Harry Potter and the Terrifying Order to Obey

Critics of the Harry Potter films have noted that Harry and his friends are often rewarded for lying and breaking the rules. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince should put such fears to rest. The Harry Potter books and films are not sequels – a new story coming along just because the first one sold well. They are, all together, a single story. Critics ought to be careful about making hard and fast claims before the entire story is in. The books are finished, but the films are still being crafted. And, as the characters now are on the verge of adulthood, they discover that actions that may have been winked at in the past begin to carry heavy consequences.

The storyline in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens just moments after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ends – with the local paper speculating on Harry Potter as “The Chosen One” after his momentous battle with the Deatheaters and Lord Voldemort. Harry’s “reward” for all of his struggles is greater responsibility. Professor Dumbledore must show Harry some frightening things, and even put him in great peril, because the task set before them is a battle to the death.

With the stakes of the conflict clearly revealed, and the urgency to act demonstrated by a direct attack on London by the Deatheaters, Harry has to transition from bull-headed adolescent to battle-ready young adult. The most important lesson he must learn is to obey. The film reveals the punishment that accompanies disobedience, why obedience is so terrifying to us, what it takes to submit oneself to a higher calling, and why circumstances we can see are less important than outcomes we cannot.

Disobedience Punished

Unlike in the past, Harry’s penchant for bending the rules leads to disaster rather than reward this time. When Harry attempts to use his invisibility cloak to do some snooping to uncover the truth about his rival Draco Malfoy, he discovers that his opponent has grown up, and is no longer so easily fooled. Malfoy detects Harry’s intrusion and makes him pay. Were it not for the fortuitous arrival of the off-kilter, yet goodhearted, Luna Lovegood, Harry might not have made it to Hogwarts this year.

Lesson unlearned, Harry happens to get a heavily-notated textbook for his potions class. The scribbled additions to each chapter enable Harry to outperform every other student – including the brainy Hermione – so he trusts the book, even though he has no clue as to the identity of the original owner, known only as the Half-Blood Prince. When Harry finds himself in the midst of a magical fight with another boy at school, he uses one of the penciled-in spells from his book, marked only as “for use against enemies,” but with no idea as to what the results might be. Instead of stunning or knocking the other boy down, the result are shocking and life-threatening. Harry has had enough of corner-cutting.

People are meant to grow up, to take responsibility for what they do. Actions have consequences; the more adult the actions, the more significant are the consequences. This film really marks Harry’s transition from boy wizard to adult warrior. Frequently rescued in the past when his desire to fight exceeded his abilities, he finally recognizes what he does not know – an important step toward full maturity – and he is now ready to take his place in the battle. Even though he is “the Chosen One,” he understands that, while he has a part in the fight, he is not the general in charge. Placing himself under the leadership of Dumbledore, Harry is ready to listen and obey.

Harry’s newfound attitude is so at odds with contemporary western culture that it is noteworthy. There are countless films recently released in which parents have to learn valuable lessons from their children, or in which kids appear never to grow up, and reject even the suggestion that they need to. Thomas de Zengotita, in his book Mediated , remarks on how our culture is uniquely and incessantly flattered by the media. From childhood, we are told that we can be and do anything that we want. Kids in sports receive trophies just for showing up. Years earlier, Daniel Boorstin warned of this as a problem in The Image . Boorstin wrote that the media created “extravagant expectations.” Mark Bauerlein, in The Dumbest Generation , explains that, generally, far too many of the under-30 crowd have tremendous self-esteem, but little practical knowledge or ability to back it up. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince refreshingly refuses to pander to its youthful audience. Harry can’t do everything himself – while he is brave, he is not yet sufficiently skilled. Before he can succeed, he first must submit. As the Apostle Paul taught, moving into adulthood requires that we assess ourselves with sound judgment, and put away childish things (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 13:11). Harry’s decision to abandon short-cuts and take on more difficult and meaningful tasks is a welcome message.

Terrifying Obedience

Recognizing the need to grow up and accept authority in order to mature is not easy. There are always vestiges of pride vying for control of our will. Particularly when we are told to do things without being able to fully understand the reasons or to foresee the outcome, there comes that insistent inner voice that tells us that we know better.

Before Harry is allowed to accompany Dumbledore on a very dangerous mission, Dumbledore firsts exacts from Harry a promise to obey. Dumbledore clarifies that no matter what is asked of him, Harry will do it. Harry gives his word and off they go. Harry could not have imagined, when he agreed, the terrifying obedience he would be called on to perform. It is one thing to promise to obey, and quite another thing to make good on that promise. The Bible is filled with examples.

When Israel’s King Saul was instructed to wait for Samuel before going into battle so that sacrifices could be made, Saul waited for awhile, but when he saw that his followers were scattering, he went ahead and offered the sacrifices himself, in violation of God’s law. Surely, he must have reasoned with himself, the important thing is making the sacrifice. But no sooner had Saul completed the act, than Samuel arrived wondering what Saul had done. Obedience, the act of bending one’s will to God’s regardless of the outward circumstances, was the true test of character. Similarly, the Galatian church was instructed in the hope of the Gospel, that salvation was by faith, not works. But over time, they were convinced by others that their faith in Christ was insufficient to save them. They must have thought salvation to be too costly to be purchased for them by the blood of another. Surely they must have to do something to earn it. In both instances people had committed themselves to the right way, and they abandoned it when they could no longer make sense of the promise in light of their current circumstances or concerns.

In a speech before the assembled students at Hogwarts, Dumbledore says, “Attacks come against these castle walls every day. Their greatest weapon is you.” If the enemy can get you to abandon your commitment to do what is right, that becomes the surest road to infiltration and overthrow. This is another area in which the fictional world of Hogwarts carries over into the real one. The principle is true. You are a weapon. The side you serve is dependent on who you obey.

Trust and Obey

Real obedience is reliant on trust. Trust is based on the proven character of its object. Dumbledore has earned Harry’s trust over the years. It is Dumbledore who is responsible for rescuing Harry from his dreadful Aunt and Uncle and bringing Harry to Hogwarts. Dumbledore has mentored Harry, and saved his life on numerous occasions. He has always had kind and encouraging words for Harry. In many ways, since Harry has lost both of his parents, Dumbledore serves as a father figure. So when Dumbledore asks for Harry’s trust, Harry has good reasons to give it.

But while trust is a function of faith in its object, obedience is a personal discipline, a matter of practice. Harry has failed in the past to observe the words of his mentors. But now, obedience becomes crucial. On more than one occasion in the film, every part of Harry’s being must be screaming at him to disobey. The price for obedience seems to be too high, the consequences too dire. Surely Dumbledore did not mean for Harry to obey even in these circumstances? What sets this film apart from earlier episodes is Harry’s steadfast obedience in the face of every conceivable inducement to disobey. There is no way that Harry could foresee the outcome of the acts that he and Dumbledore are forced to endure. Harry knows that Dumbledore can see the endgame in ways that Harry cannot. And because he rightly trusts in Dumbledore, it gives him the courage to carry on. He is learning to become disciplined.

The concept of discipline is lost in a culture where people to expect everything to be easy and to be instantly understandable. Salvation is the free gift of God; our response to salvation is the commitment of our life. But the idea that we might have to sweat and sacrifice to gain maturity in the faith, the concept that some spiritual truths are discerned only after others are mastered, flies in the face of the “easy believism” that infects the minds of so many Christians. Compare that attitude to Paul’s description of the Christian life. Paul explains to Timothy the foundation of his belief, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul also describes for us his response to this trust, comparing it to the discipline endured by Olympic athletes: “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). How many Christians enthusiastically embrace the kind of dedication that they admire in Paul? One of the positive signs that this trend may be turning is the appearance of a book by Alex and Brent Harris, Do Hard Things , which challenges people to avoid the tyranny of low expectations by accepting the challenge to do (not merely attempt) hard things. For those who find Harry’s fictional exploits admirable, there is real work waiting to be done in the real world. Perhaps many are simply waiting for the challenge.

Looking Ahead

Even when things appear bleak on the outside, it does not dismiss us from the need to soldier on. We have to trust that God sees what we cannot, and that knowledge provides us with the strength to obey. A fiction film may appear, at first glance, to be an odd place to look at imperatives to obey God, but despite their flaws, the Harry Potter series is filled with allusions to spiritual warfare. The novels are the most widely read children’s literature in this generation. If we Christians were more adequately doing our job by taking the transcendence of the spiritual life seriously, pursuing holiness, and not trying to degrade Christian life into nothing more than being nice and engaging in social services, books like Harry Potter might not be so voraciously read. If we were more concerned with the adventure of doing justice, defending the innocent, and battling evil in the real world, people would not so desperately seek that experience through fiction. What we can do is take those elements that people find so appealing in Rowling’s stories and show how a real world awaits, with a true and trustworthy Father, and a battle to be fought. It is time we told our own story.

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  • elkabrikir

    My family has stuck with this series from its inception. My chidren have read this series within the context of their faith; and, I have not left them as “sheep without a shepherd”. We have discussed many of the problematic concepts throughout the years, to spiritual and moral advantage. In prudence, we evaluate all media which influences our children, and based on family discussions about Harry Potter, my children have been postively effected by the story.

    One of my fondest memories will be of my homeschooled son sitting down to breakfast or lunch and opening a tattered Harry Potter book to some random page. He’d just begin reading for 20 minutes or so regardless of the page. He knew the story so well, that he read for the pleasure of the words and for the artistic details. Now 17 years old, he is a prolific reader and an accomplished writer, along with being a moral, well grounded, Catholic young man. I have to believe his experiences with Harry Potter books influenced him in a postitive way.

    The final paragraph in this article comes across as somewhat judgmental. Our family attempts to live our life as Dr Newman suggests. “Harry”, in a sense, mirrors our reality. Only God knows the motives of Harry Potter fans, and how the Holy Spirit will use this series for good. That said, “Amen” to the truth he correctly reveals.

    CE editors, Thank you for sharing Dr Newman’s perspective and prayer that we all pursue God with the fervor of a “young lover”.

  • StMichael Pray4us

    Maybe it’s just me, I’ve never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the bunch but I’m wondering should this movie be promoted on a Catholic web site in any way, shape or form? Call me a lunatic, finatic whatever I’ve been called worse but then there are a few others that you would have to also include in that group, for one our current Pope. Back in 2003 in a letter to to a German critic of the Harry Potter novels, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger expressed serious reservations about the novels. In this letter dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger thanked the author for her “instructive” book Harry Potter – gut oder böse (Harry Potter- good or evil?), in which she says 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. “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,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger.

    In September of 1996 the Vatican’s chief exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth condemned J. K. Rowling’s fictional boy wizard as downright evil. In fact his exact words were, “Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil” These books contain many positive references to the satanic art, falsely drawing a distinction between black and white magic.

    Fr. Thomas Euteneuer from HLI, who is also an exorcist, in several recent interviews said that letting our children read/watch this stuff (Harry Potter, Twilight etc.)is equivalent to giving them poison. In his newsletter dated 10/31/07 he states, “Fundamentally, Harry Potter indoctrinates young souls in the language and mechanics of the occult. The fact that the fake curses and hexes are not able to be reproduced because the “ingredients” are pure fantasy is beside the point. Curses are not pure fantasy. The fact that “curse” as such, and other elements of witchcraft, are presented in a glorified state throughout the Harry Potter series means that our kids’ minds are being introduced to and imbued with occult imagery. 337 million copies of occult imagery are being consumed by our youth in the Harry Potter series alone. The books may be good writing, but the writing is about something dark dressed up as something fun. That’s a great way to get kids hooked on the occult.”

    I don’t care what this author is trying to convey/express in this article but in my opinion Harry Potter should never be promoted at all on a Christian web site. The end doesn’t justify the means. There is no such thing as good or white magic. All witchcraft, spells etc. is from the evil one and this stuff has no place in a Christian home. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about spiritual warfare should know this(for even satan can disguise himself as an angel of light 2Cor 11:14.) We wonder why so many of our kids leave and reject the faith when our culture continuosly feeds us these seeds that look harmless and fly under the radar but truly undermind our faith. I am afraid to see what type of fruit that these seeds will produce in the future. God help us. St Michael pray for us!!!

  • inrikatieguy

    Amen StMichael Pray4us. I couldn’t agree more. I too think Catholic Exchange should not be promoting these books or movies. I just heard Fr. Euteneuer speak last night in Dallas and he expressed the same thing about Harry Potter when a young boy asked him about it during the Q & A. He said reading Harry Potter wouldn’t necessarily lead to possession but it would open a doorway to let the evil one into your life. This open doorway can have a profound effect on the rest of ones life. Unless one rejects this action (opening the doorway by reading Harry Potter), prays and fasts this could lead to serious influence of demons. With so many Catholics willingly letting their children read these books and claiming it helped form them into great readers, writers, lovers of literature, I think it would be fair to assume that the first step in closing the door way, rejecting an action (reading Harry Potter) will not come easily.

    While this latest Harry Potter movie may have Harry learning lessons the earlier books didn’t (from what I understand as I have not read the books or seen the movies). That means we are expecting children who participate in this to be mature enough to wait many years for the book that finally has Harry making good choices in it to get the moral of the story. Somehow I don’t think many kids will see it that way and will take the lessons learned in each book (lying etc.) as the books come and possibly apply them to their lives. God help us.

  • Warren Jewell

    I for one have had the Potter ‘magic’ right-up-to-here since long ago.

    When my daughter was a child, my wife and I took her to the library so often, they never minded that Helena would go baby-sit herself there just to read books her Mom had pointed out to her as ‘good books’. At the library and at children’s book sections, my wife and daughter were on a first-name basis, a warm affectionate comradely ‘conspiracy’ that led these book-folk to ask my wife and daughter to read new books and comment on them. There were hundreds of these books then – there are still hundreds better than these wind-bag pieces of modern-style ‘magic’ nonsense. I suggest parents try reading aloud to their children – I did for my daughter until she was nine or ten, and nearly nightly – from mythic rather than magical books.

    When my granddaughter, Rachel, offered me the first book in the series – it even looked ‘bloated’ to me – to look into, we both laughed when I asked her if any chapter had some disconnected voice murmuring “Use the Force, Harry!” When I made comment to my daughter, Helena, about the book, she told me that were so few books that she recognized on library and store piles. It seems that with limits on shelf space, libraries have dumped (somewhere!) many of those old children’s classics for such modern fare. Even of ‘required’ school reading, my daughter informed the school teachers and principals that her kids would read only what she permitted them to read: she would review their material first, and reserve to herself authority to accept or reject.

    Oh, that some publishers would come out with family-inexpensive reprints of old children’s classics. Meantime, Potter books look like decent doorstops.

  • jdub

    StMichael Pray4us,

    I would just like to point out that your argument against Harry Potter could also be used against The Lord of the Rings.

  • elkabrikir

    StMichaelPray4us,

    regarding the Ratzinger quote, as I recall, he was replying to letter from a woman regarding her concerns about the books. He was telling HER that if SHE was concerned about the books, she should enlighten people. He has never read the series and hasn’t pronounced on them. I believe the Vatican clarified this matter.

    Also, this is a fantasy series. My kids have zero, zilch, nada, no inclinations to witchcraft of any kind. I’ve NEVER seen that played out in my household.

    One reason people leave the faith is that their parents “wear their faith on their sleeve” and turn children off. I’ve seen THAT evil played out repeatedly. Anybody with “an ounce of knowledge about spiritual warfared should know” that Satan will use any strategy to destroy souls including apparently faithful, holy parents, and this forum.

    I will pray for light and the wisdom to discern how I should procede with the Harry Potter story.

  • http://www.familycatechism.com joan123h

    I have been very disappointed in the articles from Catholic Exchange
    recently. If I want to see the faith watered down, I don’t have far
    to look, but I thought that this forum would have some rules besides
    “anything goes”. I am finding precious little to share on my lists
    and that makes me very sad. In case you haven’t noticed, the faith and
    morals of our country and the world are in alarming condition and it would
    be a good thing if we were to find more relevant articles to the reality
    of our faith and the condition of the world. We need articles that show
    us that sin is definitively the cause of all unhappiness, that grace is
    far greater than sin, and the Church offers that grace, so much so, that
    we have the opportunity to live holy lives in that grace. Getting back to
    basics would be a good start. Please help to build up saints! This world
    will only get better if enough people take our responsibility to live the faith
    in truth and love so seriously that sainthood is our only goal.

  • StMichael Pray4us

    I’m just in sales for the faith. Anyone who has a problem with my post contact management.
    As for Pope Benedict’s response about this try this link: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/aug/07082802.html
    Fr. Amorth’s response:
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/mar/06030104.html
    Fr Euteneuer’s newsletter 10/31/07:
    http://hli.org/index.php?option=com_acajoom&act=mailing&task=view&listid=2&mailingid=51

    If a Doctor tells us we must stop something, it’s no good for us, it’s no good for our health we immediately stop what we’re doing. We go home and clear out the cupboard of all the junk food, join a gym etc. But when our church tells us something is no good for us, it’s evil or even poison as the experts, Fr Amorth, Fr. Euteneuer have expressed, we fight against it, we don’t believe it. Witchcraft is an abomination to God and is outright condemned by God in the Bible and by the Church. Fiction or not I don’t care, there is no middle ground here!!!! The seeds that can get planted are deadly and if it can be avoided, which this can, it must be avoided. Why take the chance.

    CCC 2117 All (not some 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.

    St. Paul tells us that we are not only to avoid evil itself, but to avoid even the appearance of evil: 1 Thess 5:22 “Abstain from every appearance of evil.”
    I would pretty much bet my last dollar that if St Paul were around today he would include the Harry Potter movies and books as an appearance of evil and something that we should abstain from.

  • Christi Derr

    The Pope and two exorcists have warned against these books and to a lesser extent the movies. It seems foolish to me to disregard these warnings and attempt to “tease out” good from them.

    As to the Pope’s quote, he did more respond simply to this woman and her thoughts on the books. He agreed that the too subtle distinction of good and evil in these books is very dangerous to young souls and gave her permission to make his statement known.

  • StMichael Pray4us

    In reference to the Lord of the Rings I have to plead ignorance but I know for a fact that Tolkein was a very, very devout Catholic. I don’t see any exorcists telling us to stay away from his works or calling them poison. I had also heard Fr Euteneuer say that because of Harry Potter, Twilight, etc., there is going to be a greater need for more priests to become exorcists in the future. This stuff opens doors that we need to keep closed. Keep an eye out for his new book that should be avaialable very soon called Exorcism and the Church Militant.

  • pfmacarthur

    I would venture to say that many of you condemning the “Harry Potter” books have not read them, which, of course, is your choice. I, too, was a bit wary of reading them after hearing what others had to say about them. However, in this case, these children do not learn magic. They are born with the gift. They are then sent to Hogwarts to learn how to use it responsibly. The whole point of the series (the complete series – books 1 -7) is that self-sacrifice and love is what matters and what ultimately defeats evil, a very Christian idea. Harry lives as a child because his mother was willing to die for him, and ultimately evil will be destroyed (spoiler alert) because Harry is willing to die.

    As I said, people can choose what to read and what to allow their children to read. However, condemning something that you have not read because you think you know what it says or what it promotes is not appropriate.

  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    You don’t need to read an issue of Playboy to know that it’s an occasion of sin. It’s Playboy, you know what you’re getting. Similarly, if a legitimate authority has condemned Harry Potter (and it sounds to me as though authority is very concerned), then there is no need to read it. It is enough to know that our priests and our Pope, whom we trust, have said that this is dangerous.

    It’s an old dodge to suggest that one has to read something before one is able to comment on it. It is possible to judge a book by its cover; I submit that there’s nothing wrong with that, particularly when those in authority have judged it dangerous.

  • Mary Kochan

    Anthony, no one “in authority” has judged it dangerous.

    The pope never read them; whatever he knew about them came from someone not in authority.

    I don’t know if Fr. A and Fr. E have read them. However, Fr. A and Fr. E are neither of them in authority over any Catholic parent regarding the upbringing of their children. Neither is Archbishop Pell of Sydney who expressed unqualified enjoyment of them, although he said that they were more superficial than LOTR. here’s more from Pell on the topic: http://forum.catholic.org/viewtopic.php?p=625690&sid=ada19544553eafeea9dac4df35a37ccc
    Nevertheless, Pell cannot tell you what YOUR children should or should not read.

    You are the person God has entrusted with YOUR children. No one can tell you what criteria you must use — such as demanding that you read the book first. It is your right to decide that you do not want your children reading it, without ever cracking it open. It would even be your right to tell your children not to read it if the pope said it was wonderful. It is not your right to demand that other parents do it your way.

    We have presented both the pros and cons on this site. Now that the movies are out, we are presenting movie reviews. If we got a negative movie review, we would run it as well — however, one does have to actually see the movie to write about it. This is not presented to “promote” the books or the movies, but as a way of informing our readers about them.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    Given the prevalence of fantasy fiction and fantasy magic in our culture, I think it is very useful to explain the difference between fantasy magic and real magic, PARTICULARLY how each of them works.

    The most important thing to remember about fantasy is that it takes place in a make-believe world. That may seem trite and/or obvious, but it is actually very important.

    In nearly all fantasy (and Harry Potter is absolutely an example of this), magic is an alternate means of obtaining ends, that exists naturally in the fantasy world in which the story takes place. It is available to anyone with the proper combination of predisposition, proclivity, training, and equipment. Because it is actually a natural part of the invented world, its use has the same moral impact as technology. In these make-believe worlds, it absolutely matters if you are using magic to murder, defend, save labor, heal, or what have you.

    This is the part to emphasize to your children:

    In the real world, magic is the act of supplicating a preternatural being, requesting that it use its powers to serve your ends. In this case, the morality of the act is entirely dependent upon the being whose aid you request.

    We make requests of God all the time. In fact, the word “pray” is a synonym for “ask” or “request.” Hopefully, we do so with the recognition that He will grant only those requests which it pleases Him to grant, and always based upon the greater good that will result. We also ask the angels, saints, and the Blessed Virgin to pray for us.

    But if we supplicate ANY OTHER preternatural being, we are praying to a demon, if not the devil himself. No good can EVER come of such an action. Furthermore, nearly all fantasy literature prior to the 1960s used this understanding of magic, which is why the default sword-and-sorcery hero was the swordsman, and the default villain was the sorcerer.

    Is make-believe magic dangerous? It can be. If it tempts you to try real-life magic, or if you cannot tell the difference between make-believe and real-life magic, it absolutely is. If by your acceptance of entertainment with make-believe magic, you lead somebody to accept or try real-world magic, it is. Those cases aside, I don’t think so. Like science fiction, fantasy can illustrate the human condition in ways that stories set in more “realistic” settings cannot, and do so to our benefit.

  • celothriel

    I really enjoy the vast majority of articles on Catholic Exchange, and have no problem with a Harry Potter article appearing, as it is not a tenet of the Faith to approve or disapprove of Harry :-)

    That being said, I will share my own experience. Several years back, I read at least 4 of the books, which were given to us as gifts. They were enjoyable in some ways, but I was not comfortable with everything in them, and in my heart there lingered some vague uneasiness about allowing our children to read them when they were old enough. I prayed and sought direction. A dear priest we know told me that he thought they were fine.

    Not long after that, I ran across an article online by Michael O’Brien that referred to the Fr. Amorth quote mentioned above. Mr. O’Brien pointed out that the priests who were giving their approval to HP were not exorcists, and that it was worth our while to listen to what the exorcists were saying about it. My husband and I talked it over and decided that there are SO many wonderful books out there, why take a chance with something so potentially deadly?

    In the process of ridding the house of Harry, we had a supernatural experience that I can only describe as chilling. We very clearly got the message that there was a force present in/around those books that did not want to leave. We have not regretted our decision!

    Regarding Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, I have never heard of any exorcists, or any priest for that matter, warning us to avoid it. Anyone who is interested in exploring the uses of magic in fiction from a Catholic perspective might enjoy Michael O’Brien’s book, A Landscape with Dragons.

    I’ll end by sharing a quote from Laura Berquist, who is well known in homeschooling circles as the director of Mother of Divine Grace School. I believe it is in the first Harry Potter book that we encounter the “mandrake root” which looks like a screaming baby, and will ultimately be made into a potion. Mrs. Berquist says, “It is only because our society accepts abortion that such an image for the mandrake root can be used. In a culture that valued babies, it would never be acceptable to have the root have the form of a baby and then be cut up into a potion.”

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