sent by Eru to contest the evil power of Sauron, as told in The Silmarillion.

  19. Mike - thanks for the comment - and I understand if you are done commenting!

    Your last comment raises a question I'd ask of book readers - do wizards such as Harry start out being so, and only require training to hone their skill or do all of their powers come from the class room? Also - is a "muggle" a person who doesn't go to magic school, or do they lack something in their nature that prevents them from being magical?

    Kind of along these lines I will say my favorite HP movie was the fifth one because it reminded me so much of the seminary. There was an evil professor who threw out all of the "defense against the dark arts" stuff and talked about how there was no such thing, and Harry had to start his own club of people who still believed in the presence of evil. Meinrad was great, but there were one or two professors who talked more as if evil were no longer a reality, and our requests to receive a wider range of schooling on more ancient customs in our Church were treated very similar to Harry's request to be trained to defeat evil. I just thought the comparison with Hogwarts and the seminary should be mentioned.

    Finally, I think it is also important to realize that sometimes on this issue we talk from different perspectives. Each person is coming from one of the following camps, it seems:
    a) No one should ever read Harry Potter
    b) It might not be suitable for younger kids until they can make some important distinctions
    c) Harry Potter is okay for everyone

    I don't think the only options need to be (a) or (c) - and maybe that is what everyone on here is saying? I'm not sure, but I've already learned a lot in researching the issue more in depth, and I plan to continue reading up on it.

  20. I was trying to find the website that gives the factual evidence of where the spells that are chanted in the movies of Harry Potter are from true witchcraft books but instead I was able to pull a few quotes from some well known exorcists priests. Hopefully this helps to see that Harry Potter isnt just something to discuss in the form of entertainment but a true hidden agenda to allow satanism and the occult right into our homes. Lord of the Rings certainly did not have an agenda of the Occult because the magic portrayed in the film was made up and not drawn out of true witchcraft books.
    I did watch the first two Harry Potter movies and read the first book. I was also there at the opening day of the first movie until I realized where the spells and magic were derived from. I would not keep a book of witchcraft in my home so nor should I keep a book that has made witchcraft into entertainment in my home. As soon as I understood that the books were of this nature I brought them directly to the Franscican Friars of the Immaculate and they were happy to burn them for me.

    " Fr Euteneuer warns that many forms of popular entertainment are portals by which satan enters souls.

    “Most people with demonic problems have opened a door somewhere,” said Fr. Euteneuer. He cited the popularity of the occult in bringing people closer to demonic interaction, primarily through the growth of the New Age movement and other paraphernalia. He said that even Hasbro markets Ouija boards to children.

    “I’m very set against Harry Potter,” he said. “It’s pumping into our children’s minds the language and imagery of the occult. It’s extremely spiritually dangerous.”
    He also called attention to a growing fascination with the cult of the vampire, especially through the popularity of books and movies like Twilight, where the main character falls in love with a vampire.“

    I predict that in the next 10 years or so, we’ll see an explosion of occult activity,” said Fr. Euteneuer. “The number of soft-core occultism in the form of things like Harry Potter, Wicca and the New Age is on the increase.
    These are the gateways to the hardcore stuff. Ask any inner-city police department if they’re seeing evidence of Satanism. They’re organizing whole task forces to deal with crimes having to do with these things. As society becomes more faithless, this wickedness comes and fills the vacuum.”
    This is where I get my aversion to books like Harry Potter, and the ubiquitous Twilight series. I trust priests like Fr Gabriele Amorth and Fr Euteneuer who have dealt with the devil in souls. They are speaking from experience, not personal taste. We should listen to them before someone we love is ensnared."

    Father Hollowell You may like to go to this website it looks like it may give a lot of information on the differences of LOTR and Harry Potter and also many anti-Christian views that Harry portrays:


  21. FROM THE VATICAN NEWSPAPER: A great article that may give some enlightenment between LOTR and Harry Potter.
    (Had to split up the article since it was too large for one post)
    Vatican City, Jan 14, 2008 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- J.K. Rowling's successful character Harry Potter is the wrong model of a hero, says the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano in its Monday-Tuesday edition.

    In an article signed by Edoardo Rialti, L'Osservatore says that many have tried to establish a parallel between Rowling's main character and "the great fantasy masterpieces of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis, the Christian authors of the most beloved fables of the 20th Century."

    Rialti says that despite the "superficially apparent common points" between Harry Potter and the heroes in Tolkien's and Lewis' stories, Rowling "transmits a vision of the world and the human being full of deep mistakes and dangerous suggestions, even more seductive since it is mixed with half-truths and compelling story-telling."

    The author recalls Tolkien's essays about fables, in which he says that "fables can depart from the physical world and the universe created, but not from the moral order: we can imagine a universe illuminated by a green sun, but we cannot bulk to the temptation of presenting as positive a reality in which the moral and spiritual structure are inverted or confused, a world in which evil is good."

    "And this is exactly what happens in Harry Potter," L'Osservatore says. "Despite several positive values that can be found in the story, at the foundations of this tale is the proposal that of witchcraft as positive, the violent manipulation of things and people thanks to the knowledge of the occult, an advantage of a select few: the ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good."

  22. article continued--

    "This” –the article continues- “is a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge."

    L'Osservatore admits that Harry Potter is "rich in Christian values," for example, "he is an industrious and scientific magician."

    "But the main characters of the great fables never become magicians, and the seductive power of magic has always had grave and destructive consequences: the stories of Tolkien and Lewis describe the rejection of magic and power, not of a certain magic and a certain power, but of power and magic as such."

    Therefore, the author of the article argues, "There is nothing more antithetical to Harry Potter than Tolkien's young Frodo or Lewis' Pevensie siblings."

    Tolkien and Lewis portray "the extraordinary discovery of true Christianity, for which the main character of history is not an exceptional human being, like in the ancient paganism or in today's ideologies, but a person who says yes to the initiatives of God's mysteries."

    Instead, L'Osservatore says, "Harry Potter shows a pale disregard for the 'muggles', the common human beings who do not have magic."

    In Rowling's stories "we are told that, at the end, some things are not bad in themselves, if used for a good purpose: violence becomes good, if in the right hands and [used by] the right people, and maybe in the right dose."

    Thus, "Harry Potter proposes a wrong and malicious image of the hero, an unreligious one, which is even worst that an explicitly anti-religious proposition.” In the Bible, the Devil “never says 'there is no God', but presents instead the seductive proposition: 'you will be like God'".

    The article concludes by saying that "More relevant than ever is the judgment expressed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to the series of critical articles written by the German journalist Gabriele Kuby about Harry Potter: 'It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly'".

  23. Obviously, there is alot of debate about HP. However, for me it comes down to a simple analysis. Will NOT reading or watching HP spiritually harm my family? The answer is no. Could reading or watching HP spiritually harm my family? The answer is yes, from several priest and/or exorcists who know more than I about spiritual combat. Therefore, my family will NOT read or watch HP, or any other book or show that glorifies witchcraft.

    Why not read or watch the real stories of the lives of the saints and martyrs for spiritual inspiration? I would venture to guess that most of the children who read or watch HP do not understand the theological symbolism that the adults have been debating on this blog.

    Anyway, we are off to see Winnie the Pooh!

  24. Emily,

    I think something can be bad for kids but potentially be good for older folks that read this blog. I support you 100% in your decision to keep it from your children.

  25. Emily, I sure hope it is only you and your husband that are going to see Winnie the Pooh and not the kids. It's not that I think Pooh is bad, but I am just not sure that it is good and why take the risk? It is a talking bear after all. That is magical and Christopher Robin never really explains the source of that magic. I would hate think that your children are watching that stuff and then later on casting spells to make their stuffed animals talk. Remember, we can never be too careful!

  26. Fr. John,
    Thank you for taking up this topic. I have never read the books nor seen the movies because I have heard too many conflicting opinions and have decided to err on the side of caution. Fr. Crotty would be a good resource for checking on some extra facts regarding HP. According to him, there were 20,000 hits on the biggest pagan website in England, mostly all by American children under the age of 16. They wanted to know more about real magic. This pagan group publicly thanked J.K.Rowling for increasing their enrollments and getting out information.
    At a local public library for Halloween, they had a sign that read "Do You Want to Be Like Harry Potter?" Below it were displayed an array of books on real witchcraft spells and the occult.
    I also suggest a visit to Barnes and Noble to look through the teen section before deciding whether or not HP is merely just a good story. A friend of mine who visits there often has witnessed the size of that section double in size since Harry Potter. It is full of books on death, witchcraft, magic and the occult. B&N also promotes books by satanist Gerald Gardner and has even been known to recommended his book to kids asking for books on spells.
    John Mulerding from CNS above says, "Even impressionable audience members are as unlikely to think that the wands and spells they see in use on screen are things to be dabbled with in the real world as they are to believe that they may someday graduate from Hogwarts." If that is true then why are we seeing such a huge increase in children & teens searching to learn more about witchcraft? Harry Potter wands and magic kits along with Harry Potter tarot cards are sold in toy stores. To think that kids would not think to dabble with or imitate this is being niave. They already are!
    I agree that most mature adult Christians would not be drawn into witchcraft by reading HP, but certainly something IS going on when we are witnessing this kind of rise among young people, of an interest in witchcraft. All witchcraft is evil, is of the devil and can never bring about good. One huge problem I have with HP is the fact that Rowling uses real spells in her series. It's scary to think that so many young souls are absorbing this.
    It may help to listen to excercist Fr.Crotty, who claims that he has been doing HP damage control. I just think this is too big for us to discern on our own. He sees the damage of HP firsthand, and has personal stories to tell of young people he has seen who have opened that portal through HP. From a common sense point of view, if HP has been able to stimulate that much interest in the occult, then something is not right with it and I prefer to keep it out of my house and far away from my family. I don't think I need to read the books to figure out what reality proves. The devil is sneaky, and I would probably fall for the great storytelling myself!

  27. I'll admit I'm rather shocked at all the hoopla over Harry Potter. The books are fantasy. I loved them. The movies are ok. I prefer books. Movies can never capture the meaning I make in my head when I read. Alice in Wonderland, all the wonderful (original, not Disney) fairly tales are fantasy and teach things. I loved them and unfortunately most children today don't know that Cinderella wasn't written by Disney. (That commercialism is the real danger, but that's another topic.) Just because a book has evil in it, doesn't mean it will make us become evil. Books that have evil in them are often stories of redemption. When bad things happen, we have something to learn. Didn't God give us the ability to think critically and choose? I don't want anyone, whether my priest, my church, etc., etc., to decide for me and my family what books to read. I am completely completely anti-censorship. We learn from books. I believe in freedom. I also believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I am a person of faith. The Harry Potter series does not deserve the negativity it has received. It frightens me more (and this is where I suspect evil is present) in living in a world where any one person or institution will tell me what I can and cannot read. I do also believe evil is present in our world. Evil is clever. It can also disguise itself in the clothing of do-gooders with the purpose of receiving open doors from trusting groups and individuals. I can't go into it, but my brother was once involved in a very fundamentalist church which called itself Christian, yet this institution (or those in charge) did unspeakable evil to my brother which has impacted him for years and years. They tried to get the elderly to sign over their retirements, etc., etc. It's a long sad story. I have faith that God will give me the eyes to see, and that should evil enter my world, I will have the strength to see it for what it is and defeat it. Any talk of censoring books and movies is frightening to me. That doesn't mean I wouldn't censor what I feel isn't developmentally appropriate for my children, etc., so please do not misread what I am saying.

  28. 27 comments on Harry Potter? This is the problem with the internet. We take a movie (remember people, this is FICTION) and read too much into it. I was a teenager once and read many books and watched many movies. Not once did I want to become a witch or devil worshiper b/c of a movie or book. I did not become a racist b/c I read "Tom Sawyer" or "Huck Finn". Seeing a baseball player sell his soul to the devil in "Damn Yankees" did not make me want to seek out the devil. It is entertainment. I am not condoning the worst of the worst such as pornography, but parents, when your kids are the right age let them watch the movies/plays and read the books that will challenge them intellectually. Then sit down and talk to them about what is right and what is wrong. BE A PARENT. It is freakin' "Harry Potter" people. A children's book. Next thing you know, we will be bad mouthing Cinderella b/c she "worshipped" her fairy godmother. Lets pay attention to Fr. John's more important topics, such as marriage, right to life, attendance at Mass, etc. Fr. John, keep on keepin on. Just ease up on the Harry Potter.

  29. I appreciate your point of view, but the issue of Harry Potter is important because people are talking about it. I find the notion that the Da Vinci Code would actually lead someone to leave the Church as completely insane and ridiculous. However, if I don't talk about it because I don't think it's a big deal, well, that's narcissism (it isn't my issue, so I don't care, nor should anyone else). It is quite apparently on people's minds, so it is worth having the discussion.

    b) If children's movies start having "2 daddies" we would certainly speak up, so the question that this post has been getting it is "where is that line between what is good and acceptable for Catholic children." Harry Potter is a good discussion point for that issue because it seems to be close to the line, no matter which side a person falls on the issue.