Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The REAL magic of Harry Potter.

Wow. I sure have gotten some interesting mail this week.

It seems that my Harry Potter column has stirred up some controversy. Specifically, it wasn't so much my column that stirred the controversy, but the words "Harry Potter" themselves.

I had heard that there were those out there with serious Harry Potter issues. I've now heard from a few of them... and I want to say a few things out in the open.

First off, I'm not a very religious person. Don't feel sorry for me or anything; I'm honestly okay with it. I went to a Lutheran college, I've had my share of religion classes. I'm FASCINATED by religion and LOVE talking about it. I just don't know if I necessarily buy into it. I like to consider myself still searching... for answers, for truths, for a religion that jives with me and my belief system.

I respect all religions. I understand that it's a VERY VERY VERY important aspect to many a person's life... and there's nothing wrong with that one bit. Even if I don't agree with your religion, anything that builds community and positivity and peace is, frankly, a GOOD thing in my book.

However, all this said, I'm now receiving letters from folks out there condemning me for even referencing Harry Potter in one of my columns... because, to make the story short, Harry Potter is apparantly turning children of the free world to the occult. And, more to the point, by my mentioning of Harry Potter in a column, I'm basically an accomplice to the crime.

No offense... but man, gimme a break.

First off, what the Harry Potter books have managed to do above and beyond all is to encourage kids to read... and quite frankly, there's nothing wrong with that. That's AWESOME. Reading opens doors to the mind, to the world, to possibilities.

I don't for a second think that reading a FICTIONAL book about FICTIONAL kids who know how to cast FICTIONAL magic is opening the doors to the realm of the occult. Show me a kid who's read a Harry Potter book and promptly gone out and renounced their religion to perform black magic... and I'll show you a kid who must have had some SERIOUS issues before he or she ever cracked open that book.

Nowhere in the Harry Potter books can one find a passage encouraging little kids to perform evil magic or join the ranks of the occult. It's a STORY. Just like the 200,000 other stories that one can find in one's local library. It's so harmless it's absurd.

Worse yet is this insinuation that by referencing the Harry Potter series, I'm somehow in cahoots with the dark occult evil empire. Get real. I'm not mad that someone's casting me in a negative light; people do that all the time. But I AM mad that someone would use Harry Potter as a reason to do so.

I write for a newspaper. We cover news -- whether it's politics, sports, weather, (cough) HUMOR, whatever. Our paper has spent several a column inch reporting on Al Qaida... does that make us in league with terrorists, too? Get real.

There's a whole lot worse out there for kids than Harry Potter. If you squirm about your kid reading Harry Potter, you should be bedridden with fear over what your kid experiences every day when he or she gets to school. Schools are a bubbling cauldron of peer pressure, outside influence, and bullying. Little girls walk the streets in Paris Hilton get-ups. Eating rotting bugs is now considered prime-time television entertainment. Oh, Mr. Dylan, you WERE so right -- the times, they sure ARE a-changin'.

Yet with all the tragedy... all the trauma... all the senselessness in the world, some people out there prefer to set their radar on HARRY POTTER?! The morals in those books are strong, unwavering, and crucial to success in life. Valor... honor... compassion... love. That's what Harry Potter teaches. And it's VALUES that need to be encouraged in kids rather than random fear. Those values will set the path for the children of tomorrow to make the right choices in life. And the positive impact that a little kid can get from reading books like Harry Potter is the only REAL magic afoot here.

1 comment:

me said...

AMEN! I know lots of kids reading HP (and lots of adults too!) and none have turned to the occult. The stories have such great appeal because it is a story of good triumphing over evil. It doesn't matter what happens to Harry, he still keeps on fighting for what he knows is right, even after all he has lost. How can that EVER be wrong?

From me (age 35), my mom (who's working her way thru book 4 and 53 years old) and all those out there who love HP, thank you!!