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HOLLYWOOD JESUS
NEWSLETTER #30
Pop Culture From A Spiritual Point of View
HJ News #30 Main Page

HJ News #30 Main Page
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November 11, 2001
Greetings from David Bruce, Web Master

This page was last updated March 28, 2002

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Main Topic:
HARRY POTTER

Contents
1. The Harry Potter Dilemma
2. Reactions to Newsletter 29 "The WTC terror -God did it"
3. Shift to Post Modern

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1. THE HARRY POTTER DILEMMA
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Chris Utley wrote me an email:

When are you gonna discuss Harry Potter? The holy-rollers are up in arms over this movie. My wife ...and I were watching John Hagee last night and he was talking about how children are gonna get "infected" by the spirit of witchcraft if they go see the movie. Needless to say, I was nauseated. not because of what they were saying...but because of what they were implying...

So okay! I will comment on Harry Potter. In deed, some Christians are up in arms about Harry Potter. They feel that the movie will entice children towards witchcraft, new age, and Satanism. Most Christians, I think, see Harry Potter as a fictitious story with no realistic satanic overtones. Some believe, as I do, Harry Potter can have positive values that are in concert with the teachings of Jesus.

Jen sees this positive value, she wrote me the following email:

I am sure that Tolkien's (Lord of the Rings) work will come under fire as has Harry Potter but I believe in this case that the story is what you take away from it. I have read the Hobbit and the Trilogy at least 7 or 8 times now and every time I have learned more from it. Although Tolkien himself may not have been a Christian, there are Christian values that are still presented to readers in his story. This is important. Unlike Harry Potter, which I have read and enjoyed, albeit with some reservations regarding witchcraft and the violent end of one of Harry's schoolmates, the Trilogy invokes the use of magic yes but in such a way that it is magic that is guided by providence throughout the stories. In this way it seems to me that there is almost a suggestion of divine intervention at times.

I have thought a lot about a response to the Harry Potter dilemma recently. Interestingly I have also been doing a study of the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith. I think the Orthodox Church has some good light that can be shed on this issue.

The Orthodox Church teaches that God's word is not limited to just the Holy Bible. "Scripture gives many examples of the Holy Spirit using sources outside the Bible to convey God's Word. Here are a few: Jude 14, 15 is a citation from the apocryphal book of Ethiopic Enouch, and Acts 17:28 is taken from Greek poetry. Titus 1:12 is Epimenides (the work of a Cretan false teacher and 'self-styled prophet), and in I Corinthians 2:9 Paul quotes the Ascension of Isaiah, a Jewish apocryphal writing.... What does this mean? ...I would suggest ...The Word of God is the word of God because the Spirit of God has spoken it. And His Word cannot be contained by any book." -Jordan Bajis, Common Ground: An introduction to Eastern Christianity.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0937032816/hollywoodjesus

Point: God can speak through Henry Potter just as he did through the Cretan false prophet teacher of old.

A premise that I have based Hollywood Jesus on is that God can and does speak through popular stories, movies, novels and music. I agree with the Eastern Church so very much. Also, Evangelical missionologist Don Richardson in his book "Eternity in Their Hearts" makes the point how native stories in various non Judeo-Christian cultures have curious connections to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Reviews of this book summarize his points: "The basic premise is that God, in His mercy, has permitted every culture in the world to retain a portion of the truth." And, "Who were the Magi who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus, and how did they know that a Messiah was coming? Who was Melchizedek, the contemporary of Abraham who was a priest of the one high God? Who was the Greek prophet who Paul recognized as having spoken God's words to the Greek people? How did a King in South America before the coming of the Europeans recognize that there was only one true God? ...God is the One God of all the earth. He has made himself known to all people in some fashion. He has prepared the way for the message of Christ. When Paul approached an altar to The Unknown God in Athens, he declared that God to be the one true God."
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0830709258/hollywoodjesus

Point: Harry Potter can be used to point to the positive truths. This is the approach I would suggest, rather than making Harry Potter part of a Witch Hunt.

Zeus was considered a demon by certain early Christians. They protested Zeus, destroying his images and statues. They burned books about Zeus and warned others to avoid Zeus. There are Christians today who want to do the same thing to Harry Potter images, books and movies and for the same reasons. Yet the Apostle Paul approach's to Zeus was very different.

Standing before the Council in Athens, Paul said. "...For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, 'We are his offspring.'" --Acts 17:28 New Living Translation

This verse includes a fourth line of a quatrain attributed to Epimenidus the Cretan ("For in him we live and move and exist") and a fifth line of the Phanianomena of Aratus ("In every direction we all have to do with Zeus: for we are also his offspring").

Point: So the approach Paul used was to use Zeus, and not trash Zeus. However I fear there will be too many Christians will participate in a Harry Potter/Zeus Witch Hunt.

Beerta summons up the problem and the solution in her email:

David, you made me smile. Thank you for your positive outlook. YES let's focus on the good, and refuse to be caught up in the witch hunt. In the last two weeks my nine year old has been crying in bed on three separate occasions, because of Christian's fear tactics. The first was 'if you are afraid to die, you are going to hell'. The second was 'Halloween is Satan's birthday'. Last but not least Bionicles (Lego toy) bring evil spirits into the house. Is there some grand prize for the person who dreams up the latest scare? The positive of this is that my son told me and I could speak with him about our God who allows us function and even enjoy (imagine that) this world without fear. Fear not for I am with you! So, yes the world will come to an end SOMETIME, but hey do I have to live in fear? No way, live on in the spirit of Philippians 4:8! cheers

Thank you Beerta. You are a wonderful parent and an insightful person of God. And, oh my gosh, Legos? Good grief.

SELLING SATAN

Christian investigative reporters Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott in their book "Selling Satan : The Tragic History of Mike Warnke" state, "The parallels between the Salem Witchcraft Trials, McCarthyism and the 'contagious hysteria' of the satanic panic in the 1980s are disturbing. The role of evangelical Christians and their own media in fanning the flames is even more so. Witch-hunts have never rid the world of evil..." (pg 401)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0940895072/hollywoodjesus

In the book Hertenstein and Trott recount the story of Mike Warnke who made millions of dollars a year from speaking engagements claiming to be a converted Satanic Priest. It seems that Christians just loved to hear how Satanist were taking over the youth of America; How satanic teens were sacrificing human babies in every city in America. As it turned out, Mike Warnke was a fraud and the satanic sacrifices were bogus.

But Christians bought into the story. It makes me wonder

Statement: Harry Potter will not advance the cause of Satanists. Harry Potter will not increase the ranks of so-called wizards and witches. But Harry Potter bashing will make ministries like John Hagee richer, just as bogus Satanism made Mike Warnke a millionaire. Harry Potter is a fictious work just like Zeus was.

Use Harry Potter for the glory of God, just like Paul used Zeus for the glory of God. God speaks through everything in creation just as the Bible says:

For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. -Romans 1:19-20 New Living Translation.

Please, let's end the Witch Hunts!
No more --Y2K nonsense!
No more --God judged American by killing people at the WTC.
No more --So called Satanic plots killing babies.
No more --Boomer Hal Lindsay type "the end of America has begun."
No more --Making million by Selling Satan Mike Warnke types.
No more --Harry Potter witch hunting hysteria

Please!
Let's end the insanity.
Enough already.

In term of Harry Potter or any other fairy tale, consider the words the classic rock group ABBA:

If you see the wonder of the fairy tale
You can take the future
Even if you fail
I believe in Angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in Angels
When I know the time is right for me.
I crossed the stream I had a Dream
A fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness...
I believe in Angels
Something good in everything I see

Warmly David Bruce

I welcome your responses -both pro and con.

I will post your comments below


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HARRY POTTER
Email here

IF YOU DISAGREE and FEEL THAT HARRY POTTER IS DANGEROUS
Email here

IF YOU FEEL HARRY POTTER CAN BE USED POSITIVELY
Email here

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE SATANIC HYSTERIA?
Email here

DO YOU HAVE SOME GENERAL THOUGHTS:
Email here


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2. RESPONSE TO NEWS LETTER 29 -WTC DISASTER
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I was surprised by the number of responses to the last Newsletter (#29). I have posted all the emails and have responded to most. I was also surprised by the number of those who truly believe that God Himself was responsible for the WTC disaster.
Check out the responses here

 

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3. THE SHIFT TO POST MODERN
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Some have expressed concerns about my recent radical shift.
All I can say is that the world has changed.
And my world changed. I can not go back.
I have no fear of speaking out, as I did before.
I see it as a shift toward sanity and post modern realities.
I want to be a voice for the current generation.
I am really tired of the Boomer Family-Life moralistic churches.
It is time to move on. The Jesus-Life calls.
Watch for major shifts in Hollywood Jesus.

In the next Hollywood Jesus Newsletter I will address the issue of images. And the reason why Protestant Christians have such a problem with visual images (movies) Also, a plea for Post Modern expressions of 'Jesus-Life.' ('Jesus-Life' is the post modern counter culture replacement word for the Boomer's 'Family-Life'). I truly believe the church is stuck in the modern linear world of yesterday. Is there any hope for Post Modern Jesus-Life?

If you have any thoughts along these lines, email me:
I may incorporate them into the next Newsletter mailto: Images_and_Post_Modern_E-mail

May God continue to bless you.
Warmly,
David Bruce
Web Master, Hollywood Jesus.

PS To chat directly to me, email: Private 2 David

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STAR WARS AND HARRY POTTER
Subject: Newsletter_30
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002
From: Neville Barnes

We (evangelicals) fell over ourselves to use Star Wars to our advantage back in the 70s and 80s, yet what is the difference between "You're a wizard, Harry," and "The Force is strong in you, Luke"? The basic plot is the same (Cinderella). The supernatural element is common. Only the wording has changed, but some of us are so literal minded that we will swallow one whole and burn the other.

DUNGEON AND DRAGONS
Subject: Satanic_Hysteria_Newsletter_30
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002
From: David Fischer

I am doing a research paper on wether or not Dungeons and Dragons is satanic. If you could point me in the way of a few sources that would help me with the topic (either being satanic or not satanic) that would be wonderful.
David Fischer djf12887@yahoo.com

Response: No, sorry, I can not. Good luck. -David

THOUGHT ON HARRY POTTER
Subject: Harry Potter AND Newsletter_30_Harry_Potter
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
From: "Wendy"

Hi David,

It has been interesting, and sometimes sad, this debate over Harry Potter, between Christians.

Untill recently I have been stting on the fence regarding the Harry Potter issue, meaning that I was neither for or against it. In fact I really had no interest in Harry Potter at all, not because of any issue with the occult. I just wasn't that interested.

However as arguements and opinions became more heated, I decided instead of getting too involve, I would seek wisdom and discerment from God.

I thought God knows my heart. He knows that I am aware of the truth, that Jesus Christ in Lord and Saviour. He knows that if I read Harry Potter, I'm not going to turn my back on him, and become a witch.

It is interesting that some Christians believe it's a sin to read Harry Potter, where as others do not.

So I think the question to ask is 'What is a sin? The Bible says it is something that seperates us from God.

How do we become seperated from God? By becoming obssess with something, and spending more time with that, then with God.

In other words, if you have become obsessed with Harry Potter to the point where it has taken over your life, than yes, for you reading Harry Potter maybe a sin (because it has seperated you from God).

If however, you just occasionally read the books, but have no obsession with them, in that you have more of desire to know God, then to get your hand on the next Harry Potter book, then enjoy reading them, knowing that you know God's truth.

Now I know that some Christians, have said we shouldn't read the books at all, because it may lead to the occult.

But let me ask these questions. Do you go to McDonalds? Do you have a glass of wine with your dinner?

If your answer is yes to those questions, then I could say to you, 'Well going to McDonlads could lead to gluttony, or drinking wine may lead you into an alcohol problem.'

My point is that everyone is different, in that if some people to have a weight or drinking problem, that going to McDonalds or have wine with dinner, may not be a good idea.

The same if someone in the past has had bad experiences with things like the occult, then maybe something like Harry Potter isn't good for you.

And as for your children, well that is for the parents to discern and anyone outsiders opinions should be kept to themselves, since most parents know their own children, and what is best or isn't best for them.

I think when it all comes down to it, let's stop debating over the Harry Potter issue, and just accept that some like Harry and some don't.

Stop giving satan a foothold into this, because I tell you, he is really enjoying using Harry Potter to break Christian relationships.

And lastly, I really respect amd admire those who have been able to bring others to the Christian faith, by using Harry Potter as analogy. I bet satan wasn't expecting that.

God Bless, Wendy

LET'S THINK ABOUT THIS
Subject: Satanic_Hysteria_Newsletter_30
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002
From: Paul

It worries me when Christians worry to the point of encouraging Satanic Hysteria. Haven't any of these people gotten to the end of the story yet? GOD WINS! Every knee shall bow, and declare that he is CHRIST THE LORD. 'Nuff said.

We accepted Satan into this world, when, as a species, we ignored God's directive, and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We can't defeat Satan by ourselves, BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO. Didn't any of these same hand-wringing Christians ever read John 3:16? God gave his Son, so that we may live. Again, 'nuff said.

Be well, and God Bless -
Paul Kane

Response: Thanks Paul -'nuff said. -David

HARRY POTTER IS NOT WICCAN
Subject: Harry Potter
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002
From: Brian

WAY too many people assume that if he casts spells, Harry Potter must be a Wiccan.

At no point in the story is there any discussion of a higher power, neither the Christian God or the Male/Female forces of the Pagan ways. In fact, I've seen Star Trek characters in more chapels than Potter in any Temple...

There are no pentagrams, no explanations of the Rede or the Law of Three. No one is Skyclad (naked), no one has an athame. Even the 'familiars' are bought, sold and handed down, so there's no binding of souls between them and master. There are no ritual sacrifices (except for the unicorn, and that is more of a vampiric attack, the beast isn't sacrificed TO anyone).

Potter's spells are not cast by ritual invocation of any spirit or even by any lengthy incantation. He is born a wizard, and the purpose of the school is to teach him to control his own magical abilities. He points the wand, speaks Latin, and things happen. There isn't even a 'token Muggle' at the school to draw 'mundane' children into the magical world. Anyone saying this is a handbook for Satanism needs to learn what a handbook is, much less actual Satanism.

They celebrate Christmas in the school, which would have been a GREAT opportunity for a Wiccan-conspiracy director to point out the Pagan origins of the holiday we celebrate today (burning the Yule Log to let The Green Man free for the next spring, ). Personally, I would have pointed out that in some countries, it is traditionally a witch that brings the gifts, not a fat elf from a Coke commercial, as it would seem fitting in the general theme of the movie.

But, if people stop concentrating on the peripheral resemblance to what they might understand Wiccan to be, there are a lot of good messages in the movie. His main protection from the Evil One is not a Guardian Demon or any spell, but is based on his mother's love for him. He wins in the end because he is trying to save others, not to profit for himself. Evil Loses. All the time. Even the after-school-special evil of Malfoy and his house, and that's thru the good kids' bravery, intelligence and self-sacrifice. Where does the bible say THOSE are bad things....
Brian Lallatin
Sr. Specialist, Technical Training

Response: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! -David

ARE ALL MOVIES OKAY?
Subject: harry_potter
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002
From: Kayle Vick

In all seriousness, I'm curious as to what your staff uses as a judgement and basis for movie viewing? Please explain to me what constitutes a movie Christians should not see.

What should I use as a guide when going to the theaters? Can I assume all "R" movies are okay? Is one naked scene okay? How about 7 scenes in a movie? What if it's extremely violent (even if the plot of the movie is good and faith is involved)? Please help me understand this so I do not live by a double standard. Thank you.

Response: Since "all things are lawful to you", you will have to set your own limits in terms of what is spiritually benefical to you personally. I can not ask you to be "subject to (some) one else's scrutiny." The important part here is "not be dominated by anything." Consider these scriptures: 1 Cor. 2:15: Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. 1 Cor. 6:12: "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Cor. 10:23: "All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. -David

GO HARRY!
Subject: Harry_Potter
Date: Tue, 8 Jan 2002
From: Paul

I'm delighted (though hardly surprised) that you not only think well of the Harry Potter books and movie, but that you valiantly grapple with misguided Christians who condemn them.

Whether religiously or politically motivated, the obsessive self-righteousness of the censorious mind really has no shame. You should see the list, kept by a committee of the American Library Association, of books whose very existence on library shelves has been challenged by one party or another. Just about every acknowledged, beloved masterpiece of literature is there. Today Madeleine L'Engle, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R. Tolkien are among their favorite candidates for extirpation, whereby these brilliant literary beacons of ethics, morality, and even faith for today's kids join the exalted company of Twain and Shakespeare.

This is insane; and when its perpetrators invoke Our Lord and Savior in the process, acutely embarrassing. Taking their lengthy blacklists as a whole, one can hardly escape the conclusion that what they really want is for The Good Book to be also the only book.

For such, I would recommend _Hard Times_, by Charles Dickens. Believing in nothing but palpable, material facts, Gradgrind was determined to eliminate any other consideration from the education of his two children. Deprived of all beauty and imagination, not only were their young lives extremely dismal, but they did not turn out well.

Alas, this portrayal being a work of literature and therefore suspect, such advice will probably go unnoticed by those most in need of it. Ignoring Dickens's warnings about causes and effects, they will have to suffer the effects first and then fumble their way back to the causes. Now that the two tallest buildings in our greatest metropolis have been wantonly toppled, and we scour the world for the guilty and what would make them do such a thing, we discover the so-called schools in the middle east and their young inmates, relentlessly drilled in a sacred scripture to the exclusion of all else.

Now, I ask those who would with-hold Harry Potter et al. from their own and others' children in the name of the Bible: just how, save maybe in degree, does your attitude differ from the operators' of those Wahhabist slave-schools?

If it isn't too forlorn to counter an evident general hostility to books with yet another book, let's glance finally at "The ethics of Elfland" from _Orthodoxy_ by G.K. Chesterton. Here a devout and conservative Christian apologist celebrates fairy tales, complete with magic and witchcraft, as forces on heaven's side. He points out how great is the faith of scientists in calling a regularity they observe a "law." It is nothing of the kind. "We do not count on it; we bet on it... it is the man who talks about 'a law' that he has never seen who is the mystic." It is more reasonable to say that "a tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched."

Only a child who has this sense of joy and wonder in the world around him is likely to embark on the quest of discovering the God who made them.

Response: Thanks Paul, I always enjoy your comments. -David

HARRY POTTER MEDIA HYPE
Subject: newsletter_30_harry_potter
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002
From: JANIE

I recently read Harry Potter and really enjoyed the book. Both my daughter (19) and son (15) read the book and saw the movie. They thought it was great. If my children were much younger, my concern would not be the story itself, but the media and merchandising that goes along with it. I think the danger lies in saturating children with the thoughts of witchcraft and spells, broomsticks and magic wands through the advertisements and merchandise that the public is saturated with. This is the same with most children's movies and books. My children read the book and saw the movie and moved on to something else. They are not constantly being reminded of what they read. The same with the fairy tales that I read as a child. Even though I read them over and over, I didn't have toys or backpacks, etc to constantly remind me and fill my mind daily with thoughts of the fairy tale. It was a fantasy and I knew that. What child, for a moment or two, might not wish they could play a game riding a broomstick, or go where they want wearing a cloak that makes them invisible. But to actually purchase these things and constantly be pretending and acting these things out, in my opinion is not healthy. I think children's imaginations should be encouraged to develop with their own creativity, focusing on many things - not just one story for months, until the next bit hit appears.
Thank you. Janie

Response: Ahh, the great American way of over marketing everything! I agree. -David

WHETHER YOU TAKE YOUR KIDS TO HARRY POTTER...
Subject: Harry Potter
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002
From: "Marcy Hagge"

...depends on who you are, and what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Seems to me everyone is either saying, "Harry Potter is evil witchcraft!" or "It's wonderful, go see and enjoy!" Let me suggest a different approach (one I also suggest for Pokemon, but that's another story).

First, a general principle. Anything you read besides Scripture is written by fallen human beings. Some are Christians who wish to teach theology, some just to tell a good tale--but even Christians may fail to write a perfect book. Some are non-christians who want to entertain--or have an ax to grind. Some are pagans 5000 years dead. How do you decide what is edifying, what is neutral, and what is dangerous? A few centuries ago the church taught that all novels were evil because they were a "pack of lies"--fiction masquerading as reality. But my great-grandmother used to say, "Chew up the chicken and spit out the bones." Should we reject every book without a Christian worldview? Where would that leave Homer's Odyssey? Harry Potter does have some unchristian elements and moral shortcomings. Are they fatal flaws or opportunities for discussion? Each believer must decide where to draw that line.

Personally, my daughter, my husband, and I have all read the Harry Potter books, and we just saw the movie last night. We thoroughly enjoyed it all. However, I would not recommend them for everyone. Let me see if I can draw a parallel.

Imagine an outdoorsy family: Mom and Dad both grew up camping, but having kids slowed them down a bit. So they've been acclimating their kids to the great outdoors and now enjoy mountain climbing, whitewater rafting and backpacking trips as a family. The neighbors just moved from the city. They've never been without electricity in their lives. They have other, equally valid family entertainments--say, museums and libraries. Neighbor Mom says to camping Mom, "How can you take your kids out in the woods? There are snakes, bears, mountain lions. They could fall off a cliff, or drown. What about Lyme disease? They could wander off and get lost!" These are all valid concerns. If Neighbor Mom found herself in the middle of nowhere with her kids, she would rightfully worry. But Camping Mom has an answer.

"You're right, there are dangers in the forest. But these dangers my husband and I have dealt with. We are familiar with them and have spent time with our children teaching them how to be safe in the forest, how to tell poisonous snakes from harmless ones, how to swim, what to do in a sudden storm, and how to use a compass to find your way back if you get lost. We believe the lessons of self-reliance and the beauty of God's creation are too important for them to miss. Therefore we teach our children all we know, so we can safely give them what we love."

What a shame if Neighbor Mom concluded that her friend was dangerously foolhardy and her "adventures" were tantamount to child abuse. What a shame if Camping Mom tried to talk her friend's family into her own next adventure without considering their lack of experience.

The moral of the story: You can't be someone else's Holy Spirit.
the Fish ><>

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