You can thank J. K. Rowling for this article. Rowling is the author of the enormously popular Harry Potter series, which centers around an unsuspecting boy who discovers he's a wizard and attends the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. When my kids' friends raved about Harry, my daughter, Haley, 9, and son, Taylor, 10, clamored for the book. I decided to prayerfully read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone first.
To my surprise, I discovered a fantasy story complete with mythical creatures, fire-breathing dragons, and a three-headed guard dog. I also discovered Rowling's central characters are imperfect kids who aim to do good. They model self-sacrifice, courage, and kindness, while learning to identify and resist evil.
After reading the first book in the series, I researched what others whom I respected said about it. According to well-known author Charles Colson, it's fine for parents to read the books with their kids. Focus on the Family has presented the series' pros and cons, then leaves that decision to parental discretion. And Christianity Today magazine ran an editorial on "Why We Like Harry Potter." So I chose to read the book aloud to Haley and Taylor.
Not long after I did, I received a letter from a friend who works for a Christian organization. In it she warned that the Harry Potter series was "insidiously engineered to open our children to the world of witchcraft now so cleverly whitewashed by the media." At first, her letter troubled me. By reading Harry Potter to my kids, had I inadvertently exposed them to a tool of the devil?
Protecting my children's spiritual well-being is of utmost importance to me. Unfortunately, our culture barrages kids with a myriad of occult influences daily. Surf the television networks and you'll find family-hour offerings such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, and The X-Files. Kids openly tell tales of playing with Ouija boards, "levitating" someone at slumber parties, or making contact with "spirit guides." Beads, charms, or crystals that promise to bring the wearer peace, happiness, and prosperity are the height of fashion. While browsing a mega-bookstore, my son spotted a display case filled with fortune telling paraphernalia. Even the popular Pokemon fad refers to psychic powers.
What's a Christian parent to do? Ignore occult influences entirely? Separate my kids from them as best I can? Or help my children translate what comes through popular culture in biblical terms? As our family has carefully searched God's Word, we've decided to follow option number three.