How I Managed to Read Harry Potter and Not Fall Into the Sin of Witchcraft

Harry Potter

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!

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14 thoughts on “How I Managed to Read Harry Potter and Not Fall Into the Sin of Witchcraft

  1. Mandy PS

    Harry Potter was such a huge part of my.l childhood and it was something I had to keep an absolute secret from my church. I remember my parents calling me into their bedroom to have “a talk” and them telling me I couldn’t continue in the series (at this point the first 3 were out and I read them all) as some people at church had told them it was evil. I am so incredibly grateful that my parents listened to me that day and my reasoning and defense of why Harry Potter was no more evil than all the other SF/F books we read. (My parents and I were all three reading the Wheel of Time together, which was the crux of my defense. The “witches” of HP were no different from the Aes Sedai of the Wheel of Time).

    So they let me continue reading but in secret from the church. I could take the book and read it anywhere just not at church and I couldn’t talk about it at church. When church friends came to visit the weekend after the Goblet of Fire came out, the book had to be closed up in my room and I wasn’t allowed to read it.

    this was the first time I became really aware of the fact my parents didn’t agree with everything the church said and did and that needing to hide the books didn’t make reading it a “sin” but our church small minded. And all in all instead of scarring me against the church, it taught me that churches could be wrong and it was okay to decide against the church and yet still participate the community. Nowadays I am never quiet about what I disagree with a church about and would never go to a church I needed to keep such a secret. But i would never trade the experience of learning my parents valued my word at twelve as equal to the word of their peers, trusted my opinion, and let me participate in the decision. A pivotal moment in my life indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Luisa

    Can we all just talk for a minute about how stupid churches and moral panic are?
    Churches have been one of the most evil places there are, yet humans continue to fall into the dumb trap of religion out of fear, ignorance, politics, or otherwise.

    Like

  3. Kristin H.

    I started reading Harry Potter at about the age of 8. They’re such a huge part of my childhood and still my favorite series (second only to the Narnia books), and some of the only books that are always just as good and magical (ha) no matter how many times I reread them.

    My parents never had much of a problem with them. I knew not to talk about Harry Potter with our church people. I remember a couple of times it would come up again…a preacher would mention the evil of HP or something, and my mom would say, “Maybe you shouldn’t be reading those books?” but thankfully they never made me stop. And my family always went to see the movies together at the theater, right down to a midnight showing of the final movie when I was 20 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jasmine Ruigrok

    I never read Harry Potter, and still haven’t. I was of the ilk that it introduced kids to witchcraft, and whilst I get the concern, I also get the flip side. I had a good friend actually begin to bring me around to it as he was a Christian with his head screwed on straight and loved the series. So I actually don’t have an issue with them any more, and would like to read the series someday.

    Having said that, Twilight is a whole other story, and I won’t be reading them in any foreseeable future. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. firefly1824

    I am always glad my parents never told me what I could or couldn’t read. I never listened to what others had to say about this series (which is wonderful) because by the time most Americans/church friends knew about it, I’d already read the first book. My mom was a middle school librarian and it was on her radar early. You can tell who’s read them by how they speak about it. It still amuses me, on occasion, to be able to tell people I have created spells for my HP fanfics.

    On another note, I was always glad I didn’t read Lord of the Rings until I was an adult. I would not have gotten through them at a younger age.

    Liked by 1 person

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