Truth and Fact – Harry Potter and The Bible, Part 2

Meet "Fluffy".
Meet “Fluffy”.

I’ve always had a good eye for the truth. Sometimes it was knowing that I was never gonna be any good at magic or origami, and sometimes it came in the form of knowing that my parents’ relationship wasn’t in as tip-top shape as they pretended. But the clearest lesson that I ever got in the difference between fact and fiction was Harry Potter.

I was obsessed with Harry Potter. I mean, an absolute, foaming-at-the-mouth raving lunatic for it. I had my own political misgivings about Rufus Scrimgeour, and I needed Harry to be smarter than he was sometimes. I knew what house I was, and I sure as hell could tell you what a bezoar was. Which dragon Harry faced in the Triwizard Tournament was at the tip of my tongue.

But I quickly learned that Harry Potter held more than fantasies inside of it. A pivotal moment in the first movie, for instance, is whatever tear-wringing instrument decides to play when Hermione says, “You’re a great wizard, Harry, you really are.” Moments like that taught me the lovely friendship that could be built in only a year. I also rather connected with Harry’s understanding of grief in the wake of Cedric Diggory’s death, because I understood what it was like to be opposite a Cho Chang who “just wants to talk about it.”

I mean, an absolute, foaming-at-the-mouth raving lunatic.

In my opinion, one of the best things that fiction teaches children from very early on is simply not to believe everything that they read. Stories are exaggerated statements of existence, drawn to extremes to help us feel the contours of a fragile and misunderstood life, but they can’t be understood to be perfectly literal. Even a strictly literal understanding of history will stunt a person’s growth in that field.

This was readily apparent to me, even when I was a child. This is coming from someone who, while their father was waiting in front of their mother’s work, would say they were going to Mommy’s office when they were really going to the bookstore to read Harry Potter for the 10 minutes they knew it would take Mommy to get downstairs. I used to take HP books with me on car trips and still read them at night, anxiously awaiting the light of a lamppost to read a couple of sentences by. In the words of J.D. from Scrubs, “You have a problem, sir! Seek help.”

Stories are exaggerated statements of existence, drawn to extremes to help us feel the contours of a fragile and misunderstood life.

And despite this feverish and unseemly behavior, I didn’t think dragons were real. I can’t remember trying to cast a Sectumsempra curse on those who annoyed me. I didn’t think that tucking a broom between my legs would protect me from a two-story fall, either. And even though it was set in England, a real place, I wasn’t convinced butterbeer was real. Who knows, maybe I just wasn’t a dumb child, but it seemed quite easy to separate the “true” from the “factual” when I was a child.

‘Dad, I can do this!’ – Ill-timed Finding Nemo quote. *falls from the roof with a broom*

This said, I think most children can do this, and that if you have a child that puts his brother’s head underwater because he’s just fed him “gillyweed”, you might just have dumb child, or at best a very credulous one. Unfortunately, though, in the Christian religion, children are taught that stories as fantastical as the ones found in the pages of an HP novel as fact, no matter what damage it might do to their critical thinking.

One of the most glaring examples is Noah’s Ark. I’m not going to waste time talking about why that story’s ridiculous, but you need to know that I know a significant amount of people who take it seriously. People like Ken Ham and many other Christians take umbrage with the Noah movie because, as we all know, the book was better. The ludicrous stories of giants and witches and God making bowels fall out of anuses (right hand on the Bible, that’s in there; 2 Chronicles 21) are taught as geological, scientific, and historical fact. And because of that, many people believe in so many elements of them, despite their best intuitions.

Sifting through truth is harder, sure, but it’s the only way to go. I can’t think of many things that should be believed wholesale with no reservations. Harry Potter’s full of things that are true and factual, unbelievable and believable, and so’s the Bible, or any other piece of fiction worth reading. Christians seem to fear this, but they should embrace it, because it’s what good stories are all about.

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One thought on “Truth and Fact – Harry Potter and The Bible, Part 2”

  1. Before I get to the meat of my comment, I just want to point out that you are a very opinionated person, full of pride, and believing that they have the wisdom that surpasses all those around them, that their thoughts are profound and deep…So, pretty much just like anyone else who has a blog.

    I live and breath fiction. I’m an aspiring author who has notebooks filled with extensive data on worlds I have creative, books I have begun, magic systems I have thought up, and a myriad of other information transcribed from the recesses of my mind. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, you can guarantee that I’m working on a different aspect of a story that I’m developing, occasionally writing down notes in my phone or in a notebook if I have one handy. I, too, believe that fiction can foster creativity in anyone, child or adult.

    I have read and am a big fan of the Harry Potter books and at the same time I am a devout Christian. There has been no issues in overlap, I do not take things that I have read in Harry Potter and make them religious in my own mind, which sadly seems to be what you tend to do, intentional or not, with any bit of fiction you get hooked on.

    When looking at the works of Harry Potter, Christians do have a right to be concerned, and its due to people like you, and somewhat like me. You have shown in your blog posts that you get so wrapped up in these fictional worlds and characters, its tendrils snake their way into your mind and wrap themselves tightly around your soul, until you become obsessed and the longing and desire are almost too strong to bear. Its happened to me, its happened to the best of us. I can understand that it happens and it does so occasionally to me, but the important thing is that I can recognize it, and therein lies the basis for the Christian’s right to worry. Kids these days get so addicted to these things, take it in, and believe it to be a possible truth, a sort of alternate reality just lurking around the corner; much like the hidden world of Harry Potter.

    You have taken this work of fiction – and arguable a work of art in its own right- and turned it into some stupid platform for you to use as a way of denouncing religion. Many fiction writers and readers suffer from this way of thinking, so don’t worry, your malady is not restricted to you. If kids, and people in general, were able to take books like Harry Potter and see them as purely fiction, as made up and impossible, then I don’t think Christians would have such a big deal with young ones reading such things, but its not the case. Kids are addicts and are deeply influenced and effected by the things they are exposed to as in their younger years and it shapes their future way of thinking. I know, it happened to me. I was on a dark path, steadily moving deeper into the void before I was able to realize what was happening to me.

    One of the common problems for writers is that we believe that what we have to say is important; that we are philosophical geniuses that will inspire and lead generations of people to come by our wonderfully thought out words. The truth is is that we’re just down right lucky when we can write a chapter that coherently flows and goes together well. You can’t take the words and stand points of writers and what they instill in their books as definitive knowledge of anything. At best, authors of any genre have minor knowledge of things of a greater scale, so what we have to say sounds great, but much of the time its just ultimately dirt when it comes down to it. And its that stuff that people eat up and treat as religion. They take the opinions of authors and see it as fact, which is something you need to deal with since you clearly have a problem with it.

    Fiction is great if you can separate the false from the real. As for the matter of magic in the Bible, I personally believe its contextual. But the Bible does warn about sorcery, enchanters, and magicians that would use certain powers as a means of either defaming God’s laws or furthering themselves by tricking others. It does not – at least not that I have found, though I haven’t done in depth searching – fully referenced the kind of magic that you and I may be used to in these works of fiction. But, if you were smart man, you’d be able to see the power that lies in fiction; the ability to make the malleable minds of those around you believe your own thought processes merely because you are able to strings words together poetically and bring to life your scenes in the minds of your readers. Words have always been a powerful weapon and tool, that is as much true of the time of Jesus as it is today.

    You also seem to fail to mention that there are Christian fictional writers, two of which have works that will forever be superior to that of Harry Potter. I’m, of course, referring to The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, and especially the Chronicles of Narnia. These are amazing works done by very Christian authors and the underlying meaning and purpose of their works was to speak of various aspects of their beliefs and the Bible – just like every author does, as stated above.

    Wow, this kind of got away from me. It tends to happen when I start writing. Kind of get into a zone of sorts. Anyway, you catch my drift. Fiction has a power of its own and people of faith aren’t wrong in fearing its capabilities.

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