Matters of Opinion: The Perils of Harry Potter

Literary device or not, witchcraft is real—and dangerous.

I have an idea for a wonderful series of children's books. I'm imagining a delightful fantasy world. In my world, there is a secret: tucked away on the upper shelves of every home is a product that, when used the right way, can make children's dreams come true: common rat poison, when mixed with orange soda, turns into an elixir that's out of this world. When you drink it in one big gulp, not only does it taste heavenly, it also makes you happy, beautiful—and for 24 hours, it gives you the power to accomplish one wish. One shy, picked-on, but highly intelligent boy has discovered the secret, and he intends to use his new power to help the world. These books will be exciting adventures—easy enough for 8-year-olds but compelling enough to keep teenagers entertained.

What? Parents would worry that this "innocent fantasy" might spill over into the real world? Someone might actually try mixing rat poison and orange soda in real life?

More than sheer fantasy

Though the parallels are hardly exact, this is what we're talking about regarding the Harry Potter series. We're taking something deadly from our world and turning it into what some are calling "merely a literary device." Regardless of how magic is portrayed in the series, we need to remember that witchcraft in real life can and does lead to death—the forever and ever kind.

From about age 10 to my early 20s, the supernatural fascinated me. I devoured stories about wizards and magic, power and adventure. At one point, I was reading three or four such books a week. I craved mystical experiences. On the outside, I was a normal kid. I had been confirmed and attended worship nearly every week. My school report cards held straight A's. On the inside, however, the supernatural ...

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Matters of Opinion: The Perils of Harry Potter
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October 23, 2000

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