Catholic Church and the Harry Potter/Yoga Controversy
In 2003, the Catholic Church defended Harry Potter stating that author JK Rowling’s series is “consistent with Christian morals.” Instead, the Church spoke out and cautioned against “new age spiritual beliefs” that attack the Catholic faith. Further, the Church noted that most—if not all—children grow up reading about “fairies, magic, and angels.” Puritan censorship is destroying creativity and doing it in the name of Christianity. Harry Potter themed yoga classes are a thing and sell out.
First, Harry Potter is not satanic. It’s a fictional series about good and evil. It’s about the ramifications of choices made. And in the end, good wins. The Potter books are like The Narnia series, Lord of the Rings, and the Star Wars universe. Ban one, then ban them all. Churches cannot cherry-pick which titles they will censor. Both Harry Potter and Narnia are deeply rooted with Christian themes. However, only Narnia is held up as the standard for creative fiction. Wonder why? Is it because C.S. Lewis was a man? It certainly isn’t because he was an ordained priest or minister. He wasn’t. He was essayist, novelist, critic. He wrote about his Christian faith. Compare him to Rowling, a woman who had to use her initials so not to often male readers. She is also a novelist, essayist, critic. She often discusses her Christian faith. They’re similar. To say one is okay but the other is not is unfair and wrong. Both books build on the same themes.
Even though Pope Francis permits Catholics to read the Harry Potter books, he is not a fan of yoga. He stated: “practices like yoga aren’t capable of opening our hearts up to God.” However, that’s not the purpose of yoga.
Recently, small groups of Catholics have decried yoga as causing demonic possession. Father Cesare Truqui blames Harry Potter and Vinyasa yoga as causing demonic possession. Truqui stated “[yoga] leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter.” That’s ridiculous!
The Catholic Church reports a rise in reports of demonic possession. Reports. Most of the reports are not possession issues and don’t go beyond the initial in-take step. However, the growing number of the reporting is concerning until one analyzes the ease of reporting, the media stories encouraging reporting, and the willingness of someone to be interviewed. The fact that the Catholic Church has a stable of 12 exorcists doesn’t necessarily support an out-of-control demonic possession events. It means that there are more people training in that area.
Yoga consists of holistic meditative “exercises that unite the body, mind, and spirit.” It originated in Hinduism; however, the meditative practices are not isolated to the Hindu religion. It would be like saying no other religion can recite “The Lord’s Prayer” unless one was Catholic.
Yoga is incredibly popular. Annually, yoga instruction brings in $2.5 billion. Vinyasa is the most popular form. People report practicing yoga for #1 wellness, #2-3 peace and calm, and #4 health. Over 1.7 million children under the age of 17 practice yoga. In the US, 9.5% of adults practice totaling 21 million people. If it came down to it, people would give up organized religion to practice yoga.
For most people, yoga is physical exercise. It helps relax and calm the practitioner. True yogis seek spiritual perfection. Yes, they meditate. However, a lot of people who pray are meditating. The Catholic Church has not banned meditation. The Catholic Church attempting to hijack yoga by claiming one should only pray to God. That’s incorrect. The Catholic Church encourages practitioners to pray to saints and Jesus’ mother Mary. Finally, practicing yoga does not convert one to Hinduism. Just like praying the Rosary does not convert one to Catholicism.
Participation in organized religion is declining. The Catholic Church, as with others, should embrace young people. They should openly discuss Harry Potter and apply Christian doctrine to the events in the book. They should host integrated programs with other religious groups. My Episcopal Church would have trips to visit the Buddhist Monks in the area. That’s how participation grows. Knee-jerk censorship stifles creativity and discussions. It also chills academic discourse and turns people away.
So, no, you will not become demonically possessed if you read the Harry Potter series. Nor will you become possessed if you practice yoga. Instead of attacking the idiotic, religious organizations should address the real crimes done in the name of God: rape, hate, bigotry, adultery, rise in KKK membership, and prosperity Christianity.
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