Friday, June 12, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The sixth Harry Potter movie is scheduled for release in about a month. I’ll probably go see it in the first couple of weeks because I think Harry Potter is cool and a lot of fun. I’ve read all the books.

I got started when my wife, an elementary school teacher, bought and read the first book out of curiosity. She told me to check it out and I was hooked.

I thought the whole concept was wonderfully creative. It was something new in a society that seems happier to rehash old successes rather than constructing new ones.

The Harry Potter series made kids excited about reading. Everyone was happy. The kids were happy, their parents were happy and teachers and school administrators were simply tickled pink.

Did I say everyone? Well, not quite. Fundamentalists Christians weren’t and still aren’t. Why? Because the heroes of the stories are wizards and witches that flew brooms and cast spells. To their confused medieval mindset this somehow equated to evil.

Doesn’t the bible say in Exodus 22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live?” Well, maybe. According to the NIV Exodus 22:18 says “Do not allow a sorceress to live” which I guess is sort of the same thing right?

Let’s look a little closer. The Hebrew term for witchcraft is “keeshoof” which means sorcery or magic. The word for a female that practices magic, or what we would call a witch, is “mekhashah” which is derived from the verb “mekhash” which means “to bewitch.” A male who uses magic would be a “mekhashef.” So Harry Potter is a “mekhashef” in Hebrew.

But the word used in Exodus 22:18 is “kashaph” which, regardless of what Strong’s Concordance says, may not mean sorcerer or witch. A better translation might in fact be “herbalist” or one who has a knowledge of herbs or one who administers herbs.

Some folks claim that this implies that Exodus 22:18 condemns “poisoners,” but someone who knows herbs isn’t necessarily a murderer. I have a darker explanation. I think this is a warning against the budding science of pharmacology and those capable of using herbs to help fight sickness. Such knowledge would infringe upon the province of the gods and the priesthood.

It’s just another example of the stupidity of religion. Imagine where we’d be as a civilization if we hadn’t had religion holding us back for 3,000 years or more.

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