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Is it dangerous to read Harry Potter? Are the stories of J.K. Rowling noxious? According to the Christian writer Richard Abanes, they are indeed. He published an accusing study entitled Harry Potter and the Bible in the turbulent year 2001.
Abanes' book is one of the many violent or at least unfriendly responses to the children's book hype that put witches, sorcery and magic back on the literary map of the world at the end of the 20th Century. I chose his writing for this essay simply because it came my way by accident and because the objections as put forward in Harry Potter and the Bible against Ms. Rowling and the Potter stories also can be exactly the recommendations for the series, depending on the way one looks at it.
The publisher gave Abanes' book a slick look, completely fit for the Harry Potter merchandising design and provided with the teasing one-liner 'Not authorized by J.K. Rowling' on the cover. As a fervent collector of books in general and especially the ones about Harry Potter I bought the book quickly for my collection when I saw it. The selling of his own book thanks to the Harry Potter mania cannot be the problem for Richard Abanes. He dedicates his anti-Potter book to his wife who 'waited so patiently for the vacation that he promised her for such a long time.' So what is the problem?
As the title states, the author compares the Potter stories with the Christian Bible. But the introduction by Professor Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at the Denver Seminary, sets the tone for the whole book. The Potter books are, Groothuis points out, drenched in occultism. Besides that, the characters [of Harry Potter and his friends Hermione and Ron] are 'morally weak and egoistic figures who lie without consequences, practise occult sciences, swear and refuse to repent.' But above all this, 'heavy violence recurs regularly' [in the Potter books].
We will have a look at some of these aspects but especially the last reproach is interesting. Mr Groothuis particularly deplores the violence in the Potter series. This is remarkable because the Bible, which Groothuis tends to defend as God's Truth, might be the most bloodthirsty and violent book on Earth, surpassing the Koran in hatred and bloodshed. Especially the Old Testament is 'adult entertainment' and should wear a parental advisory sticker. There is no other piece of writing that supplies an equal number of men, women and children, not to mention animals, being introduced to 'the edge of the sword' than the first part of the 'Holy Scriptures.' Compared with that, the violence in Harry Potter is literally 'pottering.' As a child I had the opportunity to assist the meetings of the Christian movement of which my parents were members, three times a week. There I read the whole Bible out of sheer boredom. The Holy Scriptures were the only accepted writing at these meetings but fortunately I have always loved reading.
One of my favourite stories was the one about King Abimelech in Judges Chapter 9 verse 1-57. The king wages war against the city of Thebes. The city is taken but some men and women still offer resistance in a certain tower. Abimelech knows what to do in such an occasion and approaches the tower to 'burn it with fire.' In verse 53 we read: 'And a certain woman threw an upper millstone upon Abimelech's head, and crushed his skull.' The king proves to have a tough head because he does not die instantly. Really baffling then is the following verse: 'Then he called hastily to the young man his armour-bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me 'A woman killed him'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died.'
Please notice how the reader is confronted here with an unprecedented contempt of women. And this is not just this king or this passage. The whole Bible seems to be pervaded with an incomprehensible hatred of women. Incomprehensible that is, when one still believes that this is the infallible Word of Our Lord. Incomprehensible and puzzling when you don't know who really wrote the Bible. (Read, if you would like to know, Valsheid in geschrifte; De gespleten pen van bijbelschrijvers (1995) by the Dutch specialist Jacob Slavenburg for the English language: Burton L. Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth, (1996). Or, just let the Bible speak for itself: Jeremiah chapter 8 verse 8.
Another poignant aspect of the Holy Scriptures is the absence of any sense of humour of the Biblical figures. The prophet Elisha, for instance, who apparently was not blessed with a rich 'coiffure' reacts furiously in the town of Bethel to 'some small boys [who] came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.' (II Kings 2 verse 23-25). Not exactly a party (as long as you are not a bear ). And this I am not kidding this was used in a Christian explanation that it is wrong to call people names. There are simply too many examples of divinely sanctioned genocide, incest, rape, murder and drunkenness available in the Bible to mention here even briefly. The interested reader might find an amusing overview of the broad range of cruel scenes and contradictions that the Old and New Testament have to offer in Wie God verlaat heeft niets te vrezen (1997) and De bril van God (2002) from the Dutch biologist and writer Maarten 't Hart. [Someone should translate these fine essays into English].
Whoever is no longer blind to the disturbing Taliban-like texts, next to the distinct perennial wisdom in the Bible, and is amazed about it, will find a great relief in the book The Laughing Jesus (2005) by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.
Back to Abanes and Groothuis. Professor Groothuis already has a solution at hand for authors like Rowling in his introduction, a real Christian solution, taken from the Bible in words that are being attributed to Jesus: 'But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.' (Matthew chapter 18 verse 6). Thanks to a likewise sick interpretation of texts like these, millions of innocent men, women and children were burned to death at the stake, drowned, strangled and worse, during the insane witch hunt in and outside Europe. And are these really Jesus' words? The words of the same man who once said to love even your enemies? Most likely not. The four remaining gospels in the New Testament have, apart from being written generations after Jesus' death, also been subject to thousands of 'corrections' before the Catholic Church forced her literalistic dogmas through on the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., and with that action, threw the world for over a thousand years into the period that we now call the Dark Ages. Civilizations have blossomed when liberalizing pagan philosophies were being studied and practised, and saw a mental, intellectual and cultural decline as soon as organized religion came up. It was not before 1500 A.D., when Europe experienced the Renaissance, the rebirth of old heathen cultures, that things started to move again. The Church responded with the Inquisition of which the maliciousness, I hope, does not need further explanation.
Mr Abanes loathes the pagan influence that Harry Potter might have on youngsters: 'Harry Potter gives children a hunger for the occult' [transl. p. 121, Dutch Edition]. In my childhood I was made terrified of the word 'occult.' It was made synonymous with 'evil' and especially with 'demons.' In reality, according to the Van Dale woordenboek Nederlands (13th revised Edition, 1999) the word means something 'geheims dat alleen voor ingewijden kenbaar is'[= something secret, only known to initiated]. Well then, when you keep in mind what the Church did with you when they found out that you practised alternative philosophies or had knowledge of natural medicine you surely understand the urge of the medieval pagans to go underground and get 'occult' with their secrets. No one is eager to get roasted at a stake is he?
Most of the grievances in Harry Potter and the Bible are exceedingly laughable because granting these corrections would make the story simply impossible and the characters completely implausible. Abanes demands, for example, that the central figures should never utter a lie or, if they do tell something that isn't entirely true, they should feel guilty about that. As if life is build up out of black and white. Imagine this: it is 1943, you live in Holland during the German occupation and as a good citizen you have people in hiding in your house. According to Abanes you are literally never allowed to tell a lie, so when the Gestapo knocks on your door and asks questions you should tell the exact truth about whom and what you are hiding. And if you would tell the 'Herr Inspektor' a fib about the people under the stairs, you're supposed to be consumed with remorse for it!
It gives me an overwhelming, almost devilish pleasure to watch Abanes making a fuss about some heathen sources that Rowling has used in her books while his own church already has adopted so many pagan rituals as being 'Christian', like Easter (the name refers to the Eostur-monath, a month of the Germanic calendar which may have been named for the goddess Eostre), Christmas (the 25th of December, the birthday of Dionysus) and the day of the Lord; Sunday (yes, the birthday of the Sun). Of course in a way it is dramatic that many God-fearing Christians uphold Sunday's rest while they massively break the real Sabbath (on Saturday, the seventh day). But it is also tremendously funny, don't you think?
When I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the seventh and last volume of the series), I just started to get interested in things like the Bilderberg group, Skulls & Bones and Illuminati because of the (Dutch edition of the) book Rule by Secrecy (2000) by Jim Marrs. I looked forward to this day for six years ever since I started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I would have read the last volume immediately if it was not for the sign on top of the spine of the book: a typical Freemason-like symbol depicting a triangle cut in half by a vertical line. The next sentence may sound odd for someone who is not initiated in advanced conspiracy theories but for a short while I thought that even 'good old Harry' was part of the 'plot against humanity'. That the reading of these books would indeed cause a shift to the lower frequencies (fear, despair) of our minds. As far as I can see it now, the opposite is the case. The symbol of the triangle stands for three magical items that play an important role in the completion of the Potter saga.
Joanne Rowling has been inspired by really old pagan mythology and uses esoteric symbols and concepts that are familiar to Freemasonry, Theosophy and Anthroposophy as well. Her sources are without any doubt Otfried Preussler, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis but also the books of Colin Wilson, The Mind Parasites (1967) to be precise. Moreover, she has weaved modern quantum physics through the stories. Now that I have finished part seven, I can tell that the Potter saga is nothing less than an initiation ritual for the soul.
Attention: the following part contains spoilers about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
Children and adults who read the whole story have seen, even if it is for a blink of the eye, another possible world. A hidden universe, parallel to their own. Next to that their power of imagination is being fed on a most peculiar and attractive way: one could be a wizard just the same. Does not everyone dream from time to time that he or she can fly? And how wonderful are these occasions? Could it be more than coincidence that this longing dwells in our nature? Thanks to the Potter stories, millions of people have learned (on a subconscious level) that creatures might exist which influence their mood, creatures which live on human sorrow and fear (the so-called Dementors), and that these creatures can be resisted by an inner force that can be summoned up by remembering your most precious memory, usually a recollection of love. A dark force is gaining power at the high ranks of government; there is corruption of the state. That sounds familiar. Even in the wizard world narrow-mindedness with some wizards and witches comes into question. And there are open-minded individuals who recognise the value of old myths and fairy-tales. This subject plays an important role in the last part of the story.
At the very end of the drama, Harry Potter realizes and accepts the fact that, in order to stop the evil of Voldemort, he himself has to die. Harry then has some kind of a near-death experience where he meets his former teacher, his late Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. At this point Harry wants to know if this [his present conversation with Dumbledore] is real or that it is only his imagination. The response of Dumbledore is a pure Gnostic vision and as beautiful as a Phoenix bird:
'Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'
At this very moment we are experiencing a new renaissance of pagan culture. It is only logical that the Church, with people like Richard Abanes and Douglas Groothuis, utterly resists the inevitable. Literalist religion will disappear completely. Not by force or violence, but by a velvet evolution, a slow but irreversible awakening within the hearts of all people (even the Richard Abaneses and Douglas Groothuises of the world). The Harry Potter saga contributes to, and even accelerates this spiritual process. The impact of the Potter books is enormous; they literally reach a global public and this is really good news! Every day more and more people realise something funny is going on. The fact that you are still reading this article means you are awake or are awakening. Are you a (Christian or Muslim) doubter? You are totally right to doubt! It means you have the blessing of a healthy open mind. Welcome! It is about time to quit the literalistic religion massively. This is essential to be able to abolish the biggest religion of all; the religion that keeps us all, Muslim, Christian, agnostic, atheist or whatever-ist in a sorry state of slavery; our unconditional faith in the 'value' of money.
Neither the organized religions nor the money system as we know it now, are capable of bringing us 'enduring freedom' or peace. They have proven the opposite very convincingly during the last centuries. Note: This does not mean you should give up your spirituality.
Karen Armstrong (a former nun who totally gave up her Catholic faith after studying the true history of the Church) cites an inspiring story about the Buddha (in Dr. J. Tans Lecture 2002: Faith after September 11th (2002) p. 9):
'The Buddha compared religious teaching, including his own, to a raft. He liked to tell a story of a traveller who came to a river and desperately needed to get across, but there was no bridge and no ferry. So he cobbled together a raft, and paddled himself to the other side. But then, the Buddha would ask his monks, what was he supposed to do with the raft? Should he say that the raft had been so important to him that he must load it onto his back and carry it around wherever he went? Or should he simply moor it, and go on his way. That is how people should treat religious teaching, the Buddha concluded. If it helps you to get across the river of pain, use it, but if it becomes cumbersome, let it go.'
So prepare to let go. We don't need to live through another Dark Age, do we?
All Bible fragments taken from The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments [
] Revised Standard Version, BFBS, 1952.
English translation made possible by www.webvertalingen.nl.
There is no copyright on (my part of) this text. Information wants to be free