Giggles were heard all over as the munchkins knew that witches could indeed be beautiful and young like Dorothy. And one munchkin in particular thought to himself, ‘She might not be a witch, but I bet she used The Force.”
What? That’s not how you remember the story? Well, I embellished a little, but only to explain my thoughts on magic, and anything that can be disguised as such, in books and movies.
The Wizard of Oz is a movie that I watched every year with my dad. Once a year, one of the major networks would air it. I can’t remember if it was NBC, ABC, or CBS, but I know it was one of the three because those were about the only channels we had. I know I’m showing my age. This time with my dad is one of the few memories I have with him from childhood as my parents divorced when I was six. I can’t even imagine what childhood would have been like without The Wizard of Oz. This movie contained everything that makes childhood enjoyable: Music, awesome characters not seen in everyday life, good vs. evil, and MAGIC! I don’t have to explain it. I’m sure you’ve seen it. One thing I don’t remember is anyone in my church or any Christian I knew banning it from their house nor letting their children watch it. My mom and dad certainly had no problem with it. When I had children of my own, I bought it on VHS and we watched it together over and over. My daughter was hooked on it right away and even had her own pair of ruby slippers. I had passed down my love for fantasy to her.
Not long after that, I heard of a new movie that critics were calling a modern-day Wizard of Oz. What movie could possibly be compared to my most beloved movie of all-time? Yes, you guessed it. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. At this time, I didn’t go see the movie in the theater. I actually forgot about it. But the more I went to church, the more buzz I heard about this movie and how demonic it was. 'No parent should let their child watch', etc. I was young then and had a bad habit of following instead of leading. I usually believed things without checking them out for myself too. I was young and had a lot to learn. Needless to say, I decided that Harry Potter would not come into my home. And I even found it offensive that people had compared my beloved Wizard of Oz with this horrible movie.
Looking back on this time, I don’t even understand what I thought was wrong with Harry Potter. I just let other people tell me what I should and shouldn’t watch. Now, without skipping ahead, those same people watch and love The Wizard of Oz and some other movies I won’t mention yet. Stay tuned...
Now, you’re wondering if I’ve watched Harry Potter? Hmm… that’s an understatement, but how did it happen? Well, sometimes things happen that are out of our control. It just so happened that the year The Sorcerer’s Stone came out on VHS, we were at a family Christmas party. Guess what movie one of our cousins had just bought and decided to play in her living room while we visited and had our get-together? Yep! Well, I tried to avoid it. My kids were too busy playing to pay attention to the movie, so I wasn’t really worried about its influence on them, so I kept my mouth shut as far as requesting it not be played. But I did everything I could to not watch it. And so on the way home, an argument began between my husband and me because he had watched most of it and thought it was great. I started repeating things that I’d only heard from other people; other people, who like myself, had not even watched the movie, I might add. It was then that my husband was able to shoot down every argument I had, and pretty much made me sound like a stupid and ignorant hypocrite. That’s pretty much what I was. How was I going to bash something I knew little about, first of all? And how was I to love and adore a movie with a good witch and a bad witch, yet hate Harry Potter? And The Wizard of Oz wasn’t the only movie I owned and loved that fell into this category. I also owned books with the same content. Again, stay tuned
The argument ended with us agreeing to disagree. And then, my mother-n-law bought the VHS for my husband for Christmas. So, there it was in my home. And on the back of it, a quote: “The Wizard of Oz of its time. A complete triumph.” ~ Richard Roeper
Well, over the next couple of days, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was played in our home, even though our kids were too small to like it or pay attention to it. They played in their rooms mostly back then. We had no cable because we couldn’t afford it, and I wasn’t as busy as I am now, so what did I wind up doing? Yep! I watched it. I tried not to like it. I really did. But I fell in love with the movie and everything about it. But it bothered me because I wasn’t sure if I should. I talked to the Lord about it. I prayed for a sign. It came not long after in the form of a book in the Christian bookstore. The book is called Wizards, Hobbits and Harry Potter: What Your Family Needs to Know [With CD], and it answered all my questions and even confirmed some thoughts I already had about the movie.
This is the time in the blog where I want to give the reasons I like Harry Potter other than for sheer entertainment. The main reason is “integrity,” my favorite word. My children are no longer too small to enjoy Harry Potter. Over the years we’ve watched the movies every time they came out in the theater beginning with Chamber of Secrets, which happens to be my favorite. I have tried my best to teach my kids good morals and ethics, one of which is integrity. I have taught them the Bible and we try to watch movies and read books that enforce those same principles. Harry Potter is bursting with integrity. Most people, who probably haven’t watched them near as many times as we have, would say that Harry Potter glorifies the breaking of rules. I would agree that it does at times, but the picture is way bigger than that. So many books and movies have the main character seekt revenge for some horrible thing that happened to them. Harry had a pretty bad life growing up as an orphan, much like the Cinderella story we all know. And then, he makes an enemy of Malfoy, who would like him dead and came close to killing him more than one time. But what does Harry do? He saves Malfoy’s life. And that’s just the beginning of integrity in these stories. I won’t list the rest of them.
Now, onto another point. I have no problem with people who have been convicted to not watch Harry Potter in their homes. But I do have a problem with them telling me that the Lord told them to tell me to stop or judging me because of it. I’m not really a pro-public school parent, but I’m not telling other parents that the Lord told me to tell them to pull their kids out of school because Christians have no business putting their kids in public school. Same concept. And here’s some scripture that I feel backs me up on this whole subject: Romans 14:1-4
"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand."
With that being said, if you’re going to be one of those anti-Harry Potter people on the grounds of “not watching or reading anything containing witchcraft,” then please remove the following from your homes, bookshelves, and even church libraries: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, every Disney Princess movie and other Disney movies, and so many more.
You might be wondering why I decided to write this blog. Well, I’m a writer of fantasy and have many Christian friends who also write fantasy. We all believe that through literature, the gospel can be portrayed, much like it was in The Lord of the Rings. Am I called to write for the Christian or the person who is not a Christian, but likes fantasy? I say the latter, although both is my hope.
While we're on the subject of Christian writers who write fantasy, I'd like to share some of them with you in case you're like me, and you love fantasy. All of these writers touch on controversial topics that some Christians bash them for. They continue to do what they believe God has called them to do. Please support them by giving their writing a chance. These indies write about some or all of the following: magic, mummies, fairies, wizards, witches, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and even real-life hermaphrodites.
Mary C. Findley
As always, thanks for joining me in the shade! Cynthia P. Willow