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We finally watched the first Harry Potter video today, and it is worth commenting on.

As entertainment goes, it was first rate. For two and a half hours it is able to hold the attention of small children. The producers have paid meticulous attention to every detail, and filled it with special effects and intricacies enough to keep your attention throughout.

However, the message behind the movie is what most concerns us as Christians. People have said that the movie is harmless, and no more sinister than children's stories have been for decades. The idea of good witches fighting bad witches is not a new idea.

But was that a good idea in the first place? And where did such an idea come from in an otherwise nominally Christian society? If, in our battle with evil and our preparation for the arrival of the Antichrist, we do not accept the principle that evil almost always comes masqueraded as good... or at least as "harmless", then we may be defeated before we begin.

As pointed out in the book "Survivors", because of the devil's pride, he does not want to remain smothered under a sheepskin of good pretences for the rest of eternity. He wants to eventually be worshipped in his most evil manifestations. And so, little by little, he is conditioning people to be more blatant in their worship of him as the Prince of Darkness, the source of fear and hate, the Serpent himself.

In the opening scenes of the Harry Potter movie, the supposedly good angels snuff out the light, communicate with and relate to a huge talking snake, and explain that witches discover their true powers whenever they are angry or afraid. (Fear and hate are the spiritual opposites of faith and love.)

From there on, the film is much less obvious in its promotion for evil, presumably hoping that any religious fanatics like ourselves who point out the obvious in the opening scenes will be shouted down by all the people who found the rest of the movie to be nothing more than "good fun".

But don't forget how much our society has been brainwashed already by the entertainment industry. There was a time when good books taught Christian virtues, whereas now all it takes for a "good movie" is a lot of special effects and visual titillation. Apart from that, what is the real message of "Harry Potter"?

Much of the film's success is because there are so many of us who can identify with Harry. Unlike heroes and heroines of the past, he does not inspire us to be anything other than what we already are. His qualities are far from noble. He has incredible wealth; unlimited sweets and mountains of food appear magically, just as he acquires all of his skills magically... without effort, without discipline, without strength of character. Virtually every rule that is set before him, he breaks. His reaction to danger is always one of fear, and his victory over evil always comes "magically", through no discipline of his own.

Isn't this the secret wish of all of us? That we might be rich, famous, and endued with supernatural power without any effort on our part? Herein lies the success of the Harry Potter series, and the essence of the Serpent's message to Adam, Eve, and each of us ever since.

Christianity, on the other hand, requires a bit more backbone, a free (and often difficult) choice, faithfulness, courage, and sacrificial love.

I trust that we will spend more time filling our heads with those principles than we spend listening to the devil's lies.

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