Superheroes, witches and wizards: A Christian reflection

I know we’ve all heard tales of those extremely zealous Christians who, in addition to hating on Hogwarts and Hermione Granger, have gone as far as to demand schools to ban the Harry Potter books from their libraries. The question is, why? There are even a few people in my church who believe Harry and Hagrid are not to be trusted and almost as bad as “He who must not be named.” So what is this fear based on?

Marvel Superheroes
Marvel > DC

I posed a question to someone in my church – a particularly smart and awesome lady – who does not like the Harry Potter series. I asked this series of questions. “Do you see a safe distance between people who love superheroes and people who love witches and wizards, from a Christian perspective? Superheroes can do all kinds of cool things including flying, moving objects with their minds, shooting lasers out of their eyes, and have super strength… and witches and wizards too have superpowers and can fly, move objects, and so on – Or would you say loving superheroes and witches is evil?”

The Weasleys
My second family: The Weasleys

My friend’s answer was simple – one of those beings is fictional and one of those beings is real. But I don’t think she was talking about the Weasleys or even about modern day Wiccans. I think the issue stems purely from where one gets their power. A superhero gets their power in any number of ways. It could have been a freaky spider bite. Perhaps genetic testing gone wrong, or right… or it’s possible a secret government organization bonded adamantium to your skeleton and turned you into a literal metal kitty cat man. Whatever the case may be, superheroes are generally in the science fiction spectrum and don’t necessarily “call upon Satan” to get their abilities.

Wolverine
Exhibit a: Literal metal kitty cat man

But what about Dumbledore and Dobby? When a Christian gets all hot and heavy about being cautious when it comes to witches and wizards, it’s because Biblically, witches, or diviners of hidden knowledge, exist. And by diviner, I mean a practitioner of divination, or attempting to, for example, see into the future, by going through a channel that isn’t necessarily Godly. Biblically, these diviners of secret knowledge totally get their information from demons and Satan. And while Christians know there can come a supernatural divination from God or an agent of God, we know the opposite is true too. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Constantine Movie Poster

So imagine with me for a moment – there’s God, and he has all these angels and awesome spirits around him, and then there’s Satan, and he has these insane demons, who want to do whatever the opposite of the agents of God do. You pull out a tool of the occult, or something used for divination, like tarot cards, or a crystal ball, and it’s sort of like a supernatural hotline. Let’s prank call the world of spirits! I mean, actually, it sounds kind of fun and exciting, but a Christian is always the cautious one who doesn’t play around with the possibility of getting hooked up with someone really bad. Imagine prank calling a bunch of people in your neighborhood, with the chance of dialing up a serial killer, who will then find out who you are and where you live. Kind of the same principal.

Hello! Yes This is Dog

Drew Barrymore Scream
“Er mah gerd, what’s your favorite scary movie?”

That’s what the word “occult” means. It means knowledge of the hidden, or knowledge of things that are meant for only certain people (or God) and must be kept hidden. It’s stuff we shouldn’t know unless it is revealed to us by God. Because from a Christian perspective, we are not supposed to know everything in regards to the world of the supernatural. Some of that stuff is pretty freaky deeky and we need to keep a safe distance. You all saw the Exorcist, right?? So we can either try to peek behind the curtain, and maybe get bitchslapped by a demon, or perhaps we’ll see an angel being all cool with big feathery wings and an epic halo. Either way, it’s a risk. Isaiah 8:19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

exorcist 04
“I should have played DreamPhone instead!”

Christians might seem like a pretty superstitious bunch. Demons, Lucifer, demonic possessions… the world is a pretty dark and twisted place. You know how there’s always the archetypical characters in horror movies? The stupid jock who tries to show off for the girl and gets himself run through… the virgin who gets chased but survives… the couple who has sex and succumbs to an untimely death… and the girls who run upstairs while in the same house as the killer – she ALWAYS dies. So basically, the Christian is the smart one who says “Don’t go upstairs or you’ll be trapped!” The knowledge of what might be on the other end of the Tarot cards prevents them from coming face to face with evil. Sure, maybe it’s Casper the friendly ghost, or an angel, or some kind of nice spirit – who can say? But Satan is as clever and cunning as he is evil. So wouldn’t he do anything to deceive us into thinking he’s really the good guy?

Angel Gabriel Constantine
Angel Gabriel, can I get your digits?

Think about our first encounter with Satan. Satan’s being all creepy and lurking around the Tree of Knowledge. Adam and Eve just got done talking about how they really shouldn’t eat that fruit from the tree because God told them not to. Satan’s like, “Oh Eve… you should totes eat this apple.” And she’s like, “But God told me… YOLOOOO” and she friggin’ does it. The devil didn’t try that hard to convince her, and then YOLO was unleashed upon the world. As soon as they disobeyed God, death was a part of the punishment to the first man and woman for their sin (and all of mankind).

Adam and Eve Yolo

In summation, what’s the source? Where does the power come from? Who gets the glory? There is real supernatural power that comes from both God and Satan, and then there’s fictitious supernatural power that comes from our brilliant comic book authors’ pen tips, writers’ keyboards, and artists’ paint brushes. Be careful when the two might accidentally get mixed up, or you may end up spewing vomit like Regan.

For me, Harry Potter is a fun filled universe with great characters and an amazing plot line. The entire fantasy, fairytale, superhero, and wizard world of fangirl obsessions is full of a spectrum of exciting characters and stories. But at the end of the day, I know who I ought to give thanks to, for creating these amazing comic book artists and fairytale authors.

That being said, I’m totally a Hufflepuff. Winky is one of my favorite characters, and I’m completely bummed she didn’t make it into the movies. I am an official member of S.P.E.W. And I will never recover from the death of Dobby. Spoiler alert.

Harry Potter's witches


Featured image from cotewrites

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  • Max

    Not to mention that J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used fantasy to convey Christian concepts. They used words like ‘sorcerer’, ‘witch’, and ‘wizard’ in ways that were ultimately harmless.

    This debate has existed since the beginning of the Church. Bishops and other church leaders would ask themselves “What place does Greek (Pagan) culture and literature have in our faith?” Some would answer, “Nothing at all! You see how they live their lives, full of sin and idol worship!” Some, especially St. Augustine, took a different approach. Augustine used an analogy of gold Pagan idols to convey his point. Pagan culture and literature had nuggets of wisdom; that is the gold. Yet they used these things for wickedness; they used the gold to craft an idol. But gold is still gold, and we can melt the idol and shape it into something that serves Christ. (The analogy went something like that)

    I can watch a fantasy or sci fi movie while remaining ‘distant’. If a lizard-woman stands against 50 evil goons, then the concepts of ‘evil’ and ‘courage’ are being conveyed to me. Of course not all fantasy and sci fi flicks are done in good taste, and might even convey a political statement which stands against the teachings of Christianity. But even with this considered, I get to know the mindset of my ‘enemies’, which is still knowledge.

    It’s the people that run on autopilot that are more at risk. They just gobble down all sorts of worldviews until they are left contradicting themselves. That sort of instability makes for easy ‘pickings’ when Satan moves in.

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  • I totally think there is a lot we can learn from fantasy and superheros (assuming we keep our perspective. There are so many metaphors that can teach us more about God (this is the inspiration behind my own blog). There are so many parallels to our regular world. I think that is the magic(not conjuring some spell).

    It’s like I tell those who disregard HP because of the ‘magic.’…

    “Like we don’t uses these “magical curses” in our real lives…think about it…the worst three curses are…

    1. Cruciatus – to cause others pain…(we most definitely do that)
    2. imperius curse – to control or manipulate others (we do that too)
    3. avada kedavra – to kill (sadly we do this as well in our world)

    It’s not just “magic”…its life.

    ~Aspen

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