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Pop Culture From A Spiritual Point of View
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HJ News #30 Main Page
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This page was last updated
January 7, 2002


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Subject: Newsletter_30
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2001
From: Mark

I'm mostly a seeker, sometimes more seriously than other times, rather than Christian in the sense that Christians around me seem to be defining Christianity. I teach world literature, New Testament Greek, and the Bible at a small private college. I'm wondering how Acts 19, specifically the part where the Christians (I'm guessing it's the Christians, although the pronouns aren't specific) or maybe the newly converted Christian/Jews burn their books on witch craft, fifty thousand pounds worth of books. Does that seem to indicate that people who want to follow God and Christ should burn books like Harry Potter? Or books that are about witchcraft?

I'm opposed to any destruction on knowledge, of course, even really wicked knowledge. That's my humanist background. The cure for bad books is good books. But from a Christian perspective, reading Acts 19, is that what the message is?

Response: The burning of the books was a public expression of a changed life from a magic religion to be followers of Jesus. They burned their own books (symbols of thier old life stlye) and praised the name of Jesus (the name of their new Lord) in public. This passage does not give license to conduct witch hunts as is going on with Harry Potter, nor is it an encouragement to burn non-Christian books. -David

Subject: Newsletter_30
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001
From: Thomas

Dear David,
A mom got into a discussion with her children about attending a particular movie. They told her that the movie wasn't that bad, had only a few swear words, a couple of objectionable scenes, but had some good messages along with the bad messages. Besides, it was very popular and all the kids were going to see it. The mom said she would think about it, but she had a treat to make for them and went into the kitchen. A little while later she came back into their room with a plate of fresh-baked brownies. "Come and get em" she told them.

As they approached the plate, she continued, "by the way, I added a special ingredient this time. I mixed in a little bit of Harry's (the family dog) poop with the batch." Each child immediately pulled back, not even touching the delicious looking treats. "Oh, come on," the mom continued. "There's only a little bit of poop in it. The rest is the usual good stuff. I have the best nuts and most expensive chocolate. I gave the four extra sifting and baked at just the right temperature."

Still the kids would not touch them. "I don't understand, you're willing to put a little poop in your eyes through this movie but not put a little poop in your mouth." Mom made her point. And this is my point. You railed against "fundamentalists" for pointing out the poop in entertainment. Phillipians 4:8 tells us to focus not ONLY on the "positive" but on the righteous. Not ONLY on the "good" in something, but what IS "good". Now, can "good" be shown even if something has evil in it?

Of course, God can and does show Himself in many areas outside of Scripture, but He will never negate or contradict the Principals He laid out in Scripture. Scripture is to be our measure, our first reference. Just because Paul quoted a portion of a "poem", does not mean that this whole poem is worthy of quoting. No, he quoted the part that illustrated the point he was making to make the Scripture connect with those to whom he was speaking.

I think the problem here is that most people do not like being told what they can and cannot do. Hagee, Falwell, Robertson have some legitimate points to make about the state of our culture. We should be discerning and cautious.

As a mature adult, a scene where the couple falls in love only after having sex is a message I know as false. To my 12 year old son, that message is not as clear and it may be totally missed by my 3 year old daughter. We need to be discerning and not embrace everything that comes down the line.

We are to be salt and light to the world. We ARE Jesus to the world, and while He loved all, in that love He also told others things they did not want to hear. Sometimes we have to do that, sometimes we have to turn from something that has some good because it has just too much poop to eat around, but is it necessary to eat it at all? There are many alternatives and choices we have to make. Even if something is "popular" does not mean it is good for us. Just because it is "fun" does not mean it is okay for us to do. Just because we can do something does not mean we should do it. And that is the point of the messages of sirs Falwell, Robertson, Hagee.

Sometimes we have to deny ourselves a brownie because there is just too much poop in it and I am glad someone pointed it out before I took that bite. What is important is our love and growth in God, not the pleasures we put in our eyes. I use this adage: will what I am putting in my brain increase my relationship with my Lord or pull me away from Him. That is something only I can answer, but I can measure something through Scripture to help me determine this.

Response: Too bad there are sinful people in the church. Poop in the brownies. Better not go to church. Your logic has a huge flaw, because there is poop in everything. Despite all the evil in the world -major poop in the brownies- Jesus came. Jesus specializes in transforming poop into fertilizer for growth. Please teach your 12 year old son how to process poop. He will see films and listen to music. Teach your son how to process. Please do not be a Thomas Kinkade isolationist Christian. Go ye into all the world -poop and all- and take your son with you, teach (disciple) him with the wisdom of God. -David

Subject: Harry_Potter_Can_Be_Used_Positively
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001
From: Phil Clark

Harry Potter film has a strong theme of sacrifice running through it. Harry's mother gives her life so he can live: Ron Weasley offers his life during the chess game, so that Harry can continue in his attempts to thwart Valdemort: Nicholas Flammel permits the Philosopher's stone to be destroyed for the greater good, though it will inevitably cost him his life. Theme verse for the film - John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends". If we cannot use all of this to point to Jesus then we have a big problem.
Phil Clark

Response: Thanks, I appreciate your insight. So many attack Harry Potter -and yet have not read the books. Oh well. So I appreciate your input. -David

Subject: Satanic_Hysteria_Newsletter_30
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: Gloria Lee Young

"Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." I grew up in fear that the rapture was going to take place and I would be left behind for some unknow sin Id inadventantly comitted. I am glad I had a pastor who untaught me so many things by getting down to the real Greek. I know now without a doubt that God loves me and His Grace is Sufficent for me. Focucising on Satan gives him the glory and not our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He our Lord is the redeemer and those of us who know Him need have no fear, the opposite of fear (hate) is Love and Our God Is Love..
Gloria Lee Young

Response: You had a great pastor. -David


Subject: Newsletter_30
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001
From: "Don Gollahon"

I understand your points and will take them to heart. I have a 6 and an 11 year old son. I know the kind of garbage that is trying to be shoved down our youths throats these days and I want to protect them from it as best I can and help them make wise, Christ-honoring choices.

One thing that bothers me about the church these days besides those you speak of as being Witch Hunters, etc, are those who want to see how much like the world they can be and still be "Christian". Many "Christians" go around with the attitude that "I can still drink, I can still smoke, I can still cuss, I can still lust, etc, etc" and God will love me and forgive me. And God will do that. But then they wonder why people don't listen to them if they try to tell them about Christ. And they also wonder why things happen to them like cancer or some other kinds of hardships. We just hate to accept the fact that this loving God disciplines His children, even drastically at times. The Bible is full of examples of this.

Also, one must be very careful with statements like "...God's word is not limited to just the Holy Bible". Many cults are built on this type of thinking. Yes, God can and has spoken through evil leaders and even donkeys, but in these days He has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2). All other utterances claiming to come from God must be verified through His Word and rejected if not in compliance.

Where does one draw the line? I think we, as God's people, should be less concerned about the "line" and should instead ask the question, "How much like Christ can I become in this life and still keep my feet on the earth." It is then that we will have Christ's attitude and draw people to Him by our reflection of Him. What is Christ's attitude toward any and all evil? It is that not even a hint of it be allowed in His people. We should not be entertained by it nor laugh at it, let alone partake in it.

I know where you are coming from on many points you make in your reviews. I appreciate them. We have to be careful though. Francis Schaefer (excuse the spelling if it is wrong) has a good booklet on "The Bible and Art" where he tries to help us, as Christians, know how to admire and appreciate secular art without condoning the message it may give. I will be digging that one out soon to read it again. Thank you for your time and for allowing us to give feedback.
Don Gollahon
"What in Eternity does it matter?"

Response: Thank you. In response to some of your questions: I am a Christian who "drinks beer" and blinks at smoking. Such moral issues have little concern to me. CS Lewis had wine, Martin Luther enjoyed beer. Important theologians smoked. I really do not care about such issues. However, lust is forbidden in the light of the Ten Commandments. God speaks outside of scripture because the Bible says so (Romans 1:20). The essence of Christianity is being a follower of Jesus as Lord of one's life. Christianity is not what you don't do as much as what you do. That is where I draw the line. And thanks for your good words and kindness. I appreciate that. -David

Subject: Newsletter_30 Harry Potter
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: "Bill Yates"

Love the newsletter. I think it may be useful for your readers to know something in regards to Jen's comments "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." Tolkien was most certainly a Christian and extremely instrumental in leading his fellow Oxford professor, C.S. Lewis, to the Lord as Dr. Lewis tells us in his autobiography. Makes any talk about the magic in Lord of the Rings so ridiculous, I am waiting for that discussion to take place.
Thanks for the discussion,
Bill Yates

Response: You are so very right. Tolkien was a Christian. Thanks. -David

Subject: Newsletter_30_Harry_Potter
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: C.A. Sowards

If you read the Narnia books without knowing that C.S. Lewis was a devout Christian and without knowing that they are meant as Christian allegory, then they too could be deemed to encourage the practice of magic and wizardry. Animals talk, children walk through pieces of furniture, magical things happen and tranformations take place.

There are so many people who use Christianity as an excuse to stop thinking. We are never, regardless of our religious beliefs, allowed NOT to think. In examining the lessons that Harry Potter has to teach, how can you find fault with a series of books that emphasize (in much the same way that the Narnia books do - Rowling was very much influenced by Lewis' writing, I'll wager):

Mercy Using one's powers (whether they be natural or supernatural) for good and not evil

Are these lessons made any less potent because Harry waves a wand or flies on a broom? Nonsense. Allegory is allegory, nothing more or less. It is the message in the story that must be sussed out and understood. It is a little more difficult when the author isn't banging you over the head with a crowbar and telling you that Harry Potter is some euphamism for the Devil.

People, puhleeeze... can we just take time to think just ONCE before we go all hysterical and panicky?

Thanks for letting me vent, David.
~C.A. Sowards~

Response: I tis time to think. Yes yes yes. I totally agree with you. Thank you, Thank you, thank you. I hope others take to heart what you are trying to say.I so appreciate your contribution. -David

Subject: Harry_Potter_Can_Be_Used_Positively
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: "John H. Pavelko"

Dear David,
I agree with you, Harry Potter is fiction. It does not have the depth of Tolkein's (would someone please tell Jen, that Tolkein was a Christian and instrumental in Lewis conversion), Lord of the Rings or the theological truths of Narnia but it is enjoyable and contains some valuable insights into human behavior. For example, Dumbledore shows brilliance in hiding Harry with the Dursleys. It not only protects him but teaches him humility in contrast to Malfoy. This can be used as a powerful lesson with children. It not the toys, the experiences, or the situations that bring happiness but in how you respond to the circumstances in which you find yourself.
John H. Pavelko
Walled Lake, MI

Response: You are so very right. Tolkien was a Christian. Thanks for your insight concerning Dumbledore and powerful lessons. -David

Subject: Harry_Potter_Can_Be_Used_Positively
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: "maria"


Subject: Harry_Potter_Can_Be_Used_Positively
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: Jason

Dave I have always seen the wizarding world as parrel for the Christians in our world. We try to hide from the world and preserve our traditions. Our ways seem weird and mystic to outsiders. I have read all four novels and love them. I put them in the same boat as The Narnia books and LOTR trilogy. The magic is not realistic the books. It is used for Harry as we use technology. They kids are taught not to use it for evil. That is the over all them of the book. Not to turn good Christian kids into Satan worshiping wiccans.

Over the summer I was at the movies with some buddies. before the film, they showed a trailer for LOTR. I was amazed, I was so excited. After the film we were talking about the trailers and what looked good. I brought up LOTR. He replied I don't know it looks not so good. Insulted I asked how it could not look good. He replied that it looked bad because of the magic involved. I laughed and snapped back "Tolkein was a Christian!!!"

I get that allot. I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire slayer. People at church always used to look at me funny for saying that. I see a huge correlation between her fight against evil and our walks as Christians. I see this all the time. God working through TV shows that seem unlikely. I fact I wrote an essay on for English compaction this year. I see huge evidence for this in the old testament. In Jeremiah God used the opposing army to speak to the Israelites. They would not listen him any other way. I agree with you Dave that we should use Harry potter for good, not tear it down.

your brother in the struggle,
Dan Cramer

Response: Thank you. And Yes Church folks can have strange reactions. They are well intentioned, however. But I am with you. Long live LOTR and Buffy. -David

Subject: Newsletter_30_Harry_Potter_Is_Dangerous
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: Danny

I am glad you are welcoming responses. I believe that most Christians as stated above, do not believe that this is a no-Satanic film, or just harmless fiction. Satan is the great deciever, and he loves to twist what looks like innocent fun into something entirely for his purpose. Judging by the mass hysteria about Harry Potter, and the huge number of pre-order tickets (so I've heard), Satan has already decieved many. Wicca is becoming a prominent pre-teen, teen and adult lifestyle now, and is being thought of as the harmless alternative to Witchcraft. This is another one of Satan's lies. I had an EIGTH-GRADE Wiccan tell me that she loses a tiny part of her soul every time she casts a spell or uses her power. And Wicca is being presented as harmless??? I am shocked and saddened by the fact that a supposedly "Christian" website could endorse such a film as this. Harry Potter is also presented as harmless, and kid-friendly. What an easy way for Satan to target the youth audience. Though the battle is already won by God, Satan thinks he's winning the war, and writing a review like this that Christians and non-Christians alike will read, is ENCOURAGING him. I would ask everyone at this website to consider their relationship with Jesus, and their walk with God, and why they are promoting such awful movies like Harry Potter as Christian material. That is what SATAN does. But, I gues that anyone who would work for a website called "Hollywood Jesus," must be a "Hollywood Christian." Jesus never once twisted bad things and promoted them as good- he told it like it was. And I would ask you to do the same, when reviewing Satan's tools.

Response: Thanks for your sharing views. We have totally different views and approaches, but I am glad you are a follower of Jesus. -David

Subject: Satanic_Hysteria_Newsletter_30
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001
From: Paul Jacoby

First of all, I have not read the HP books, but book 3 was released back when I worked for a major book chain. So I had the chance to talk to alot of people who have read them, asking key questions as to the nature of the content, what parts were considered "dark", and the like. So I made the decision to go to the movie. Hopefully, nobody will see me there & scream "HYPOCRITE" or something. Maybe I'll wear an invisible cloak or something :)

Yet, it was the hype that actually drove me to being more curious about seeing the movie. But the movie isn't the issue, the evangelical hype is. It seems to pop-up everytime some entertainment trend makes the big time. And it goes WAY back. I'm surprised no one else sees a pattern to the whole thing.

I first encountered this phenomena as a child when my Grandmother forbade me to watch the cartoon "Smurfs" based on something she heard from a televangelist. The smurfs were created by a good wizard, and were chased around every Satuday by a mean wizard. Not that I wanted to watch the Smurfs to begin with, but my Mother & Grandmother closely scrutinized my TV/cartoon/movie habits every time they were informed of any "suspected satanic" forms of entertainment from their fave preacher. I don't have the space to list every program or movie I was forbidden to see, but the fact was that the list was (a.) numerous and (b.) contradictory.

For example, I could watch the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz every year, but I couldn't watch Disney's Witch Mountain series. The Hobbit & LOTR animated movies from the 80's were okay with Mom, but I wasn't allowed to watch He-Man or Dungeons & Dragons on TV. All of these programs are works of fiction, contain pretend "wizards & witches" and have absolutely no basis in real-world occult practice. One deals with fairy-tale entertainment, the other deals with actual religious worship. I understood the difference, why didn't Mom & Gran? Later on, I used their fear and paranoia as one of many lame excuses to leave the church myself and renounce Christianity. It took me five years to figure out that Christianity isn't supposed to run on narrow mindedness & fear. And since then I've returned to Christ.

But the paranoia remains. We've just seen the latest kid-entertainment fad make a transition from Pokemon (remember that?) to Harry Potter & many evangelicals still don't have it figured out. I have many close friends feeling very strongly that these forms of entertainment are like a "gateway drug" of sorts into the occult. They have gathered quite a bit of evidence that appear to back it up as well. By the same token, I regrettably found myself behaving like my mother whenever I was around my friend's daughter, "You can't watch Sailor Moon!", I hollered, "One of the characters reads from the Tarot!" So where to draw the line? God isn't the author of this here confusion, but that's what we are dealing with as a Christian community. There is a solution though.

I believe the Bible is very clear on this subject. If you are unsaved, if you were once dead in you trespasses & sins, it doesn't matter what books you read whether truly "Satanic" or not, you're D E A D in your sins and already held in the thrall of the Prince of the Power of the Air. But, if you are saved by Grace through faith, then the Holy Spirit will guide you through the world which is passing away with it's lusts (WHOOPS, I meant "fads", silly me. . .) that is. . .if you are 100% committed to walking with Christ. That's all that matters isn't it?

Jesus looks straight through us, right into the very motives of our hearts, and tells us, "What's that of any concern to you? Turn away from the world & follow me." This may mean having to shelve the Harry Potter book for awhile if it detracts from prayer, or your daily devotionals, or serving Christ in any way. Like Paul wrote. . .

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." -1st Cor. 6:12

Expedient - profitable, good or best
Lawful - permitted or possible
If, after some prayer & self examination you are truly convicted that the entertainment form you enjoy is not an idol or a stumbling block to yourself, then you have that form of entertainment as a "freedom in Christ". But it doesn't end there man. If Harry Potter is a freedom to you, don't hand the book to someone who is weak in that area. Don't make the freedom you enjoy become a stumbling block to other Christians. In this light, I might have to reconsider seeing the film myself and stay away in case another Christian sees me there. But that's a living sacrifice of my own personal entertainments and comfort. . .and as a modern American Christian I couldn't POSSIBLY do that ;D --hehe!

But that's a whole 'nother can of worms. . .
Paul Jacoby

Response: Thanks for sharing your journey. I would challenge you to not be afraid of the "weaker" Christian. Rather, take the weaker Christian and help them to understand how to view popular culture, turning it into opportunity. -David

Subject: Newsletter_30_Harry_Potter
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001
From: Bec

The Harry Potter books, especially the latter ones, teach children to be good, kind, inclusive of all races and genders. They help children and adults to understand that what is on the inside counts. There are clear allusions to the KKK in one of the novels, which raises notions of anti-racism, anti-essentialism, anti-class and feedom of thought and religion. One would think Christians of all people would be cherishing these ideas.

The most important thing that these books teach children however, is that hope for the future, faith in ourselves and others, and the active imagination are crucial ingredients for happiness and success. Children are well able to establish the difference between fantasy and reality, they are just very good at participating in the former with gusto. I think it's the adults we should be concerned about - how unhealthy to be reading those ridiculous criticisms into HP, i'm sure Freud would have much to say about it!!

Response: Thank you for your insights. You are refreshing. -David

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