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steve tomkins
crows nest
By Stephen Tomkins
More Crow's Nests here
When Harry met Jesus
June 2004

With a look of demonic darkness in her eye, she poured the olive oil into a pan. Cackling and possessed by evil she added surgical spirit, and stirred it over the flames. As no eye of newt was to be found in her Madrid flat, she used toothpaste instead. As she muttered occult incantations over her devilish brew, it grew hotter and hotter.

Half an hour later the fire brigade was there, and most of the apartment wasn't. The 21-year-old woman told firefighters she had caused the fire trying to imitate Harry Potter.

An exciting story this, from last July, offering final confirmation of what our more excitable brethren have been warning us for years: Harry Potter leads people into witchcraft and Satanism.

The fact that in six years and 2535 pages, the books that Satan's ABC of Child Destruction calls "the most audacious stunt Satan has ever attempted", have only had one known convert must mean that either the Dark Lord is saying, "Well, that was a big waste of effort, I'm going back to being a personification of evil", or, more likely, it just proves just how subtle his iniquitous machinations are.

The war against Harry has been a heartwarmingly international and ecumenical one.

There was the Pentecostal book-burning in Alamogordo, New Mexico, devoutly keeping the flames of Salem alive, at which Pastor Jack Brock explained, "Harry Potter is the Devil and he is destroying people". He said he hadn't read the books, but had heard a lot about them.

According to the BBC, videos of Disney's Snow White – recruiting for the black arts since 1937 – also joined the bonfire, which is logical, but frustrating when you're trying to write a column like this. When these people take the piss out of themselves, what's a satirist supposed to do?

In Australia, all 60 Seventh-Day Adventist schools banned the books, describing them as "tools of the Devil". And if every parent who gives their child a Harry Potter book is putting the Devil's tool into their hand, what horrors could result?

The creation of a generation of killers, according to Rev. Lori Jo Schepers, of Zeeland, Michigan, whose public schools also banned the books: "What I can expect is those kids, as they mature, have a very good chance of becoming another Dylan Klebold and those guys in Columbine." Or at the very least burning their apartments.

The public library in Tamborine Mountain, in Australia, was also thought to have banned the books after protests from God's loonies, but it turned out instead they were so popular they were never on the shelves. Not much of a story, I know, but if that isn't the most anointed place name on earth, what is?

In an attempt to lure Harry's children into something less demonic, Jerry Yu Ching has written a fantasy children's story, The Greatest King, marketed as the Christian's answer to HP. In fact, it too has "amazing feats of power and magic", but – in the grand tradition of Passion of the Christ – it also has Jesus in it and is therefore a good book.

Better still, Californian poet Janey Hauck has taken up pen against Potter. It's hard to pick just a couple of verses of "Harry Potter or Jesus", but you can read the rest here, and it's every bit as good.

It will masquerade as "good verses evil"
With core values of love and loyalty,
But tucked in between those pages
Is nothing but blatant sorcery.

Children all around the world
Are being caught up in this slaughter;
Each wanting to own a set of "Harry" books
And all the paraphernalia of Potter.

Christian parents rise up and fight!
Your child's spiritual life is at stake.
Does your child want to live at No. 4 Privit Lane
Or with Jesus, entering heavens gate?

Orthodoxy provides a typically surreal contribution to this witchcraft round up, as the Moscow Prosecutor's Office officially investigated the Harry Potter books for "promoting witchcraft and discrediting the Orthodox faith", after reports that they were "drawing students into religious groups of a Satanic type", and (oh, the irony) "contained signs of religious extremism". It took the prosecutor a week to announce there was no case to answer.

Rome's attitude to the books has been more ambivalent. Fr Peter Fleetwood, a spokesperson for the Pontifical Council for Culture, told a press conference he quite liked them, while the Vatican's official exorcist, Fr Gabriele Amorth warned, "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the Devil." Now there's a signature that would bump up the price of a first edition.
also see
hubris 2
Mark Howe's regular rant about Internet culture
strangely warmed
Andrew Rumsey's regular column about the religious life
loose canons
Stephen Tomkins' regular round-up of the saints of yore who were one wafer short of a full communion
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