Monday, November 14, 2011

The Harry Potter Bible Study – Jared Moore

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Jared Moore is the pastor of New Salem Baptist church in Hustonville, KY. I am most familiar with the “Ten” lists and other articles that frequently appear on SBC Voices. Recently, when he was offering copies of his new (now just-released) Bible study utilizing the Harry Potter movies as a connecting point, I was both intrigued and interested, so I signed up for a copy.

This study is designed to cover six weeks, and makes use of only the last four of the eight films (the ones based on the last three of the novels starring the wizard extraordinaire). One of the things that I really liked about this book was the outlying concept—instead of lambasting all media, Christians should take an opportunity to measure the media (movies, books, magazines, television, etc.) by Scripture. His admonition—judge the ideas put forth in light of Christ, keep what works, discard what does not. It gives Christians and the Christian community the permission (if that’s a good word) to view/read what their non-Christian friends are viewing/reading and interact with them on a perhaps even deeper level than was originally intended by the creator(s) of the media.

Weeks 1 and 2 provide some background into what Moore is trying to accomplish in the study and are to be read and studied before watching (or re-watching) the movies. He suggests that there is some value in either reading or watching Harry Potter literature/films. He also readily admits that there are some elements addressed in the Potter media that are decidedly not what Christians should espouse or practice (the concept of revenge comes quickly to mind).

The final four chapters deal—one at a time—with each of the final four movies. Those engaging with the books will want to watch the films before reading the lesson—if you’re using the material as a small group study, you will want to watch the movie together then use that viewing as a springboard guided by the questions posed in the study. Moore’s advice: watch the film before reading the chapter dealing with that film because these chapters contain spoilers that might ruin your film viewing.

There are a couple of drawbacks that I find to this study (even if I am excited about the concept):
1) The author suggests that you use this study to engage your non-Christian friends in a discussion (and possibly an evangelistic one) about Christ. He even states that he includes strong gospel presentations in the material. Yes, and no. There are questions that are pointedly written to draw a Christ-accepting decision from the participant. The presentation of the gospel message does not always flow from the discussion material at hand.
2) The discussion surrounding the movies themselves doesn’t start until the third lesson. If you are planning on convincing a group of non-Christians, pseudo-Christians, or baby Christians that you want to have meaningful discussion about the movies (which includes a “watch” party, complete with popcorn and soda) it would behoove you to start watching the movies early on.
3) The questions raised by the author are relevant and poignant, but often through the reading of the material one has to scratch his head at why the author is raising such a question.
4) Probably the most glaring of difficulties I had with this goes back to using the material to present the gospel. Most of the questions raised for discussion deal with issues that would only be important to those who are already Christians or are already in (or open to) a Christian environment. If we really want to bridge the gap between Christians and the outside community, there might be better places to start.

Having said this, I think that the concept and the study itself are good to use—mostly in a setting dealing with churched and Christian young people as a means to open discussions about actively living the Christian life. I think that the material will find its greatest appeal among workers with Middle School students to help them address issues such as lying, revenge, and jealousy. With this in mind, I actually wish he had made the study longer and started with the first movie in the series—including them all. I give the study 3 ½ reading glasses out of five.
—Benjamin Potter, November 14, 2011

[An electronic form of this book was made available by the author for the purposes of review. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review all opinions are that of the reviewer.]

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