Insurgent posterI went into the Insurgent film without a lot of high hopes.  I came out quite surprised at how much I liked it, and even more surprised by the reason.  Because it was the same reason that usually has me hating movie adaptations of favorite books.  Because the filmmakers deviated so much from the source material.  At the end of the day, this was an action movie loosely based on Roth’s Insurgent, not Insurgent:the Movie.  If you are expecting as faithful a book adaptation as the Harry Potter and Hunger Games franchises, or even the first Divergent movie, you will be disappointed.  The percentage of book-congruent material is closer to that of the Little House TV series. But remarkably, the film mostly worked for me.

To be fair up front, every worry I expressed in my comments on the trailers came true.  Except the one about the train.  Turns out Four did have a good reason for leaping in front of the train. But I digress.  Spoilers ahead, after the jump.


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Stone aI had the following exchange with a student in the UK about ‘Christian Religion in Harry Potter.’ I have the student’s permission to re-print it here but s/he prefers to remain anonymous.

Dear Sir,

I am a student studying in England and am currently taking my A-levels. As part of this corse I am taking an Extended Project, which is worth half an A-level, and have decided to base it on Christian Religion in Harry Potter.

During my research for my project I have come across your name many times and, consequently, have bought and am reading your book ‘Looking for God in Harry Potter.’ It is an incredible piece of work and I am particularly interested in how you argue for Harry Potter as a good representation of Christianity.

f38696422I was wondering if you would be able to answer or give your opinion on a few questions of mine and whether you would know of anyone else who could also give their view? I am partially interested in the film series as I want to investigate the effect of people watching the film series without realising that they are subconsciously being exposed to Christian views.

I understand that you are very busy and even if you decline to answer my questions I would like to thank you for your consideration and your books!

[Name Withheld]

1. It is undeniable that throughout the Harry Potter films Christian religion is a major theme which the viewers are being exposed to unknowingly. What is your view on this? Is it justifiable for someone who is opposed to Christian religion to be subconsciously exposed to it?

f39174246What a hoot! Is it justifiable that non-believers tell their stories with their godless and materialist beliefs that someone with traditional views may be subconsciously exposed to?


Really, the question betrays overt hostility to Christians, the thought that they live to take over people’s lives and minds surreptitiously. Please note that the English literary tradition until the end of the Great War was exclusively books by Christians for Christians for their greater life in Christ. Are we to understand that writers now are obliged to forsake the great riches of those poems, plays, and novels and all the depths of redemption, resurrection, and revelry because a few atheists don’t want to be exposed to this pathogenic, religious virus?


Too funny.


2. What is your opinion on the view that Dumbledore, Harry and Fawkes the Phoenix represent the Holy Trinity?

f38696358In the climax “miles beneath Hogwarts” in Chamber of Secrets, that certainly seems credible. But that chapter is a specific Morality Tale or Everyman Drama in which these characters are those allegorical types. I wouldn’t extrapolate from that one scene to say the correspondents work across the whole series.


3. Would you consider Voldemort to be a representation of Lucifer considering part of his soul is in the serpent Nagini and the imagery the film produces of him seems to enhance his snake-like qualitys?

I suppose. But the Dark Lord is not an allegorical stick-man. He and Harry are anti-podes about what human beings can become based on the quality of their choices. Harry pursues an immortality based on sacrificial love, Voldemort on ego and self-importance. The tit for tat Lucifer correspondence doesn’t bring that out very well.


f369124864. Do you think Harry represents the fall of humanity, as depicted in St Augustines theodicy, by containing a part of Voldamort’s soul, which is then destroyed and Harrys soul is returned to perfection and any corruption or evil temptation is removed?

The idea works, I suppose, but I struggle to think of the Hogwarts Saga as an Augustinian text. Have you read the Rev Dr Danielle Tumminio’s book, God and Harry at Yale? It discusses just this subject at some length.


5. Would you consider Harry to be an unattainably and unrealistically perfect character as he never gives in to temptation or seems to stray from the path of good?

BookshelfHuh? I’m asked regularly by Harry Haters how I can in good conscience recommend Harry’s adventures to young people because of his proclivity for breaking rules, telling lies, and being disrespectful to his teachers (and any other adult he does not like). He’s a “perfect character” only in the sense that he conforms to all the rules of both the Schoolboy Novel genre and, oddly enough, of Gothic heroines. See Harry Potter’s Bookshelf for all that.

S/he sent me a wonderfully kind thank you note for these responses (and the five Potter Pundits I urged her to contact for a more thoughtful set of answers), which were, to my surprise, what s/he wanted:

Thank you very much for your answer to my questions, they were very helpful and perfect for my project. Once again thank you so much for your time and thank you for you brilliant lectures and books that have helped me immensely.

What answers do you have to these questions? Fire away!


Call For Proposals– Critical Insights: The Hunger Games

by John 7 March 2015

Share Listen up, Serious Readers of The Hunger Games! Lana Whited, editor of two of the most important collections of critical work on the Hogwarts Saga is now soliciting contributions to a work about Katniss Everdeen’s dystopian adventures. You want to send her a proposal — and you only have until 15 March to get it […]

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Shared Text: Jon Stewart Tags Putin as Dark Lord

by John 6 March 2015

Share Can Russian kleptocrat Vladimir Putin fairly be likened to a certain murderous Heisman Trophy winner in the death of Boris Nemtsov? Or is he really like a certain twisted wizard? (At 4:00 in video.) The murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, right outside the Kremlin in the heart of Moscow, has prompted a […]

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Two New Books from J. K. Rowling and Two BBC Blockbusters!

by John 5 March 2015

Share How about that! Two new books from J. K. Rowling and great forward progress on the teevee productions of her two Post-Potter efforts! Big news, right? Fandom marking dates for midnight release parties? Well, not really. I’m afraid few stores will even carry the books in question, not to mention celebrate their publication, and […]

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Guest Post: Hermi Emma and Beauty Belle — Lady of the Rings?

by John 16 February 2015

Share This Guest Post and brilliant ring exegesis is from Susan Raab (, a marketing strategist, high-conversion copywriter and best selling ghostwriter who not-so-secretly (she told me!) prefers reading the latest HogPro recommendation late into the night, or teaching another “Christian Content in Harry Potter” class for her contemplative prayer group, or architecting ring structure […]

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Thoughts on Harper Lee’s “new” book

by Louise Freeman 15 February 2015

Share You’ve probably heard the news:  Harper Lee is finally publishing a “long-lost sequel” to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Some consider Mockingbird one of the best young adult novels of all time—even though it was published before that genre was recognized—others argue it is not a YA work at all, and many think […]

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Discovery of Historical Inspiration for Tolkien’s One Ring

by John 19 January 2015

Share has published the fascinating story of a golden ring from Roman Britain and of two Pembroke College, Oxford, professors who were part of the effort to trace its origins. What’s intriguing about it, at least for serious readers of fantasy fiction, is that these two professors were R. G. Collingwood, archaeologist and dean […]

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‘Insurgent’ Movie Previews: This is Making Me Nervous!

by Louise Freeman 16 January 2015

Share Another Insurgent trailer released today, along with a “Sneak Peak” that includes commentary from the actors, director and Veronica Roth herself. As much as I am looking forward to the film and want it to succeed, there are more than a couple of elements that are making me a bit wary about getting my […]

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Hunger Games: Dr. Amy H. Sturgis on the Dystopian Tradition

by John 15 January 2015

Share Wonderful opportunity for Hunger Games fans who are students — Dr Amy H. Sturgis, Potter Pundit and All-Around Literary Lioness, is offering a free lecture series this Spring! Read what she sent me about it: On the weekends of March 28/29 and April 11/12, I’ll be offering a free interactive, multimedia lecture series – hotel […]

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