Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Wizard vs. the Wardrobe

Usually, I try not to get all political or religious on my blog. This is not because I don't have strong convictions. It is because I try to live my life as a person who may not agree with others beliefs, but who is tolerant of them and even interested to learn why people believe what they do at times. The religious and political extremes fascinate me as someone who considers herself right in the middle on most issues.

Well, today, I had someone's religious beliefs shoved down my throat faster than a mom dosing up some nasty-ass cough syrup to her kid. Gaaag! And, while I share the same faith as this person, I felt like spitting what she was serving out right back at her somehow. Kerspat!!!

While I was in infinite wait mode at my OB's office for my annual exam, a seemingly pleasant woman began chatting with my daughter and me. I was grateful when she offered to read a book to Miss Kitty. We had been waiting close to 45 minutes for our appointment, and Miss Kitty was really at the breaking point. So, I pulled out my little Chick-fil-a kids' meal book on virtues from the diaper bag, and "waiting room woman" began to read to my wee one.

I guess because of the theme of the book, she made some assumptions about me. She commented on the book and I said it was from Chick-fil-a and it was so nice to get a book for a change over some of the junk that fast food places put in their kids meals. Well, this must have triggered her soap box button or something, because she began ranting about "witch" toys being in her kids' meals. She said all of the witch things and Harry Potter stuff just drove her crazy because it is in direct conflict and teaches kids the opposite of her Christian beliefs.

Ok. Hmmm. I just sat there, unsure of what to say back.

I am a Christian. While I don't condone worshipping the occult or anything, I love a good Harry Potter flick or book. You know? And so does my son. In my mind, it is all make-believe and I make sure my kids know that too. Much like The Wizard of Oz or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or any of those old fantasy movies. They were some of my favorite type of stories growing up and I think they foster creativity and imagination in children. How can that be a bad thing really?

So, here's where the hypocrisy starts being served up (in my mind). As I sat there quietly nodding and hoping to get out of the conversation, "waiting room woman" then asks me if I've taken my son to see The Chronicles of Narnia yet. I notice she is holding a C.S. Lewis book in her lap. I commented that I hadn't seen it yet, because I didn't know if it would be too scary for my six-year-old. She happily raved on the movie. She said she wasn't sure about it at first, because it was produced by Disney (gasp!) and she definitely did not approve of the Disney company's values (rude assumption here: she doesn't condone or approve homosexuality). But, she said it was wonderfully done and that they didn't even make the "White Witch" that scary. She highly recommended that I take my son to see it.

Hmm. White witch? Magic wardrobes that transport you to other places where magic things happen? Does ANYONE see the hypocrisy here?

Yes, I know Lewis wrote the Narnia stories and it's largely believed they are based on the life of Christ. I find that very cool actually, and want to go back and read them all and do a Bible study on it or something. But, do I really think my six-year-old is going to see any difference between Harry Potter flying on his broomstick to going through a wardrobe and finding a magic lion during your adventures? I DON'T THINK SO, PEOPLE!

So, here's my question for you all, if I haven't offended you with this post. Do you find there a big difference in these two movies really? Unless your children go and do a bible study course before they see Chronicles, are they really going to know it is any different from any other fantasy movie? And does that make all fantasy movies bad? What is wrong with imagining, as long as you know it isn't real? Isn't that actually what all movies are--fanticized and imagined stories?

And, does it make me less of a Christian that these kind of movies do not feel like a threat to my beliefs at all? They are pretend. If you truly believe in God and that Jesus was real, then how does some fantasy movie threaten that? No, I'm not running out and letting my son watch every witch or Satan-worshiping movie there is, but c'mon! Isn't that a little extreme?

If I have offended or if you believe like "waiting room lady" did that witchiness and wizardry professes the devil but white witches and magic lions are acceptable, please comment. I am an open-minded person and want to hear more of your argument, if you can present it without flaming me too badly. OK? So, let the debates begin!!!


Blogger Tyra said...

First let me tell you that my sil is just like that lady. She does not allow her children to participate in Halloween because it's evil. Her children will never see a Harry Potter movie or read one of their books.

For many years I was entrenched in a fundamental Christian church where trick or treating was forbidden, no Harry Potter, no Pokemon (those are just pocket devils, did you know that?), absolutely no drinking of alcohol, no dancing. The list goes on and on.

Just this year I've gotten myself out of that culture. I just couldn't take the holier than thou attitudes a minute longer. I never felt like I measured up and it was very frustrating and depressing.

So, no I don't see the difference in the two movies. It's just like Star Wars, granted there are no wizards but they believe in the "force".

I don't know, I just can't get caught up in all those man made rules anymore.

3:06 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Oh, that reminds me of the other thing she said. She was talking about Santa and said she tells her kids that Santa is just Jesus's Postman. Funny way of looking at it, isn't it? I never thought of it that way.

And, I'm sure to some fundamentalists, we're ushering our kid right to the dark side, because we have so much Star Wars stuff it isn't even funny!

I think no matter what you believe, there's always going to be messages of good and evil and you just hope that you're getting across the way to be jives with the good and not to be like the evil. At least that's what I hope I'm able to do!

4:02 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

This is a discussion I have touched on with lots of people over the past few years. Our local grocery store has a video rental section and they wouldn't get in Harry Potter because they said it was against their "family and moral values." (The clerks were given a paragraph to read to customers who asked about the movies that actually included that phrase). Yet, this same store carries many "R" and unrated versions of movies that are full of gratuitous sex and violence and lots of similarly "moral" activities. I haven't rented anything--regardless of moral worthiness--there since the first Potter movie came out on video.

The simplistic version of my take on it is that if you really feel that movies, books or ideas of any kind are a danger to your faith or to your children's faith, you might need to re-examine your faith. If your beliefs are strongly held, it seems to me that pop entertainment should pose no threat to them.

4:26 PM, December 13, 2005  
Anonymous Angela said...

Truly, I don't see a large difference in the two movies from a child's perspective. Just the other day I went back and read the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in preparation for seeing the movie, and while I could see how there may be some Christian allegory woven in, it certainly wasn't beaten into your head, and I NEVER picked up on that as a child. I just thought it was totally awesome that you could go through a wardrobe into a magical world, and it sparked my imagination. Just as I imagine children all over the world are having their imaginations sparked by the Harry Potter series.

I absolutely do not believe that it makes you less of a Christian to enjoy a harmless fantasty novel or movie. If you have the believe that these stories are satanic, and you enjoy them for that reason, then yes, I suppose that would go against Christian values. But I would also be curious as to what those "satanic" qualities are.

On top of that, what evil qualities are present in the stories are simply versions of the classic story of good versus evil. It's 4 young children vanquishing an army of evil in Narnia and 3 young children fighting to overcome evil in Harry Potter. It's not as though the White Witch and Voldemort are portrayed as the sympathetic types.

Anyway, just my 25 cents, and I think "waiting room lady" needs to take a hike, lol!

5:28 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Vanessa said...

The Harry Potter series are nothing more than wonderfully imaginative fantasy in which good succeeds over evil. They even celebrate Christmas and EASTER in the films. Here's my test regarding the worth of such movies, books, etc.: Would Jesus be offended by them? I don't think he would be offended by Harry Potter, Star Wars, or any of the fantasy fiction/movies you're talking about. Just my opinion, but I know I'm right. (That's sort of a joke, but not really!)

6:02 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger MommaK said...

I would have told waiting room lady to back off. I usually lead with..."Well since we have a lot of ex-clergy in the family, I can tell you this much..."

You're a great mom raising your children with solid values...who the heck is some lay in a waiting room to advise you on the upbringing of your child??

10:16 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I can't believe this is even an issue. I grew up in a very Christian home and read and read and read about witches and wizards and goblins and dwarves... I mean, what exactly do they think is going to happen to the kid that reads this stuff? It's called "imagination", people. And children with imaginations generally end up being far more interesting and productive adults.

10:17 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

I guess I should clarify here, just in case my rhetorical questions came across as me questioning myself in this entry. I definitely I do NOT buy into what this lady was telling me or think I'm less of a Christian because I condone wizards. I believe exactly as I said, but I thought it would be interesting to find out what you other blogging pals thought of it. And, it sure has been! Continue discussing...

10:48 PM, December 13, 2005  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I am a Christian (mainstream Presbyterian) and our whole church went to see Narnia last Sunday. My children and I have also read and seen all the Potter movies. Love 'em.

I live a life of moderation. If I saw one of my kid's becoming obsessed with something (does XBOX count??) then I would be worried. We keep it all in perspective though.

I do believe that God is alive and well and working in people's lives but so is the Devil. There are things we need to protect our kids from.

I too, did not see a big diff between Potter and Narnia.

6:31 AM, December 14, 2005  
Anonymous Theresa said...

Fantasy is fantasy. There are so many other things out there that could be considered a conflict with someone's religious beliefs, that it seems petty to focus on a movie genre. But, a great many of these extremists are hypocrites, who pick and choose according to their own whims.

8:04 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger christina said...

I think this is such an interesting issue. And it's been facinating to read your initial ideas and then the comments in response. I couldn't agree more that fantasy is wonderful for the immagination, and in terms being Christian, well, I would NEVER have known the LWW was an alegory! I think stories that allow children to experience the conflict of good and evil are wonderful and deeply satisfying to them on many levels. It apalls me that some would guard their children from reading these stories based on their un-christian-ness and I agree, a child wouldn't know the difference.I DID think HP, the movie--esp. the last one, was scary and I don't know if I would have had my little one go watch it--but certainly not because of it's non-christian-ness. I don't know. I think that anyone who interprets the texts of a religious faith entirely literally is lacking depth. I'm more into a freer interpretation of all spiritual teachings. Like Marylyn says on her blog California Fever, I'm for the "church of the divine spark" of my own spirit. But, then again--I love that the world is full of these contrasts, and that somehow each of us with our varied beliefs has a place in it.

8:46 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

That's a great way of thinking, Christina. And, I haven't let my son watch any but the first Harry Potter because they seem to get more and more intense. Maybe in a few years I will. We probably will read the books first. The last one that came to video scared the waddin' out of ME! It was a great movie though...

9:02 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger David said...

you should have jumped up on your chair and cast that eve-il spirit out of her.

made for a good story anyway, ehh?

9:25 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Northern_Girl said...

This is an interesting topic, really. But I'm conflicted as to how to post - I fear bringing "flame" on myself (giggle*choke*giggle).

If you really wanted to rattle cages, we could discuss how the bible is an ANTHOLOGY of collected work that inlcudes fiction, allegory and other literary techniques - and a hugely edited anthology, at that. But that is too much - even for me - to take on in just the 'comments' section of a blog.

You make good points, as do your commentators. Thanks for that.

9:56 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Dipu said...

Haven't seen Narnia yet so I can't comment on that aspect. But I had a friend in jr. high who stopped playing Dungeons & Dragons because it was "anti-Christian." I never understood that, since I sure didn't take the game seriously or start believing in all the creatures and gods in it. It was just a game, like any other sci-fi/fantasy thing. Or like reading books on Greek mythology or fairy tales. They were stories, not scripture. If someone's faith can be tainted so easily by a game or a book or a movie, the problem ain't in the game/movie/book...

9:59 AM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Carol said...

My first time commenting here...I'm a Christian and one of the things I notice about fundamentalists is that they go so overboard. Everything is a big deal to them. The Bible says many things about good and evil, but it also says 'all things in moderation.' Having balance in life is so important. The fundamentalist I know (I married into such a family) are offended when I mention the idea of balance to them. I have found there is no winning any argument when it comes to them...they are always right as far as they're concerned.

As for Harry Potter books, it is really really good fiction, and children should be exposed to good fiction as well as other forms of art.

12:20 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Babs said...

I couldn't stay away from commenting here. This reminds me of the debate around song lyrics... and how I LOVED cyndi lauper's "she-bop" because it was a fun song. It wasn't until way later that I learned it had any other meaning!

Anyway, that's exactly how I feel about the Narnia Chronicles & Harry Potter... they are EXCELLENT stories for kids. And it's only adults who get wrapped up in their hidden meanings.

12:31 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Melissa said...

I just saw Narnia on Sunday and I love it, but I think it would be too intense for a six year old. There were some very upset small children in the theater while I was there.

As for the parallel, I read the books numerous times as a child and never made the connection to the story of Christ. I see it now, but I'm not sure if it is because I'm older and more observant or if it is because people can't stop talking about it, so it was on my mind while I watched the movie.

2:00 PM, December 14, 2005  
Anonymous Brian said...

Okay, I was trolling through various blogs and came across this entry. I felt a deep need to comment. I agree with every post on this sight. I am not a parent, nor am I that devout (sp) of a Christian, but I do have a deep love of God and a particular way of faith I practice every day. It saddens me when I hear or read the extremist go off on Harry Potter or any other piece of children's escapist literature. For one, like others have said, they instill nonexistant issues into the world. I think in a more damaging aspect this mentality creates an atmosphere of intolerance and a warped reality. Parents place their children outside of the real world. They make it appear to be a very scary place. I've had many friends who went on and were unable to cope with the world around them once they went to college or entered the mainstream. This is not to say all messages are good or that parents should not shield their children to some degree. The mentality taken to extremes just seems to stunt faith and understanding.

9:48 AM, December 16, 2005  

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