The Magic of Harry Potter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2002

“Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets” was just released this past Friday, but talk surrounding the second installment of the adventures of the child wizard has already been making the rounds for weeks.

Since before the first movie hit theaters in December last year controversy has dogged the books and movies. Many church leaders and parents see the Harry Potter phenomenon as an introduction to witchcraft and the occult. Others, however, think the ubiquitous pint-sized sorcerer is a nothing more than a good way to get kids to read.

The Rev. Lee Goodwin, associate pastor of Second Baptist Church in Selma, hasn’t yet spoken out against the books and movies, but he would. Goodwin stated that Scripture forbids all kinds of enchantments, sorcery and wizardry.

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“We don’t need to be fed that in our movies,” he said.

Goodwin noted that in the Harry Potter universe wizards change from one form to another. Magic such as this and the magicians that practice it are clear violations of Biblical law, according to Goodwin.

The same principle applies to “The Lord of the Rings,” the popular trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, stated Goodwin.

“Some kids can be affected by those books…even some adults. You really have to monitor what your children read and study,” he added.

Dr. John W. Fain of First Baptist Church agreed even though he hasn’t seen the movie.

He believes that anything that brings our minds towards sorcery and witchcraft should be avoided.

But not everyone subscribes to Goodwin and Fain’s beliefs. Shannon Stewart, Librarian of Morgan Academy, thinks that students shouldn’t be required to read it, but she wouldn’t stop children from picking the book up.

“I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it.

It’s good versus evil,” she said.

A group of sixth-graders at Morgan Academy added to their librarian’s comments.

“It’s all right as long as people don’t believe they can fly,” stated Joshua Quinnelly referring to one of the many abilities Harry and his friends perform everyday.

“It’s not like you believe it,” added Madeleine Cheatham.

Kindergarten teacher Terri Austin believes some children can handle the fantasy aspect of the books while others don’t have the maturity to cope with the subject matter.

“For my child it’s OK. For someone who’s not been guided…they might get involved.”

Ultimately, says Austin, it’s up to the parents to decide.

Stewart also thinks parents are the ones with the final word. She reads a controversial book before putting it on the shelf, and if a parent doesn’t want their child to read it then, in her library, they don’t.

None of the students had yet seen the new Harry Potter movie, but they all had plans to watch it in the near future.