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Religions still figuring out what to do with Harry Potter

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It seems like discussions in faith circles about the evils or virtues of Harry Potter have simmered down since the first books and movies originally came out.Or at least there seem to be fewer news stories about the religious debate.The British [Gobe and Mail][1] did a story this week saying that, as we approach the release of the final book of the series on Saturday, many Christian denominations have abandoned previous reservations about the popular series in favor of teaching religious lessons from it.![][2]The paper talked to Owen Smith, author of "Mixing It Up with Harry Potter," a guidebook published by the Church of England that helps religious leaders develop lessons from the books and movies.Smith says: "People were quick to demonize the fact that the books were all about witches and wizards when they first came out. That has really softened. They've realized Harry Potter is something we can use." On the [Episcopal Church Web site][3], Diocese of Oxford Bishop John Pritchard praises the new guide."The excitement and anticipation generated by the Harry Potter books show just what a great storyteller J.K. Rowling is," Pritchard says. "Jesus used storytelling to engage and challenge his listeners. There's nothing better than a good story to make people think, and there's plenty in the Harry Potter books to make young people think about the choices they make in their everyday lives and their place in the world."There are conflicting news reports about the Vatican's stance on the Potter books. Pope Benedict XVI previously wrote a letter expressing reservations about the series, but a Vatican spokesman has since said the Catholic Church sees no problems with it.Nancy Carpenter Brown, author of "The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide," wrote on the Catholic news service site [Catholic.org][4] that the books should be read and discussed in a family setting, and not in schools, to explore the religious implications."A teacher might be restricted from explaining that the phoenix represents resurrection," she writes. "Headmaster Dumbledore has a pet phoenix throughout the series named Fawkes. Fawkes rescues Harry in one book, sings a funeral song in another and plays an important role in the books."The phoenix has traditionally been viewed as a symbol of Easter - the resurrection - because it is a mythical bird that dies periodically by burning itself up, and then rises again from its ashes. There are phoenix stained-glass windows in some Catholic churches. The church fathers used the phoenix to communicate the mystery of the resurrection of the flesh and the concepts of virginity, chastity and filial piety."The discussion about the faith and values of Harry Potter isn't limited to Christians. Um Noah, writing on the site [MissionIslam.com][5], says Muslims should pay close attention to the message of the books and movies, too."By overexposing our children to the Harry Potter kind of material, we run the risk that they may lose their natural aversion for the devious spirits represented by the creatures and symbols in these stories," he writes. "Caught up in the exciting story, they absorb the suggested values and store the fascinating images in their minds, making the forbidden world of the occult seem more normal."_ - Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at trombeck@ljworld.com, or 832-7145._ [1]: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070719.wxlpotter19/BNStory/Front/home [2]: en.ce.cn/.../29/ W020070329523593310922.jpg [3]: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81808_88209_ENG_HTM.htm [4]: http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=24615 [5]: http://www.missionislam.com/family/harrywho.htm

Comments

Ragingbear 8 years ago

I have an idea for religions and Harry Potter. Get over it.

irishdevil99 8 years ago

But Jack Chick says that if I read Harry Potter, I'll become a Satanist! Jack Chick can't be wrong, can he?

white_mountain 8 years ago

why is it that the most ridiculous headlines always come from the faith forum..

could it be that religious people are nutty by nature??

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