Once upon a time, there was a wizard. Though his background was shrouded in mystery, there was little doubt he was the most powerful wizard in the land. He had a deadly enemy, but good friends, including a red headed guy he always hung out with. People that should have loved him, once instead made him spend his nights in a small, prison like room. He rode the backs of winged animals and had a bitter rival who hated him. Christians had an incredibly strong reaction to the books he was in, which were written in the United Kingdom. I am of course talking about …
That’s Gandalf’s story. But it reads a little like Harry Potter’s doesn’t it?
Who knows Gandalf’s back story? It’s as mysterious as Harry’s. (Did you know his last name is MacGargle? True story, Gandalf MacGargle.) Both wizards were powerful and hung out with red heads. Gandalf had Gimli, Harry had Ron. Gandalf was imprisoned on top of the tower by a former friend, Harry was trapped under the stairs by his own family. And Christians have had an incredibly strong reaction to the books.
We love the Lord of the Rings.
We hate the Harry Potter series.
But at the end of the day, they’re both kind of magical. Tolkien was a Christian, so in many ways we weave in Christian theology to Gandalf and the other characters. I think there are a ton of parallels, but I also think we elaborate a little on the story. And Potter author J.K. Rowling? Who knows what, if any, spiritual leanings she has.
The wild card to a debate which I think might have been covered approximately 95 million times prior to this article, is the new theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando.
I am not exaggerating when I say that my brother and I have already talked about going there this December. Our feeling is that to go to a replica of Hogwarts and Harry Potter’s world during the summer wouldn’t make sense. You’ve got to go when it’s cold enough to wear a Gryffindor scarf and you can drink a butterbeer and perhaps get some sort of sweets from Honey Dukes. (Bennett is going to bring his one year old and give the sorting hat a whirl, fingers crossed it doesn’t say “Slytherin!”) Harry Potter never wore shorts that I’m aware of, but that’s beside the point. The point is, I’m going.
I asked my wife about this debate, Harry vs. Gandalf. The first thing she said was that we would not be a family who raised their kids to attend Universal, so great is her love for Disney. The second thing she said was that I couldn’t read the books to our oldest daughter until she was 12. I told her I had a different belief about the likelihood of our pre-pubescent daughter sitting down with her dad to hear a book about magical wizards. But I don’t know if I’m going to read them to her or not.
I don’t love the dark arts undertones and I love the irony of writing about Harry Potter in the same week in which I claim to be getting more conservative. But where are you at on this?
Harry vs. Gandalf.
What do you think about Harry Potter?