What do you think of
the Harry Potter and Tolkien fantasy books?
n our fundamental psychology,
fantasy experiences constantly run through our minds, so its only natural
that writers would consciously create fantasy stories for entertainment. For
Christians, though, it is important to recognize the ways in which fantasy
entertainment can surreptitiously undermine the Christian faith and lead us
into unconscious sin.
It may seem on the surface
that the Harry Potter books offer only harmless
But magic and sorcery have no place in Christianity. Far from being based in the
true Mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood, occult mysteries are based on the premise
that what you know will give you power to control
affairs of the world; the occult rejects all faith in Jesus the Christ (Christ
means “the Anointed,” that is, the Messiah) who will lead us to God the Father if we
live our lives so as to reject sin and to bear
fruit according to His commandments of
love. In fact, the fantasy emphasis on self-serving power
contradicts basic Christian values of humility
and self-surrender to God. So how can anyoneespecially
children learn to value sacrifice and prayer when
their heads are filled with fantasies of using magic to get what they want?
Such books really have no legitimate
place in a Catholic familyexcept, perhaps, to illustrate the extent
to which our culture in general, which thrives on anti-Christian
lore, is a breeding ground for lust, hatred, power, and revenge.
If you want to entertain
yourself by playing with fantasy demons, go ahead; do what you want. To borrow from
an old Beach Boys song, youll have fun, fun, fun until real
demons take your soul away.
The Tolkien Books
J. R. R. Tolkiens The Hobbit,
and the Lord of the Rings books, are, well, a different story, literally. Tolkien
was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and he attempted in his fantasy writings to
convey some sense of underlying Christian values.
But, ultimately, he really wasnt
successful, because, if he were, then readers of his books would be flocking to the Church
saying, Well, weve seen the faint imitation, now we want the real
So why arent Tolkiens
readers flocking to the Church? Well, they never get past the allure of the fantasy
structure itself. Tolkiens fantasy world was ordered according to Tolkiens
own self-created mythology that had nothing to do with God the Father as Creator of
heaven and earth. Therefore, most readers get stuck in the seduction of the
Elves natural purity and magic, or they become fascinated
with the grandeur and power of the sorcerers. Nowhere in the books is there any
mention of God or religion or prayer. In the fantasy world Tolkien created, magic ruled
everything because Tolkien had no place for God in his fantasy world.
For example, in the Lord of the Rings
books, the noble journey of Frodo to Mount Doom, which is supported all along the way by the
Elves magic and the sorcerers protection, is brought to completion not
by love but by a final act of blundering, vengeful hatred. Frodos journey is more
of a denouement in the context of a larger secular fascination with warfare than a gripping
metaphor for Christs journey to the Cross.
The Moral Failure
So, in the end, fantasy
literature such as Tolkiens must encounter its own conceptual failure. Its just
not possible to use glamour and power to convey the deep meaning of
self-surrender to God. Furthermore, to be perfectly blunt, a
devout religious life grounded in quiet faith and
the patient endurance of adversity is, by entertainment
standards, simply boring.
Putting Away Childish
Nevertheless, some fantasy literature
does have some value. All children need toys and playful fantasy, such as traditional
fairy tales, in order to develop a sense of social functioning; but eventually, as Saint
Paul said, there comes a time to put away childish things and take up the
Many of those
who had become believers came forward and openly acknowledged their former
practices. Moreover, a large number of those who had practiced magic collected
their books and burned them in public. They calculated their value and found
it to be fifty thousand silver pieces. Thus did the word of the Lord continue
to spread with influence and power.
Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring
up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to unveil the
future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of
omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all
conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis,
other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They
contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.