ORLANDO, Florida, May 19, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” a new amusement park re-creating the world of the Harry Potter series of books and movies, will open to the public at Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando – one month after the release of a new book by Catholic fictional author Michael O’Brien questioning the popular series’ relationship with the occult.

“From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” states the Web site of the new attraction, set to open to the public June 18. “Join Harry Potter and his friends as you venture into a world where magic is realâEUR¦and excitement knows no bounds.”

Author J.K. Rowling has reportedly approved of the venture.

While many Christian and Catholic families have embraced the wildly popular Harry Potter series as a harmless pastime for children, one Catholic author has published an extended evaluation of the series that critiques its worldview of and influence on Christian culture.

Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, says Canadian fiction author Michael O’Brien, was created from a series of articles over a ten-year period exploring the spiritual and cultural ramification of the series’ portrayal of witchcraft, magic, and the occult.

In the preface, O’Brien explains that, while he long avoided the novels, he eventually felt urged to do so after three friends separately described their “spiritual nausea” after having begun reading the series.

“All three encouraged me to read the books and write an assessment. Was it a coincidence, or was it one of those moments when the Holy Spirit was speaking, sending a nudge in triplicate?” wrote O’Brien. Although not initially skeptical of the books, his subsequent experience with what he considers a brush with the demonic solidified his mistrust of a series that Cardinal Ratzinger also once condemned as containing “subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.”

In a separate summary, O’Brien says he found that Harry Potter is perpetuating a “culture of the cults” that corrupts Christian symbology, and with it, the foundation of Christian culture. “While most Christians would never knowingly exchange symbols of evil for symbols of good, many have accepted a new realm of eclectic symbology that allows a mixture of good and evil symbols to influence their thoughts and feelings,” he writes. “But two contradictory symbol worlds cannot long remain in a state of peaceful co-existence within us. Either one or the other will come to dominate and will eventually demand the expulsion of the other.”

Bishop Julian Porteous, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia, and a practicing exorcist, in a review for the book noted that he has “long had serious reservations about the spiritual underpinning to the Harry Potter series.”

Bishop Porteous told The Sun-Herald in March that the Harry Potter books and films ”are attractive to adolescents and can be innocent enough,” but “can open up a fascination with this mysterious world and invite exploration of various phenomena through the use of occult practices like seances.”

“Like Michael O’Brien, I believe Catholic parents need to be alerted to the possible negative influences that these books can have on the moral and spiritual formation of their children,” said Porteous.

LifeSiteNews.com Editor in Chief John-Henry Westen said the book “will enable parents to comprehend the messages which have been fed to their children and give them the points and arguments which will hopefully be the antidote to properly reset their moral order.” “In all, the author’s new book teaches Christians how to discern harmless fantasy literature and film from that which is destructive to heart, mind and soul,” said Westen.

Ultimately, said O’Brien in his preface, his criticism of the book was rooted in a concern over seeing children stumbling in the way of the occult.

“If you were walking along a busy street and saw a child dart into traffic, would you not drop everything and leap to save him, even though you knew it would endanger your own life?” he asked.

“By the same principle, if you were to see a child lured into a realm where the activities of demons and the arch-demon Satan have a very long track-record of seducing souls into bondage, and potentially into eternal death, would you not drop everything and do what you could to warn him?”

Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture is available for $24.90 USD with free worldwide shipping.

Click here to purchase Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture.