Cultural Evils, Harry Potter, D&D, and A Facebook Debate
Updated: Jul 19
Today at Facebook, a friend asked the following:
"What do you do when your pastor includes Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter in with cultural evils that can lead to occultism and deception?
1.) Go home and burn your Harry Potter books?
2.) Schedule a meeting in hopes of educating him?
3.) Chalk it up to knee-jerk fundamentalist over-reaction and let it slide?
4.) Find another church?"
Here is the answer that I am posting on my blog. Why? Because it got too long - way too long for a Facebook comment. Mike - You are very welcome. I am sure you are happy I didn't post this on your Facebook profile.
Answer to question: None of the above. Reflect on what the Pastor said and maybe schedule a meeting to exchange your ideas, not educate him. Discussion is needed.
I can see how someone could think books and games with occult and deception themes could lead to the same in our culture - to be honest, the Pastor may have a point to consider. I can't respond as someone who heard the sermon firsthand, but let's take a look like someone who is just responding to the Facebook post. I am reacting as a mother who dealt with this topic when Harry and D&D were first the rage. I am now looking at it through the lens of someone with those children grown and looking at our culture's present state of affairs. I also have grandchildren.
When Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons were first popular, it was an unknown; it was thought to be toying with the occult and witchcraft. Home school parents, well, church-going parents forbid their children to read Harry or flirt with dragons unless it was a Tolkien dragon. Many authors wrote books about how to discuss Harry, The Lord of the Rings, and Narnia. These books were to help discern and speak to why, as parents, we weren't excited about Hogwarts and all the "magic." They gave parents scripture to use and biblical direction to help their children to discern when reading the books. Hopefully, our children would no longer yearn to travel to Hogwarts or create D&D characters on the other side of these discussions. As parents, we all breathed a sigh of relief when Lord of the Rings and Narnia quickly had a resurgence on young adult's book lists and became the replacement for Potter fever. It didn't matter. Who were we kidding? They were all reading Harry Potter behind our backs. To avoid yet another sin, the sin of sneaking behind my back, I allowed my kids to read Harry, and then we would discuss it. I also read them The Chronicles of Narnia. They were just as captivated and the discussions on allegory were more intense with the older ones. Yet, I was a rare bird among the moms in my group who had all banned Hogwarts from their homes. All my children are 22 and older now. So far, I have not seen any damage from reading Harry or playing D&D. It is still too soon to tell. Some have their own children now, but none are old enough to be swept up in the magic. I can say this - either history is repeating itself, or this debate calmed to a dull roar till today when my friend's Pastor decided to poke the tiger and discuss the sins of Harry and D&D.
Here is why I think this is on the resurgence again:
In most church cultures, we rarely dive deep into discussions on Satan, evil, witchcraft, and the occult. Could our response to these things be dulled - passed off as simple diversions or entertainment? Could our children be blindly walking into something that is not good for them and leads them down a path that is not intended by not discussing it at all?
Back in the early 2000's at my old church, I was reprimanded for even talking to teens about the influence of evil, satan, and what that looked like in their lives - books, TV, or games wasn't even part of the discussion. I was a Youth Group Leader - the topic of discussion was evil and satan. Shame on me for even suggesting that satan could tempt us in our positive thinking - positive mindset - WWJD world. All we needed to do then was declare positive affirmations and make sure it passed the "What Would Jesus Do? litmus test.
Today, we can take our kids to Harry Potter World in Florida and bow at the feet of JK Rowlings and then traverse over to Disney to sit at the feet of the guardians of Walt. What do we consider okay when it comes to what we let into our lives, and how will it affect our decisions and walk with Christ? Are we closely discerning what these companies, authors, game creators, film and TV producers are feeding us? Are we looking for what the Word tells us to avoid?
Fifteen years ago, music, TV, films were starting to dabble in topics, brushing up against satanical things, but today I would say it is everywhere. We are easily bombarded by messages that we deem okay but symbolically and openly are not. The scripture is quite firm on our dabbling in the occult, witchcraft, and turning things into or creating other idols. Disney dabbles in witchcraft and subtle nuances toward new-age and satanical practices. Just because it is animation, doesn't make it okay. Hallmark also has a TV series wrapped around a witch, her witch family and witchcraft - but it's okay - it's Hallmark and Disney. Throw Harry Potter and Dungeons and Dragons into the mix, and we have a cauldron full of tempting stew for children and even our grown children, who have seen this all before when they were young. My point is that as parents and grandparents these days we need to be vigilant when letting our kids watch or read certain books, TV, or films. I am not saying don't let them watch it. I am saying to be prepared to address it and bring it back to scripture and what your family holds as a Christian worldview. Our children grew up in the first generation of Harry Potter and D&D fans, and now they are raising the second and third generations in a culture that is more open to evil and occult. We see it in music videos, TV shows, movies, and even more so in themes for young adult teen books. Don't even get me going about the Twilight series of books and movies. Have we desensitized ourselves to what scripture and God calls evil, witchcraft, or the occult? No matter how you look at it, whether it is the skin of the truth wrapped in a lie or Computer-generated magic or mystical world on Florida acreage - it is still a lie and leans very hard toward witchcraft, occult or evil. It is meant to turn our faces away from God. We have inch-by-inch numbed ourselves to the evil narratives because we were told it was entertaining or an escape from reality. The Old Testament is filled with REAL stories about those who worshipped Ba'al and other gods, practiced witchcraft, and turned to the occult. We know what happened to them. It wasn't pretty.
So, my dear friends - if I heard this Pastor's sermon:
1. I would not go home and burn all the Harry Potter books. (My one daughter has them all).
2. I would not make an appointment and educate the Pastor.(Who am I to think I know it all and could educate my Pastor?)
3. I won't let it slide no matter what denominational worldview it is coming from - it is still worth hearing out and considering. We must be aware of the evil ones tactics and be sensitized to his temptations.
4. I would stay at my church - call for an appointment with the Pastor and discuss it further. Maybe I need to be educated.
5. I would take this to God and let Him reveal to me if I need to be concerned about this topic - maybe the Pastor's message was a wake-up call.
P. S. On this topic, I think God's favorite emoji is the facepalm, and "Here we go again!" is set on repeat on his playlist.
Life in Scripture
"Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter."
Isaiah 5: 20 NIV
Galatians 5: 13-22 NIV
"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
Thank you, Yeshua, for discerning eyes and ears. We ask that you reveal any evil, acts f witchcraft, or the occult that may be in our culture, whether in books, movies, TV, music, and what we do for fun and pleasure. Lead us as we discern what is right, true, and good. Allow us not to become complacent in our daily lives and leave openings for the evil one to enter and take hold. Lord, we pray hedges of protection around our children and our children's children as they walk through a world that turns toward the desires of the flesh and not of the heart. Thank YWH for your unconditional love and protection. May we represent and reflect You well. Amen.