This has been percolating in my head for a little while, and some of the more conservative members of our family have made it an issue lately. Karen recently decided that, having never read the Harry Potter series but having seen the movies, that she wanted to read what everyone is talking about. She discovered everything I’ve ever heard about the books to be true: they are beautifully written, and Rowling is gifted at her craft.

Being a fantasy lover, Karen moved on to other modern fantasy greats, such as the Seeker series (good movie, but I understand they took painful liberties with the novel, as Hollywood is wont to do). Fantasy, is, after all, one of the great genres of literature. I admit I don’t read much in the lines of fantasy (the last true fantasy I read, I think, was the Dragon Riders of Pern series…did I just date myself?), being more of a sc-fi fan, but I think I may be in the mood to read some soon.

The problem? Well, apparently, the problem is that we’re Believers, and Believers shouldn’t do that fantasy stuff.

Or at least that’s what we hear a lot. The aforementioned conservative factions of our family are very much up in arms about how Harry Potter is horribly evil because it contains witches and magic. Yet, most Believers love Tolkien‘s and Lewis‘ work, both of which frequently contain magic. A double standard, perhaps? If so, it is one born of ignorance. Somehow it is okay for The Chronicles of Narnia to use magic as a literary device to communicate Christ’s story, or even for the Lord of the Rings to communicate the epic struggle between good and evil. But magic in the sense of witches? Apparently that crosses some invisible Christian line (even though the final book of the Potter series has some amazing metaphors for our faith, as I understand it).

Modern religion seems to consistently rob us of the beauty of artistic expression, which, if left well enough alone, would only grow our faith. What’s worse, it typically is began by some hyper-conservative, uneducated fundamentalist somewhere who decided something was wrong for some bizarre and obscure reason, and made a video or wrote a book about it because they knew it would sell to Christian pop culture. Once again, “Christian bookstores” contribute to our illiterate society.

Here’s my issue: if you have read this stuff and don’t like it, fine. If you can contribute an educated perspective on it, then by all means, open dialogue about it. Everyone could grow from that. But don’t go around thumping some podium somewhere preaching that some series of books or movies are evil because they utilize magic as a literary device, or aren’t specifically about God. Jeffery Overstreet, on a recent episode of The Kindlings Muse, said that he wasn’t allowed to watch Star Wars as a child because his parents felt that Yoda was a Buddhist and that he might convert from Christianity to Buddhism if he watched it. I don’t think anyone ever did that…or began practicing witchcraft because they watched or read Harry Potter. My favorite is when Believers decry movies or books because the author is (if there really is such a thing) and atheist.

Wasn’t Lewis a proclaimed atheist when he wrote Narnia?

Perhaps all truth really is God’s truth. We might see that better if we would just get ourselves out of the way, look past our precious Evangelical culture (which is remarkably un-cultured), and just enjoy the story.


  1. Thank you for your Blog. Good thoughts.

    Regrading your question: “Wasn’t Lewis a proclaimed atheist when he wrote Narnia?” Perhaps you are a bit confused. Lewis was in fact an avowed atheist as a young adult, but was converted long before he wrote The Chronicles of Narnia.

  2. Perhaps I understand that he was professing atheism while being inspired to write the Chronicles. I’ll have to check into that.

    Thanks for reading, Mark.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie. My wife recently read the book, and she tells me that the theme is antagonistic to the religious establishment, and portrays an odd and mystical view of God, apparently reducing Him to the status of an angel. In the end of the series, God dies.

    Her perspective is that, while the author professes atheism, that the theological view of the book is remarkable similar to Mormonism.

    Again, I take this all from her report, because I haven’t read it. But, at least I have access to an informed opinion.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Having read Pullman’s dark materials, I have to say the tone is clearly malevolent. It certainly appears from this series that Pullman bears a deep hatred and revulsion for the historic institution of the church, and it certainly seems as though he has never yet encountered the one who is the Truth–he is a self-proclaimed athiest. As I read the series that first section of Romans which describes those who have exchanged the truth for a lie came to mind, and I was sad that such a gifted writer should be so deceived. Pullman’s work is well crafted as far as literary merit: a strong plot, well crafted characters, allusions to great literature and aspects of culture, relevant themes. No doubt viewers will be presented with a fine film form Walden media this December, as the second installment of Narnia won’t be ready for realease.

    I’m not certain Pullman had an agenda when he wrote the series as some critics have indicated, but his opinion and perspective on the Christian church do shine through. He makes some good points, and many of the things he indicates about the history and character of the church are too true. However, as I read it felt as though the series was wholly the work of a human being, extremely intellectual in inception, rather than the magical expeience and revelation of truth experienced in so many other well written works of fiction…The fictional works of C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, Madeline L’Engle, Susan Cooper, Stephen Lawhead, Robin McKinley, Lloyd Alexander, and Christopher Paolini do none of them possess the spirit of hate that Pullman’s work seems to posess–though they deal with quests and restoring balance, prophecies and magic, other worlds, good and evil, mythical creatures and humanity. Though the hate is directed at oppression and intolerance there is a spirit of such strong malevolence I was unable to read this straight through. Pullman also addresses sexuality, in a sometimes perverse and contrived manner.

    Divination is employed in the books in several forms, and the reader participates with the characters in this God forbidden practice multiple times in multiple forms–unlike the mechanical magic found in Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and the works of Lloyd Alexander this “magic” is practical and very real in our own world and very tempting to experiment with.

    I read Pullman’s work so that I would not be ignorant in a discussion or debate, for we are commanded by Christ to be wise as serpants, and innoent as doves.

  5. On Lewis.

    I read an article some years back that told the story of how C. S. Lewis and his brother created the world of Narnia when they were boys. They made up stories about the world and various characters, and had various imaginary adventures while growing up together. Thus, in fact, the world of Narnia was conceived of before Lewis wrote the Chronicles, and existed in his mind while he was yet an athiest.

    I have heard some argument that Lewis did not originally intend to write an allegory when he began the Chronicles. But several arguments ensued between himself and friend JRR Tolkien about the story’s allegorical nature. Tolkien despised the device of allegory and it seemed to be clearly present in Lewis’ work whether intended or not.

  6. Karen, Two points: 1. Lewis did not becoem an atheist until he was a young adult. 2. The stories he contrived as a child were NOT about Narnia, but a world called Boxen. There is a book out with this title that has some of the stories and his illustrations. Narnia was not conceived by an atheist.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.