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Jul 19

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Lions and Muggles and Hobbits, Should I?

A Multi-Part Discussion

Part One

     My 9 year-old son asked me a dreaded question the other night, and while it wasn’t the THE question, it was heavy enough to give me pause.  Thumbing through a LEGO magazine, he asked:  “Dad, why do you consider the magic and wizards and monsters in Harry Potter bad and the magic and wizards and monsters in the Lord of the Rings okay?”   It was 9:00 pm, and I had already turned my brain off a few minutes before.  Getting a philosophical question from your child at bedtime is like getting a budget question from your wife while your head is on the pillow.  Yes, I am a conservative, born-again Christian, and I already have the standard “good vs. evil” argument (that people concoct for entertainment issues) well memorized.  My son is saved and knowledgeable about the Bible as well.     So why was it so hard to answer this question?

     Put yourself in the mind of a 9 year-old and look through the same LEGO magazine.  You have brightly-colored, plastic bricks labeled “Harry Potter”  on one page, with characters and monsters attacking each other, and, on the next page, you have brightly-colored, plastic bricks labeled “Lord of the Rings” with characters and monsters attacking each other.  Based on those observations, why wouldn’t my son ask questions?  He is only 9 and hasn’t accumulated  the many layers of “grey” that we adults have wrapped around our lives over the years.  His is a very black and white world, but that is the heart of a child.  And, if you read real closely in the Bible, you will come to understand that Jesus was a real black and white kind of guy also.  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3.  So, the 64 million dollar question is:  why does daddy watch the Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Star Wars, but will not watch Harry Potter or the Twilight series?  I guess the 128 million dollar question is:  Do entertainment issues really matter, one way or the other, in the grand scheme of things?

     For any issue, there are always two extreme limits and a middle.  One extreme on this issue is the “Anything Goes” philosophy, where people watch or consume whatever, without thought of consequences.  In this group, entertainment is only a weighty matter if someone chooses to make it a weighty matter.  As a Bible-believing Christian, who takes seriously 1 Peter 2:9:   “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” , I cannot subscribe to that view.  My “peculiarity” revolves around adhering to the Holy standards of the ancient Bible and applying those standards to a modern world.  Anything that conflicts with the established Holy standard becomes a “weighty” issue for me.  For most of the world, the “peculiar” in 1 Peter 2:9 automatically lumps me in with the other extreme side, the “Nothing Goes” philosophy.  In this extreme, all entertainment is frivolous and probably evil.  Any mention of a witch or monster or violence or sin is not tolerated.  Now, I don’t know anyone (and you probably don’t either) that lives in an isolated room with only a mattress, light, and Bible, so this philosophy must be quite rare or non-existent.  (And if the isolated person wants to get real technical, he or she better remove the Bible from the room.  It contains murder, rape, witches and sorcerers.)  So, like it or not, most Christians (and most others) are living in the middle somewhere.

     For those Christians who are not comfortable being in the extreme or in the middle, there is a way out, courtesy of noted Christian author, Gary Demar.  I sat in his lecture one time at a homeschool conference and was introduced to the 80/20 principle.  This principle has a middle bordered by two sides also, but it illustrates the relationships between those sides and the middle in a better way.  10% of the population deeply cares about one “side” of an issue, while another 10% of the population deeply cares about the other “side” of the same issue.  The rest of the population (80%) doesn’t care as deeply about the same same issue, and, either doesn’t understand the positions of the two sides or doesn’t know that the positions of the two sides exists.  The Harry Potter controversy can be described nicely with this principle. 

The 10%:  Harry Potter books and movies are bad because they introduce children to witchcraft, which is anti-Christian.

The other 10%:  What’s wrong with a movie about witchcraft?  Harry Potter is a good guy, trying to make the world a better place.  Besides, the Wiccan religion is very real, and its followers are decent, peace loving folk.

The 80%:   What’s all the fuss about?  Its just crowd pleasing entertainment.  Its a wonderful, make believe world to get lost in, and I don’t think it will make me into some broom riding witch or wizard.  Besides, it made my kid love reading again, and what’s the harm in that?

     Whether Christian or atheist, Wiccan or Buddhist, we all craft a world around us based on what we think is real.    The worlds of the 10% are so real to them, that they hold on dogmatically to their beliefs and engage in a competition to capture the hearts and mind of the 80%.  I am an evangelical Christian because God has demonstrated his “realness” to me based on events in my life and the lives of family and friends.  A Wiccan may have once been in church, but it was not demonstrated to be “real” to them, so they have found something that they believe to be real.  For many, smack dab in the middle of the 80%, paying the mortgage, walking the dog, playing sports, etc. are the only “real” things.  The supernatural is not real to them, and is perhaps only confined to the special effects that they experience in movies, books, and other forms of entertainment.  Virtual experiences with no real consequences.

     Have I lost you yet?  Many of you by now have probably dismissed me as a kook, a prude, a hypocrite, or all of the above.  I can understand that, but ask that you have patience and read this entire series anyway.  In Part II, we will finally discuss popular series of the day:  Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Satr Wars, Twilight, Oz, and others.  We will address certain questions:

1.  The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe practically smacks you in the face with Aslan as Jesus, but are the other books in the series as religious?  Should they be?  Do authors cleverly interject their personal beliefs in their works, and does it matter if you agree with all of those beliefs?

2.  Does the Lord of the Rings series really have Christian imagery and overtones?  Is it too buried in the narrative to matter?  Can this really be considered a Christian movie or is just a grand adventure with good fight scenes?

3.  Does Harry Potter have redeeming value for Christians?  Should it be required to have redeeming value?

4.  Ditto on Twilight.

5.  Do science fiction, superhero, and alien stories get automatically get a pass since they don’t involve magic?

6.  Does anything that “Uncle Walt” does at Disney get a free pass?

Stay tuned.

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2012/07/19/lions-and-muggles-and-hobbits-should-i/

4 comments

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  1. Doug J

    Thanks for stretching this out from your post on FB the other day.. I’m very interested to see where it all goes.

    I had been thinking… no one minds if there kids read about sorcerers or superheros or intergalactic conflicts or alternate worlds because we are in the cutlure that already accepts those things as “OK.”

    We are not so much scared of Wiccans or Muslims or Vampires but the large group of people that like those things that are different from us. It puts on edge.. on our guard. We all start as ignorant until we learn more.

    I will admit: I don’t mind my kids reading Harry Potter. I do hate Captain Underpants. Them reading the bible makes me uncomfortable, but i think it will do them good in the long run and I would not stop them. Them going to church makes me VERY uncomfortable because of my experience with church culture, but I think that is a hurdle for them to experience on their own.

    To sum up, is it an issue of culture more than anything? I am thinking “yes,” but I am really excited to see where you end this up! Thanks!

  2. David

    Thanks for your honesty, Doug. It is fascinating the various worldviews that we live by, based on our upbringing. Your church experience is none of my business, but just know that the “church culture” that man has made is not the same as the Bible. Sorry you were stung by this in the past.

  3. Kimberli

    I am very interested in the next installment. I appreciate your thought process and the effort you make to present it. Thanks!!

  4. David

    Next installment coming very soon!!

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