As an elementary education educator, I am frequently asked, “Should children read Harry Potter?” My answer is, “With Care.” I have had parents who were very concerned because of C.S. Lewis’ use of witches and magic in his children’s books. Magic, witches, and the occult are related to power and control. People turn to them because they want to manipulate their environment and those around them. Children are usually those who have the least power in a society and that is why they love magical stories. By means of a ring or a magic torch or an invisibility cloak ordinary people are shown to be capable of extraordinary feats. This means that they have power.
In the Bible, God wishes for everyone to be subject to him and then he empowers his servants to do his will. Those who do not rely on God turn to money, interpersonal relationships or even magic to manipulate their world. Saul turned to God first, but God would not be manipulated. Because of God’s seeming silence Saul turned to a witch. The witch did not give him any news that helped him for the coming conflict with the Philistines. In fact the news of Saul’s defeat could be seen as self-fulfilling. Samuel telling Saul of his destruction could have led to his destruction. Those who mess with the occult do not mess with a force that is for good. It may offer power and influence for a while, but the forces behind witchcraft and wizardry delight in destruction.
So, why read Harry Potter at all? Harry Potter has positive values embedded in it and the wirchcraft and wizardy are fantastical. It is not supposed that the readers will emulate Harry in trying to fly on a broom or ‘stupefy’ an adversary. It is supposed that they will emulate Harry in his loyalty and bravery. To enable a child to process the occultic elements in books effectively, it is good for a parent to preview what their children read and also to model critical reading with their children. Those who refuse to process such books with their children give their children no skills to process myth and fantasy.
1 Samuel 28
1In those days the Philistines gathered their forces to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You must understand that you and your men will accompany me in the army.”
2David said, “Then you will see for yourself what your servant can do.”
Achish replied, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”
Saul and the Medium at Endor
3Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town of Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritists from the land.
4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He inquired of the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. 7Saul then said to his attendants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.”
“There is one in Endor,” they said.
8So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
9But the woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?”
10Saul swore to her by the LORD, “As surely as the LORD lives, you will not be punished for this.”
11Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
“Bring up Samuel,” he said.
12When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
13The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure[a]coming up out of the earth.”
14“What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
“I am in great distress,” Saul said. “The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has departed from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do.”
16 Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has departed from you and become your enemy? 17 The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. 19The LORD will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”
20Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and all that night.
21 When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, “Look, your servant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. 22Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.”
23He refused and said, “I will not eat.”
But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch.
24 The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. 25 Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left.
- What motivated Saul to consult a medium?
- What did Samuel tell Saul?
- Do you think that Samuel was really Samuel? What did Saul gain from consulting him?
- How do people dabble in the occult these days?
- What results do people get from the occult?
- Should people read Harry Potter?