Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pottermaniacal

So then. How in the world do you express your thoughts about something so empty, so trivial and such an unbalanced obsession by some, that you don't offend anyone? I don't think it's possible. So let me just say this right off the bat, my purpose is not to offend you, but to blog a point that has bothered me for a long time.

Of course what I refer to is Potter Mania. Before I begin my rant however, let me offer a few insights into what I'm not about to say:

1. I'm not going to say that I don't understand enjoying a good book, a good story, or the excitement that comes from being around other folks that enjoy your passion for either.
I'm a 24 fan, we all know this. I have fun talking with fellow 24 fans about the characters on the show, the story lines, and speculating about season 7. It's a fun pasttime, and it's fun to have a hero-figure even if he is fictional (I can only say that because I know for a fact, Jack Bauer does not read my blog - because if he did - well... it'd be curtains for me. However, if he did, it'd be cool to see him wearing one of my 24 t-shirts!)
2. I'm also not about to say that Christians can't find entertainment in what we'd call non-Christian things. Let's just be honest about this kids, JK Rowlings does not spin her tales for the glory of God. Her books, contrary to some people's desperate attempt to claim otherwise & therefore justify their reading of them, simply are not written to glorify the Lord. They just aren't, no matter how anyone wants to try and spin it. With that said however, I'm not about to say that as a Christian I can't (or shouldn't, necesarrily) read a Potter book (or watch a Potter movie) or any other sort of secular entertainment such as going to a ball game, renting an action packed dvd, or listening to a classic rock tune from the late 60's. We all do it in some sort of context and the key point here is honest discernment. We simply have to be honest with ourselves and ask "am I spiritually mature enough to enjoy the talent/story/pasttime/whatever, without it causing sinful thoughts, words or actions?" That's a tough question and one I think we each need to ask ourselves a lot more often. I know for me, as much as I love the musical genius that came out of the 60's & 70's, there are some songs I just can't listen to because the sheer ungodliness of the lyrics completely overshadow the talent of the singer/band.
3. I'm also not about to say that you should not read this book or see the movie when it comes out (or read or watch any of the books or movies prior to this one). I have in fact seen all the Potter movies. I often watch movies like these because the special fx are just incredibly cool to me. I will say though that 10 years ago as a young believer, I wouldn't have been able to watch a movie like that, or read a book about wizardry and magic. I was too immature in the Lord to be able to handle such things and it would have only caused a spiritual struggle within myself. I dabbled (slightly, did a lot of reading & pondering, but that was enough) in the occult when I was younger and the Potter themes bring a lot of that out. On the flip side to this I will say however, that if you are spiritually mature to handle this stuff, bear in mind that not everyone else is, and you going on and on (and on) about it, may cause a weaker brother to stumble, so you'd be wise to exercise your maturity and discernment on that one.

Okay, now that we got that part out of the way, I shall begin my own tale of intrigue and mystery, good v. evil and cliffhanger plotlines. On second thought, no I wont. I'll just rant - that's much easier.

Reading a FOX news article on Pottermania today, I couldn't help but be struck with the insanity of obsession over empty things.

• One man flew his entire family from AZ to the UK, all of them showing up in costume of course, to be among the crowd at the hot UK shop selling the book.

• Two 20 yr old young ladies screamed, hugged, touched and smelled their new books, as if they were holding babies. (I'm not making this up kids, read the article for yourself).

• Another man actually risked his very life by plunging into freezing water to retrieve a bookstore voucher that he had dropped.

In another article (there have been numerous news items on this in the last week or so) a 17 yr old girl who's been a Potter fan since the age of 9, hassled her mother enough that she finally gave in and flew the girl to London from Michigan for the book release. Of course she showed up in a homemade black cloak lined in Slytherin green. Who wouldn't, really?

What struck me about this in particular, is the obsession. Oh I already know that any Potter fan would immediately deny that they're obsessed, but let's get real. When you create a home made cloak & line it with Slytherin green, you're obsessed. When you spend the kind of money required to fly from the US to the UK to buy a book (that you could have bought in the US), you're obsessed. When you risk your life or fondle a book like a precious delicate child, you're absolutely obsessed. Creepy obsessed, in fact.

I couldn't help but wonder, what the world would look like if suddenly Christians became so excited and on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ, that FOX news couldn't keep up with the events taking place all over the world that were based on the flood of evangelistic efforts of believers. In other words, what would it look like to see followers of Jesus act towards Him, the way followers of Potter act towards him? I've always wondered why we (believers) don't get as pumped up for the Lord as sports fans do in sports arenas, when there is so much MORE to be excited about.

I also couldn't help but wonder why Christians would jump on this Pottermania bandwagon. Now please remember my 3 points up yonder. I get why folks enjoy it, I get why folks buy it/read it/watch it. I get that they're spiritually mature enough to do that. I'm most likely going to rent the dvd when it comes out, just like we did the others. I'm sure I'll probably enjoy the special fx even if I don't like some of the storyline. I get all that.

What I don't get is when Christians get so jazzed over something so not important. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, Potter is about as important as dryer lint, or that plastic liner in a cereal box, or split ends. So is 24 for that matter, and I hope I've never pushed it so much that it makes people go "she's a nutbag". Honestly, I've wondered about some of the Christian websites out there so completely bonkers over this book series. Generally, I just click right past them because to me, it's a creepy and unbalanced obsession with the trivial things of the world.

I would like to draw your attention to something I have found useful though. Colin Smith, one of the TeamApologian brothers has come up with a pretty nifty way to evangelize utilizing Pottermania. I know it sounds questionable to some of you, but I assure you this is a solid brother. You ought to head over to aomin.org and see what he's got to offer. Check out what Colin has to say:

"Over the next week or so, you, or your child, might find yourself in (or close to) conversations around the book series and the events of the final installment. I thought it would be both timely and useful (and, let's face it, fun!) to present a way in which the Christian--regardless of whether he or she has actually read the books--might use such conversations as a means of bearing witness to Christ. If you understand the presuppositional approach to apologetics, you will already be familiar with the method I am proposing to use. If not, may this serve as an introduction to the method, and for further study I recommend you spend $4 on the mp3s of the Greg Bahnsen-Gordon Stein debate on the existence of God from Covenant
Media Foundation
. :-) In these blogs, I will be presenting passages from the first six Harry Potter books and demonstrating how it depends on a Christian worldview; in other words, Harry Potter could not have been written without assuming Christian presuppositions." - Colin Smith: Harry Potter meets Cornelius Van Til: Part One

There. Now that I've offended every Christian Potter fan, I can have my hiatus. Yep, I'm going to hiatus all over the place, starting today.