What do Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have in common? This is what I notice:
–they both started out as books
–they were both written by women
–the central characters in both series are young
–they are both phenomenally successful
–they both have been denounced by members of the Christian community.
Let me say right now that I would not be one of those members.
On the website http://www.credenda.org, the writer, Douglas Wilson, in a review of “The Hunger Games,” states:
“In short, when you have the privilege of setting up all the circumstances artificially, in order to give your protagonist no real choice about whether to sin or not, it is a pretty safe bet that a whole lot of people in a relativistic country, including the Christians in it unfortunately, won’t notice.”
The gist of the article was that we shouldn’t let our kids watch this movie, or read the book. Wilson says, “But in terms of helping Christian young people set their minds and hearts on that which is noble and right, we can’t even give it one star.”
As a writer, and a follower of Jesus, I can see that I have an obligation to help my readers become better people. But if you are coming from a worldview that does not acknowledge God (and I’m not saying either Suzanne Collins or J.K. Rowling fall into that camp), then you can’t be held to that standard. What these stories do is give parents a chance to actually have meaningful conversations with their kids about what they’re reading.
I have read the Harry Potter series and loved it. I thought the character development was wonderful, the plot amazingly complex and the pace fast and exciting.
I talk to my kids about what they read and the worldview adhered to therein. We give them a solid foundation at home and make sure we keep our lines of communication open. I know what they’re reading, I know who their friends are, I have a relationship with my children. I filter the things they can read and watch, but I don’t prohibit all that does not follow the worldview we espouse. Our school calls this living in a wildlife refuge versus a hothouse. They’re exposed to some of the things out there in the world, but protected while they’re at it.
There’s a scene in the second Harry Potter book, The Chamber of Secrets, that holds a great truth. Harry is talking to Professor Dumbledore and is quite concerned about some things that Tom Riddle said to him. He’s afraid he might be like Tom, who is the epitome of evil. In the course of the conversation, the professor helps Harry think through the process that the Sorting Hat went through to put him into the house of Gryffindor. This is what the author said that I thought was so profound:
“‘It only put me in Gryffindor,’ said Harry in a defeated voice, ‘because I asked not to go in Slytherin. . . .’
“‘Exactly,’ said Dumbledore, beaming once more. ‘Which make you very different from Tom Riddle. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'”
Romans 7: 15-25 talks about this dilemma: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Harry Potter and his friends do not acknowledge God. The powers they have simply come from within themselves. What a great opportunity to talk to our kids about sin and righteousness and God’s grace.
The Hunger Games puts young people in an ethical dilemma: kill or be killed. What a great chance to talk to our kids about moral absolutes and where that comes from and how God is not just the giver of life, but Life Himself.
And then pray that those who write things our kids love would begin to see things from God’s perspective.
Thankful today for:
138. Homemade pizza
139. The end of a good book
140. A new book to read at the ready