Q. What about the martial arts? Is it okay for a Christian to learn and practice them?
There is not a simple yes or no answer to this. First, one must consider the teacher and how it's being taught. Question the teacher and ask what his spiritual beliefs are (not what his religion is), does he teach about the 'chi' energy in the class, and does he see the movements working due to the chi/life force? Does the teacher incorporate these views in the lessons? Does the teacher require meditation? If so, I would see this as very problematic. If the teacher is teaching only physical movements for protection and is not teaching about the chi, then that could be okay if you are comfortable with it. Secondly, one must consider the type of martial art you want to learn: There are 'soft martial arts' such as Tai Chi and Aikido that cannot be separated from the belief systems behind them. These are more spiritually based and would be problematic for the Christian. The hard martial arts such as judo, karate, and some others, might be okay if spiritual ideas are not incorporated and chi or qi is not presented as essential to the lessons. To understand about the chi or qi, see the CANA article on Yin and Yang and the article described below:
The Christian magazine, the CRI (Christian Research Institute) Journal, did a series of three articles on the martial arts. You can access these online by going to their site at www.equip.org and typing in "martial arts" in the Search box.
Q. There is nothing wrong with breaking rules and lying in the Harry Potter books because Harry is fighting evil. After all, many people lied during the Holocaust to save Jews who were being sent to the death camps.
Harry usually lies for his own pleasure (going to Hogsmeade) or to get out of trouble. He even lies to his friends Lupin and Hermione. He also cheats on the Triwizard Tournament. None of these lies are justified. Harry rarely is punished or suffers for his wrongdoing. For Harry and his friends, the ends justify the means. See the Harry Potter articles on this site where this is documented from the books.
Q. Why is it so wrong for Harry Potter to lie or disobey? After all, everyone has done this!
Yes, everyone has done this. But lying or doing something wrong, then regretting it or suffering the consequences for it is one thing, while lying or doing something wrong and getting away with it, or not regretting it, or not suffering the consequences, is a totally different thing. To have a hero in a children's book who lies and does not deal with the consequences is a dangerous teaching for children. In fact, in the Harry Potter books, Harry is sometimes rewarded for lying, cheating, and disobedience. Sure, kids will love this ? they don't want rules and would love to get away with wrongdoing with no punishment. Children might eat ice cream for supper, stay up all night, or wander the streets if not restrained. Does that make it okay? Having a boy who gets rewarded for doing something forbidden and dangerous as an example only encourages the idea that it's okay to get away with doing wrong.
Q. If you are concerned about Harry Potter, then what about Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and other fairy tales?
None of these fairy tales, as told in today's popular versions, endorse the study and practice of the occult. None of them depict heroes or heroines who consistently lie, act in mean-spirited ways, or seek revenge. None of them depict the central character studying occult arts.
Q. How are Tolkien and Lewis different from Harry Potter?
This answer cannot address all the differences, but will address some of the main ones involving the occult. The characters in Tolkien who have powers have them inherently; that is, they don't learn them through occult study or methods. Also, these characters, such as Gandalf, are not human but are part of angelic type beings created by Tolkien. The use of these powers is not a central focus in either Tolkien or Lewis, and their central characters do not practice the occult. I see no parallels between the references to Gandalf's powers and to the active and ongoing study of real occult practices present in Harry Potter. Harry is learning divination - including astrology, arithmancy (a type of numerology), spell casting, and potions. These things are not fictional nor are they fantasy; they exist today and information on how to learn and practice them is easy to find. Furthermore, there is a moral center in both Tolkien and Lewis that is lacking in Harry Potter. In Tolkien, in fact, one of the themes is the corruption of power as seen in the contact Bilbo and Frodo have with the Ring. Their desire to use the Ring's power pulls them toward evil, and the Ring corrupts character; therefore, the central characters develop integrity and character in resisting the temptation of the Ring. In Harry Potter, we see Harry increasing his power through knowledge of spells and magick in order to fight Voldemort. In Tolkien, the heroes must resist the use of power; in Harry Potter, it is sought after and admired. Additionally, in HP, the power is tied into actual occultic practices, and the source of power for both Harry and Voldemort is the same.
It is my view, as a former Literature major and as one who has read and written stories and poems since quite a young age, that the literary quality of both Tolkien and Lewis far surpass Rowling. In fact, the differences are so great, I find it difficult to even compare them.
For a more detailed look at a comparison between Harry Potter, C. S. Lewis' Narnia series, and Tolkien's books, see Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books, Movies and Games by Richard Abanes, available from Amazon, Christian Book Distributors and other book outlets.