Delightfully gruesome images and scary creatures become part of their memory, for the author, Joanne K. Rowling, knows how to make her characters come alive in a reader’s mind. "Oh, but it’s just fantasy," you may argue. "We were raised on scary tales. It can’t hurt."
Actually it’s not that simple. The stories and the times have changed, making the new generation of children far more vulnerable to deception than we were. Consider some of the changes:
1. Different times and culture. Unlike most children today, their parents and grandparents were raised in a culture that was, at least outwardly, based on Biblical values. Whether they were Christian or not, they usually accepted traditional moral and spiritual boundaries. Even the old fairy tales I heard as a child in Norway tended to reinforce this Christian worldview or paradigm. The good hero would win over evil forces without using "good" magic to overcome evil magic. Social activities didn’t include Ouija Boards, Seances, and an assortment of popular occult role-playing games. Nor did friends, schools or Girl Scouts tempt children to alter their consciousness and invoke the presence of an "animal spirit" or "wise person." Occult experimentation was not an option.
Today it is an option. Children now learn their values and world view from a variety of sources. The entertainment industry is one of the most persuasive agents of cultural awareness, and it usually teaches global and occult values, since that’s what their global market buys. In fact, children have become so familiar with profanity, occultism, and explicit sex, that they barely notice just as in Old Testament days: "They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return. . . . No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush." (Jeremiah 8:5,12)
In this context, the occult images evoked through traditional fantasies threaten a child's faith far more today than they did three decades ago. Reinforced throughout our culture, the old beloved books such as the Hobbit can stir curiosities and cravings that can easily be satisfied by darker, real-world attractions.
Tactics for Change
2. Different type of fantasy. Books, movies, games, and television all involve the imagination, and the specific fantasy directs the child's imagination. In other words, the imaginary scenes and images in books and movies are not neutral. As with guided imagery, the child's feelings and responses are manipulated by the author's view and values. For example, the stories and books children read in the classroom are usually selected or approved by each state because their message teaches the new global values, and because they provide useful discussion topics for the manipulative consensus process. "Good stories capture the heart, mind, and imagination and are an important way to transmit values," writes Louise Derman-Sparks in the influential Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, which is full of classsroom strategies for eroding traditional boundaries and teaching the new spirituality.
Books such as the Harry Potters series fit, because they reinforce the global and occult perspective. Page after exciting page brings the reader into the timeless battle between good and evil, then trains them to see the opposing forces from a pagan, not a Biblical perspective. In this mystical realm, "good" occult spirits are naturally pitted against bad occult spirits, just as in pagan cultures where frightened victims would offer sacrifices to "benevolent" spirits who could help ward off evil curses and other threats. Few readers realize that from the Biblical perspective, all occult forces are dangerous. But today, it seems more tolerant and exciting to believe this illusion than to oppose the lies. The words of Old Testament prophet Isaiah ring as true now as they did over 2000 years ago: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil ." (Isaiah 5:20)
3. Different purpose. Children don’t read Harry Potter merely to reach the conclusion and resolve the suspense. Many read the books over and over because they delight in identifying with the "good" wizards in this newly discovered world -- and sometimes even with the obviously evil wizards. They build memories based on felt experiences in an occult virtual reality, and they are desensitized to the danger. The talent and knowledge of the author makes this seductive world all the more believable. Just ponder these diverse bits of wizard philosophy:
* Professor Snape who taught Potions: "I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ." 1
* Two centaur’s views on astrology - "We have sworn not to set ourselves against the heaven. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?" ."Or have the planets not let you in on that secret?" 2
* "He is with me wherever I go," said Quirrell, referring to the murderous wizard Voldemort. "I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil , there is only power, and those too weak to seek it.... Since then, I have served him faithfully." 3
* Headmaster Dumbledore: "To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." 4
* Hagrid, the grounds-keeper at Hogwarts, telling Harry about the strange power that saved his life, "Happened when a powerful, evil curse touches you didn’t work on you, and that’s why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he [Voldemort] decided ter kill em, no one except you " 5 [Harry seems almost Christ-like, doesn't he, with his wound or mark, his psychic powers, and his victory over death and Voldemort?]
Once introduced to spiritism, astrology, palmistry, shape-shifting, time-travel (the third book) and the latest version of popular occultism, many crave more. They can easily find it. In their neighborhoods and schools, our children are surrounded by peers who are fascinated by occult empowerment and would love to share their fun discoveries. Few children have the Biblical knowledge or discernment needed to evaluate good and evil or to resist such threats to their faith.
4. Different kind of classroom. It’s not surprising that Harry has suddenly soared to the peaks of popularity in schools across the country. His story fits right into the international program for multicultural education. The envisioned global community calls for a common set of values which excludes traditional beliefs as intolerant and narrow just as the Harry Potter books show. The Biblical God simply doesn’t fit into his world of wizards, witches, and other gods.
Feminist writer Naomi Goldenberg knows that well. In her book, Changing of the Gods, she predicts that "God is going to change . We, women are going to bring an end to God. We will change the world so much that He won’t fit in anymore." She and other radical feminists must appreciate Ms Rowling’s part in this process.
Of course, God will never change. But people, beliefs, and cultures do. And some changes, such as today’s cultural shift away from loving God to hating His truths, have occurred a multitude of times. The words Jesus spoke to His followers long ago now fit our times: "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . because they do not know Him who sent Me." (John 15:20-21)
5. A different education system. UNESCO’s "lifelong learning," now being implemented through Goals 2000, takes education far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. Its goal is socialization and preparation for a global workforce. Everyone - in homes, schools, and workplace must be mentally prepared to participate in the consensus process. In the name of "unity" and "community," people of all ages must help form new values, challenge contrary beliefs, report non-compliant friends and relatives, and oppose all other obstacles to compromise, "common ground" and "mental health."
There are many ways to persuade the masses to reject uncompromising Christianity and embrace a changeable blend of all kinds of religions including a cross-less and universalist perversion of Christianity. Schools do it through books such as the Harry Potter series, through multicultural and environmental education, and by integrating social issues and politically correct ideology into more mundane subjects such as math and science. The media does it by selective reporting, redefining words like "fundamental," vilifying labels such as extremist, religious right and homeschoolers, and by equating such groups with narrow-minded bigotry and hate.
Harry Potter’s author does it by creating a captivating world where strength, wisdom, love, hope all the good gifts God promises those who follow Him are now offered to those who pursue occult thrills. Likewise, her main characters demonstrate all the admirable traits our God commends: kindness, courage, loyalty, etc. But the most conspicuous muggles (ordinary people who are blind to these mystical forces) are pictured as mean, cruel, narrow and self-indulgent. These subtle messages, hidden behind exciting stories, turn Truth upside-down. But fascinated readers rarely notice the deception. This power-filled realm with its charms and spells soon becomes normal as well as addictive to those who immerse their minds with its seductive images.
The Harry Potter books, first introduced in England, are unlikely to fade from public consciousness in the near future. Scholastic, a major provider of popular books for classroom use, bought the rights to publish the books in the United States. Devoted readers who can't wait for the sequel to be distributed in the U.S. are purchasing it on the Internet from Amazon.com's British division [see reviews]. The series has already caused great consternation among those who fear the seven books will eventually crowd out adult fiction on the coveted New York Times best-sellers list. This concern will surely grow, since Warner Brothers (owned by Time Warner) bought rights to the live-action movie.
It's not too soon to prepare your child for the increasing peer pressure to conform to the new social standards.