Me and Harry Potter


715b1ed5ec0956f1db5e008cf3187e5bGrowing up in a Christian environment, there were certain things I just didn’t get to do growing up. My parents sheltered my sister and I more than any other family I knew growing up: I didn’t go trick or treating, I didn’t have many good friends, I didn’t go to Sunday School after my eighth birthday; I didn’t see most of your standard Disney and Pixar movies, I didn’t listen or watch Adventures in Odyssey, and I rarely got to paint my nails until after I reached my mid-teens.

Now, I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for me, but to show you where I have come from. It gives gravity to my journey. Growing up, I didn’t get to do a lot of normal things and I saw that as just what my family did.

Although we didn’t much talk directly about big Christian taboo topics, I grew up under a strong, firm impression that magic, especially in fiction, was bad. Like, really, really bad. Magic could look good in fiction, so my parents didn’t even let me read Narnia, even though our pastor’s children were allowed to enjoy them. Magic became something that I feared, in a way, as though Aslan or the play witch’s hat in Wal-Mart at Halloween was going to hurt me with their evil-ness if I looked too long. Sadly, my family didn’t really discuss the topic heart-to-heart that much and besides, most of the time I was too afraid to even ask that many questions. This unspoken-ness lasted till up to only a couple of years ago.

41a5cf2a5e1ffc9da9f19ff9b237d0ecWhen I was about sixteen or seventeen, my dad decided to read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe aloud–“for fun”. We didn’t discuss what had changed in the unspoken family rules, just of all of sudden, years waay too late, it was time to read a children’s fantasy story. It wasn’t that enjoyable; just, randomly, Narnia was “okay” with no explanation. (Mid-teens to late teens was such a confusing period of my life for so many reasons!) This was difficult because Lord of the Rings still seemed forbidden, and–oh yeah, don’t anybody even mention those two really, really, really bad words.

Harry Potter. Oooh, as a child and even as a young adult, it was such a literal “he-who-shall-not-be-named” situation. Harry Potter was our Christian community’s Voldemort.

Although I couldn’t watch Harry Potter then, I knew I would watch it at some point when I was so old nobody could stop me. That wasn’t really a super-conscious decision, though, and I didn’t go about flashing my thoughts off to people I knew: “When I grow up, I’m going to watch Harry Potter!” It was never in the plan to tell anyone even afterwards either. Of course, it took a lot of inward struggle for it to actually come about.

66f8c998c3556a82724246dc5a40f238When my parents separated for a second time in early 2013, I didn’t immediately run to the Harry Potter series–“Dobby is free! Dobby is free!” Even though Mom had and continues to become way more relaxed about things, I still kept away…

You simply don’t walk away emotionally or mentally free from years of fear of trying to make sure people aren’t questioning your Christian conviction by what you are or aren’t avoiding. I was very afraid of what people would think of me for watching Harry Potter–from my confined social circles, I didn’t know anybody who liked Harry Potter, so I felt very outnumbered for a long time. 

I was afraid of having to own my decision of choosing to watch those eight movies–especially since during my teen years, my family became very soaked in the Patriarchal culture where fathers were in complete charge of their daughters and, in my personal case, pretty much thought for them too. So, for the longest time, even though I could have investigated, I only dabbled in other shows or movies instead.

dumbledore_edited-1In the mean time, I started maturing. Although it had started back about 2012, my thinking process really changed gear in 2013. I slowly stopped inwardly judging other people for their own personal choices and opinions. I realized everyone’s story is different, so God takes people down different roads at different times in their lives–why should we all look the same and do the same things at the same time?

I learned people are just not going to agree over everything, so I just had to do what I felt I needed to do despite fear. That’s being courageous. I realized I was an individual soul with individual needs that needed to be voiced and that that was okay. I learned the world was not actually black and white but millions of shades of grey. I learned the no matter what, many people in my lifetime are just always going to hold up a yard stick and see how I measure out–but how they feel doesn’t need to tell me how to feel.

I learned that I was not a bad Christian for deciding that I needed to watch Harry Potter and form my own personal opinion for myself. That in and of it self was very monumental.

Finally this past year, I got to meet Harry Potter.

b6117ad8d9bbcacac6dd83ea80a38613Harry was not at all what I imagined him–I’d always known what he’d looked like, of course, but I hadn’t known other things–what his personality was like or what his story was about. He turned out to be quite ordinary while at the same time quite extraordinary. He was an orphan, a survivor of neglect, who, through his gift of magic, was able to be who he meant to be and defend himself from abuse and evil, one new year after the other.

By the time I watched the Harry Potter series, I was tired of trying to mentally weigh EVERYTHING the movies communicated in an attempt to catch some secret agenda they may be trying to feed me. (This was something my dad pushed too hard at my family, making movie watching a chore instead of a family pastimes, and ruining initial movie glows–like after watching the first Iron Man.) In many ways, I’m still tired of having to justify myself for liking certain movies to other people or to myself. However, what with how taboo HP can be perceived, I decided I wanted to say what I thought of it–to own my own choices and let people take me or leave me for how I truly think.

4e8c2d6df1994797d913f2d21a0240d1The world of Harry Potter was full of magic, of course. Magic was everywhere. The fact that most of the films took place in Hogwarts, the school that taught witchcraft and wizardry, simply meant that magic was a strong part of the story. However, I didn’t come away from a Harry Potter movie feeling, “Gosh, they really think magic is something I should be seeking out in my regular life. Maybe If I join the Occult my life will get better.” I never felt that the film series actually promoted witchcraft in real life. The films themselves knew they were a made up story and magic was just a part of that story, like the characters and the made up version of London, ect.

Ultimately, in the end, magic turned out to not be a big issue for me; shocker! It didn’t really matter to me that they attended a school to learn how to control their magic (something they were born with–and isn’t it a good thing to be taught how to properly handle your gifts given to you, guided by teachers wiser than you?) used wands, and other magical items. That wasn’t the make or break element. What I thought was a big deal was the characters themselves. The fact that they actually turned out to be great heroes and role models really, really surprised me and that’s what made the series worth watching.

c14598173a3099105b113e9e45338f1bHarry strove to do what was right as often as he could; he tried his hardest to be respectful of teachers and fellow students, and learned to stand up for what was right, even though he made mistakes. Hermoine was a fantastic student who took her school seriously and who could hold her own ground mentally and emotionally. Ron, and his whole family, was very supportive of neglected Harry; Ron was always a friend who pulled through at the end. When it was all said and done, the cast of characters who weren’t bad guys all upheld decency, kindness, pluck, friendship, bravery, and a will to do good. It was truly surprising to walk away from each movie thinking, “These are actually great characters, why was I supposed to dislike them again?”

I can hear people of my past, saying, “But that’s what makes it so dangerous! It looks so good.” If you’re one of those people, check this article out sometime; I mostly agree with it. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t let my brother watch these till after his eleventh or twelfth birthday and he was critically thinking, but at that point I think it would be a great series he could enjoy.

At that age and up, as young people, the stronger impact comes from the characters who are of similar age. We can watch as they make mistakes and grow from them, in relate-able ways of demonstrating noble character and plucky spirit and it leaves us encouraged. The magical school is simply a unique setting for those uplifting character traits to be put on display.

6fc2a3d620af012ec3b5141b040d4f5cSomething I heard forever, and this would still capture my dad’s thinking, would be “If I want my children to have good fictional role models, I’ll give them Christian books.” Having grown up with many of those type books, I can say that I find great characters and character development strongly lacking in a lot of Christian books, and movies too–I’m sorry, but it’s true. I had a hard to time relating to many of those characters’ journeys or finding them convincing yet was inspired to stand up for myself and what I thought was right, after watching the Harry Potter franchise. The irony is ridiculous here but extremely true.

I cannot cover or defend everything on the element of magic of course, nor would I necessarily want to hash it out for days and days either, but I think you all understand what I value more from a film. To me, I decided that for the story, there was little difference between Harry pointing either a wand or a gun or heavy-duty baseball bat at Lord Voldemort. What mattered most was that he knew Voldemort was evil and needed to be stopped because he was hurting people. So, just like in any other movie I would watch, the characters were the make or break point, and I found the cast of Harry Potter characters to be the making of the series!

bccc2e6cce8e4d824f7c7af2ac902957Now, sure, the Harry Potter series has its dark moments and it isn’t Star Wars or anything, but I enjoyed them all. The final film was especially fantastic and is still one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. The characters carried the series forward in a way that was very satisfying by the time it all ended and Harry himself is my favorite character. He could definitely make my top fifteen favorite fictional heroes. I’m often mad to think about how long I associated his name with an idea of evil, when really he’s a selfless, kind character–someone who dealt with temptation but rose above it, rallied friends together to fight evil, and eventually survived neglectful and verbal abuse.

I have come a long ways since I was a little girl who didn’t understand Narnia or watch a Disney movie that contained a little bit of magic, or couldn’t read Harry Potter like the rest of my generation. Please don’t misunderstand me; this is not me saying “HARRY POTTER IS FOR EVERYONE” because, sure, it’s maybe not, and this is not me saying real witchcraft is something to not be concerned about…but that was never the topic of this blog post anyway. This is only my story of how magic made me stronger.

Nowadays, Harry is a good friend of mine. I own seven of the eight Harry Potter films and I hope to read the books someday. In Hogwarts, I would be sorted into the Hufflepuff house (thank you, Pottermore, for making it official!) a house which I hold in high esteem. On top of it all, I still have a long ways to go in life; I’m still afraid of the dark sometimes and I’m still working on being open about myself. But that’s okay. My story of magic is a very strange one but it’s taken me to a safer place from where I started and left me encouraged in my journey to Spiritual freedom from legalism and fear. I only hope I can continue to be as brave as the little boy who lived beneath the stairs.

936185ed8123cc50604ec97d59be14dd

~Jamie

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23 thoughts on “Me and Harry Potter

  1. (*sniffling at the last two sentences because I’m a glass case of emotions*)

    This was really, really good. I’ve never read Harry Potter, never seen the films, and I’m not hugely interested just because, well, I’m just not…there’s no antagonism to it or anything. But I have two dear, dear friends who I respect so much, who LOVE these stories. My imagination cut its teeth on Narnia and Lord of the Rings, but our family chose to avoid Harry Potter. I think it was natural for me (then) to be leery of it; now that I’m older, I’m sure (through this blogpost, discussions with my friends, and other good articles) that there are many, many good things about it. The characters seem very admirable and heroic, and the fight between good and evil seems very real. And I respect Christians who can articulate all the good reasons to like it, and I respect Christians who can articulate why they choose to avoid it.

    I applaud your bravery and your ability to evaluate things on your own, Jamie. Don’t be afraid of the dark!

    1. :’)

      I’m so glad! I understand where you are coming from, I was at the point for awhile myself. 🙂 Thank you for owning your decisions while letting others own theirs. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, too, they mean so much to me!!!! ❤ *hugs*

      ~Jamie

  2. You already kind of know my experience with Harry Potter. I grew completely dissing on it for the majority of my life, until I watched. I definitely agree about the stories are not about magic, because it could be anything, whether a gun or superpower. The magic in the movies are mostly just a means to tell a story, and what is there, is not particularly present. Either way, it is just fiction, right? 🙂 While the “Harry Potter Bug” has sort of worn for me, I still like the franchise as a whole, even if it is not on the same level as the Middle Earth sagas, but it is certainly better than the Narnia movies.

    -James

    1. Great points, James, we pretty much agree on topic. 🙂 The magic simply is a way to communicate the story; I want to emulate that in my one fantasy story in the next rewrite. 🙂 I definitely agree, the series is a lot better than the Narnia movies! Haha! Personally Narnia’s characters were hard to relate to which lessened the experience. 😦

      ~Jamie

  3. Dearest Jamie, I am so proud of you that you are owning and embracing your own story and journey, no matter who it could offend or bother. Always be true to yourself, your gut will never steer you wrong. God has, and is, and will be true and faithful in your story. Much love, Mom

    1. Thank you, Mom, for being encouraging and letting me make choices for myself. It definitely helps a lot! Thanks for helping me learn it’s okay to disappoint people and that they’re opinions don’t need to be my own! 🙂

      ~Jamie

  4. I love Harry Potter! My family was similar to yours for a while concerning the Harry Potter books and anything regarding magic, but my mom loves reading and fantasy so much that eventually she allowed us to read the books and watch the movies. Harry Potter is a big part of our family, we all love it : )

    The whole anti-magic Christian culture, I remember that too and never being able to celebrate Halloween because my parents believed it was Satanic (now they feel pretty ridiculous about it and allow my younger sisters to go trick-or-treating) and not allowing anything magic based, with the exception of Narnia.

    One thing I do have to ask (and I mean no offense) why were you not allowed to listen to Adventures in Odyssey? That’s about as moral and Christian themed as you can get.

    1. Yay! A Harry Potter fan! It’s nice to hear from some else with a similar background and how wonderful it’s a large part of your family! I wish my family could have embraced Harry together but I wasn’t able to meet him till after we’d fallen apart. 😦 So feel blessed! 🙂

      Haha, I’m not actually sure why we didn’t get to enjoy Odyssey–my parents just didn’t bring that much “mainstream” Christian stuff into the house and we didn’t watch that much TV or movies for the longest time. I did get to grow up with Veggie Tales, though! 😛 My mom has bought a lot of Adventures in Odyssey audio books for my seven year old brother now, so at least he’s getting to hear them; you’re right, they have a lot of good things to say in those stories. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting, it was encouraging to hear from you. 🙂

      ~Jamie

  5. I am sipping a cup of tea while wiping away tears after reading your thoughts on Harry. The weather has made an exquisitely eerie background setting to read your musings as a tropical storm has rolled through the area where I live here on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and pummeling my windows sideways whipping all of the wind chimes into a screeching frenzy. The sound transforms me into Hogwarts as Hedwig comes flying by thoughts and I half wonder if Harry will get to play the Quidditch match today in this terrible weather, After all, between the lightening and the Dementors it seems Harry can never catch a break.

    I have stared at the comment box for an hour too stunned to know were to begin to say everything I want to say to you in the limited character space available. I finally concluded…it is not possible to say EVERYTHING but I must begin somewhere so here is my beginning with you Jamie. You are AMAZING my lovely angel. There are too many adjectives I wish to shower you with after reading your thoughts on this post and several others … words like courageous, gifted, transparent, wise, compassionate, bold, colorful, imaginative, forgiving, tender, etc. but then you see if I went on and on you would think I was perhaps a crazed fan or blog crasher and I am neither.

    Your gift is exquisite, Jamie. Your gift is you!. This amazing task you have undertaken of peeling back the layers of a very tight flower are simply divine to witness and I can see that the sunshine and the rain are finally nourishing your spirit and the petals are loosening up and oh how beautiful they are.

    Harry represents all of us whether we wish to admit it or not. We are all faced with difficult choices in this life and it is not whether we are muggle born or a pure blood wizard that defines us or whether we are sorted into Slytherin house or Hufflepuff that matters. It is about making conscious choices ever single moment of every day about following the goodness within us and being true to ourselves that defines us

    Bravo! You just won the Tri-wizards cup with your bravery. I am so proud of you. Erin.

    1. Aunt Erin! I’m so happy to hear from you! I would love to return the compliments as you are also a talented writer; your first paragraph especially is so descriptive! I wish I could look out your window to see the rain right now…that is the perfect weather to curl up on the love seat so as to be whisked away to Hogwarts with the golden trio and their adventures…

      Thank you very much for all your encouraging words and compliments; words of affirmation is my love language! I feel blessed to grow a little bit each time I write, to share more and be honest with myself about things like this. It makes me happy that it blesses others! I’m not sure what else I can say besides thank you so very much for your wonderful long comment!!!! 😀 Maybe someday we can have a Harry Potter marathon together; that would so much fun. (Last week I bought my first Harry Potter clothing item; it’s a sweater with the Deathly Hallows symbol on it and I’m desperately waiting for winter so I can start wearing it!)

      Lots of love to you and Gorges,

      Jamie

  6. Hey I’m a Hufflepuff too!

    Okay, so my dad was always the same way as yours was. (Not so strict, but still.) And I wasn’t allowed to watch Harry Potter at all. That was a huge no-no. But what confused me was…I was allowed to watch Narnia and my mom was an avid Lord Of The Rings fan, so we would watch those almost daily with her. And as we would watch them she would explain the truth in it and how it related to God.

    In 2012, the same year your story takes place, my dad left. I realized after that, I hadn’t really been myself all those years. Because I lived in fear of my dad. He verbally abused me and singled me out of the 9 of us and decided to pick on me the most. I lived aiming to please him. Of course, once he left I started working out who I really was and who I wanted to be.

    My best friend is a huge Harry Potter fan. When we see movies together we always discuss what God taught us in the film, because we both watch movies and see for things we can apply to our lives. So when we talk, she often brings up Harry Potter. It really started to sound like a movie I could benefit from and learn a lot from. Especially during times where I’m struggling. during these last couple months I’ve been debating even harder about Harry Potter and if I should venture to go there. My thinking is…if I compromise on this…where would I ever draw the line?

    I’ll admit this; I have first hand experience with spiritual warfare. Its scary as frick. Demonic power is NOT something you mess with. Its serious and real. It makes me uncomfortable to think that my little sister is growing up (being taught by my HP fanatic sister) that there is nothing wrong with being a witch or pretending to have magic. So I think there’s got to be some age thing. Because she’s 5 and is not ready for that.

    Also, because spiritual warfare has been such a big part of my life, I want to watch HP more. because its a good vs. evil/light vs. darkness, it relates very much to my spiritual life. I know people who have had experiences worse than mine and its stuff that Harry deals with in the film. So for my friend, she was able to learn how to cope because seeing how he did.

    I’m praying a lot about it and I’ve been reading many of articles about the subject and talking to people. So thank you a lot for sharing your story. Sorry for the mini life story this comment has become. lol. whoops….

    But I really did love what you had to say. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll take all that into consideration as I process my findings:)

    1. Hufflepuffs for the win! We’re underrated, in my opinion, or at least a lot of people don’t understand our house strengths. 😛

      Wow, your story sounds very similar to mine but with your own specific hardships! I’m very sorry that all happened to you; it really sucks to have your family fall apart but sometimes that has to happen for things to actually be made right. Many people do not seem to understand that with my Mom and her choice to divorce my dad. It’s done us a world of good but 98% of church elders and Christian counselors she’s seen over the past five years only see a “crumbling marriage” and not “crumbling souls”. It’s very sad.. but now I’m rambling.

      I can see from your experiences why you would be hesitant about Harry Potter. The later films can get dark, which is why I would have an age restriction for kids and why it may not be for all. Only you know what you can handle; for me personally, God really used Harry to help me grow out of immature thinking and fear, of which I’m very grateful. I do think the characters provide great examples of courage and pulling through the darkness. I don’t know if the movies or books will have the same effect on you, so I would definitely listen to the prodding God places on your heart on whether you want to watch these in the future. 🙂

      I’m glad my story came along at just the right time for you; if you do decide to watch the films, I’d love to hear what you think of them. God bless you!

      ~Jamie

  7. Ok, you seriously just made me cry! What a beautifully written post about one of my all-time favorite book and movie sagas! As someone who grew up reading and watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione, it just makes my heart soar to know that someone new could find such joy from books that mean so much to me. I hope you enjoy the books one day and see all the spectacular adventures that weren’t in the films! 😀

    1. AWWW! Your comment makes me so happy! I know I’ll enjoy the books someday too, I just need to find the time to get to them!!! Thank you!!

      ~Jamie

  8. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with anything so much in my life! You’ve described everything I’ve ever wanted to tell christians who question harry potter. Nobody sane thinks “oh i should join the occult.” Everyone just loves the books for the amazing role models and general good people the characters are.

    1. Haha, that’s wonderful to hear, thank you! 🙂 Well said, I agree; I personally think that one side of the Christian community freaked out too much when Harry Potter became popular. *shakes head*

      ~Jamie

  9. It’s fascinating how we can share so many things, and yet be so very different. We didn’t trick-or-treat. We still don’t. We didn’t read Harry Potter. We didn’t watch certain Disney movies (I’m lookin’ at you, Little Mermaid…), we joined our parents for Sunday School and church pretty much when we were 12. But looking back, I’m grateful for my upbringing. And I want to raise my (presumed) future kids much the same way.

    I think part of it is that my parents are joyous people who strive to be holy because they love God. I don’t mention this as an “I have, and you have not”, but as an encouragement: there are Godly, loving parents who can be strict without being crushing. My parents were overly strict about some things (no alcohol!! No pants! NO DATING!!), but they were open to God’s teaching. We’ve relaxed on those things because Scripturally, we’re allowed.

    But to your post! You know, my dear, I agree with what you’ve said. And I’m glad–I’m so very glad–you feel free now to read them yourself and to judge for yourself. You know what, I don’t actually have much to say. I just really want to give you a huge hug, take you for coffee, and make you tell me all about your fandoms 🙂

    1. Yes, isn’t that interesting? The big difference must lie in our parents’ marriages. My parents marriage has never been ideal, although my sister and I were not aware of it until our teens, but because of my dad’s shame and secrets, it meant that talking openly about things wasn’t possible. So, my mom never felt free to discuss why or why not about a lot of things with my sister and I because he wouldn’t let her. It sounds like your parents were strict but were actually Biblically unified together–that changes EVERYTHING. 🙂

      Thank you for the encouragement, as always! *hugs back*

      ~Jamie

  10. Just read this for the second time. 🙂

    When I read it for the first time (I think about a year ago, when you posted it), I understood EXACTLY where you were coming from. My family avoided Harry Potter, too, and I didn’t understand why, but I “knew” that it was bad. However, I knew after I read your post that I needed to read the books and see the movies – if only to form my own opinion about them.

    And now, a year later, I’m reading it again because I’m about to do a two-parter post on why I’m reading/watching them and why I’m absolutely in love with Harry and his world. (SQUEE.)

    So… thank you. Thanks for sharing a not-so-popular opinion (in the Christian circles) on this series.

    AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS YET, GIIIIIIIIIIIRL. DO IT. ; )

    -Ashley-

    1. Oh. my. gosh!

      You have no idea what this means to me! You’ve made me so happy!

      I’m so so SO glad you decided to form your own fair opinion of the franchise, and see?! You discovered it’s awesome too! I’M SO GLAD. I can’t wait to read your posts about it all! Thank you so much for coming back to tell me; this has really encouraged me to keep speaking my heart even when it seems counter-Christian-culture. I still struggle with this a year later.

      😄 I KNOW, I still need to read them, but I’m slowly collecting hardback copies of them from thrift stores. ❤ I should maybe make it a reading priority for next year!! ❤ Thank you again for your comment!

      ~Jamie

      1. : D I’m glad! Your post really opened my eyes. Thank you SO much for writing it.

        YES YES YES. I’m definitely going to write something about forming your own opinions in my post. I’ll let you know when I post them. 🙂 You’re welcome! I’m learning not to worry about others’ opinions, regardless of how I want to look on the outside. It’s called a personal opinion/conviction for a REASON! 😄 Yeah, I think I’ll struggle with it for the rest of my life. : P Cool! I want the hardback, too!!!

It always makes my day to see your messages! Don't forget to check back, I try to write back to you too! <3

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