The following is a letter by Michael D. O’Brien in response to a mother who wrote to him regarding fantasy literature and its influence on her children. Though she is a person of strong faith, she is finding it increasingly difficult to resist the continuous influx of disordered fantasy and other corrupt cultural influences in her children’s lives. She notes two significant factors in her situation, ones which are probably shared by most families.
The second: they are too young to fully understand why their parents object to this material, especially since it is in the forefront of young people’s interests at this time, including all the families with whom they are acquainted.
This woman’s family is strong in the practice of their faith, and she strives to provide good cultural material, especially reading, in the home. However, the children constantly pressure her to allow them access to objectionable books, films, and videos.
COMBERMERE, Ontario, DEC. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).— As the film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” opened to record box-office receipts, ZENIT turned to renowned Canadian author Michael D. O’Brien to comment on the phenomenon. O’Brien’s works include the novel Father Elijah and a critique of the paganization of children’s culture, A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle for Your Child’s Mind, both by Ignatius Press.
Q: Many are critical of the Harry Potter books because they claim it is dangerous to expose children to witchcraft and the occult. What is your reaction to this?
O’Brien: I have read the four volumes of the Harry Potter series three times, and with each reading the serious defects of the novels appear in clearer light.
The realm of human imagination is a God-given gift, a faculty of the mind that is intended for the expansion of our understanding by enabling us to visualize invisible truths. In the modern era this zone of man’s interior life has moved to the forefront of his experience. With the advent of film, television, and now the near-virtual reality of special effects videos and other electronic entertainment, the screen of the imagination is stimulated to a degree (both in quantity and kind) more than at any other period in history. This has prompted an ongoing debate over what constitutes healthy nourishment of the imagination and what degrades it.
In his essay “On Fairy Stories” J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out that because man is made in the image and likeness of God he is endowed with faculties that reflect his Creator.