Stores such as Hastings in Clovis have already started gearing up for the release of the newest Harry Potter book. CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson
By Leslie Radford: CNj staff writer
Since the release of the first Harry Potter book in the mid-1990s, J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular tales of sorcery and witchcraft have been viewed by some to promote Satanism and turn children against the word of God.
With that in mind, author and educator Don Alexander wrote a Christian alternative to Harry Potter called “Darnia’s Quest: A Spiritual Journey To Awaken Your Imagination.” It was released earlier this year.
Alexander thinks his Christian fantasy novel can turn youngsters to reading as easily as the Potter series and essentially strengthen their faith in the Lord.
“My main objective with this book is to get kids souls, to turn them Christ,” Alexander said. “I truly believe the enemy is working overtime in Harry Potter and we, as adults and parents, need to take control. Dar’s quest is based on a walk with Christ and may ultimately be the difference between a 9-year-old following Christ or not.”
Alexander said “Darnia’s Quest” is based on a passage from Matthew 19:26.
Alexander said he has not read Harry Potter books for numerous reasons that revolve around his religious beliefs and childhood experiences with witchcraft that ultimately influenced the story of Darnia. He did say however, Potter is popular among students at the school in California where he is principal.
“It makes me sad in my heart to see these kids reading Harry Potter,” he said. “From my experience having been lured to a neighbor’s home as a child where there was a seance going on and seeing what all was involved in witchcraft, I hope that someday people will realize the detrimental effect this type of literature is having on our children and recall her (J.K. Rowling) books.”
Portales teacher Annette Oviedo disagrees Harry Potter is a bad influence on children.
“Where would we be without Mark Twain, without “To Kill a Mockingbird?” asks Oviedo. “These are examples of things they have tried to ban in the past. They all have a place in literary history and they are marvelous books that get your imagination going. I don’t believe that my child will become evil just because she reads Harry Potter.”
As an educator and mother of two young girls, Oviedo said the Potter series does encourage reading, but thinks parents should decide what literature is appropriate for their children.
“I think my girls (who are four and six years old) are too young to read Harry Potter,” she said. “However, I think it is important for parents to review what their children area reading and make sure it is age appropriate. I might read the series to my girls instead of letting them read it on their own so that I can explain to them what exactly is happening in the story and then there’s no confusion. This is a book based on fantasy, nothing more.”
Pastor Bonita Knox of Trinity Lutheran Church in Clovis thinks that children comprehend the difference between factual and fictional situations. She does not believe Harry Potter has such a strong hold on children’s thoughts as society thinks.
“I think children are capable of disassociating (reality from imagination),” Knox said. “I think it is more or less adults that impose on our children what they think (is right and wrong). I’m sure that children in our Sunday school class have read Harry Potter and really, it is the responsibility of the parents to decide what is appropriate to read or not.”
Knox said she has not had the opportunity to read the Harry Potter series as she has other books on her priority list.
Alexander said as an educator, he has seen the “side-effects” of children who read Harry Potter.
“Those who read it seemed to always be looking for a thrill,” he said. “They got bored and mad easily. I believe we’re talking about enemy territory here and need to look for alternatives.”