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FRODO & HARRY: Understanding Visual Media and Its Impact on Our Lives
Ted Baehr & Tom Snyder
Crossway Books
Christian Living
ISBN: 1581345593

The world has really become acquainted with the names Harry and Frodo. With the upcoming release of the third Harry Potter movie to the much-anticipated release of the final movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, we have been inundated with these two characters. Both overcoming evil for the triumph of good, it's easy to understand the attraction to both. But how are we to discern whether these characters, books and movies are moral and present a worldview that is proper for our children?

FRODO & HARRY, co-authored by media experts Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder, compares the fantasy worlds of Frodo and Harry Potter, contrasting the fictional "real world" in The Lord of the Rings with the occult world of Harry Potter. Baehr and Snyder are obviously movie buffs, but they are also Christians who observe culture and are concerned with the way visual media is affecting our world. "Our purpose is to help people of faith and values see and understand the difference between the two movies that have been adapted from the popular literary works," the authors state.

Part one is an analysis comparing and contrasting both movies and their worldviews. They briefly outline each film and discuss the message that each is giving. Although they point out a couple of positive aspects, the authors are extremely critical of Harry Potter, saying that it "attacks Biblical Christianity," and that the stories reflect a "pagan, gnostic, and nominalistic worldview." However, they praise The Lord of the Rings, calling it an "epic story" that "points us toward God and Jesus Christ and toward truth, honor, virtue, and beauty." Discussion questions at the end of each beginning chapter help readers evaluate the books and movies, and their effect on their lives personally.

The second part of the book touches on the spiritual approach we are to take when evaluating entertainment media in order to protect our lives from negative influences. Because the entertainment industry has such an influence over our children, Baehr and Snyder say parents should be concerned. They provide shocking statistics, ways we can pass on our moral and spiritual values to our children and go into detail about how children develop mentally and exactly how they react to certain types of media --- horror films, violence, etc. This section also touches on the history of the Church and its relationship with media and culture. Finally, there are suggestions for discerning readers and parents on how to ask the right questions about Frodo and Harry.

FRODO & HARRY is strongly recommended for those who are interested in pop-culture and how it relates to our spiritual lives, as well as for thoughtful parents who want to learn about the nature of the fantasy genre and the various critical tools necessary to develop an informed judgment about art and entertainment.

   --- Reviewed by Karen Campbell

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