|Photo by FadderUri|
The words that have always carried considerable meaning regarding evil don't carry the same weight in a foreign language. "Witch" and "sorcery" made my dark list in English, but in Spanish? They're "bruja" and "hechiceria" which fail to conjure images of the magic-hatted, green-skinned accomplice of the Devil, or something worse. Regardless of my theological position against all things hechiceria, the added cultural weight of these terms didn't make it through the translator.
In part, this has permitted me to ponder more objectively the brouhaha about Harry Potter and his symbolic relationship with Jesus, as well as the philosophical and theological divisions in the Church about what is light and what is dark. I've made a few illustrations below to show you what I mean.
First, when I read Harry Potter, I automatically place items, characters and actions into two general categories. Of course, I could split some characters into sub-categories since they aren't always good and aren't always bad (Voldemort excluded, unless you consider his desire to learn or his ability to cultivate as essentially good things regardless of his intentions). But to keep things simple, I do the following while reading:
(If Hermione and Voldemort turn out differently in the end, humor me for now.) I do the same with items, characters and actions I'd consider Christian. The Bible, with all of the bad stuff in it, is holy and perfectly good. The financial rating of our local Christian TV station, on the other hand, falls just shy of 60% which is a big fat F. Don't get me started on the way they do fund-raising, which I can't imagine Jesus would ever endorse. So I categorize here too:
Put the two together and I run into questions, which I think are the same ones other people run into. Consider the recent debate going on in the comments of an article about Steve Jobs at TheHighCalling.org: Were his acts eternally good or eternally bad or perhaps only temporarily good? Is it eternally good to do good to your neighbor only if you're a follower of Jesus, or does love count for the good-producing heathen as well?
Or consider the controversy around Christianity Today's reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I've avoided reading spoilers so far, but I'm aware of the rebuttals). Many of us are hesitant to condone or condemn when light and dark look so similar that they tie our moral hands together. So is it like the following, with gradations of good and bad?
Or this, which doesn't try to equate Hermione with the Bible, per se, but considers that good can't exist outside of God's goodness, even if that goodness falls within the traditional category of bad, which would mean that both the Bible and Hermione are good and both local Christian TV and Voldemort are bad?
Or is there another position altogether?