I may be opinionated, but I don’t usually call the radio and let ‘er loose.  On Friday afternoon, I did just that.

You see, a sweet friend called and told me there was quite an animated discussion about Harry Potter on our local Catholic radio here in town.  It was a national show, but broadcast on our local affiliate.  At first, I was like, “Oh, I’ll tune in and see what they’re saying.”  I figured there would be equal play and I was curious as to how the discussion was going.  After a few minutes, I’ll be honest.  I was horrified at what they were saying.  And I quote…

“The Harry Potter series is an invitation to sin.”

“After reading Harry Potter, droves of young people are delving into the occult, researching real witchcraft and wizadry and turning to Wicca.”

“Parents would be ill-advised and irresponsible to let their children not just read the series, but watch the movies.”

“Harry Potter is not Christ-like, he is evil and JK Rowling has woven a fascinating tale of evil.”

Hold up there, skippy.

You know how you get all trembly because you are so frustrated and are trying to arrange your thoughts in an articulate manner?  That was me.  I dialed and after hearing my counter-argument, they patched me right through.  I’m guessing I was either 1) good for ratings or 2) a poor soul they could beat up on, or 3) both.

“So, Kathryn from Austin, tell us your thoughts on the Harry Potter series.”

And I did.  Hopefully eloquently.  I mentioned that the series uses magic as a conduit, but that the real issue at hand is the point of the book:  good vs. evil and love vs. hate.  End of story.  How Scott and I’ve seen it as an invitation to talk with Will about evil in the world and how to confront it, battle it and ultimately be a disciple of Christ.  And, how we look forward to reading the books and watching the movies with all five of our children.

That did it.  That’s when the priest said parents were being led astray and five years down the road my kids would most likely be on a path to championing the occult cause.

For the love.  I wanted to respond, but they cut me off.

Let’s shoot straight, shall we?  Our job as parents is to provide experiences for our children to learn.  To catch them when they screw up (and they will) and lead them to make good choices.  We should show them how to constantly ask themselves, “Is what I’m doing glorifying God or glorifying the Devil.”  For every parent, that is a constant struggle.  No one choice is the right choice for every family, for every child, for every situation.

I’m reminded of my own misgivings.  I am a Christian, but I have missed the mark so many times.  Yet, somehow, the learning experiences, the guidance of my parents and ultimately the grace of God has allowed me to decipher right from wrong, good versus evil.  But sometimes I have to be wrong and experience evil before I get to right and good.

There was the time in high school when my then-boyfriend was home from college.  He picked me up for a date and before things got rolling he asked if I wanted to smoke a joint.  Um…NO.  Take me home.  Date over.  Never talked since.  Clearly, I made a bad choice in going out with him, but by the grace of God I got out of that car.

In college, during my time as a 4-H camp program staff, Scott came up to visit.  While he was getting ready in the bathroom, I turned on the TV, fell asleep on the bed and then was summoned to the director’s office.  The TV was mistaken for “inappropriate behavior” and I nearly lost my scholarship.  That’s when I learned the harsh lesson of “perception is reality” no matter how jacked up it may be.

As a mom, I could write my own book series of my missteps.  But let’s not go there.

Point being?  I’m hearing a lot of talk about how evil Harry Potter is…from people who have never read the series or watched the movies.  From what they’ve heard on the radio, Googled or perceived the series to be.

That sure sounds a lot like what non-Christians say about Christianity.

If you’ve read the series you’ve seen the beauty in Harry’s final sacrifice.  You’ve learned to fall in love with his friendship – true and pure – with Ron and Hermoine.  You’ve seen how Voldemort’s way (complete with his pesky SERPENT) never works no matter how hard he tries.  You read about the magic, but it is the relationships that keep you hooked.  It is the love that makes you believe good can win.  And it does.  I say, don’t be so quick to judge until you’ve read it for yourself.

We set firm boundaries for our children and set our standards high – real high.  But, keeping your kids in the bubble, sheltering them from the secular world is not the way Team Whitaker rolls.  How blessed are Scott and I that we get to have these discussions with Will while he’s still living in our house.  We get to help form the conscience, shape the character.  In eight short years, those lessons will be cemented.  Our day-to-day job as parents will have ceased.  What kind of a young adult will we have created?  One who shies away from everything that doesn’t conform to his thinking?  Or, one who meets people where they are and shines as a Christ-like example?  I hope the latter.  I’m praying for it.

11 Comments

  1. Tuckers on July 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    You GO sister!! You know they cut you off after the priest said his blah, blah because he did NOT want to take you on. We here are facing the same thing! Let's see my kids want to play with a wand…. but NEVER have asked for anything relating to witchcraft books. People said the same thing about Greek Myth. Monitor, teach and set limits…. the end. FO-SHIZZLE!!

  2. SimmonsFamily on July 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Very well said, Kathryn. I do agree. I think the people on the other side of the fence a) have not read the books (as my sweet husband :)) or b) may have had issues in their past or someone they know with struggles dipping in occult practices. As with the latter, I do agree that reading Harry Potter may be like offering alcohol to a recovering alcoholic. But that is why we do have to offer these situations up for learning experiences and monitor them while our children are in our home. I do not agree with the 'shelter them from everything' mentality. We know far too may families that do this and even the adults appear to have an aversion to people who are not in their bubble. It is not good evangelization, and as Christians we are called to evangelize. That being said, I am not perfect and my kids won't be either. Chatty today, aren't I?

  3. Christy Songy on July 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Well said, Kathryn. I had this same argument with my mother-in-law a few years ago. She had never read the books or seen the movies, but had plenty of opinions. I was so angered that I took to my good friend Google and found several articles in the Vatican newspaper and from the American Council of Bishops that RECOMMEND the series due to the themes of love, friendship, and good vs. evil. She didn't have much to say after that.

  4. Nicole on July 16, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Good for you, K! I'm glad you called in – and got through… Will and your children are blessed to have such involved parents – who talk through and think through the things that are a part of your lives – and that make meaningful learning lessons out of them! Hope you enjoyed the movie last night!

  5. VKraft on July 17, 2011 at 2:12 am

    I have not been impressed with Relevant Radio lately at all. What the priest said is ridiculous and they recently said something else that was equally wrong and ridiculous. I just might write a post about it, too.

  6. MommaRazorback on July 17, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Question for you since you are so familiar with the series. We have let our ten year old read the first few in the HP series and he loves them of course. But I am wondering what age you think is appropriate for independent reading for each of the books. They seem to get more intense as they go along.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  7. Kathryn on July 18, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Will began reading the books in second grade and finished the series in third grade. He didn't watch any of the movies until fourth grade – and only then, with us. We only read the first book, he kept on reading and then we caught up to him! Looking back, I wish we would've kept better pace. But, Will is an exceptionally mature kiddo. For the rest of the kids, we have the advantage in that we've read them and will know how to guide them through the rest of the series. Honestly, the series doesn't really shift until book 5. For me and our family, I didn't really think the movies were appropriate until they're older. Sometimes what you imagine isn't what Hollywood produces.

  8. Jen on July 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    What an awesome post. 🙂

  9. Verdina Louisa on July 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    I hope you will use that on the Catholic Mothers next time you post there

  10. Cheryl on July 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    A friend sent me to your blog because of this post. And I am SO glad she did. I love HP and I completely agree with what you said. And you're funny, so reading it was a bonus. 😉
    I posted a link to an article I found interesting on my blog. Would love to hear your thoughts.
    http://wimberlys.blogspot.com/2011/07/miscellany-monday-good-book-hp-7d.html

  11. Angela on August 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Funny that I would find this post..than again, God our Father is like that….sigh!! Love it! I just watched Harry two days ago..funny eh? And yes, I'm Canadian, hence the eh!..And while watching it, I could not get over the times the Holy Spirit revealed so much to my spirit about the good and the evil…So many times God was speaking to my heart during parts of the show. I also kept thinking too while I watched the show how many would be saying..'oh Angela, Christians do not watch this type of show…'..whatever! ….And I don't even want to comment about how your conversation ended with that comment from the priest..oh my girl..I'm not going there…so help me God..and thank You God for helping me keep my mouth shut so I won't say what I think about that priest's comment..

    Love your writings..and thanking God for His leading me here to another sister of the faith! Blessings.

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