I posted before on this topic almost a year ago now, but this morning following my bi-weekly run in with our local LSU "megaphone guys", decided to approach the topic again, as it is in their minds on the many sure tickets to eternal damnation and separation from God.
A friend once argued to me against Harry Potter on the grounds that interest in the occult arose with the popularity of the series. I can't dispute that; I have a old friend that who was at one time a Harry Potter fan, and did dabble in the dark arts a bit once he had started himself down a self-destructive path, and perhaps the wouldn't have occurred away from his familiarity with the boy-wizard(although this isn't a certainty).
But we'll return to Mr. Potter. I want to begin with a broader stroke.
What is sin? Well there are several definitions, disobedience to God being a nice, general one. Oftentimes a fine definition to 'sin' is a perversion of something. Fornication and adultery are perversions of the sexual experiences that God designed for us, for pro-creation, yes, but also for pleasure; outside of God's intended venue(marriage) is where sex becomes something sinful. Likewise covetousness is a perversion of the thrills and joys that we get from X, whatever that may be, a person, an experience, a thing, and so on. It's the attachment to the thing that leads to the inordinate desire for it that is sinful. It's outside of God's intention for it. The same could be said of drinking and drunkenness or gluttony.
What about Harry Potter? We're getting there, if you don't see it already.
Throughout history is hasn't only been actions that we have perverted into things the are against the will of God, but we have perverted things as well. Christianity is a perfect example. Christianity has been the banner of persecutors, subjugators, and murderers for almost two millenia. It has been a sign taken up by the most un-loving, and thus un-Christian, people of all times, 'justifying' everything from persecution of Jews, to witch hunts and abortion clinic bombings. Christianity is not bad. It is the perversion, the thing that these people create and label as the faith that is so terrible and opposite the movement of God's kingdom.
And this is where we bring Harry Potter and quidditch and Azkaban back into the picture. Anything can be misused to terrible ends, but considering J. K. Rowling's intent was not to convert a generation to proficiency in witchcraft, it is indeed a misuse that leads readers to such ends. Stupid decisions cannot be stopped and are to be expected to a degree from anything. If it is in the heart of a reader to distance themselves from the Lord and His church, that they would do so in this manner, then it is the heart of the reader that takes him there, not the words of the author. It is his choice.
The second arguement that I frequently is that the Potter books shine such a positive light of witchcraft and wizardry, and there are two responses to this:
1) this is actually not so true, as both the protagonists and the antagonists are witches and wizards. Lord Voldemort, who is a personification of all things selfish and evil, is a wizard. That's hardly positive. Harry Potter, who fights the darkness and actually shines of many virtues is also a wizard. There's no universal here. It's the same fallacious arguement made when people say that the New Testament shines a negative light on Judaism, apparently ignoring the fact that Jesus and all of His disciples(from Peter to Judas Iscariot) were Jews, and that Christianity at that time was founded and seen as nothing else than another form of Judaism.
2) Harry Potter doesn't have a monopoly on witches and wizards in the world of fantasy literature. Other prominent appearance of theirs include The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, nominally even, and in the Star Wars mythos, simply by another name. One simply cannot throw out the Dumbledores and Weasleys yet cling to the Gandalfs and deeper magic of Narnia(which is a beautiful symbol of God's covenant with His people), or the Jedi--there's a double standard being unjustly used there. And we know that Christians love at least their Narnia, if not their Middle-Earth and Star Wars also, and well they should.
Something to chew on.
I may follow up with my thoughts(which is all that this is) on more disputed topics in the coming days and weeks.