Narnia vs. Hogwarts

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How should you react to the magic in these two
influential blockbusters?

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During this holiday season, two huge movies are vying for the
attention and hearts of the kids in your care. Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire
is the fourth movie in the enormously
successful Harry Potter franchise. So successful, in fact, that
this summer when the sixth book, Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince
, was released, it sold 7 million copies in
the United States in the first 24 hours. And the first movie in
The Chronicles of Narnia-The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe
— releases with numerous Christian product tie-ins
poised to grab kids’ attention.

Which movie should Christian kids see? While controversy rages
around the Harry Potter movies and books, there seems to be little
question for Christians when it comes to the Narnia series. Much
has been made of the magic that’s such a part of the Potter story,
while the Narnia series, which features magic as well, is given a
free pass. Why is that? Mainly, people point to the rich Christian
allegory inherent in Narnia because of series author C.S. Lewis’
Christian worldview.

But what about the magic? Is the magic the same in both series? At
cmmag.com, we asked readers to weigh in on whether they think the
magic in the two series is the same or different. Out of 1,895
responses, 67% of children’s ministers feel that the magic in the
two series is different, while 33% feel that the magic is the same.
Let’s explore both sides of this passionate debate.

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The majority of Children’s Ministry Magazine readers feel that the
magic used in the two series is different, and many point to the
fact that Lewis was writing a book that attempted to teach
Christian values in a way that would reach kids at their level. The
specific items for debate follow.

Allegorical Magic-It’s not really magic, some
say. “The magic is different — Narnia is admittedly a Christian
allegory, so the magic represents spiritual powers,” writes one
reader. Yet, the Harry Potter series has its own elements of
allegory that readers could point to as being Christlike: Harry’s
mother gave up her life — the ultimate sacrifice — for the love
of her son. And he bears a scar that is a constant reminder of that
love.

Yet for many people, the strong allegorical aspect of Narnia makes
the magic okay. “The magic in The Chronicles of Narnia reflects the
reality of the miraculous power of God and isn’t magic at all,”
writes one person. “Magic is a trick, a deception. Miracles are the
result of the true nature and power of our heavenly father who
never deceives us.”

Magic is no big deal, many people write. Yet is it? To some, magic
is just a term that represents a mechanistic tool used in fantasy
literature. Such a view implies that in Narnia and Hogwarts, magic
is simply a literary tool with no moral overtones.

Is the magic in both series benign child’s play, as some say? Not
according to the person who writes passionately, “Leviticus 20:6
says, ‘I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums
and spiritists to sell themselves by following them, and I will cut
him off from his people.’ Ezekiel 13:20-21 says, ‘Therefore this is what
the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which
you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms;
I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear
off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no
longer fall prey to your power. Then you will know that I am the
Lord.’ “

Author’s Credentials-Consider the source, most
readers think. One reader writes: “C.S. Lewis was a Christian and
therefore based his magical world on elements of faith. The
Narnians received their powers only from the Power, Aslan, who
typifies Christ in the Christian life.”

On the other hand, one reader points out that “you can’t allow
your child to read Narnia and forbid Harry Potter simply because
the author is a Christian. For all we know, J.K. Rowling could be
as well. And if you’re going to ban Harry Potter for dark magic,
[you’d] better clean out all of the Disney movies from your cabinet
as well.”

And yet, who among us really knows what J.K. Rowling believes? One
reader states that she studied witchcraft before writing the books,
while another claims that she’s a Christian. And wisely, for book
sales, Rowling doesn’t divulge much about her personal belief
system. Is considering the source really enough when comparing the
two series’ use of magic?
     

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