Monkey See, Monkey NOT Do?
A good number of orthodox Catholics are deeply troubled about the Harry Potter phenomenon — both the books and the movie. Many objections have been raised, but the major ones seem to be that (1) the hero, Harry, uses evil means (including the occult) to fight evil, thereby validating the sinister principle that the end justifies the means, and (2) Harry makes the occult appear glamorous, and this could lead Catholic kids to get involved in it.
Steve Wood of the Family Life Center took out a full-page ad in The Wanderer (Nov. 22, 2001) to warn about the Harry Potter movie. Said he: “Before I became a Christian, I was involved in New Age and false religious movements that actually practiced several of the things casually described in the Harry Potter novels…. I’ve led young people out of the very world described in the Harry Potter novels to a commitment to Christ. I’ve assisted law enforcement officials investigating occult related crimes. I’ve personally confronted and ministered to demon-possessed individuals deeply involved in Satanism and the occult. I tell you this. Exposing children to Harry Potter is playing with a fire that threatens their eternal souls. Will every child or adult who reads these books be burned by them? No. But I guarantee that Harry Potter will be an entry point into the demonic New Age world for thousands of young Catholics…. Let’s face it. For many young people, Satan and the occult seem fascinating and exciting. And quite a few end up getting hooked on that stuff. It all starts somewhere.”
Far-fetched? Crazy? Well, we’ve seen Steve Wood on Mother Angelica’s EWTN and he strikes us as being a sane and sensible fellow. What we hear him saying in his ad is that much depends on the particular child, and that certain parents would be wise in deciding that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Now, we suspect that if the Harry Potter sensation had surfaced, say, fifty years ago, very few orthodox Christian parents would have batted an eyelash. But Christians now live in a new age. The old goddesses and potions and spells and dark forces presumably vanquished by Christianity long ago have, amazingly, become quite fashionable. Christianity’s old enemy, paganism, has been unearthed, recycled, updated, spruced up — and it’s back with a vengeance. “The Goddess is Alive and Magick is afoot!” proclaim the proselytizing bumper stickers. Why, the U.S. Army now recognizes Wicca (witchcraft) as a legitimate religion. What decades ago would have been seen by just about everybody as amusingly preposterous is now taken quite seriously by increasing numbers of people, even well-educated and intelligent types.
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Tate was a critic, poet, novelist, and intellectual of the first rank. Neglect of his work today is due in large part to his conversion to Catholicism.