Potter-mania is descending once again! Love 'em or hate 'em, Harry Potter is swooping in on his broomstick, returning to a theatre near you in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire . The first three Harry Potter films grossed $2.6 BILLION around the world! J.K. Rowling's young hero is a worldwide youth culture phenomenon that followers of Jesus should be prepared to discuss thoughtfully, as they seek to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Is Harry inappropriate entertainment for Christians? Does Rowling's fantasy world of wizards, witches and magic desensitize young people to the real world of the occult? Or does Hogwarts have more in common with the world of fairy tales and science fiction? Certainly sincere people can disagree, but regardless of where you personally draw the line on these issues, no one can deny that Harry Potter permeates the culture and provides opportunities for values-oriented discussions. If you choose not to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, you can still have a reasoned discussion with friends, explaining why you are uncomfortable with Harry and intelligently discussing wiccan beliefs.
For those comfortable with Harry as entertainment, this particular movie's overarching themes provide substantive spiritual discussion starters. In Goblet of Fire, many of the characters are blind to the reality that there is a battle being waged between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Harry is aware of the battle and consciously chooses to fight on the side of good. Others however, follow Lord Voldemort and the forces of evil, either willingly or by being placed under the Imperius curse which forces them to follow him against their will. As followers of Jesus, we may be aware that the evil one blinds and deceives people, making them oblivious to the reality that Ephesians 6:12 describes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." A battle is being waged in our world as well, though many around us may be blind to that reality!
As Goblet's plot unfolds, someone illegally enters Harry in the Triwizard Tournament, even though he is underage. Everyone else thinks Harry cheated to enter, and he suffers as a result of this misperception. But Harry steps up to the challenges that lay ahead of him and willingly chooses to sacrifice winning in exchange for trying to keep others safe. Through this process what the forces of darkness meant for evil (Harry's harm) is 'redeemed' and used for good (other's safety). The God of the Bible specializes in this same kind of transformation. In Gen. 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers who had sold him into slavery, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." And of course Jesus death on the cross is the ultimate transformation of taking what was meant for evil and using it for good!
Here are some ideas to help you get your Harry Potter conversations moving in a spiritual direction:
Ask your friends if they're interested in spiritual things. Do they think there is a battle between the forces of good and evil being waged in the world around them? Have they experienced it on a personal level? Share what you believe.
Do your friends think Harry is a good guy? Do they see him as courageous, compassionate, loyal and humble? Are those character traits that are hard to cultivate? Which one is hardest for you? Share how God can help you live those traits out in your life.
Would you sacrifice winning and glory to protect others? Would it be easy for you or a struggle? What about sacrificing your life for others? Could you do that? In John 15:13 Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Use the opportunity to explain what Jesus meant that he laid down his life for us and he calls us his friends!
Ask your friends if they've ever experienced having something that seemed really terrible, later be used for good. Describe how God's done that sort of thing in your life.
As you find yourself surrounded by Harry Potter buzz, morph it into significant conversations that move from the fantasy world of good and evil to the actual world of spiritual realities. You too can be a real player in the battle being waged around you!
Jane Dratz works for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. To find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.