The Marketing and "Schooling"
Excerpted from the book Entertaining Spirits Unaware: The End-Time
by Eric Barger & David Benoit
Read Part One Here!
Beyond the books, the marketing of Harry Potter is just now coming into its own. We found a web site offering an assortment of kids toys, such as capes, magic hats, wands, and fake tattoos, each one designed to emulate Harry Potter and each one based on occultism and magic. The advertisement of the items called them a "starter kit for future witches and warlocks." Another web site claims to provide everything you need for a magical Harry Potter birthday party. It says:
If your child is one of the millions enchanted by J. K. Rowlings magical "Harry Potter" series, then Family.coms Harry Potter Wizard party is for you! Children cant get enough of boy wizard Harry Potter and his out-of-this-world adventures. Theyll love the chance to play out their favorite characters and scenes with our Potter-themed party planner. Party guests will feel like real Hogwarts students, enrolling in wizards school, battling a Basilisk, practicing their Quidditch skills and even taking a Potions class. Their feet may not leave the ground, but their fun and imagination will soar at this spellbindingly fun party.
Just what you hoped your child would do: enroll in Hogwart Wizard School; battle a Basilisk (a legendary fourteenth century reptile with fatal breath and glance), practice Quidditch (a game Rowling invented for the Potter series which utilizes levitation by another name), and take a class on magic potions!
Interestingly, Harry Potter has an odd birthmark on his forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt. In a promotional campaign before the release of the third book, six hundred fifty thousand lightning bolt tattoos were distributed to bookstores worldwide. We know that some will consider it a stretch, however the lightning bolt has long been a symbol of power in the occult and Satanism. If Harry Potter was a heroic Christian boy and not a warlock, wed just think it was odd. But knowing who he is and what he does, again we see it as no coincidence.
Watch for Harry to soon be on a computer screen near you as well. August 11, 2000, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) announced it had signed a deal to develop Harry Potter into both video and computer games. We wonder how deep the occult inferences and violence will be in the finished products.
Hasbro Corp. has also secured the rights to make and distribute Harry Potter trading cards. This is the same company who carries the Pokémon line.
We surmise that is parents are concerned about freebees associated with Pokémon, The Back Street Boys and other objectionable materials that come accompanying their childs "Happy Meal" via the drive-thru window, just wait until the first Harry Potter movie is ready to hit theaters in 2001! Well guarantee that you will not miss the marketing barrage to be displayed then.
Harry Comes to Class
Naturally, Scholastic is very happy with the results of Harry Potter. Any moral obligation they might have had in the past has disintegrated from the haul of cash Rowlings work has brought in. According to Variety Magazines Jill Goldsmith (July 19, 2000) the U.S. publisher saw net income soar thirty-nine percent to $51 million, and revenue rise twenty percent to $1.4 billion for the fiscal year ended in June. Revenue for childrens book publishing and distribution rose thirty-one percent to $872 million, primarily due to Harry Potter sales.
Some educators and parents have touted the use of Harry Potter books in teaching children to read. However, it strikes us odd that with so many words that are simply Rowlings own invention, the vocabularies of children using Potter books to learn to read could be skewed at best.
Here is a sample of terms from Harry Potter.
Animagi Azkaban Daedalus Erised Gryffindor
Malfoy Quidditch Slytherin Voldemort
J. K. Rowlings literary agent, Christopher Little, told USA Today on June 22, 2000, that the books are now being sold in over one hundred countries, with Russia and China coming soon. He said "Rowlings books are particularly popular in Japan, as well as in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. Only in the USA has there been a hostile reaction. (Some parents think the books glamorize witchcraft.)" Well, thats not entirely true, but were guessing that anyone throwing water on the Harry Potter phenomenon is probably a Bible believer.
Reuters wire service reported on July 27, 2000, that a New Zealand school (Aucklands Birkenhead Primary School) has banned teachers from reading extracts of the resoundingly successful Harry Potter book series aloud after a complaint about the books references to wizardry and magic.
In 1998, CNN reported that an uproar ignited in the tiny town of Zeeland, Michigan, when a teacher read some of the Harry Potter books aloud in a school classroom.
The controversy started when a few children told their parents about the scary story from school involving witches, goblins, and enchantment. That didnt go over well with some residents, who were troubled by the tales of violent, magical battles, of partially decapitated ghosts and the drinking of unicorn blood.
CNN, July 6, 2000
After complaints from Christian parents the Jacksonville, Florida public library system ceased giving out what they called the "Hogwarts Certificate of Accomplishment" to young Harry Potter fans.
The certificate, meant to encourage children to read, honored its recipient for completing a term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school young Harry attends. The books feature Harry fighting against the forces of evil, aided by spells, flying brooms and magical instruments.
Associated Press, September 13, 2000
Reuters reported (September 20, 2000) that after a heated debate between pro and anti Potter parents and board members the Durham Regional School Board (near Toronto, Canada) dropped its previous requirement to have parents sign a note of consent which would allow their children to be taught from Harry Potter books in classrooms. The board decided to remove the restrictions citing that they didnt wish to see particular children excluded from some classroom activities. We spoke with a trustee on the Durham School Board about this issue and in so doing we were told that the issue was far from settled. School Board members and Trustees, many of whom are Christians, are very unsettled about the direction this issue has taken there. These authors see examples like this as just another good reason to educate our children and grandchildren in a truly biblical Christian school rather than secular environments.
Cases such as these seem to be getting more frequent. Both of these authors have received calls and emails from concerned parents and even a school bus driver who is increasingly more troubled by what she sees on her bus concerning Potter books and the associated role playing. Perhaps most telling have been the emails Eric has received since mentioning Harry Potter in his online newsletter (at www.ericbarger.com). Though several have been from ministers in support of our position, those that need to be mentioned here were a series of notes from a parent in Alberta, Canada who alerted us that Potter books were being used in a Christian school there. Also, Eric received over a half dozen letters from teachers defending the use of Harry Potter. One of these included the following statements.
South Carolina schools challenged the Harry Potter books because, "the books have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil." In the Frankfort, Illinois School District, the Harry Potter books were challenged but retained. Parents were concerned that the books contained lying and smart-aleck retorts to adults.
Have you been in the streets lately, especially in poor areas of towns and cities? They have a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil. Should we ban those areas, or let the children read Harry Potter books so they can see how a kid with a bad attitude changed his attitude, changed his circumstances and develop respect for those elders who respected him? . . .
Harry Potter books have an uplifting theme . . .
. . . should (we) ban most of the fairy tales and folktales and legends from other cultures that fill up much of the school and public libraries? Many of those folk tales have demons and witches and fairies and gremlins, trolls, talking animals, etc, where good triumphs over evil. How far are we going to go in banning books that have an uplifting, good over evil theme?
How can good triumph over evil, if there is no evil in the story and plot? If we ban all books with evil in them, how are we going to have our children read "make-believe" books that use analogy to teach a lesson or get an idea across?
This public school teacher, from Norman, Oklahoma is a member of a good Bible-believing church. Without being overly critical of her, we want to point out that she has crossed the line into relativism, but more than that in her defense of Harry Potter she appears to have a blurred vision of what God expects of His children. The standard argument we have both heard school teachers give when defending New Age philosophies and practices in the classroom is "well, it works." Our rebuttal to this is simple. Just because something works doesnt make it right! To the Christian the "end" can never justify the "means", even if the outcome is positive. This teacher is right on one count however. We do face a world laced with folklore and fairy taleseach of which utilize white vs. black magick. (Keep in mind that white witchcraft vs. black is a joke among occultists.) The biblical truth is that these storiesno matter how accepted they are in our culturepresent an anti-biblical view of evil and good. Though they may warm our hearts and touch the nostalgia buttons in our memories they are, in reality, works of the Devil. And concerning the case at hand, there must be an effective way of teaching children without glorifying a warlock named Harry Potter. As one pastor commented "Allowing our children to read Harry Potter books (just because everybody else is) is allowing them to read nothing more than spiritual pornography." Have we forgotten our standards as Believers? Perhaps our refusal to stand against the likes of Harry Potter and instead compromise with it is the worst part about all of this. The Bible says that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light and that his ministers will appear to be righteous (II Corinthians 11:14-15). How far we have slipped from Gods holy standard of spiritual discernment when there is even a hint of discussion favoring the likes of Harry Potter among Believers.
Go to Part ThreeAll rights reserved. Copyright © 2000, Eric Barger and David Benoit.
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