Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lego Harry Potter

We all recall when the Harry Potter phenomenon started, a few years ago, the big Christian backlash, due to the elements of sorcery. For a while I boycotted it, too, though not for the same reasons: in my typical curmudgeonly backlash against pop-culture teendom phenomenons like Twilight and Beiber, I refused to read the books. But in the end curiousity got the better of me, and once I had read the books, I found them (particularly books 3 and up) entertaining, edifying, and exciting.

Now my boys, at 4 and 6, are of course too young for the movies or the books. But recently, they have begun playing both Lego Harry Potter video games on PS3.
I am quite certain, of course, that many Christian parents would disagree with me exposing my children to this. But last night was a perfect example of why it is valuable.

Throughout the game, they of course knew the basic story--the evil one (Voldemort) had tried to kill Harry as a baby but failed. Then Harry grew up, lived a normal life (for a wizard at least), and eventually battled Voldemort. So when it came to the final level, imagine their shock and horror...when Harry dies. Sacrifices himself willingly to save those around him (the Lego game handled this really well--even without words, the cut scenes made the story clear).

So when my six year old asked, "Is Harry really dead?", I was able to reinforce the Christ-story. I was able to tell them how this story reminds us of a real story from long ago: Jesus' story. The devil tried to kill Jesus as a baby, just like Voldemort attacks Harry. Jesus grew up and lived a normal life, just like Harry did. And just like Harry, Jesus had to die so that the evil one could be defeated for his friends' sake.

My six year old "got it". You could see his little mind putting together the pieces of the Messianic metaphor as I was telling the story. And (I'm proud to say) my four year old immediately saw the implication--"And Daddy, let me tell ya something. Jesus didn't stay dead. So Harry Potter doesn't stay dead either, right?"

They were thrilled, then, to see Harry return and defeat the evil one, and everyone live happily ever after.

This example is just one of many where engaging our culture (rather than separating ourselves from it) is actually very valuable for us as parents. It is a mistake for Christians to separate themselves too much from the world's literature and movies. Because here is the truth: every story that someone comes up with is just a derivation of the one Great Story.

The Messianic Archtype--the hero who sacrifices himself innocently to create a path for the salvation of others--is directly derived from Christ's story, and points to it. Consider pre-Christian literature, which is notably void of this archtype. Yet in modern literature, it is actually difficult for an author (even an avowed atheist!) to write a story which will touch and appeal to us without including at least some of this archtype.

So you see the Gospel, then, it virtually any method of media. You have Harry in the Potter series; Frodo in the Lord of the Rings; Superman; Neo in the Matrix; Mufasa in the Lion King; etc.,

In our increasingly anti-Christian, New Atheist culture, I see these "types of Christ" as a very valuable teaching method. Don't let them pass you by.

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