Like all real Christians, I, of course, did not read Harry Potter as a kid. I wouldn’t give even the appearance of evil. I wouldn’t tolerate the sin of witchcraft. And please don’t bring up the hypocrisy that I didn’t have a problem with the wizardry and magic of Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, because, um, they’re different, obviously. Somehow.
This led to a mysterious, some would say magical relationship with the Harry Potter series. As a bookworm growing up in the twenty-first century, it was a huge part of my life, and I had absolutely no idea what it was about. My insular fundamentalist community opposed it so vehemently that I was too cowed to even read a synopsis online, but I did stare at the thick spines at the library, and I noticed whenever a new book came out.
A confession: Once, when I was babysitting, I found a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the shelf. The entire night, I wrestled with the temptation to take it down, crack it open, maybe see what all of this hullabaloo was about. I couldn’t believe my weak will, but I caved. I read the synopsis on the back. I flipped through the pages. I saw the familiar names — Hermione, Harry, Ron.
Oh, gosh. It looked interesting.
I felt sick to my stomach and never gave into the temptation again.
You are the first to receive this confession. Forgive me, for I have sinned.
To assuage both my curiosity and my guilt, I purchased Richard Abanes’ book, Fantasy and Your Family: Exploring The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Modern Magick.
Now, pause — this is big. I purchased this book. I am the world’s biggest miser. I never buy anything. That just shows you how desperate I was to get some information on Harry Potter: I spent money.
We all know that the biggest reason Christians oppose Harry Potter is that it introduces innocent children to witchcraft. And Abanes took great care to make the case that children who read Harry Potter go on to explore witchcraft, practice real spells, and dabble in real magick. After all, J.K. Rowling uses actual, honest-to-goodness spells and magick in her series.
The great irony is that I learned more about actual, honest-to-goodness, real life witchcraft from reading this book refuting Harry Potter than I ever would have learned from reading the series itself.
So listen up, rebels: if you want a crash course in Wicca, read an anti-Potter hit piece.
Honestly, I don’t regret not reading Harry Potter as a kid. I regret making a big deal out of it. I regret judging other people who read it. I regret feeling like an outsider when every reference I didn’t understand came from Harry Potter.
But you know how if you read a good book too young, you might misunderstand it and go about the rest of your life opposed to it simply because of your youthful ignorance? It’s like that. Had I read it in the state of mind I was told to have, I might’ve come away genuinely anti-Potter and permanently missed out on a good thing. (Just like my husband, who couldn’t get past the first few chapters and to this day refuses to read the books with me. Ugh. The nerve, having the freedom to read Harry Potter and just throwing it out the window….)
As it happened, I had a delightful surprise waiting for me as a free-thinking adult. And man oh man, it was even more magical and perfect than little old fundie me ever imagined.
Oh, and I’m still not interested in witchcraft.
Happy twenty years, Harry Potter!