The Unaswerable Question

July 28, 2005 — 5 Comments

The past few days two things have been on my mind: I’ve been thinking about humility, and I’ve been thinking about the statement “leaving out the bad and taking the good” in the case of watching things and reading things.

You can take, for example, Harry Potter. I’m sure you can find something good about the books–but is it worth it to read them?

Is it good for us to search through the mud to find a diamond? Won’t we get dirty in the process?

Many books present good material and bad material. In fiction books, the “bad elements” can many times be used to teach. But not always.

When we come to non-fiction, we’re facing a similar dilemma.

If a book presents good material, yet has many elements that go against God’s word, should we read it?

Not when the bad leads us astray, and is against God’s teaching. And we must ask ourselves: Can we really trust ourselves to avoid the bad to get the good?

It’s a tough question, I know. It’s hard for me to answer too.

So let’s go to the Bible:

“Test everything, Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”

1 Ths. 5:21-22

Without thinking too much, we could look at that verse and see contradiction.

“Hold on to the good.”

Does it mean read a book and hold on to the good from it?


“Avoid every kind of evil.”

Let’s look back at Roman’s 12:9, which is a chapter on love.

“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

When we read “gray” books, that include good and bad, should we be reading them?

Or a better question is: Are there really “gray” books and material?

Some things are left up to a Christian to decide for themselves. But where is the line?

We need to humbly go before God and seek the answers. We need to look at ourselves in a true light and honestly answer.

It hurts, I know.

Tim Sweetman


Tim Sweetman is a young writer, blogger, and student who lives near our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. He has been much more widely known by his “code-name,” Agent Tim. This name also served as the name of his popular blog, which received over 750,000 visits between 2005 to 2007. In 2005, he quickly rose to become a leading teenage spokesperson and cultural critic within the booming blogosphere, taking on issues such as MySpace, alcohol, homeschooling, pride, racism, tolerance, and other topics relating to our culture today. His blog has come to the attention of people such as Albert Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Alex and Brett Harris, and La Shawn Barber. Tim’s written work has appeared in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers (February 2012), Lookout Magazine, FUSION Magazine, The Brink Online, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Virtue Magazine, Regenerate Our Culture Online Magazine, and on many other blogs and websites across the internet like Marry Well and the Lies Young Women Believe Blog. He has also been featured in WORLD Magazine, The Towers Magazine, and Maryland Newsline. He is scheduled to have an article appear in Veritas Magazine this December. Most recently, his work can be found on Focus on the Family’s Boundless Webzine. His personal interests include writing (surprise!) and sports, both watching and playing. He is a die-hard Washington Redskins fan.

5 responses to The Unaswerable Question

  1. Thanks for the comments. Very nice site.
    As for the question at hand, I asked the same questions about X-Mess (known to some as Christmas) and Ishtar (known to the same as Easter). I came to the conclusion that I could celebrate the days as ‘fluff’ holidays (like 4th of July)… as long as I left Christ out of them.

    However, you cannot read Harry Potter and leave the witchcraft out of it. They are inexplicably woven – Harry Potter’s character cannot be disengaged from it. It’s not like you can separate the two, as you can with holly-days – taking Santa or the Season and leaving out Christ completely.

    Under heavy fire for saying as much. But then, you know that. Again, thanks for your comments. And it’s nice to meet you.

  2. Good point, about Harry Potter. I’ve never read the books, mostly because there isn’t anything profitable to get out of them. And the books are filled with as much witchcraft as possible. The author, J. K. Rowling, is a witch and is really creepy. Anyway, good post.

  3. Actually, I don’t believe that J.K. Rowling is a witch. She just knows a LOT about it. Knowing a lot about it doesn’t make you one.

    She actually says “I know a ridiculous amount about magic.”

    She is for wiccans, and she also said “Practicing wiccans think that I’m a witch.”

    Note the “think.”

    Thanks for the visits. BTW, anna, I may possibly do a post on language today or tomorrow. Just a heads up.

  4. Harry Potter is like… um… fiction. Don’t forget that. There is no thing as witchcraft (not the way it’s portrayed in those books), so the only thing she knows, it’s the story she tells. And she tells it well.

    I feel a really dissappointed, Tim. Take it from a person who has recently discovered your blogs and today made the mistake of looking at your point of view on Harry Potter, after listening to you talk about Narnia.

    However, I give you props for the way your post was written.

    And a question: Why is Harry Potter different from Narnia?

  5. I agree! Though I for one have never read Harry Potter, I agree with the ‘gray’ books.
    I have been cutting out tons of fiction from my ‘diet’ of reading because (a) it isn’t profitable or (b) it doesn’t agree with my beliefs or God’s standard.

    Montague: Have you thought about this, do you think God would read Harry Potter? Why?

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