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Old 02-13-2004, 04:38 PM   #1
Snowdog
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Tolkien Acceptance of mythology?

It seems in some Christian circles, the inclusion of such things as wizardry in stories causes a negative reaction (e.g. Harry Potter)

For what reason is the works of Tolkien seemingly more acceptable to Christians than the works of say CS Lewis or JK Rowling? Any thoughts?
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Old 02-13-2004, 05:05 PM   #2
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Question Hmmm.

I wasn't aware that LotR was more accepted in certain of those circles than CS Lewis (Narnia?) or Harry Potter. Explain?
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Old 02-13-2004, 06:13 PM   #3
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It really depends on who you're talking to. Many believe that both lotr and Harry Potter are 'evil', though lotr is more widely accepted. I think it has to do with a lot of the magic in Harry Potter being similar to black magic and witchcraft, which is shunned by many Christian circles (though I am no expert on religion).
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Old 02-13-2004, 06:20 PM   #4
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Lord of the Rings isn't as blatantly "magical" as Harry Potter. The latter contains descriptions of spells, potions, and overtly magical creatures in very generous amounts. In LotR, the magic is present in much more subtle way. When we think of Gandalf, we think of a noble, kindly, selfless advisor. When we think of Dumbledore, we think of a magician.
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Old 02-13-2004, 06:33 PM   #5
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I believe Finwe got that one as well as it can be gotten.

Yes, Gandalf and Saruman (LotR's premier wizards) do plenty of magic, they don't use magic at a constant rate, like the characters of Harry Potter who have some strange-sounding incantation for every occasion. Saruman has no magical lightning blasts that fly from his fingertips on command (well, not technically), he is a conniving old man with a lot if raw evil. Gandalf has used magic on many occasions, but he is more the loyal and noble friend and advisor, always with the right words and no-how.

C.S. Lewis, in my opinion, is widely accepted by Christianity as far as I knew. It is frowned upon slightly because of over-wrought Christ metaphors but is not rejected in any way by the Christians I know or know of. There is a lot of religious symbolism in those books, which causes the Narnia series to be studied by many varying faith Christians.
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Old 02-13-2004, 07:58 PM   #6
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I think it has to do with a lot of the magic in Harry Potter being similar to black magic and witchcraft
You're right, there are those who consider HP to be more blatantly witchcraft than LotR or Narnia (which is largely Xian allegory, yo). It's kinda funny, though, cos the Wiccans I've met would associate a lot more with lotr than hp. But that's a whole 'nother discussion.

It may also be to do with the fact that CS Lewis was Christian, as was Tolkien, but Rowling is Agnositic/Atheist(?).
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Old 02-13-2004, 09:33 PM   #7
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I don't think it necessarily has to do with religion. Authors can write about different types of characters just for the sake of doing it. J.K. Rowling could still be religious and write about Harry Potter. What prevents her? Does being religious preclude one from having a fertile imagination? Absolutely not!
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Old 02-13-2004, 10:39 PM   #8
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Actually in an interview, I believe Rowling admitted to being a conservative Christian and that she holds no stock in magic. At least that's what I think I heard.

I actually love the fact that my Grandma enjoys LoTR and yet will not get near HP. She's very much against the slightest mention of magic. But like it's been said...LoTR has less obvious magic.

While a person's religion can have some bearing on their writing, I believe that it can be ignored. As Rowling is doing. It doesn't necissarily have to be about religion.

I'm going now..I'm beginning to repeat stuff!
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Old 02-14-2004, 12:38 AM   #9
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As already said, both Tolkien and Lewis were dedicated Christians, so if there happen to be Christians out there who don't approve of their books...well, maybe the allegory is too subtle for their narrow minds.
As for Harry Potter, yes, the magick is much more theatrical and obvious. I'm a Witch myself actually, and you know what? Any Pagan will tell you that real magick isn't like that (although it would be sooooo much fun to be able to fly on brooms
and stick pig's tails on people we didn't like, wouldn't it?)
That's why they call it F-I-C-T-I-O-N, folks.
Harry Potter is a fun read so I say what the heck?
(not on a literary level with Narnia or LOTR but I still love them).

Anyone who bans books because of the author's alleged religious beliefs is missing out on a lot of fun.
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Old 02-14-2004, 12:40 AM   #10
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Silmaril

(I have nothing against any religion of any kind, i just thought id say this now so i dont get flamed. Anything that has a positive belief for the 'bettering' of human lives is cool)

I suppose it's becuase LOTR is more Aloof than Harry Potter. And I too thought it was strange that the more heavily religious people dont mind reading LOTR, one of my best friends is deeply religious and yet she loved LOTR but when i mention HP she starts telling us how it is bad.

I have come to this conclusion; Lotr is seen as different becuase it is not set in the "here and now" but rather in a different place and time, where Harry Potter is set in out contempary world and seen as more a threat to the minds of the young in 'corrupting' them so to speak. LOTR is able to get away with it becuase it was set in the third age (going into 4th) and if it were now it would have been long over.

Besides, am i making this up or i seem to remember one of my other poeple at school when debating the bible in English Literature, said that revealations had magic and dragons and stuff in it? Am i making that up? I cant rightly remember.

But also, it may not just be christian, is there an Islamic point of view? After all the Koran and the Bilble are somewhat similar in their messages for humanity.
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Old 02-14-2004, 01:06 AM   #11
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I think that a lot of Christians read a very strong allegorical resemblance in LotR to their own beliefs i.e. the presence of a higher power, the use of choice and free will, the insidious nature of evil (temptation of the ring), the sacrifice of one to save many, the unconditional love, I could go on but it's too early in the morning to get in depth about this.
I personally feel that as Tolkien was writing LotR, the essence of his own faith came through into the book without him deliberately making the book into an allegorical tale.
In HP there is of course a fight against good and evil, but if there are Christian undertones , they are certainly not as obvious as in LotR.
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Old 02-14-2004, 06:24 AM   #12
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Eh... Talking of religion... The LOTR actually had a much more Norse and Greek Mythology feel about it than Christian. Then again, many Christian debate whether LOTR has witchcraft elements about it, with an emphasis especially on the Dark Powers, i.e. Necromancer, Witch-king of Angmar, Nazgul...

But many of them had missed the point that writing about evil stuff and living a life of sin are two entirely different things, just as talking about something and actually doing it are two different thing. I should not hope, however, that they would ban our younger generations from reading this exceptional piece of fantasy literature, the like of which has not appeared again in the world.
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Old 02-14-2004, 07:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Anyone who bans books because of the author's alleged religious beliefs is missing out on a lot of fun.
I agree. There's no reason one cannot be both Christian and tolerant. But why some people who like LOTR are so set against HP remains a mystery to me.
This is surely not the only thread on the downs dealing with this issue, so I'll go look for its duplicate...
EDIT: My mistake, I didn't find an exact duplicate; carry on...
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Old 02-14-2004, 10:33 AM   #14
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I am one of these people in discussion, and my main reason is mostly what Carlas said. While LOTR has magic in it, the main characters rarely, in Gandalf's Case, and never, in everyone else's case, use that magic. HP's main characters use their magic much more often.
Of course, this is just my opinion, and you all are welcome to disagree.
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Old 02-14-2004, 11:03 AM   #15
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I agree that it is becaue the magic used in LotR and Harry Potter are of a different sort. For examle, Galadriel's "For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy." The magic in Harry Potter is much closer to what most people would call witch craft or black magic, even if it is not. The wizardry in LotR is much more conservative than it is in HP.

I am a Christian, and I have nothing against Harry Potter, though I have never felt any inclination to read the books or watch the movie. Many of my (Christian) friends have read the books and seen the movie. I think that as long as you take it for the fiction it is, it is fine.

Note: As I have not read the books I have tried not to say anything that is not true about them, and I am mostly going by what I have heard other people say.

As for C.S. Lewis, I think that The Chronicles of Narnia are generally accepted, and as Kransha pointed out, even studied.
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Old 02-14-2004, 11:08 AM   #16
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Tolkien

I am a Christian and though I have personnally never read the books, I have seen the first movie, seen previews for the other movies, seen clips from the second movie and I have read the first chapter from the fourth book. So I don't know whethere there is witchcraft or not in HP but this is what I don't like about it:

1. The people with magick have this I-am-better-than-you sort of thing with the muggles (?). Gandalf always treated everybody with respect and never viewed himself better than everybody else.

2. Magick isn't treated with respect. I personnally can not see Gandalf making a pig's tail grow out of somebody's behind that he didn't like. Neither can I imagine him holding a cake over a person's head and letting it drop on her head.

I think from a Christian's perspective, magick is a touchy thing and I think that, in their opinion, HP crosses the boundaries. In Tolkien, you will notice that anybody who can do magic, only does it in extreme circumstances, when their lives depended on it, such as Gandalf lighting his staff on Caradhras and Moria, the spell he used upon the door, and others. All these instances were used to save people's lives. On that note, I think that HP uses magic too flippantly. Brings to mind the Spiderman theme: With great power comes great responsibility.

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Old 02-14-2004, 11:35 AM   #17
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First, I didn't know that Tolkien was more excepted than Lewis in Christian circles. Personally, I was introduced to The Chronicals of Narnia long before LotR.

Secondly, Alexus Varus:
Quote:
...revealations had magic and dragons and stuff in it...
I just read through Revelation (note spelling) for any references to magic. I found 3 (and maybe a fourth):
Quote:
Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their theifs.
Rev. ch. 9, verse 21.
Quote:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murders, the sexually immoral, those who pratice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
Rev. ch 21, verse 8.
Quote:
Outside [the Holy City] are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murders, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Rev. ch 22, verse 15
(Please remember though, if these people will ask forgiveness, God will give them salvation from the lake of sulfur and allow them into the Holy City.)
The possible fourth is a mention of "Satan's so-called deep secrets". Rev. ch 2, verse 24.
As for dragons:
Quote:
He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
Rev ch 20 verse 2
So you see: those things are mentioned in the Bible, but always with very bad connects.

Third, as for magic in LotR:

Quote:
'Are these magic cloaks?' Pippin asked, looking at them with wonder. 'I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves. 'They are fair graments, and the web is good, for it was made in this land...You are indeed high in favor of the Lady! For she herself and her maidens wove this stuff...'
From this I gather that all that was called 'magic' by the Hobbits (who recorded the WR in the Red Book, which became LotR) was actually only things that they couldn't understand. Think about it: Who had the magical powers? The Istari, who were Maiar sent by Manwë. Of course angels are going to have powers that Hobbits can't understand. The Elves, some of whom had lived with the Valar and were closer to them and had a far better understanding of nature and science, were also counted as magical.
I think Firefoot's quote is better at making this point than my quote.

Fourth, as for Harry Potter:
I don't understand why there's so much contraversy about a colonel on M*A*S*H.
Actually, my mommy read the first one when they first started coming out and told me not to read them, so I can't say much about HP. The reasons she gave me for why not to read them, beside the sorcery, were basically because even the good guys lie, cheat, and steal (for something like that). So it's not just the witchcraft that we Christians don't like.

And besides all that, Tolkien said himself "God is the Lord, of angels, and of men- and of elves." Has Rowling ever said anything like that for Harry? I somehow doubt it.

Sorry to be long-winded.
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Old 02-14-2004, 03:10 PM   #18
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Imladris, as I have read the HP books I can inform you there are rules and restrictions concerning magic in Harry's world, nor is it not used 'flippantly', at least not by the positive characters. I would argue this at more length were we not on a LOTR board and not on a HP one.
Quote:
Has Rowling ever said anything like that for Harry? I somehow doubt it.
Has Homer said anything like this for Illiad? Or, if you think the comparison is too far fetched, has Peter Beagle said anything like this about the Schmendrick and his Unicorn? Before someone takes this the wrong way, I am a Christian Orthodox, and as such very unlikely to take religious issues lightly. But I also am one to draw very clear boundaries between fiction and reality, and therefore no such issues will ever come between me and a good read.

Bringing the discussion back to acceptance of some fantasy works and rejection of others, I think the comments of AS Byatt, (English writer, author of Posession, Babbletower) are relevant to this thread:
Quote:
(...) fantasy novels by the likes of Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Ursula K Le Guin contained "a real sense of mystery, powerful forces, dangerous creatures in dark forests".

"Ms Rowling's magic wood has nothing in common with these lost worlds. It is small, and on the school grounds, and dangerous only because she says it is,"

"Ms Rowling, I think, speaks to an adult generation that hasn't known, and doesn't care about, mystery.

"They are inhabitants of urban jungles, not of the real wild. They don't have the skills to tell ersatz magic from the real thing, for as children they daily invested the ersatz with what imagination they had."

"There is nothing wrong with Harry Potter"

"But it has little to do with the shiver of awe we feel looking through Keats's 'magic casements, opening on the foam/Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.'"
Needless to say, all the Potter fanatics called her a snob. Even if I am somewhat a HP fan, I read and enjoyed the books (and the movies), I have to agree with her constructive criticism of it. The sense of mystery and wonder one gets when reading Lord of the Rings is all lost on HP.
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Old 02-14-2004, 05:26 PM   #19
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edited for poor grammar, woe me

First of all, A.S. Byatt strikes me a tad hypocritical when she talks about the notions of "the real wild," because her writing, her biography, as well as her interviews reflected neither an aesthetic nor a practical understanding of what "wild" is all about.

Second of all, A.S. Byatt seems bitter as heck, because while J.K. Rowling is earning millions (for better or for worse), Byatt is stuck having one of her novels adapted into a middle-of-the-road feature film, one which even Gwyneth Paltrow's "golden hair" cannot save from almost immediate obscurity. Byatt's problem is that she's middle-of-the-road; in some circles, that is even worse than hella bad.

Third of all, in response to Imladris' statement that:
Quote:
The people with magick have this I-am-better-than-you sort of thing with the muggles (?). Gandalf always treated everybody with respect and never viewed himself better than everybody else.
Actually, if you've read and re-read all of the books that are out so far, which I have, you will note that Rowling treats the sort of attitude that you're describing above as both dangerous and dumb. Draco Malfoy & his family are especially ridiculed by the author as being a bunch of prejudiced jerks.

Finally, to answer the original question this thread put forth, I also think that a lot of the self-righteous brouhaha sourrinding Harry Potter stems from the fact that the books are specifically targeted at children. Nobody trusts children to formulate their own opinion. Sometimes with good reason. But anyway, that, I think, is what can a huge chunk of outrage be appropriated to.
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Old 02-14-2004, 05:51 PM   #20
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It isn't just a Christian reaction. All religions have their fanatics and fundamentalists. Often, people feel threatened by belief systems that appear to be more lax by theirs. I know some Indians here in the United States who are more "traditional" than Indians in India. Why, you ask? Their parents felt threatened by this new belief system that would affect and "corrupt" their children, so they instilled more traditional values in their children. They are barely allowed to do things that American teenagers would take for granted (i.e. hanging out with friends, dating, etc.). The same can be applied for religion. If you are not completely secure in your beliefs, you will feel threatened by every little piece of literature that describes a belief system different than your own. This, in turn, makes you want to "strike out" against that piece of literature and belief system, and prevent it from circulating. That is why so many people want to ban Harry Potter and other "magical" books. They are threatened by them.
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Old 02-14-2004, 06:26 PM   #21
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Tolkien

I am sorry if I offended anybody with my statements about HP. I did say that I did not read the books and that everything which I said was what I had seen/heard. From my own observations, those were the conclusions I had come up with. What I said about the muggles and stuff was the attitude I saw in the first movie and in news reports, etc.

Quote:
Finally, to answer the original question this thread put forth, I also think that a lot of the self-righteous brouhaha sourrinding Harry Potter stems from the fact that the books are specifically targeted at children. Nobody trusts children to formulate their own opinion.
I disagree with that statement. The Chronicles of Narnia are aimed at children and they are widely accepted by Christians (I have yet to hear a Christian not like them).

Finwe hit it on the head: black magic and witchcraft to the Christian are evil. So why would they accept a book that might support that idea? I am not saying that HP has witchcraft in it, because I honestly don't know. But that Christian view would explain why some are leery in reading/accepting magical books.

Tolkien, clearly, does not have black magic in it and that is why Christians (well, most Christians) accept them.
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Old 02-14-2004, 07:03 PM   #22
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The thing is, I know plenty of die-hard Christians who love Harry Potter. They realize that there is witchcraft, but they know the reason why there is witchcraft. The books don't promote it. They show that it can be used for good. That is the important lesson that we have to walk away with. The same applies to LotR. There are plenty of forces in Middle-earth that could be used for both good and evil. That is the ultimate lesson that we have to remember. Some people can't see that. All they see is the "black magic" and "witchcraft," without seeing the higher purpose.
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Old 02-14-2004, 08:24 PM   #23
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Intolerance

I have come across (and participated in) before arguments on this board concerning the so-called "Un-Christian" values of Harry Potter. The arguments have been pretty well summarised so far on this thread. Ultimately, they boil down to these books' portrayal of witchcraft and the way in which the protagonists are said to "bend the rules" to acheive their (unarguably good) ends.

Now, I have have no particular candle to burn for HP. I have not read the books, although I have seen the films. Then again, I intensely dislike any form of censorship, save where necessary.

It seems to me that the reason that LotR is generally admired among the Christian community, whereas HP has many detractors, is because Tolkien is known to have been writing from a Christian (albeit Catholic) standpoint, and his book enshrines many Christian values.

Yet, when I look at what I know about the HP books, I find that they are generally espousing the same values, even though the writer may not be devoutly religious herself. For me, if you are going to damn one, then you should damn the other for the same reasons. However Tolkien may have portrayed magic, it is magic nevertheless. It may comprise a "power", or some advanced technology, known only to the Elves and the higher beings, but who is to say that the magic used by HP and his chums is not of the same ilk? And Tolkien's characters sometimes acted against traditional patterns, to heroic ends. Bilbo, for example, acted in a way which seems extraordinary to the majority of his fellow Hobbits, and was considered strange in consequence. Yet, we would not condemn him for what he did, and what he achieved.

So, if we are banning HP, should we not be banning LotR too? Mind you, as I understand it, LotR is banned in some communities and schools. I am sure that most, if not all, people here will (like me) find that ridiculous. Just like it was ridiculous for the more extreme proponents of Islam to hand down a death sentence on the author of Midnight's Children. And yet, by the same token, surely it is just as ridiculous to think of banning HP, or to reject it as somehow being dangerous to one's own pattern of faith.
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Old 02-14-2004, 11:01 PM   #24
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Er... I think that the two magics are different. The power that the Istari had and occasionally used was God-given, rather like God giving the apostles the power to preform miracles in the new testament. However there are also sorcerers mentioned in the new testament that have certain powers that do not come from God and are condemned by Him. As for HP, well... the magic used there is of the latter type. Oh dear, I'm not making my point very well. I know my explanation here is rather unclear and full of holes but I really don't have the gift of explaining myself well. Sorry. I would like to mention though that I have read the books and I enjoyed them (although I didn't like everything in them). I also have many other Christian friends who enjoy these books very much, so not all Christians are against them. Many think it's purely a matter of what's going to hurt their spiritual walk and if God would mind them reading it. It has nothing to do with narrow-mindedness or the religion of the author (at least not with the Christians I know). Please respect those who choose not to read them. I consider it a courageous decision to follow what you believe in, despite pressure from peers and society.
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Old 02-14-2004, 11:37 PM   #25
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I think one part of it is subtlety. In Harry Potter, there are potions and wands and magic words. In LoTR, the magic is much more... organic. There is no flashy display of colours or something, it just... happens.
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Old 02-15-2004, 08:32 AM   #26
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Please bear in mind that there's two things we're not: a Potter board, and a bible discussion board.

That being said,I believe we have to make an important differentiation when it comes to "magic" in the Legendarium.
On one side, we would have _morgul_, 'sorcery'. This is practiced by Melkor and his followers: Sauron the Necromancer prominently among them, but also mortals such as the Mouth of Sauron if I recall correctly. This magic, though ultimately part of the creation and adding to the Grand Design just like everything Melkor ever did, springs from the great primeval sin of defying Eru and his creation. Therefore, it is inherently bad. This hardly poses a conflict to a Christian conception.

The other side would actually be wisdom and skill rather than actual magic, let alone sorcery -- the Q. term would be _nole_. That certain aspects of the Quendi might seem magical but are actually just supreme skill or applied knowledge is established.
What this _knowledge_ exactly is can be answered easily: insight into the ways of the world, gained from being close to the creator and the Ainur as opposed acting against them. Gandalf's magic has its source in his special nature as one present at creation, and arguably being faithful to it. That something like this can exist - in a fictional world on top of that - is hardly a-christian either.

What the actual difference between the two kinds of "magic" is more difficult to say. Perhaps one has its source in Melkor's dischord solely.
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Old 02-15-2004, 03:02 PM   #27
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Quote:
Please bear in mind that there's two things we're not: a Potter board, and a bible discussion board.
Sorry about that. I only wanted to show it from a Christian perspective (which I did very poorly).
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Old 02-15-2004, 07:45 PM   #28
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Actually, 'Shroom, your response was more on target than mine, so save that sad face for a rainy day.

I'm Christian, but I don't like relating things to people "from a Christian perspective," because we're not a homogenous group and the spectrum of opinion on certain matters, especially literature, can stretch quite wide.

I can, however, speak more freely from the perspective of a person that has devoted her life to studying literature (until I go completely bonkers and join the circus, that is); from a literary perspective, I would argue that the people that want to ban Harry Potter, yet at the same time profess to enjoy the LOTR are failing to read between the lines a bit.

Sharkey has made a number of important observations regarding the way magic is treated in Tolkien's works. The fact that a more traditional definition of magic is usually attributed to the actions of the bad guys (i.e. Melkor & Co) is not to be taken lightly; then again, there are several examples of what I would argue to be magic used in more ambigious terms. In this category I would place the Girdle of Melian, Luthien's ability to escape from her wooden prison by making her hair grow long and weaving out of it a robe that was "laden with a spell of sleep," and, for another example, the fact that Galadriel was able to stop time with the power of her ring.

Now, this is different from what goes on in Harry Potter, but not radically so. The magic J.K. Rowling writes about is more "pedestrian" and often light-hearted, but the underlying theme, I would argue, is just as serious as that of Tolkien's Legendarium, and it uses many of the same elements.
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Old 02-16-2004, 08:52 AM   #29
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Quote:
by Sharku

That certain aspects of the Quendi might seem magical but are actually just supreme skill or applied knowledge is established.
or, to put it thus:

Quote:
by Arthur C. Clarke

any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic
To back sharku up there

On the other hand it may be argued that Melkor & Co were technological types, but the point I'm driving at, the sin comes from abuse of faculty, not its proper use.

There was a good thread on the subject:

Magic in ME
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Old 02-16-2004, 12:03 PM   #30
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Many think it's purely a matter of what's going to hurt their spiritual walk and if God would mind them reading it. It has nothing to do with narrow-mindedness or the religion of the author (at least not with the Christians I know). Please respect those who choose not to read them. I consider it a courageous decision to follow what you believe in, despite pressure from peers and society.
Ah, I meant no offence, Mushroom, and I apologise if I caused any. I have no problem with anyone who takes a personal decision not to read a particular book – for whatever reason. My problem is with those who seek to ban others from reading books on religious or political grounds.

Surely, most (if not all) here would agree that it makes little sense to ban LotR on religious grounds. And yet many find it acceptable for HP to be banned on the basis of its portrayal of witchcraft. My point is that any distinction between LotR and HP, in terms of the manner in which each portrays the concept of magic, is, in my view, artificial and can only be explicable by reference to the fact that one was written by a devout Catholic and is set in a monotheistic world (although one very different from our own), while the other was written by an Agnostic (I presume) and set in a world in which religion does not feature (at least prominently). I am with Lush in saying that there is, in substance, little difference in the concept of magic in the two books.

I take your point, Sharku, that there is a distinction to be made in Tolkien’s works between the sorcery practised by Morgoth and his followers and the higher wisdom and skill exhibited by the Elves and Ainur. I agree that the latter can be explained as “sufficiently advanced technology”. But can that not apply to “Mogul sorcery” too? After all, both forms of “magic” are ultimately derived from the same source, namely Eru. So, to my mind, the distinction arises from the way it is used, rather than its source. The “magic” of the Elves is (generally) used to good purpose, whereas the sorcery of Morgoth’s followers is used to further their evil ends.

To my mind, exactly the same points could be made to explain the concept of magic in HP. Magic in HP’s world might also simply be the application of a higher technology that “muggles” are not sufficiently advanced to apply themselves. And, like magic in Middle-earth, it too can be used either for good or for evil. The only difference of real substance is that (as far as I am aware), there is no Supreme Being in the HP books from whom all this power is ultimately derived. Is this the reason for it finding greater disfavour amongst Christian groups than LotR? Perhaps, but surely the same reasoning would apply even if there were no witchcraft in the book. The characters have physical power, and yet such physical power is not said to derive from any Supreme Being. Indeed, any book which did not attribute the qualities shown by its characters to a Christian-like God would be “Un-Christian” on that basis. But that is clearly not the reality.

And so, getting back to the original question posed by Snowdog, I can see the justification given for LotR having greater acceptance amongst Christians than the HP books. I just have a hard time accepting the logic of that justification.

I hope that explains my position more clearly.
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Old 02-16-2004, 02:29 PM   #31
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I believe that one of the main reasons that Harry Potter is getting targeted as much is that is directed to children. Some people believe that if children read Harry Potter, it will corrupt them and divert them away from Christian values. Because magick and sorcery are strongly connected to the Devil, these people who oppose Harry Potter don’t want their children to become associated with the Devil through magick.

Some may argue that The Chronicles of Narnia were aimed at children too, and they were. But the aspect that causes Harry Potter to be attacked on such a large scale is because of the immense popularity of the books. There is hardly a child in this world who has never heard of Harry Potter, while The Chronicles of Narnia, while an outstanding series and piece of literature, they simply don’t have the immense popularity that Harry Potter commands.

Because LOTR is not directed at people as young as the main readers of Harry Potter, it is not seen as much of a problem. My thoughts are that because the readers of LOTR are older, these Christians that have a problem with Harry Potter do not think that they will be corrupted. They would be already settled into their faith and that a book could not influence them as much as it would an impressionable child.

I have been raised in the Roman Catholic Church and have no problem what-so-ever with the Harry Potter books. I have read them many times and simply enjoy the stories that they offer. Some time ago, when this topic was highly volatile in the United States, a priest at my church was asked to quote on the topic for the local paper. He stated that, “the connection of Harry Potter to the Devil is simply hogwash”. He didn’t believe and nor do I that this series is corruptive.

It is also something to note that the Pope in Rome, John Paul II, said that Harry Potter books do not promote the Devil and that they do promote good Christian values.

Personally, I don't find anything wrong with magick in any way or form. If someone does, however, that is their business and I respect them for sticking with their ideals.
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Old 02-17-2004, 03:45 PM   #32
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Wow!

This thread topic got quite a bit of play! I am just now reading all the fine input posted here. Basicly this question was asked on another website, but with a much more verbose lead in. It wasn't three posts before the author and I were into it. because I was as verbose with a different, and somewhat opposing point of view though i agreed with him on much of it. I basicly cut out the BS and posted the basic question here.

It has been my Christian experience, especially back in the 80s that all magic should be opposed. This included Gandalf in The Hobbit as well as other books. There used to be these big gatheringsd where people would burn their 'satanic' books and records and tapes, and it really left a sour taste in my mouth. Even though some of Tolkien's books went into these fires, he is basicly more accepted in Christian circles these days even though there are some fanatics out there who believe th Christians who buy and read Tolkien have compromised their faith.

Personally I believe that each individual is free to decide these things on their own merit, and should not say what is right or not for others.

Thanks for all the good responses here!
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Old 02-19-2004, 11:40 AM   #33
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Phew! It's hard to fight against your intellect, Saucepan Man! But I do have afew comments.
Quote:
After all, both forms of "magic" are ultimately derived from the same source, namely Eru.
Hmmm... that's true to a certain extent. But, after Melkor fell his powers became simply a corrupt and evil form of the power Eru meant him to have. He marred Arda, brought about orcs and other monsters, and went about killling and destroying. The power that Eru had given him as a Vala was corrupted, becoming more of an opposite to the powers of the other Valar. Melkor is the source of all corruption and any powers that come from him are corrupt (Morgul sorcery, etc.). So, I would say that the immediate source of the power being used (despite the fact that Eru is the ultimate source of everything) is the major difference between the two magics of Middle Earth. Christians accept it because it really doesn't differ much from our way of thinking.
In Harry Potter, no, God is never mentioned by name. But since the story is supposed to take place in our world Christians assume that He would be there. There are also things in the books which imply a Christian religion exists, like the celebration of Christmas. So it could be argued that HP too is set in a monotheistic world, and one that completely disregards God and His commandments.
The witchcraft used in the books fits the bill perfectly of something that would be condemned by God. (a) It does not have its source in God (b) it is given the name of witchcraft, which is clearly condemned in the Bible (c) It is often used to a sinful purpose.
That's the best I can do in regards to why many Christians don't read HP, and how it is different from LOTR. I hope it all made sense.


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Old 02-19-2004, 12:35 PM   #34
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It's hard to fight against your intellect, Saucepan Man!
Then don't.

We are, I think, more or less in agreement on the depiction of magic in LotR, Fungus. While, ultimately, the ability to use "magical" power does derive from Eru, I agree that "Morgul sorcery" represents a corruption of such power, by virtue of it having been channelled through Morgoth (whom Eru created).

I take your point about the implied presence of Chrisitianity in HP, although it does not follow that a Christian God actually exists in HP's world. But, assuming that He does, why should "magical" power be any more or less acceptable than it is in LotR?

Quote:
(a) It does not have its source in God
Why not? In a world where humans were created by God, and where some humans have the power to use magic, then surely He created them with that power.

Quote:
(b) it is given the name of witchcraft, which is clearly condemned in the Bible
A rose by any other name ...

Quote:
(c) It is often used to a sinful purpose
So is "magic" in LotR. A you say, "Morgul sorcery" represents a corruption by Morgoth of power bestowed by Eru. In the same way, can the use of magic for evil purposes in HP not represent a corruption (by a "Fallen Angel" originally created by God) of power bestowed by God? The use of magic for good purposes, on the other hand, should be acceptable since it is furthering His will.

Do you see my point? If HP does take place in a monotheistic world, like Middle-earth, then one can view magic in the same way in both worlds. If it does not, then none of the powers exercised, whether magical or not, derive from God and so the use of "witchcraft" in HP's world should be no more (and no less) objectionable than any other action in that world.
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Old 02-20-2004, 12:38 AM   #35
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Then don't.
Hehehe! Fat chance!

Alright, we're looking at both books as if they exist in a monotheistic world. That is how Christians view it. As for why LOTR magic is different from HP magic, I'll take it back to my abc's...

(a) It does not have its source in God.
Quote:
Why not? In a world where humans were created by God, and where some humans have the power to use magic, then surely He created them with that power.
Well, He created human beings with free will. Just because humans have the ability to do something doesn't mean that they should do it or that God would want them to do it. He created humans with free will because if we can't choose disobedience then we can't really choose obedience. But this isn't supposed to be a theological discussion so I'll break off there.
As far as LOTR goes, the powers used for good come from Eru, and the powers used for evil come from Morgoth. But we agreed on that already.
As far as HP goes, all of the magic used seems to come from the same source. The question is where does it come from.
(b) It is given the name of witchcraft, which is clearly condemned in the Bible.
Quote:
A rose by any other name...
Not exactly. I looked up the word "witchcraft" in the dictionary and the definition there was
Quote:
the art or practices of a witch; sorcery.
so I looked up "sorcery." The definition there was
Quote:
the practices of a person who is thought to have supernatural powers granted by evil spirits
And there we find our source. Evil spirits. Demons. Servants of Satan. If we're judging the magic in the two books by the same criteria, then we should consider this magic evil, just as we consider Morgul sorcery evil.
(c) It is often used to a sinful purpose.
Quote:
So is "magic" in LotR.
Only by the evils of Middle Earth who get their power from Morgoth. Those who get their power from Eru use it for good. The problem is, as I said above, that all magical power in HP comes from the same source and that source is Satan. That would make the magic in HP evil. Sure, they may use it to acheive good ends sometimes, but witchcraft, even "used for good," is still condemned. Disobedience, even if it's whitewashed, will no more "further His will" then disobedience as black as the abyss.

So there ya have it, folks.
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Old 02-20-2004, 01:14 AM   #36
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now we don't

Quote:
HP comes from the same source
I think you make a mistake there, as to drawing in the outer sources in the case of HP to decide the origins of magic inside it. As a piece of literature, it is somehow closed on itself, therefore, inside its boundaries, one must rely on what is stated in it. Now, it is not said in it that all witches of HP performed some rites to draw their power from Enemy


On the other hand, what is said in it. and as far as the HP story goes is never unsaid, the magical powers of non-muggles in HP are not supernatural to the extent that those are not drawn outside of nature, but are something people are born with, as natural good sight, or musical talent. There is no free will involved in becoming a wizard for Harry Potter, he is natural born one. As this is concept, than common principles come in. As one can use his/her cleverness to good or bad ends, so one can use one's magical abilities.

People you looked up in a dictionary were quite ordinary men and women, who became sorceres and witches as a consequence of act of choosing

Which moves HP magic onto the same plane as ME one is - natural gift of Creator, used, according to choices performed with the free will, to be in accordance with His will or to disobey him
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Old 02-20-2004, 12:44 PM   #37
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Those who get their power from Eru use it for good.
Not neccessarily, darling. Galadriel's motivation was ambiguous and she didn't redeem herself for a long time. Fëanor screwed up his great potential and plunged his own kind into darkness and despair. Shall I even get into Turgon and how his pride caused the demise of his people?

All of the above, characters, I would argue, received their gifts from Eru.

See, it's not as black and white as your above statement would have me believe.
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Old 02-20-2004, 07:16 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lush
Not neccessarily, darling. Galadriel's motivation was ambiguous...Fëanor screwed up his great potential and plunged his own kind into darkness and despair. ...Turgon...All of the above, characters, I would argue, received their gifts from Eru.

See, it's not as black and white as your above statement would have me believe.
Lush, darling , I think you're being too picky with The Shroom.

Morgoth should be the prime example. He started off WHITE: good/perfect/obedient to Eru and his revealed will. Morgoth got his power/abilities directly from Eru in the beginning. He had a free will though, and as the Initial and Master Corrupter, violated Eru's desires/intention/boundaries/will. BLACKening himself, if you will.

So the initial corruption pattern was established. Other corruptions (working of evil=BLACK) follow the pattern that is established. Subsequent actions taken by those beings who take their power/instructions/cues from Morgoth are using the wrong source for the wrong goals. Is that part "black and white?"

Other beings who take their power/instructions/cues instead from Eru (or indirectly from others who are acting obediently directly in relation to Eru) are using the right source for the right goals. As best as they see fit. And respectful that they have a Master to be accountable to. However, being agents of free will, at any time, one of them (Fëanor, Saruman) can choose to violate the express will of Eru (as best they know it--I am not quibbling over this particular point).

So in my opinion, it is fairly much black and white. With the caveat that you don't look at a person at any snapshot of time and say, they are WHITE without any chance of exercising free will and BLACKening themselves into the enemy's camp.
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Old 02-20-2004, 08:58 PM   #39
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Thanks Theron Bugtussle!

HerenIstarion, you're probably right. Now I think I'll have to drop my original argument.
The main point of my original argument was that the magic in HP comes from the Devil, but yes, it is stated in the HP books that being a wizard is an inate characteristic, not a choice (although the witches and wizards do go to school to enhance their powers). If we look at that statement as we were looking at it previously (that HP is set in our modern day world in which God exists) we hit a discrepancy. Why would God create a being who had no free will to choose against a sin which He clearly condemns (for the Bible would certainly exist in HP if it was set in our modern day world in which God exists)? God could not do such a thing since it is completely against his character. Therefore it would be logical to conclude that God and the Devil do not exist in HP's world, so HP characters could not draw their powers from either of them. HP would have its own world, with its own rules created by Rowling. If looked at from this perspective, the only problem Christians might possibly have with the books themselves is that they come from an Atheistic world view.
My origianal argument is one easily made, and commonly held by Christians. Perhaps it is not a good argument. But I still think that Christians' rejection of HP (while accepting LotR) is perfectly justified by other reasons.
LotR has an obviosly Christian world view and there isn't really anything we disagree with. The Professor himself said
Quote:
With regard to the Lord of the Rings... I actually intended it to be consonant with Christian thought and belief, which is asserted elsewhere.
As I said above, HP could be considered to take place in its own world with different rules from ours, but its magic does have a strong resemblance to occultic practices (though it may not mirror them exactly). There's astrology, divination, spell-casting, and a whole lot more occultic resemblances that are similar to our world's witchcraft (which Christians believe to be evil, as I have said before). These occultic resemblances are made to look fun and appealing, and the books are geared toward young children who don't know any better. Check out these real-life quotes taken out of Richard Abanes' book "Harry Potter and the Bible" (yup, I've started researching about this.)
Quote:
I like what they learned there and I want to be a witch (Gioia Bishop, 10 years old)
Quote:
This book is amazing and contains magic spells I wish I can do in the real world. (Wang Wen, 12 years old)
Quote:
This book made me want to go to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is a school for teaching magic. I would like to learn magic, but I haven't got my letter of invitation yet. (amazon.co.uk post, age unknown)
Where do you think these kids might turn when they find out Hogwarts doesn't exist? Where will they go to satisfy their desire to perform magic like Harry and co.? HP has a dangerous potential to draw kids into real-life occultic practices. Christians are against that.
But remember, not all Christians see a problem with Harry, and not all Christians agree with me either.

So there's my revised edition, folks.

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Old 02-20-2004, 10:51 PM   #40
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Tolkien it's a kind of magic...

first of all, i don't agree with you about christians hating the chronicles of narnia. don't you see the similarities between the chronicles and christian history?
and to answer your question, the magic in lotr comes from sources of "good", or, as christians see it, god, as opposed to in HP the magic comes from an unknown, sketchy source. the magic in HP can be used for good or evil. but in lotr, "good" magic can only be used for good, and "evil" magic can only be used for bad. eg: the ring of power.

but that's only my perception.
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