Nothing.  But I did ask the question.  I had been helping my daughter out, watching my grandchildren the other day while my granddaughter was home ill.  The day was wonderful, full of questions and the viewing of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  We had a good time and Emma began to feel better at the end of the day. Around 4 o’clock there was a knock on the door; a young woman was selling books for a fund-raiser at her school.

She was a pleasant young woman, I would estimate a high school student, and as I heard the name of her school it was apparent that it was a private Christian academy.  I was impressed; she wasn’t selling things that were fleeting or non-useful.  She was selling cookbooks and other titles for living a more healthy life. I already had the cookbook and the other titles did not interest me so I politely turned her down at which point she offered me a flyer. I was going to say no, she was just doing her part for the fund-raiser and I saw something about Harry Potter on the front of the hand out.  I was curious; I took it. The flyer had comments/questions regarding both Harry Potter and Halloween on it.  Nothing in the handout addressed either subject but it was implied that there was something wrong with both. I chuckled and thought nothing more of the whole incident.

Later that week I was talking with two other Chaplains, a Protestant and a Southern Baptist, and it dawned on me to ask the question.  What is wrong with Harry Potter?  They looked at each other and tried not to smile too much when the Southern Baptist Chaplain attempted to answer the question.  It was a good conversation and it boiled down to just a couple of things.  He explained that we all set limits on what we think is “right” behavior in our lives.  We most likely wouldn’t promote a film that we believe denigrate women or minorities or advocates violence against either group. Definitely not something that we would find entertaining or what we would promote for our children to see and learn from.  (I could understand that, but what about Harry Potter?) He explained that there are Christians that take that thought a little further and feel they need to eliminate other things from their lives; things that they feel are not holy or would lead them away from a holy life.  With that thought in mind they begin to set rules that eliminate more items: a movie with violence, a film with cursing, a show with sexual overtones, a book with one curse word, and so on until… well, you get the picture.

Moving towards Harry Potter we talked about how a small portion of (not all) Christians feel that a book promoting the fantastical and supernatural (I’d like to fly on a broom someday) are leading a person away from a “holy” life.  However, the thought is done not to be malicious.  Not at all, those that are promoting such ideas are trying to “protect” their children and others.  They feel that if there is no exposure to such a thought then they will be safe from the idea, safe from an unholy life away from god.  They try to eliminate all sorts of things they have deemed a threat to their faith. Then there is another group that feels that if they can protect their children until they become adults their beliefs will be strong enough to keep them on a holy path.  But then there are those, the majority, who feel that integration of differing ideas is best.  This way they understand the world they live in and make choices along the way.  Sounds a little like free will in its finest form. 

I smiled at the end of the conversation; I commented that it seemed to me that the objections were born out of fear.  Fear of what is unknown about another faith tradition and imposing it on a book.  A book, mind you, that has done more for youth literacy and reading than anything else to come along in a many years.  We laughed about it a little and he said you could look at it that way.  He also mentioned that many who have objections, or rules, regarding things like Harry Potter don’t necessarily understand their faith completely.  Books are not the threat, learning more about their faith though is the answer.  I would agree with him.  I know that I have people, especially pagans young on their path, who do not understand some of the things that I study or how I can accept the philosophies of faith traditions that reject who I am.  The answer is simple: I don’t believe my path is right – I know that my path is my truth and nothing can sway me from it.  If I were to turn from my path due to a single book then it really wasn’t mine to walk to begin with. In the end I need to convince no one that what I know is correct; I know that it is and that is enough.

So what is wrong with Harry Potter? Nothing, absolutely nothing; and if you are curious my friend the Southern Baptist Chaplain has all the Potter books on his shelf.

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