Harry Spells Danger
It used to be that young people rarely thought about the supernatural. In today’s Western world, however, they are swamped by it on a regular—even daily—basis.
Teenagers and pre-adolescents watch cartoons, videotapes and prime time TV shows which contain powerful paranormal and black magic themes. Many listen to raucous music emphasizing occult subject matter. They play video games (such as Diablo ii, a Dungeons and Dragons-like computer game, where players battle a demon to save the world) in which elements of magic and witchcraft are an integral part of the action.
They also read about Harry Potter.
Harry Potter, the main character of Joanna K. Rowling’s series of fictional books, is a teenage orphan who is deeply unhappy about living with his strict uncle and aunt, until he discovers he has magical powers and joins a school of wizardry.
Harry’s phenomenal popularity has taken children and teens by storm. Many bookstores have difficulty keeping their shelves stocked with the books.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in the series, has been on the New York Times’ best-seller list for over a year and a half. For many of those months, the book was listed among the top three best sellers.
The latest opus, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, sold 372,000 copies in its first weekend (July 8) and orders are pouring in for the next volume, though it has not been written yet. U.S. publisher Scholastic predicted a sky-high number of sales and released a record-shattering first printing of 3.8 million copies of the 752-page tome. Another million copies were published and released in the UK; more than half a million were distributed in Canada and Australia.
The Potter books have been translated into some 40 languages, published in Braille and disseminated into approximately 100 countries. More than 35 million copies have sold internationally, thus far netting author Rowling an astounding personal income of $128 million.
The Philadelphia Inquirer says that Miss Rowling is on track to become the first writer in history to pocket $1 billion in her lifetime. The figure is based on the $526 million she’s projected to earn by 2005 from the Harry Potter industry and the three more books she intends to write. In addition, Rowling will get at least $12.5 million from the first Potter movie, plus licensing deals from toymakers Mattel and Hasbro worth at least $50 million over several years.
It’s no secret that each book in the Potter series grows progressively darker and more complex; even Harry’s fans will admit that the fourth book is more somber and violent than the previous three. The newest book, which has been nicknamed “Harry Potter iv,” opens with the murder of a 76-year-old man. The suspense and horror only intensify from there.
Nevertheless, many parents and teachers are thrilled to see kids taking the time to read. Some adults have themselves become enthralled with Harry’s adventures and have blazed through all four books in the series.
John Buckeridge, editor of Youthworks magazine, says that the Potter series, along with the recent boom in other sinister books and TV shows, “encourage an interest in magic as harmless fun. However, for some young people it could fuel a fascination that leads to dangerous dabbling with occult powers. So what starts out as spooks and spells can lead to psychological and spiritual damage.”
Commenting on Potter iv, Mr. Buckeridge says: “On one level it’s just a good read. But on another level it’s softening the path for paganism to become part of mainstream society.”
According to a report in the September edition of Youthworks, many teenage boys are rejecting Christianity and the church for witchcraft. Moreover, there is an even greater response from young women seeking female “empowerment.” Droves of girls are showing an unprecedented interest in witchcraft, with dozens every month wanting to join covens to learn about casting spells in order to pass school exams, find boyfriends and become wealthy.
One organization, the Pagan Federation (a UK-based group which represents druids, shamans, witches and high priestesses) acknowledges that scores of curious youngsters are now contacting its main office, with upwards of 100 telephone calls per month. The Federation has just appointed its first youth officer in response to the growing number of queries from children.
Many kids—and their parents—view the Harry Potter rage as harmless fun. In the November 1999 edition of the Trumpet, however, we showed how these books ought to be considered dangerous.
The supernatural world holds a strong fascination for many young minds. Children are naturally drawn to it. It intrigues them, and they want to know more.
Knowing something about wizardry or witchcraft gives some children a feeling of power and an increased sense of worth. They feel special because they know something “secret” and “mysterious” that others do not know.
Once they become involved, many are drawn deeper into it, whether it is the study of occult literature or participation in magic rituals or séances. For some children, it can become an obsession.
For impressionable children, this fantasy world of magic and mystery increasingly can assume a sense of reality. A child’s fantasy world can sometimes displace the real world to such an extent that the two become virtually indistinguishable.
Yet, many parents believe their children can “handle” fantasy. Some call otherworldly novels and occult interests a “healthy outlet” for their children, despite the fact that in some cases these involvements promote violent tendencies in the real world!
By now, you have probably seen the stories of the impact of the occult on teenagers. These tragic events are not tabloid sensationalism, but sober news reported by reputable wire services, such as AP, Reuters and upi. The following events have been reported in recent years:
• An 18-year-old fatally bludgeons his grandfather with a roofing hammer. The boy’s father later said that his son regularly played the video game Resident Evil, in which characters wielding hatchets behead rampaging zombies. The boy’s “imagination became reality,” his father said.
• Two boys stroll through their Colorado high school, firing semi-automatic rifles and detonating pipe bombs, hooting and laughing as they go. After killing several classmates, they each shoot themselves. It is discovered that, prior to their deaths, both were obsessed with black metal music, movies and video games that were teeming with gruesome, violent content.
• A teenage girl commits suicide, leaving behind a diary containing elaborate drawings of satanic scenes.
• A young man chops off his left hand and stabs himself in the chest as a part of an occult ritual to “purify his body.”
• A 14-year-old boy preoccupied with books on the occult claims to have had a vision of Satan, after which he kills his mother.
Similar cases can be cited from virtually every corner of the developed Western world.
Psychologists and law enforcement officials are alarmed—and rightly so. The occult is emphatically not just a “harmless bit of fun”! It is downright dangerous!
For concerned parents, the key is early prevention.
Parents have a heavy responsibility to direct their child’s interests towards wholesome and profitable channels.
Parents ought to realize that children do not yet have the wisdom and experience to guide their own lives or to make fully informed choices. This is surely illustrated by Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child.” (The word foolishness actually means evil in the Hebrew language.)
Realize, too, that sometimes children are drawn to occult pursuits because parental involvement and attention are missing in their lives. They become involved in the occult to fill a void or to gain attention. Another proverb states that “a child left to himself bringeth his mother [or father] to shame” (Prov. 29:15).
Case studies reveal that serious involvement with the occult often begins with apparently normal children, absorbed with the seemingly innocent—such as fantasy books or video games—and grows from there. The grip tightens, often quickly.
Parents must be on guard—protective of the precious minds of their children and teens. They must give serious thought to directing their children’s interests into beneficial pursuits—such as hobbies, sports and musical training.
The occult and supernatural must not be dismissed as mere superstition or as “just another genre of literature.” There is, in fact, a real world of evil spirits! Moreover, their manifestations can be extremely hazardous.
One source that addresses this topic in detail is the Holy Bible. It is the most complete reference book available on the subject.
The Bible reveals the existence of perverse spirit beings—demons—who seek to seduce and ultimately destroy humanity. Satan the devil, whom the Bible labels as the “prince of demons,” leads these spirits (Mark 3:22; rsv).
In today’s modern society, Satan has become a myth. Many laugh at him as a cartoon figure of a red, dancing monster with wings like a bat, horns, a long, pointed tail and a pitchfork.
However, the real Satan and his demonic cohorts are violently at work!
Satan often works in a very subtle fashion. He is shrewd, cunning and sly. He is expert at making evil look good. He represents his teachings as wisdom and light. He is even identified as an “angel of light” in ii Corinthians 11:14. This is how he has deceived the whole world! (Rev. 12:9).
The Bible labels the popular occult and supernatural pursuits of our modern age as “works of darkness.” In addition, it cautions us in Ephesians 5:11 to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness….” We need to understand this important warning—and teach it to our children.
Because, as the prophet Micah explains, today we have too much “witchcraft” and too many “soothsayers” in our lands who refuse to obey the commandments and ways of the living God! (Mic. 5:12).
God will rightfully punish and destroy us—unless we repent—just before and leading up to the sudden destruction to come “upon the heathen” (v. 15), which will take place at the very end of this age and at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as King of kings!
Those who refuse to obey their Maker by abandoning abominable acts such as sorcery and the worship of pagan deities will not enter the Kingdom of God (Rev. 21:8). Therefore, each of us would do well to heed the words of James 4:7, where we are commanded to “submit to God” and “resist the devil.” Understanding what’s really going on behind the scenes in the spirit world is the first step towards combating deception.
Yes, there are strong spiritual forces out there, and they are not to be toyed with! You need to know more. Our book Mystery of the Ages will help you understand what the Bible teaches about evil spirits. We will send you a copy, gratis, upon request.
As parents, we must realize that our children are precious gifts from God. Each of us must labor, above all, to watch over the character development of our children, knowing that nothing comes more naturally to children than violence, fantasy, adventure and magic. We all have a moral obligation to monitor our children’s pursuits—including the books they read—and to guide them away from things evil and dangerous, and educate them toward that which is pure, wholesome and good.