Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Harry Potter and the Supreme Court

I recently went to the movies (one of my favorite pastimes) and saw "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." I must confess that I have read all but the last of the Harry Potter books and have seen all of the movies. It's not that I'm a great fan of either the books or the movies, but I invest my time in them precisely because they are so popular. There is great power in the media, the type of power that was once the exclusive province of the printed word, power to shape minds and attitudes. As a parent and a concerned Christian I feel an obligation to understand what's being promoted philosophically to the wider culture. Call me what you will, but I don't trust the culture to promote what's best for anyone, especially my kids. But I digress...

I found the "Half-Blood Prince" to be visually entertaining, well-paced and for the most part well acted (Not that I'm Siskel or Ebert, mind you). If your idea of entertainment is to spend 2 1/2 hours in a darkened room unplugged from your world then "Half-Blood Prince" will fill the bill nicely. But there is a troubling aspect to the world of Harry Potter that unfortunately has an all to real counterpart to our world.

The Harry Potter stories, at their core, are morality stories. They are about self-discovery, overcoming loss, friendship, and right and wrong. That's precisely where Harry Potter falters and exposes the bankruptcy of the world of Hogwarts. The Harry Potter stories are morality stories with no moral center. In Harry Potter's world there is deception, manipulation, and the taking of life, and ambition among other things. I can hear some asking "How's that different from our world?" The answer lies in the fact that in our world there is, or used to be, a moral foundation that delineated right and wrong, truth and falsehood and other essential fundamentals. This moral foundation provides (or provided) the parameters within which civilization could reasonably operate and made possible the concepts of personal responsibility and social order. While it is true that these concepts exist in the fictional world or Harry Potter, they are not and cannot be sustained because there is no moral foundation upon which they rest. Thus civilization becomes the Darwinian ideal of "survival of the fittest."

By now you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the Supreme Court. Since you asked....

A radio news report today announced that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a suit challenging the legality of a cross shaped monument in the Mojave Desert. The cross, originally erected by a veteran's organization as a part of a memorial to those who died in defense of their country, has been at the center of an eight year long legal battle concerning the "separation of church and state." What's really at state in all this dust up is the moral center of American culture. If the ACLU and their friends get their way not only will public expressions of morality (don't let the drape of religion fool you, this is about the destruction of morality) be outlawed, but eventually the very concept of an overarching moral code will be swept away in favor of a do-it-yourself, make it up as you go along kind of morality.

When, and if, that happens our world will certainly be a mirror image of Harry Potter's world where there is virtually no difference between right and wrong. The Bible tells us that during the time of the Judges that everyone did what was 'right in their own eyes" (see Judges 21:25), which is a prescription for disaster.

Sadly, this is already true for too many who call themselves Christians. As Paul wrote, they have a "form of godliness" but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). A Christian who pays only lip service to the Word of God is really nothing more than an unbeliever in church clothing. We cannot simply pick and choose what we will follow and disregard the rest. The Bible is either the Word of God in its entirety or it's nothing but empty words. Could that be part of the reason that it's almost impossible to tell the difference between most "Christians" and the unbelieving world around them?

Something to think about.

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