Posted in Harry Potter, movies


My group of friends and I refer to all things Harry Potter as the books or movies that must not be named because many in the Christian community do not think the Harry Potter series is suitable for children (but Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia are?) and the phrase is a play on words… the evil character in the book is called He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named …but I’m off topic already.

I have debated people who think the Harry Potter series is evil and I’m rather tired of debating the series with people who haven’t read the series or who have and refuse to see it as what it is – fiction, good fiction, and a fantasy that is beloved around the world…so I’ll direct you to John Grainger, a Christian father who has a lot to say about finding God in Harry Potter…and he says it much better than I am sometimes able to.

That said, I’ll do my movie review now. 🙂

Posted in Harry Potter, movies, pop culture


I finally viewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix this morning. Before I dive into the movie, I want to comment about my movie experience.

I used to get a kick out of seeing movies on opening night with 6-10 of my friends. We’d get there early, plan out our strategy for getting the seats we wanted, then we’d stand in line an hour or two (or sit and play cards or talk). That was always fun because of the company.

I went through a period in my life when movies were seriously an extra that I didn’t have money for, and my movie buddies have moved on (and in many cases, moved out of the city). Now that I can afford to see a movie here or there, I reserve my movie money for the sci-fi flicks or special effects marvels that must be seen on the big screen. Otherwise, I just wait for the movie to come out on video and watch it in the comfort of my own home.

That said, Harry Potter movies are an in-theater must see. I don’t mind going to movies alone, so I decided I’d go to the first movie showing this morning at 9:45. I arrived at 9:20, got the fourth parking spot in, and walked into the very thinly populated theater lobby. I bought my ticket and went to the bathroom one last time (knowing I’d have to wait 2 1/2 hours to go again) then bought breakfast – a small popcorn (which costs a small fortune, but I had a movie gift card, no worries).

In a theater made for at least 300 people, this first showing of the day already had at least 20 people scattered throughout and by the time the movie started the theater was at least 1/3 full. I had the seat I wanted, there were no noisy people around me and everyone turned their cell phones off when Forrest Whitaker and AT&T told them to.

The only thing that made my experience any less than wonderful was wondering why anyone would bring a small child to a PG-13 movie that promised violence and death. There were many small children there (age 10 or less), and while I know people who take their kids to these movies (but I’m not talking 5 year olds), I also know they’ve read the books (the kids and parents), they’ve talked about the movies and know what to expect. It will never cease to amaze me to be in a theater full of kids, when the even the previews for other movies for this PG-13 movie scream that this experience is not for small children. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

I don’t envy the screenwriter who has to take a 870 page novel and squeeze a 2:15 minute movie out of it, but this adaptation of the doorstop-sized book rises to the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie from beginning to end, and though the movie takes liberties with events (out of sequence, squeezed together) and some important actions are attributed to other characters (the betrayal of the D. A.), – which keeps the number of peripheral characters down – the movie stays true to the spirit of the book and would not have the stamp of approval from the novel’s author JK Rowling if it didn’t.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who don’t read the books but see the movies. I encourage anyone to read the books to get a fuller picture of Harry Potter’s world, because, as all movie adaptations go, they have a limited amount of time to work with, and details sometimes get left out in the movies that makes the whole experience richer. Reading the books in this series and then seeing the movies will take the experience from fuzzy rabbit-ear antenna to high definition.

By the end of the movie, I was satisfied with the storytelling and can now visualize the books even more fully. So many times I wanted to slap Dumbledore (that’s another blog entry) for ignoring Harry, and I often wanted to hug Harry and tell him that he’s not alone. I was impressed by the Ministry of Magic and the Department of Mysteries, and the Wand Duelling near the end gave me a whole new understanding of the nuances of the wand and how it really is an extension of the arm. It’s more than just swish and flick.

One scene in the movie was deeply poignant between Harry and his godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius says to him (and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the screenplay in front of me) that it’s not DeathEater versus good or light versus dark, because “we all have good and evil within us, it’s which part we choose to act on that matters.”

That phrase is central to the Harry Potter world. Just as in the last movie when Dumbledore (who is still in line for slapping) tells Harry that the time has come when he will have to choose between “what is right, and what is easy,” Harry learns that the difference between him and Lord Voldemort (aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) is that he knows love and friendship, and Voldemort hasn’t and won’t. Harry has something worth fighting for, and Voldemort doesn’t. Harry chooses to act on the side of the good. The movie ends with Harry knowing that Voldemort’s defeat rests largely on his angsty teenage shoulders, but he’s not alone in the fight.

Another part of the movie that really drew a spiritual parallel for me were the scenes of the students learning Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dolores Umbridge (who was played to pink, sadistic, control freak perfection by Imelda Staunton) has decided that the students need to learn about Defense Against the Dark Arts so they can pass their tests, but the students do not need to learn how to use the spells to defend themselves.

How many people can quote Scripture but don’t know how to use it when they are under attack? It’s important to know the Word, but it’s equally, if not more important to know what to do with it and how to bring to life what it tells a person to do. Of course, if someone is raised in an environment where evil is ignored, why should they know about the armor of God, or how to protect themselves with God’s word?

Umbridge is merciless in her pursuit of keeping the kids in a safe, sterile environment where the mention of the reason actual application of the spells needed to protect themselves is cause for punishment. When Harry suggests that the evil they all fear not only exists, it’s back in the form of Voldemort, Umbridge makes Harry endure a painful detention where he writes “I must not tell lies,” on a piece of parchment and it’s etched, painfully, into his skin, and she makes him continue until it “sinks in.”

Hermione decides that they need to know how to protect themselves, and if Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic won’t show them how, they need to learn it themselves.

I don’t see this as the big teenage rebellion over authority that many reviewers have. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad example for kids. If you are a child and you know you are in danger, and the adults in your life won’t protect you, you must learn how to do it yourself. I know this firsthand.

In the Room of Requirement, Harry finally finds a purpose. All of his pain, all he has been through, all he has learned from facing evil, he can pass on to others. He can help his friends learn to defend themselves from the danger he has experienced personally. Even Neville Longbottom, the clumsy, accident prone teenage wizard learns to believe he can defend himself. Armed with these tools, these kids can now face evil with the belief that they can defeat it.

I still don’t see why people think lessons like that are evil, but I may never understand that mindset…another soapbox for another day.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was an enjoyable experience. I watched all the way through to the end of the credits. Two other people were left in the theater and we spoke briefly about how well this movie was adapted from the book and then we talked about Book 7 and my plans to try and read it within 24 hours of it’s release (because I don’t want the ending spoiled!).

I can’t wait until Friday night so I can get book 7 and find out how the series ends!

Posted in commentary, movies, pop culture


Even with all the hype surrounding the book The DaVinci Code, the movie came and went with a yawn (though it was a very lucrative yawn). The controversy generated that brought the pre-movie hype to a fever pitch seemed to fade away overnight. Truth be told, I was over-saturated by the controversy, the hype and all the books that sought to “break the code,” or “debunk the code,” (and books like that are still coming out) so I still have had no desire to see the movie yet.

Therefore, unlike the woman who has never read a Harry Potter book but wants them banned from her kids’ public school library because she believes they are evil (HP Controversy), I will not comment on something I haven’t seen and therefore do not have firsthand knowledge of. This review of sorts will make no references to The DaVinci Code the movie.

I did, however, finally read Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code. About a week ago, I was in Wal-Mart at about midnight after babysitting to pick up some household items and saw the mass market paperback edition in the checkout line available for less than $5. My curiosity got the best of me and I had wanted to read it (otherwise, how could I give an informed opinion on it?), so I purchased it.

I can see why The DaVinci Code has sold over 40 million copies. It’s a very well-written work of fiction and I read it as such. I read it in about three days. It was very difficult to put the book down even as my eyes drooped from tiredness at the end of the day. The DaVinci Code is a page turner in every way. Action. Intrigue. Mystery. An intellectual thriller. Many of my friends who have read the book have commented on how the book draws you in, holds your interest, and doesn’t let go until the very end. Though I found it somewhat predictable, it was still a great read.

Now for the controversy part. Did I mention that The DaVinci Code is sold in the fiction section in bookstores and is also catalogued as such? Yet many in the Christian community feel the Gospel is threatened or that people are being led astray by this work of fiction. Why?

I have searched the book’s prologue thoroughly and I still don’t see the phrase(s) in which many Christian commentators have asserted that this is where Dan Brown says that this fiction book is true, especially the parts about Jesus Christ. Misquotes have abounded and fanned the flames of controversy surrounding this book.

Author Dan Brown merely states in his prologue that the two historical Christian groups mentioned in the book are real (the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei) and the “descriptions of the art, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” That’s it.

Many people did not read the book and freaked out over their trusted Christian commentators’ assertions that what Dan Brown has said about the deity and life of Christ described in his book are true. Hence the umpteen books published on breaking and debunking the code that flooded the market from the time the book was first released until this very moment.

What gets me, really, about The DaVinci Code controversy is that many in the Christian community have gotten up in arms about how the life of Christ is portrayed (and do I need to say it again?) in this fiction book. Granted, what is said in The DaVinci Code about Christ goes directly against what the Bible says and what has been believed for centuries. But again, The DaVinci Code is fiction, right? Can one fiction book take on the Bible?

If, as a Christian, you believe in the inerrant word of God, then how can one little fiction book (or movie) change your mind about what you believe? What, as a Christian culture, are you so afraid of? If, as a Christian, you believe that the word of God is the truth and is the same yesterday, today and forever, do you really think Dan Brown and his 40 million copies of fiction can change that?

No. And yet the books and pamphlets abound.

Giving your neighbor a book or pamphlet (that he didn’t ask for by the way) about how awful The DaVinci Code paints the church is only going to make him wonder what you’re afraid of… because your neighbor knows The DaVinci Code is fiction. If he reads the pamphlet, he wonders why his eternal soul is in question because this book has been published. He wonders why people are protesting this work of fiction when there are children starving in Africa, or even down the street. People are more impressed by words more than actions anyway (“I was hungry and you fed me,” vs. “I was hungry and you preached at me,” but that’s another topic all together).

What is the Christian community really afraid of? Well, from what I’ve seen (and read), it’s ignorance of the word of God within their own ranks. Most Christians are ill equipped to handle The DaVinci Code, because they do not know the Bible well enough to tell fact from fiction and they are afraid that their “less educated” non-Christian friends/neighbors know even less and might believe The DaVinci Code might actually be more truth than fiction.

The book’s controversy really does cast a light on a very sensitive area within the church. Many Christians attend services, but fewer read and study the Bible. They depend on the man behind the pulpit to teach them all they need to know, and quite frankly, that is much more frightening to me than the insinuations made The DaVinci Code.