I am 22 years old and I have a love for fantasy. Be it the Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, or even Disney movies, I will probably love it. And I have been thinking, as a Christian, how right is it to love these stories? I was in junior high when the evil Harry Potter emerged from the shadows, and I witnessed a large influx of Christians going to great lengths to give reasons why nobody in their right(eous) minds should read these books. As a result, for many years I assumed these books were horrible, and I did not become a fan of the Boy Who Lived until half-way through high school when I finally read the books for myself.
I have witnessed many Christians bash fantasy, mainly stories such as Harry Potter or Twilight—probably because these have been among the most popular. While I can see both the good and bad in these stories, I wonder why we go to such great lengths to speak out against them—and not other things. I wonder how many of these people are willing to sit and watch other movies produced by the Hollywood industry—movies that, I might add, are far more likely to contain language or sexual content than a fantasy movie directed at the younger generation; yes, even more than Twilight. Why is it that when a story includes an element of magic or myth, we only then choose to be wary? I will tell you right now, I love Harry Potter. I also think Edward Cullen is one of the most brilliantly thought-up characters—really. I grew up on Disney movies and continue to love them, and am a little kid at Disney World. I’m a Christian who loves fantasy.
I wonder why the same Christians who speak out against Harry Potter aren’t coming forward to speak against Lord of the Rings. These movies contain elements of magic, wizards, and the mythical. Even Chronicles of Narnia does, although I do realize that this series is a portrayal of the Bible, so if you are wary of fantasy this is a safer option. However, Chronicles of Narnia does contain many mythical creatures, which I find interesting (centaurs, minotaurs, sea monsters, talking animals, trees that are alive, etc). While I definitely am not against fantasy, I don’t believe that people should be consumed with these stories either. There needs to be a balance.
I think that where the real problem arises in fantasy, or any other book or movie, is when we allow it to become the center of our lives. Believe me, I spent three fourths of my Christmas vacation last year reading the Twilight series. It practically consumed me. And that is where I think the problem arises with anything. It becomes our idol, our god, and replaces our time with God. I attribute my obsession with Twilight in December to the beginning of a spiritual dry spell, one which I am still struggling to get out of. But I don’t think that Twilight itself caused it, because I know that I caused it. I take responsibility for it myself, having made the choice to spend hours a day reading the books instead of with God and my family—and not wanting to spend the energy it takes to do what I know I need to.
I’m not here to encourage anyone to start reading Harry Potter or Twilight. Whether or not you think it’s right or wrong is your business, but I suppose I would like for people to think about why Harry Potter is bad, but why a story like Lord of the Rings is ok, or any other movie in Hollywood that might contain “a few” negative elements that are outweighed by the “positive” elements. I simply want to raise the question about Christians’ often selective hatred for the fantasy genre. It is a subject that has bothered me for a few years now, and I wonder why we can’t allow these stories to raise some real questions rather than completely disregard them.
All in all, I think that fantasy is one of those disputable issues spoken of in Romans 14. We so often pass judgment on other Christians for such things. We can be so petty! Be it fantasy, books, movies, or anything, I think that as Christians we have to be very careful. However, I feel that this attitude towards fantasy gives Christians this air of superiority over others. “You watch Harry Potter? But I thought you were a Christian! Surely a good Christian would condemn young Potter and all his wizarding ways. And don’t you know Dumbledore is gay?!” I have gotten a bit of this attitude from Christian friends when they are appalled to find out I’m a fan. We should definitely question things, but I think that Christians are so quick to point fingers toward those who love fantasy. Don't want to watch fantasy? Fine. In the end it's your choice to go by what your convictions are, but think twice about your other entertainment choices before pointing fingers.