Is it wrong to read "Harry Potter"?

Some people seem to think so. Especially if you're looking on the internet for opinions. Cardinal Ratzinger himself (now Pope Benedict XVI) warned extreme caution, that the Harry Potter books could subtly lead one to practices of evil.

COULD is the operative word here.

The Vatican has since recognized value in the Harry Potter series, saying that it shows the clear markation between good and evil, that good triumphs in the end. AND it has recognized that the Harry Potter books aren't really about magic anyway. They're about friendship, loyalty, trust, forgiveness - these are good things, and good values to teach children.

What about all the magic? Witches, monsters, etc. Aren't these evil? Can't they lead children to fascination with the occult, to séances, Oui-ja boards, tarot cards, spell casting, wicca practices, even devil worship? Well, I guess the answer to this would have to be yes - they can. Doesn't mean they WILL, but they can, just like Heavy Metal music, Dungeons and Dragons, ... long list.

CAN. Doesn't mean it WILL. Just that it CAN.

In fact included in such a list would have to be ANY fantasy literature that isn't explicitly Christian.

But here's an interesting point. Early in the last century, two authors decided to write two fantasy series, one of them maintaining that such a series, in order to maintain true Christian values, could only end up being a DIRECT symbolism of the Christian story. The other other believed one could write a fantasy story that wasn't DIRECTLY symbolic of Christianity, while still holding and maintaining good Christian values. The first was C.S. Lewis, his series being the Chronicles of Narnia. The second was his buddy J.R.R. Tolkein, author of the Lord of the Rings.

Now whenever critics, particularly CATHOLIC critics start going after fantasy literature as being evil, they always make an exception of Lord of the Rings. WHY? Because TOLKEIN WAS CATHOLIC. Even though his story was INTENTIONALLY not the Christian story directly, (unlike Narnia with Aslan = Jesus and everything), we're okay with Lord of the Rings in the Catholic church.

Lord of the Rings has wizards, monsters, goblins and orcs, wraths and dragons, all the "evil" things that Harry Potter has. However Lord of the Rings also makes it very clear that power is not an end in itself, that absolute power corrupts, that fascination with power leads to doom, and that the little guy, the weak, the outcast, the small, they can be the heroes.

And it turns out, so does Harry Potter. In fact, if you read all the way to book seven (SPOILER ALERT!), we can find that the young hero is an even closer analogy to Christ than any character found in the Lord of the Rings.

Caution still needs to be exercised. If fascination with supernatural power is our motivation for reading Harry Potter, well, that's a problem. Of course, the same could be said of watching "the Exorcist." But its the fascination with supernatural power that is the problem, not the story itself.

So I think you should read Harry Potter. Heck, who am I kidding. You've probably read it already.