THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–Marcia Montenegro, once a renowned astrologer and now a Christian author and speaker, understandably is concerned about the new movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which opens nationwide Friday, Nov. 16.
Having not yet seen the movie, Montenegro can only speak of what she has read in the books. But, if the producers of the film are faithful to the book, she is uneasy that the movie’s preoccupation with sorcery may cause children and teenagers to nonchalantly experiment with mystical arts.
“Although Harry Potter attends the ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,’ what is really being described in the book is sorcery,” Montenegro said in an interview. And what exactly is sorcery? “Contemporary sorcery is based on a belief of accessing and manipulating energy through various methods, such as the use of potions, incantations, rituals and communing with spirits,” Montenegro explained. “Sorcery is nothing less than the attempt to replace God, since it is one’s will that is primary in practicing sorcery.”
Strongly apprehensive about using occultic material to entertain impressionable minds, Montenegro asked, “Are fantasy stories using occultism a model for healthy reading or viewing?”
Unlike the fantasy work of C.S. Lewis, who did not endorse the occult, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, has centered her stories around a character who is learning (and subtly teaching) the occult arts.
“There are elements of fantasy and good storytelling in the [Harry Potter] books,” Montenegro acknowledged. “At the same time, the whole story is set in an occult context, and with references to real occult practices and views mixed in with fantasy. The hero of the books is a wizard/witch/sorcerer whose goal is to learn how to use his powers through the occult.”
Montenegro certainly is more sensitive than others to occult issues after spending years studying astrology, channeling, reincarnation and other such beliefs. While Harry Potter defenders — including a few church leaders — find the symbolism of names, the actions and the allegorical use of the Harry Potter character merely a representation of good versus evil, Montenegro said it is more than harmless fantasy. The occult is real, she stated, and the books present an occult worldview and some practices that are approximate to real occult techniques.
Montenegro is not alone in her assessment. Christian film reviewer Holly McClure notes in her book, “Death by Entertainment,” “Although Harry represents good, he uses lies and deception and magic to triumph over evil, so the roles of good and bad are blurred.” In a new documentary from Jeremiah Films, “Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged – Making Evil Look Innocent,” Robert S. McGee (“The Search for Significance”) and Caryl Matrisciana (“Gods of the New Age”) warn concerned parents of the occultic symbols applied throughout the Harry Potter series. And in an article for Focus on the Family, author Linda Beam writes, “Anytime the dark side of the supernatural world is presented as harmless or even imaginary, there is the danger that children will become curious and find too late that witchcraft is neither harmless nor imaginary.”
Their concerns reflect the warnings from Scripture, such as Deuteronomy 18:10, Leviticus 19:26 and Galatians 5:20.
Montenegro, in urging moviegoers not to take the subject matter found in Harry Potter so lightly, cited the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:15, that those who practice magic arts will suffer the same disastrous fate as murderers, idolaters and the sexually immoral.
Concerning the abundance of ghosts in the Harry Potter books, Montenegro commented, “The Bible is pretty clear that there is a spirit world, and as far we know, the spirits are the angels (Hebrews 1). The good angels serve God and go at his command, not ours; the fallen angels who chose to go with Satan are demons, also called evil spirits. I don’t think there is such a thing as a ghost if one means by that a dead person who has come back or is hanging around. When we die, we are either with Christ or we are in some kind of place of conscious suffering [since the Lake of Fire will not exist until Judgment Day]. If anyone sees what they believe is a ghost, it is either their imagination or it is a demon. Since Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], I don’t see why demons cannot disguise themselves the same way, or as dead people.”
And of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Montenegro said, “Much is made of the fact that the author wrote while on welfare on scraps of paper at a cafe. This makes it sound like everything is totally from her imagination; however, she did not imagine alchemy, charms, astrology, the dark side or many other occult concepts and information represented in the books and film. Harry Potter, far from teaching against the occult, gives a rousing cheer for it.”
Montenegro said the Harry Potter books, in fact, push for witchcraft and wizardry to be an accepted lifestyle. Not only do the stories promote an interest in the occult, but they also mock those opposed to it, she noted. In the books, “Muggles” are non-witches who are portrayed quite negatively. “The family that adopted Harry after his parents died — his mother’s sister and her husband — are painted in the worst possible way,” Montenegro also noted. “Their admittedly bad character and opposition to witchcraft, which they see as ‘weird,’ are combined, so that one is left with the impression that opposition to witchcraft and the occult is silly, narrow-minded, cruel and the result of stupidity and ignorance.”
Montenegro, in summarizing her assessment of the Harry Potter phenomena, stated, “The books are full of references to and, sometimes, outright use of divination tools, spells and occult views. God condemns the occult. Should we use a book or film as entertainment that endorses what God has so seriously forbidden?”
Articles by Montenegro about the occult can be accessed at http://cana.userworld.com/cana_spiritualjourney.html. She is affiliated with Fellowship International Mission and can be contacted by mail at CANA, P.O. Box 7191, Arlington, VA 22207; e-mail, [email protected]
Boatwright, a Baptist layman in Thousand Oaks, Calif., reviews films from a Christian perspective. For more information, click onto his site at www.moviereporter.com. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MARCIA MONTENEGRO.