This month, my new book Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture has been published by Fides et Traditio publishers.
To read more about the book and to obtain information for ordering it, please visit the studiobrien website home page, and click on the "Read More" link beneath the book cover illustration.
The public discussion about the phenomenal development of neopagan fantasy for young readers and film-goers has been curiously one-sided, lacking the tools of discernment that Christians normally employ when considering cultural material for their families. It is my hope that Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture will broaden the parameters of the debate, as we examine in greater depth the right use and and the misuse of symbols, stories, and the life of the imagination.
The corruption of Christian civilization’s symbols is a centuries-old phenomenon, yet until the modern age the mutations and inversions, along with the making of new diabolic symbologies, remained on the fringes of society in secret societies and small esoteric cults. Now the culture of the cults is visible everywhere, and with the Harry Potter series is entering (and captivating) the mainstream. Through it, the corruption of symbols has moved to a new level of influence, and it has done so on a scale that is unprecedented in the history of literature.
If we lose the language of true symbolism, we lose at a basic level of consciousness our way of knowing things as they are. Symbols are not items in some storage room or attic of the psyche that we can take up and discard at will, or rearrange without consequences. To tamper with them is to destabilize the very foundations of the house. While most Christians would never knowingly exchange symbols of evil for symbols of good, many have accepted a new realm of eclectic symbology that allows a mixture of good and evil symbols to influence their thoughts and feelings. But two contradictory symbol worlds cannot long remain in a state of peaceful co-existence within us. Either one or the other will come to dominate and will eventually demand the expulsion of the other.
From the introduction by Bishop Julian Porteous, exorcist and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia:
"The influence of the Harry Potter series is complex because the universe created in it is one of the occult, and it reveals an ambivalent morality at work. Like nature there are laws which govern the moral life. There is an objective moral order to the universe—parents instinctively know this. The fantasy world needs to reinforce the laws of the moral universe. Every human being engages in a moral journey, and it is important that each individual has good guideposts to help him find the way. This is particularly important in the early formation of children.
"I have long had serious reservations about the spiritual underpinning to the Harry Potter series. Like Michael O’Brien, I believe Catholic parents need to be alerted to the possible negative influences that these books can have on the moral and spiritual formation of their children. Any parent concerned about the formation of the character of their children should read this book."
Please pray that this book will help families to become more aware of the challenges involved in children’s and young adult’s cultural material, and will help them in their discernment.
God bless you one and all in Christ our saviour,