Harry Potter and Christianity

Being a fan of Harry Potter I’ve heard it said by a number of fellow Christians that they feel the series is inappropriate due to its ties to witchcraft and/or wizardry. Now your faith is your faith and your opinion is your opinion, however I feel that anyone who feels that Harry Potter isn’t appropriate for Christian readers has completely missed the entire message of the story.

The Harry Potter series can be studied as an epic and that means that we’re presented with a larger than life hero who faces nearly insurmountable odds to defeat a larger than life villain.  Love and the absence thereof is a continuous theme throughout the series. You have an arrogant villain who has never known love and you have a humble hero who was so loved by his parents that they gave their lives to protect him and his friends who risked everything for him time and time again.

images-12

Our villian, Voldemort is a wizard with both extraordinary power and extraordinary ambition. He is also extraordinarily arrogant which in the end becomes his undoing. Voldemort wasn’t born evil. No one is. He also wasn’t born Voldemort. Tom Marvolo Riddle was born to Merope Gaunt, a witch and direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin one of the four founders of Hogwarts and a muggle aristocrat by the name of Tom Riddle. His father left his mother while she was still pregnant with him and his mother died shortly after giving birth to him. He never knew the love of either of his parents. Being rejected by his father and losing his mother at such a young age is ultimately what turned Tom Marvolo Riddle into the evil Lord Voldemort. The old English epic poem Beowulf has a similar villain in Grendel. Grendel is a hideous monster because of his choice to separate himself from God’s love. We see a similar transformation as Tom Riddle changes from an attractive young man who looks like his father to an ugly, snakelike man as he destroys his soul by murdering innocent people so that he can become immortal.

0033ac4f-ebc4-4923-82ad-b98d1b653c03

Our hero, Harry Potter, is also an orphan thanks to Voldemort who murdered Harry’s parents when he was only a year old. Harry was born to James Potter and Lily Evans. Lily sacrificed her life to save Harry and by doing so sealed a powerful magic in his blood that caused Voldemort’s killing curse to rebound off of Harry and hit him. Lily Potter’s final act was one of love and it saved our hero’s life when he was only a baby. This will be the first of many times that our hero is saved by someone’s love for him.

Voldemort didn’t have friends during his time at Hogwarts. He had followers and hangers on, but didn’t have anyone he could really consider a true friend that loved him. Harry on the other hand, had Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger and have couldn’t asked for two truer friends than them. He even had the love of Ron’s sister Ginny. They all risked their lives and made sacrifices for him. Everything they did for Harry was done for love. Everything that Voldemort’s followers did for him was out of fear of what he would do if they didn’t do what he asked.

hpdh2-04075r-900x600
About to turn tail and run in 5…4…3…2…

The final battle of Hogwarts could be considered a show of love conquering evil. Harry Potter fought an army and then freely gave his own life to save those he loved then destroyed Voldemort once and for all with the help of his friends and all those who loved him. Voldemort may have had an army but not one of his followers stayed loyal to him in the end. Just look at the Malfoys who turned tail and ran as soon as they could.

Just because a story involves magic doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate for Christian readers, especially when the entire message of the story is that love is the most powerful magic, more powerful than any spell including or Unforgivable Curse

. The Bible teaches us time and again that love is more powerful than any evil in the world and that God is love. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to consider Harry Potter anything other than a good story with a positive message.

Advertisements

Comedy Show Etiquette

One of the things I love about my country is the value we place on freedom of speech. It makes being a stand-up comedian not just easy but possible. In recent years, however there has been a movement toward a kinder, gentler, more politically correct culture and this is by no means a bad thing. However at times it seems as if our love of free speech and our desire to not offend people are at odds with each other. One need only to attend a comedy show to witness this first hand.

Margaret Cho bravely tried new material about the subject of rape at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick and most of the crowd either walked out, demanded a refund, or loudly booed and heckled her. The same happened to Amy Schumer when she made jokes about Donald Trump in the south before the recent presidential election. As if that wasn’t enough, people continued the heckling by taking to Twitter after both shows and bashing both comedians. I’ve had people walk out of a show after making jokes about church and I’ve been approached after a show for making fun of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. To ease the conflict between our love of free speech and the move we’ve made toward political correctness I’ve come up with a few guidelines for people who’d like to attend a comedy show.

  1. Bring your sense of humor with you.

Some don’t understand that the nature of humor is critical. What are you doing when you make a joke? You’re poking fun at something and when you poke fun at something in a way you’re criticizing it. The intent behind a joke isn’t malicious. The intent is to give you, the audience what you came for, a laugh. Try to remember to assume best intent.

2. Don’t take it personally.

We don’t expect you to like every single joke we make, but if we make one that you find offensive or one that makes you uncomfortable, please don’t take it as a personal attack because it isn’t. It’s only a joke and we only want to make you laugh, but at the same time if you don’t laugh we don’t get offended. We know going in that not every single joke we make is going to get a laugh and we’re okay with that. Honestly there’s no reason to get upset. It’s all in good fun.

3. If you can’t hang, leave.

If you want to leave the show, that’s fine and you’re well within your rights to do so, but please don’t disrupt the show or be rude to the other audience members who are only there to enjoy themselves. Just discretely exit and leave everyone else including the comic in peace.

4. No matter how it may look to you, understand that it’s not easy.

Stand up comedy is one of the hardest performance arts to do. It may look like all we do is walk on stage, pick up the mic, and spout whatever’s on our minds, but there’s a lot more to it than that. We’re told to perform a certain number of minutes. This isn’t a polite suggestion. Going over your time is the quickest way to never be invited to perform in that room ever again. It’s disruptive to the show and it’s disrespectful to the other comics who are going up after you. Make no mistake, the clock is ticking and the pressure is on. For every minute I perform I conservatively estimate that an hour’s worth of work has gone into it. There’s the time it took to write the joke, then the time it took to memorize and rehearse it, then any re-writing I’ve done, and then the time that goes into perfecting the delivery. It doesn’t look like work, but it is. I don’t come to your job and disrespect it, so please don’t disrespect mine.

5. Don’t insult us

If you don’t like our jokes, you don’t and that’s fine. If you want to leave, you’re certainly free to do that but you don’t get to insult my character just because I said something you disagree with. However if you really must insult me please understand that when I tell you to have a nice night, what I really mean is go f*ck yourself.