While in my own novels, I deal with pagan gods, both Norse and Greek, the protagonist who is of course flawed, is moving from the pagan world and in the end to the Christian one–and so are many other principal characters who had been pagans and sinners.
Award–winning journalist Richard Abanes clears away the confusion many readers experience over fantasy books and films. He delves into the differences between various forms of fantasy and digs out answers needed by every parent, youth worker, teacher, and student.
Part of the reason I chose to write my own novels although they feature (obviously nonexistent gods, who nevertheless while flawed venerate God) was in response to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series; the first novel features a televangelist being punished by the Ancient Greek god of the dead Hades and subsequent novels in this series and other Riordan series clearly has the human soul subject to the power of either Greek, Norse, or Egyptian deities and not God. My books will never sell in the millions of copies, as do Riordan’s and Rowling’s, not merely because of the lack of coordinated large scale promotion, but also because the consequence that we truly are in a post-Christian age and my perspective is less attractive to young people than Rowling and Riordan.
In addition, Riordan most recently has written works that promote the transgender agenda, and that concerns me given his target audience is so young. Riordan has written on his site:
I was honored to attend the Stonewall Award ceremony today at the American Library Association meeting in Chicago. Magnus Chase 2: The Hammer of Thor, won the children’s book award for “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience” because of the character of Alex Fierro. I had such a great time meeting young folks, librarians and other award-winning and honor-winning authors!
Where did I get the nerve to write Alex Fierro, a transgender, gender fluid child of Loki in The Hammer of Thor, and why should I get cookies for that?
These are all fair and valid questions, which I have been asking myself a lot.
I think, to support young LGBTQ readers, the most important thing publishing can do is to publish and promote more stories by LGBTQ authors, authentic experiences by authentic voices. We have to keep pushing for this. The Stonewall committee’s work is a critical part of that effort. I can only accept the Stonewall Award in the sense that I accept a call to action – firstly, to do more myself to read and promote books by LGBTQ authors.
But also, it’s a call to do better in my own writing. As one of my genderqueer readers told me recently, “Hey, thanks for Alex. You didn’t do a terrible job!” I thought: Yes! Not doing a terrible job was my goal!
As important as it is to offer authentic voices and empower authors and role models from within LGBTQ community, it’s is also important that LGBTQ kids see themselves reflected and valued in the larger world of mass media, including my books. I know this because my non-heteronormative readers tell me so. They actively lobby to see characters like themselves in my books. They like the universe I’ve created. They want to be part of it. They deserve that opportunity. It’s important that I, as a mainstream author, say, “I see you. You matter. Your life experience may not be like mine, but it is no less valid and no less real. I will do whatever I can to understand and accurately include you in my stories, in my world. I will not erase you.”
The stories of Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling—and films based on them—have touched millions of lives. How are these authors similar…and different? Where do they fit into today’s ever–growing desire for the mystery and magic fantasy provides? Abanes—himself a fantasy and science–fiction fan—helps shed light on this form of entertainment and its effects on today’s youth.
Readers will come away thoroughly equipped to differentiate between stories and films that are harmless, even inspiring—and those containing spiritual dangers. See this.
Abanes, in an interview with Tim Challies, tells why he is worried about the Harry Potter series:
My concern about the Harry Potter books is two-fold: 1) by J.K. Rowling’s own admission, the books contain references to real-world occult symbolism, lore, subjects, practices, and beliefs that she has gleaned from her hobby-like study of things like occultism, witchcraft, and magick (this is verified and documented); 2) the ethics and morality in the series exalt relativism—i.e., there seems to be no objective standard of right and wrong. If the good characters in the book feel like something is just fine (or fun), then they simply do it, even though it may be bad/wrong (e.g., the good characters habitually lie, steal, cheat, use foul language, break laws, deceive each other, behave hypocritically, and have no problem pursuing revenge). The books do not strive to show kids a better way, they instead, appeal to their most basic/naturalistic instincts: e.g., crass/gross humor, the desire for revenge, the want for power over adults.
Some people say, “So what?” But my worry is that children—who we all know tend to copy what they think is cool, or fun, or exciting—will begin emulating some of the poor ethical/moral behaviors exalted in Harry Potter as well as some of the occult aspects of the books. This is not a far-fetched concern. Kids are already copying various aspects of the series: e.g., registrations for boarding schools in England have sky-rocketed; a surge in buying owls for pets has taken place; and one group of kids had to be rushed to the hospital after mixing a poisonous “potion” and drinking—all in direct response to Harry Potter. We also have a 2002 Barna survey that found 12% of kids who saw the Harry Potter movies were more interested in witchcraft. And, most alarming, is how REAL wiccans/occultists/neopagans are writing their own pro-occult and pro-witchcraft books (both fiction and non-fiction) and using the popularity of Harry Potter books to lure young readers to their materials. Clearly, concerns about Harry Potter are not misplaced.
My book also debunks the absurd view of Harry Potter offered by the likes of John Granger, Connie Neal, and Francis Bridger, and John Killinger—i.e., the claim that Harry Potter is actually a Christian series in the tradition of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. In a nutshell, their assertions are plagued by a myriad of flaws that can be distilled down to two main issues: 1. The plainest reading of Harry Potter reveals that it is not a depiction of anything Christian, but instead, is a depiction of the magick worldview. (This has been confirmed by Witches, occultists, and neopagans.) 2. Rowling herself has explained both her work and her faith in ways that clearly contradict the assertions being made by the “Harry-Potter-is-really-Christian” group of supporters.
Should Christian children and/or adults read them? Well, what adults do is between them and God. I could no more tell an adult Christian to not read the books than tell them to not go see an R-rated movie, or not have a glass of wine with spaghetti. Reading Harry Potter as an adult, I think, would fall into the category of a freedom not explicitly discussed in scripture. Children, on the other hand, need guidance. But guiding someone else’s child is not my job. My job is to get good, solid, documented information about Harry Potter to parents, then, it is their decision. Personally, however, I do think it is a very poor idea to have some kids, particularly younger ones (e.g., ages 6-10), reading the books—especially the latter volumes (4, 5, 6, 7), which become progressively darker and more violent.
In addition, in Albanes’s book Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings: What You Need to Know About Fantasy Books and Movies, he observes that in numerous book stores, books on witchcraft are right on the shelf next to Harry Potter books, enticing the young into the occult.
In fact, the Occult is having ever greater influence; in a “Post Christian” America, bizarre beliefs are taking its place. As Tara Isabella Burton states in her piece The Rise of Progressive Occultism:
More importantly, however, AOC’s gambit taps into the way in which progressive millennials have appropriated the rhetoric, imagery, and rituals of what was once called the “New Age”—from astrology to witchcraft—as both a political and spiritual statement of identity.
For an increasing number of left-leaning millennials—more and more of whom do not belong to any organized religion—occult spirituality isn’t just a form of personal practice, self-care with more sage. Rather, it’s a metaphysical canvas for the American culture wars in the post-Trump era: pitting the self-identified Davids of seemingly secular progressivism against the Goliath of nationalist evangelical Christianity.
There’s the coven of Brooklyn witches who publicly hexed then-Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh to the acclamation of the thousands-strong “Magic Resistance”—anti-Trump witches (among them: pop singer Lana del Rey) who used at-home folk magic to “bind” the president in the months following his inauguration. There are organizations like The Satanic Temple —newly featured in Penny Lane’s 2019 documentary Hail Satan—a “nontheistic religion” and activist group that uses its religious status to demand for its black-robe-clad members the same protections afforded to Christians in the hopes of highlighting the ridiculousness of faith-based exceptions (Satanic prayer in schools, say). There are dozens of Trump-era how-to spellbooks that blend folk magic with activist practice: the 2018 anthology The New Arcadia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance; Michael Hughes’s 2018 Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change; David Salisbury’s 2019 Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance (Includes Spells for Social Justice, Civil Rights, the Environment, and More); and Sarah Lyons’s forthcoming Revolutionary Witchcraft: A Guide to Magical Activism. There are hundreds of thousands of users of witch-popular blogging platforms like Tumblr and Instagram, which at the moment boasts 8.5 million photographs hashtagged “#witch.”
People’s lack of traditional faith as demonstrated in the examples cited tend to support that lacking a belief in God leaves one open to believing in monstrosity.
Tourists that visit the Colosseum in Rome these days are getting quite a shock. A gigantic statue of a pagan Canaanite deity known as “Molech” has been erected right at the entrance. In ancient times, those that served Molech would literally sacrifice their children to him, and apparently this involved burning them to death. And now a massive statue of this pagan idol is the centerpiece of a new “archaeological exhibition” at the world famous Roman Colosseum. Yes, the exact same Colosseum where countless numbers of Christians were martyred for their faith is now the home for one of the most monstrous pagan deities that the world has ever seen.
I know that this sounds almost too strange to be true, but this is actually happening. The following comes from the official press release for this “exhibition”…