Harry Potter...agent of Lucifer

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by mioque, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. mioque

    mioque
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    Christians claim J.K. Rowling has usurped God, but her tales of wizardry are deeply moral, writes Paul Byrnes.

    "There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch

    Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard or a necromancer.

    For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord."

    Deuteronomy 18: 10-12.

    Poor Harry Potter. He's guilty on all counts, save the first one: his parents never tried to burn him as a sacrifice. This passage of the Bible is a popular one with those Christians who believe Harry Potter is an agent of the Devil. It's hard to know if their number be great, but they're vocal, principally on the internet, alerting the world to J. K. Rowling's dark agency. Type 'Harry Potter and Satanism' into Google and see what comes up.

    'Her creation openly blasphemes Jesus and God and promotes sorcery,' claims one pastor in a popular chain email. 'It is the doorway for children to enter the Dark Side of evil.'

    This email even includes testimony from children corrupted by Harry and friends. 'Hermione is my favourite, because she's smart and has a kitty,' said 6-year-old Jessica Leaman of Easley, South Carolina. 'Jesus died because he was weak and stupid'.

    This quote actually comes from a hoax story published by The Onion, a satirical website, but it has been taken as, well, gospel by some conservative Christians. The same story has a quote from High Priest Egan of the First Church of Satan in Salem, Massachusetts. 'Harry is an absolute godsend to our cause. An organisation like ours thrives on new blood - no pun intended - and we've had more applicants than we can handle lately. And of course, practically all of them are virgins, which is gravy.'

    Having no sense of humour is not a crime, but the 'First Church of Satan' in Salem, Massachusetts? Salem is the last place a Satanist would live, I would have thought.

    There's a small industry in anti-Potter Christian materials. You can buy DVD's that explain how Harry makes evil look innocent, and books that denounce his example. Christian writer Richard Abanes charges in his book Harry Potter and The Bible that Rowling's books promote unruly behaviour and glamorise the occult. 'The books clearly present far too much moral subjectivity and patently unbiblical actions to be of any ethical value,' he writes. Abanes prefers the model behaviour of Percy Weasley, which must strike children as odd. Percy is depicted in the books as a smarmy toady who's so ambitious to get on in the Ministry of Magic that he can't tell evil when it's under his nose.

    Abanes actually counts Harry's misdemeanours, noting that the boy wizard breaks the school rules seven times without consequences in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 'Rowling's message is simple: if someone is good and he has good intentions, or if he is particularly bright, or somehow more special than others, then he can break the rules, lie and steal.'

    Presumably, Abanes would have let the mountain troll get Hermione in the girl's toilets in the first book. Sorry Hermione - I cannot disobey a school rule!

    The Bible is indeed full of warnings against witchcraft and wizardry, but it's also rife with stories of miracles by Jesus and God himself - water into wine, raising the dead, the burning bush, the stars guiding the three wise men. The conclusion is obvious: only God can make magic, not man. Rowling's sin is humanism, the granting of powers unto humans, the very thing that Deuteronomy was trying to stamp out in the drive to monotheism.

    These same prohibitions would also condemn The Lord of the Rings, surely. Gandalf is a wizard, capable of powerful spells; the elves enchant; Frodo's ring makes him disappear; men talk to ghosts. Come to think of it, Deuteronomy rules out much of Shakespeare too, starting with Hamlet, a consulter with familiar spirits if ever there was one.

    In fact, many conservative Christians love Tolkien, even if they're not wild about Harry. Richard Abanes much prefers Tolkien to Rowling and there are several books explaining why Tolkien and his Oxford friend C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, are Christian-friendly.

    One reason is that they were both Christians. Tolkien was a devout Catholic - and his books reflect a Christian worldview, even if they are set in a pre-Christian world. Tolkien himself acknowledged his impetus in a letter to his friend Fr Robert Murray, in December 1953: 'The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults and practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism'.

    The quest of one small man (or hobbit) to save the world is clearly Christ-like, as is his reluctance to accept the task. There is a clear division between good and evil, a polarity that the Bible was dedicated to enshrining - as opposed to the earlier Greek epics, in which gods and humans were capable of both good and evil actions. Tolkien personified evil in the character of one powerful being, Sauron, after whom the book is named. Even non-Christians can recognise this Dark Lord as akin to Lucifer. Tolkien never names God, but he posits a guiding hand at work in Middle-earth. At the end of The Hobbit, the prequel to Lord of The Rings, Gandalf asks Bilbo Baggins: 'You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck just for your sole benefit?' Galadriel, the beautiful elf of Lothlorien who has 'committed no evil deeds' is a specifically Catholic invocation of the Virgin Mary - enough to put some Protestant readers right off Tolkien. (Some Adventists too take strong exception to the hobbits' love of tobacco and beer. Nasty hobbitses, as Gollum would say.).

    Tolkien's world is not exclusively Christian, though. There is a lot of semi-pagan 'natural theology', related to Tolkien's deep love of nature - especially trees - and his immersion in the Anglo-Saxon language, Norse sagas and epic Finnish poetry. Indeed the whole inspiration for the book stems from two lines of a poem called Crist (meaning Christ) by the 8th century Anglo-Saxon poet Cynewulf:

    Hail Earendel, brightest of angels,
    Above the middle-earth sent unto men!'

    At the centre of Tolkien's book, as that couplet suggests, is man on earth, under God in heaven. Admittedly, a hobbit is a strange variation on a man, being a halfling with hairy feet, but many of the book's 'races' are variations on the human, if not strictly homo sapiens. Some were once men, who have become corrupted, like the Ringwraiths.

    My point is that Tolkien practices a sort of humanism, just as Rowling does. The Lord of the Rings is about the struggles of mankind, without much reference to God. Even though Tolkien posits a divine being - 'the One' - he hardly ever acts in the drama. The book is about what men (and halflings) do, in a world of wizards, elves and dragons, but it doesn't seem to trouble conservative Christians the way Harry Potter does. Why?

    Tolkien's piety doesn't quite explain it. And if his vision is profoundly Christian without being religious, does that mean that Rowling's is not? Hardly. Her books are even more deeply rooted in biblical models of story than Tolkien's. Harry's purpose is to battle the Dark Lord, just like Christ, and they both share the same task, redemption of the world. Voldemort tries to kill Harry at birth, as Herod tried with Christ; owls herald Harry's coming, as the angels and stars did with Christ. The symbol of Slytherin house is a serpent, and there are snakes throughout the stories. Harry Potter even has the same number of letters in his name as you know who. Spooky.

    Rowling doesn't posit a celestial power, though. There is no religion in her books, not even for muggles (non-wizard humans). In a sense, her's is a post-Christian world, where Tolkien's is pre-Christian. He writes as though he knows it is coming, and she writes as though she thinks it has passed. In that sense, outraged Christians have a point - the Harry Potter books are godless, literally. They replace a world of Church steeples pointing towards heaven with one of flying cars, wizards on broomsticks and levitation spells. The inference is clear - people don't need churches in order to fly in Rowling's books, an idea that must upset those who do.

    Instead, they need courage, fealty, learning, determination, and an independent mind - Harry's main traits. This last, is of course the thing that Abanes abhors - hence the attack on Harry's rule-breaking. These are also traits of Frodo - and in varying degree, Sam Gamgee - though independence of mind is not the strongest characteristic of hobbits in general. Hobbits are rural peasants, and working class, modelled on the people Tolkien grew up around near Birmingham in the west midlands. He admired and loved these stoic, solid, kind and unpretentious people, although he was not of them. His family was poor, but of higher station - merchants and failed bankers.

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien grew up in reduced circumstances because of the early death of his father. Deep in grief, his mother Mabel became a Catholic in 1900 and was cut off from all family money in consequence. She died in 1904, when he was 12. He felt that she 'killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith'. No wonder his Catholicism was unshakable.

    Rowling's mother died in 1990, of multiple sclerosis, after her daughter had begun to write the first Harry Potter book. The grief she felt comes out in Harry's grief over his murdered parents, the series' primary emotional engine, but it's an angry grief. One may wonder if this death has had any impact on her own spiritual beliefs.

    Rowling has said several times that she believes in God and attends Church of Scotland services, although infrequently. 'Well, I go more than to weddings and Christenings. Yes, I do. I have some problems with conventional organised religion. Some problems. But yes, it's a place I would go to in a time of trouble.'

    So, the books may be godless, but their writer is not, an unpleasant fact for those who think she works directly for the Devil. And the writers of the two best-selling book series of the last 100 years - after The Bible - are both English, both fantasists and both experienced profound grief at the early death of their mothers. Both also studied classics and world mythology before writing - as did George Lucas, whose Star Wars also has a deep spiritual origin.

    Tolkien's influence on fantasy writing has been profound for almost 50 years now, although Rowling plays this down, saying she was more influenced by Jane Austen. 'I didn't read The Hobbit until after the first Harry Potter book was written, though I did read Lord of the Rings when I was 19. I think setting aside the fact that we both use myth and legend, that the similarities are fairly superficial. Tolkien created a whole new mythology which I would never claim to have done. On the other hand, I think I have better jokes.'

    This piece started in my mind as an attempt to work out why the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings, both as books and films, are so popular.

    Beyond the obvious things - their mix of drama, adventure, humour, their hero's journey templates, their appealing characters and imaginative horsepower - there has to be something deeper to make them connect so powerfully with people around the world. Religion, it is not, since both works eschew organised religion, even as they draw from the storytelling traditions of the Bible. A deep Christianity, then? Possibly, although the Harry Potter books, as I see them, are post-Christian, even if full of good moral lessons (such as it's okay to go in the girl's toilets if your friend is about to killed by a troll). And the Harry books are popular in countries that are not Christian, such as Pakistan, where they have attracted the ire of some fundamentalist Islamist groups.

    There is opposition too from American Muslims, in terms that rhyme perfectly with fundamentalist Christian opposition. On Albalagh, an Islamic e-journal that appears to be based in California, Khalid Baig writes: 'The books glorify magic and sorcery. Harry and his classmates regularly cast spells, brew potions, learn to tell the future, communicate with the spirits of the dead, train magical animals, and ride brooms...The books are in effect promoters of paganism.' Roll over, Deuteronomy.

    There is another way of explaining the appeal of both Harry and Frodo, and that is as a retreat from the wreckage of modernism. The argument is neatly summed up by Patrick Curry, in a short but pungent book called Defending Middle-earth - Tolkien: Myth and Modernity. Curry sees Tolkien as a backlash against modernity, 'a world-view that began in late 17th century Europe, became self-conscious in the 18th century enlightenment and was exported all over the world, with extreme self-confidence, in the 19th. It culminated in the massive attempts at material and social engineering of our own day. Modernity is thus characterised by the combination of modern science, a global capitalist economy and the political power of the nation-state.'

    Post-modernity, then, questions all these things, and restores to the world what modernity tried to take away. Post-modern theorist Zygmunt Bauman sets forth the argument in his book, Postmodern Ethics: 'Post-modernity brings re-enchantment of the world after the protracted and earnest, though in the end inconclusive, modern struggle to disenchant it. The post-modern world is one in which mystery is no more a barely tolerated alien awaiting a deportation order... We learn to live with events and acts that are not only not yet explained but inexplicable. We learn to respect ambiguity, to feel regard for human emotions, to appreciate actions without purpose and calculable rewards.'

    In Patrick Curry's analysis, Sauron is a modernist gone mad, a technological power aiming to enslave. Frodo is pre-modern, able to accept the strange magic of Middle-earth, and heroic in his simplicity and doggedness. The hippies who made Lord of the Rings a cult book in the 1960's instinctively recognised Tolkien's anti-modernism, ignoring, if they ever knew, that its author was a conservative Catholic Oxford don who wore tweeds.

    Forty years later, this tide of reenchantment is everywhere in popular culture, not just in Tolkien and Rowling. In one corner, we have Buffy, Sabrina, The X-Files, Angel, and all the other beasties versus beauties television shows employing magical means. In the other corner, science and modernism make a bloody stand with all those CSI forensic criminology shows, in which everything is explicable.

    Maybe post-modern theory explains Harry Potter's popularity, maybe not. The books are certainly part of a trend towards reenchantment. It may be that they flow into the gap where religion used to live and that fundamentalists - of whatever creed - hate them because of that. But if J.K. Rowling is more a humanist writer than a Christian one like Tolkien, they're both profound moralists. I'd be surprised if either sold well in hell.

    Paul Byrnes is a Herald film critic.
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004...l?oneclick=true
     
  2. Marcia

    Marcia
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    There is a vast difference between Tolkien's and J K Rowling's books. Vast.

    It is not a matter of fantasy but of what practices are endorsed and what the heroic characters are doing. Tolkien's heroic characters are not learning and practicing specific occult arts as Rowling's are.

    I have been on radio debates on this, given workshops on it, written 3 articles on all 5 books, and been challenged by emails for over 4 yrs. on the topic. I have examined all issues that come up related to HP -- I have had to as it became uncumbent on me to deal with this issue as part of my ministry.

    What has muddied the waters are primarily two things:
    1. A false dichotomy is that either HP books are Satanic or they are good fantasy like Tolkien (assuming one likes Tolkien).
    2. There are fantasy elements in HP such as the broom flying, the invisible train at platform 9 3/4, etc.

    Due to these 2 factors, a lot of misunderstanding abounds. HP can be problematic without being Satanic. And just because there are fantasy elements does not mean there are not also elements related to real occult practices.

    Sound critics of HP, like Abanes, do not claim HP is Satanic or that children will be warped by reading the books. What he and I see is that the HP books do have a hero who lies and cheats a lot (most often not for saving lives but for his own pleasure), and a hero (and his friends) who practice real occult arts such as spell casting, astrology, using amulets and charms, mediumship, numerology, learning to use potions for magical workings (this is done today), etc. One of the classes at the school is called Divination. See Deut 18: 10-12 for God's views on this.

    I used to practice some of the things (before I was saved) that Harry and his friends are learning. I know they exist; for me, they worked. In fact, I was a professional astrologer for over 8 yrs. and believed I was called to it. I knew people who did other things I did not do, such as casting spells. Whether such things work or not is not the issue; the issue for a believer is what God says about these practices.

    Common objections to criticism of HP:
    1. HP is fiction
    Response: Yes, it is. However, this does not absolve the books of any message that might be there or perceived regarding dishonesty and the practice of the occult. Books have always been powerful conveyors of ideas, whether fiction or not.

    2. HP is like Cinderella, Snow White, etc.
    Response: Not really. Cinderell, Snow White and most other stories along these lines do not have heroes learning occult practices and using them as a good thing, or fighting the villain with occult practices.

    3. The occult is not real so it doesn't matter if there is numerology, divination, astrology, or spell casting in HP.
    Response: See Deut. 18:10-12 and other Biblical passages. Check out the bookstores for books on these practices, instructing teens and children (yes there are books for children on these practices) how to do these.

    I have ministered to teens and young people caught up in doing spells, astrology, etc. I have talked to Christians who have come under bondage to dabbling in these areas There is a spiritual danger behind them because these things are not from God and are denouonced by Him. I myself had many experiences with these areas and though I cannot prove it, can say with no hesitation that real things can happen when one gets into these areas.

    Here are links to my articles:

    On the 1st book:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_harrypotter.html

    On books 2, 3 and 4:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_morehpotter1.html

    On book 5:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_HarryPotter_Phoenix1.html

    Aside from the above factors, books 3 and 4 especially are very dark, and book 4 has a very gruesome scene in it that even adults who like HP have told me they would not want their younger children reading.

    Also, I think Rowling's faith or lack of it is irrelevant. We can evaluate the books without knowing anything about the author.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    Can anyone say "FICTION"?

    Harry Potter isn't real.

    Thought you should want to know.
     
  4. Marcia

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    Dr. Bob, I addressed that in my post. Yes, we know HP is fiction. So if he were a boy who discovered he was gay, would that be alright just because it's fiction?

    Harry learns actual occult practices that God denounces, just as God denounces homosexual practices.
     
  5. Marcia

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    When I did numerology, astrology, other forms of divination, etc., I was not pretending to do them; I was doing them.

    In the 5th book, Hermione receives a Christmas gift from Harry that she's been wanting: a book on numerology. She's delighted.

    There are real books on numerology. There are real numerologists. Numerology is a form of divination. So just because Hermione is fictional, that does not make numerology fictional.
     
  6. Baptist in Richmond

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    Marcia, I know that you have first-hand knowledge about this subject matter, so I give a lot of weight to anything you have to say. I am also inclined to heed your warnings.

    And yes, I DO believe that Tolkien is great fiction. Tolkien fueled my imagination when I was young. I cannot express the great pleasure I derived from revisiting this as I went to see the movies. I remember reading once that Tolkien regretted using the word "magic" in the LOTR trilogy.

    BTW, I will be in DC on business all week, so perhaps you can give me the name of a good church up here for Wednesday night. PM me if you have any suggestions.
     
  7. Marcia

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    BIR, thanks for your post.

    Tolkien also regretted using the word "Wizard" to describe Gandalf. Gandalf was not an occult wizard, but a creature from another realm with inherent powers (much like an angel) sent to guide creatures on the earth.

    I read The Hobbit and the trilogy of Lord of the Rings only because of HP. I was constantly asked about a comparison. I did not expect to really like Tolkien but I found that I was absorbed in the story of LOTR. Also, Tolkien's literay skills so outweigh Rowling, that to this former Literature major, there is no comparison in that dept.
     
  8. Karen

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    Marcia,
    I presume you are aware of Connie Neal. Have you debated her on Harry Potter? She has quite a different view than you on this.

    Karen
     
  9. Marcia

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    Yes, I'm aware of Connie Neal and her views. I've had to be. I also believe she is does not really know what the occult is about and how subtle it can be, but this is a pretty common problem in the church. I also find flaws in some of her analogies (like Harry's mother dying for Harry being like Jesus dying for us).

    I have not debated Neal but Richard Abanes has debated her. He also has a response to many of her views in his book _Fanstasy and Your Family_, a book I highly recommend. There were links that showed responses but those pages are no longer up.

    However, I have 3 word docs of Abanes' responses to Neale. If you'd like them, email me and I can send them.

    This is an excerpt of one of the articles:
    Abanes did his homework and gives solid responses.
     
  10. Dr. Bob

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    Beings thus described are called "demons" in the Bible.

    WORSE than a wizzard or witch. Point of information.

    (I have no use for occultic mystic literature of fiction or non. Would consider LOTR and Harry Potter both detrimental and anti-biblical. Even much of the Sci-Fi drifts blatantly/subtly into the occultic realms and I disdain that.)
     
  11. mioque

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    "What he and I see is that the HP books do have a hero who lies and cheats a lot"
    "
    That is a feature in the vast majority of children's book that are actually liked by children.
    In fact, in any series of children's books that is supposed to have both responsible adults and children getting into dangerous situations will either need children protagonists with a flair for deception or continuous applications of Murphy's Law (anything that can go wrong will eventually go wrong at the worst possible moment) designed to get those kids once again into trouble.
    It isn't so much a specific problem with Rowling's work, it is a part of he genre as a whole.

    "a hero (and his friends) who practice real occult arts"
    "
    Ironically enough in Rowling's universe, reallife (muggle) occult traditions that could be practiced by you and me are basically fake and only vaguely related to the 'real' (wizardly) way of doing things.
     
  12. Marcia

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    I should have clarified that Harry lies and cheats and feels no remorse and rarely suffers consequences for these actions. If he did, or if he learned from them and grew from it, that would be different. Many of his adventures are the result of lying and cheating and sometimes adults in the books lie and cheat as well.

    Actually, real occult practices are mentioned in the books -- in real life, these practices are are not fake (some may fake them but not all do -- there are basically two classes of people who do these things). I used to do some of them myself; I was not faking them. Please read my articles where I go into detail on this.
     
  13. mioque

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    Marcia
    "I should have clarified that Harry lies and cheats and feels no remorse and rarely suffers consequences for these actions."
    "
    I repeat:"It isn't so much a specific problem with Rowling's work, it is a part of the genre (children's book series with childheroes regularly exposed to dangerous situations) as a whole."

    "If he did, or if he learned from them and grew from it, that would be different."
    "
    The young hero needs to get into new dangerous situations in the next book so that is impossible.

    "real occult practices are mentioned in the books "
    "
    Divination by crystal gazing and tea leave reading which works neither in the books nor in reallife, alchemy that works in the books, but doesn't in real life and the word numerology is mentioned in passing but it is never explained what wizards (as opposed to muggles) use it for.

    "I used to do some of them myself; I was not faking them."
    "
    You were an astrologer weren't you? You at least were deceiving yourself (and others) into believing astrology actually works.

    Dr. Bob
    :D You remind me of one of my English teachers, who had ironclad reasons not to like s.f. and fantasy. Eventually us students figured out that he just plain didn't like the stuff and the rest was rationalisation afterwards [​IMG]
     
  14. Ben W

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    So here is a thing, if we assume that Christians should not be watching Harry Potter, should then TV shows like Bewitched not be watched also, being judged by the same criteria?

    I am not trying to be rude, yet where do we exactly draw the line? If any type of non Christian media mentions a spell, should it be considered not appropriate?
     
  15. blackbird

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    Same reason my dad forbade a Oujie board from entering our home and Bewitched and whatever else that hinted at some thing that could enter the mind and hinder the thought patterns of innocence!!
     
  16. Matt Black

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    I think that the very real problem if we prohibit Christians from reading HP is that to be consistent, we should also ban them from reading not just Tolkien and Lewis, but also the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, in fact any kind of fairy tale and quite a bit of sci-fi, on the grounds that they all include the dreaded 'M'-word.

    Whilst I disagree with Dr Bob, he is consistent in that POV

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  17. Ben W

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    What!!!

    No Star Trek???

    AAAARRGH!!!!!!!!!
     
  18. Matt Black

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    No, be afraid, be very afraid - don't let the good Doctor near your cable box....

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  19. mioque

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    blackbird
    "whatever else that hinted at some thing that could enter the mind and hinder the thought patterns of innocence!! "
    "
    Recalling a significant number of brother blackbird's earlier posts...

    :confused:
    You mean you were at one time innocent!


    You have changed a lot haven't you! ;)
     
  20. Marcia

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    Yes, I was an astrologer but I had studied much more than astrology (numerology, tarot, had a spirit guide, did astral travel, Eastern meditation, etc). It would help you would read my online testimony at http://cana.userworld.com/cana_spiritualjourney.html and see what I was involved in.

    Divination, whether by astrology, numerology, tea leaf reading, pendulums, crystal gazing, etc. can and does work. The factors that make these things work are several, including demonic information given to the practitioner. This happened to me many times but, of course, not believing in demons, I thought it was from my spirit guide or higher self or the higher self of the client.

    Mioque, I did readings for people who were not physically present and got things right about them (these were people I had never met and did not know). Of course, other factors that make these things "work" include selective memory of clients, coincidence, and applying general statements specifically.

    So what I am saying is that the results are a mixture of these human factors plus often demonic help. It is nothing to fool around with and can be dangerous. I can't even begin to tell you the dangerous things that happened or almost happened to me -- I believe I was kept safe only because of God's mercy. And I knew about things that happene to many others. I was involved in these areas for close to 20 yrs.

    And whatever you or any other Christian may think about whether these things work or not is irrelevant in light of God's clear condemnation of them. Do you think it's okay to say say, well there's no problem with these things because they don't really work even though God condemns them?

    To have these things given in a children's book is not a good idea and since God forbids them as evil (and I know they are evil by experience), I cannot endorse these books.
     

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