The Book of Harry: Christian Controversy Over?

In The Boston Globe today:

‘The Book of Harry: How the boy wizard won over religious critics — and the deeper meaning theologians now see in his tale’

Your thoughts? The controversy now, according to this Globe reporter, seems to be ‘how much’ or ‘what kind’ of Christian content is in the books rather than if they’re edifying reading. H/T Perelandra!


  1. John, that’s an interesting article, and I wish I could say that I think they are right in their assessment of the change in attitude towards Harry Potter. But just before the HBP movie, I found myself on a web site (cute, btw) that features cakes depicting themes. Not just Harry Potter but all sorts. This, of course, had photos of cakes of the Sorting Hat, Hogwarts castle, Quidditch things – well, you get the idea. So I started reading through the comments, happy that I’d found a blog with other Potter fans.

    But, not everyone was happy. Some of the long-time readers were very unhappy that they were showing Potter themed cakes and launched into the same old arguments that we’ve been listening to for the last decade. And with the same stance – they hadn’t read the books or watched the movies, but they were convinced that Harry or Rowling would lead them and their children to the devil. But for the most part they like all the old fairy tales.

    Some didn’t like C.S. Lewis for the same reasons they don’t like Harry Potter, so at least they were consistent. And the same for Lord of the Rings and any of the Disney movies. Fantasy, in other words, is not to be read or viewed.

    I felt like someone had tricked me into using a Time Turner. But it couldn’t be – they were all destroyed.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. But no, I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of people who refuse to think for themselves. No matter how much progress has been made, they are still with us.


  2. Latecomers, aren’t they?! (Refering snidely to those prescients amongst us who had wit to see way back when!!! – And we have proof from blogs of long ago and comments of long ago and predictions of long ago. But we were never Harry-haters and we haven’t been converted. We’ve loved Harry and the Gospel all along!)

  3. Arabella Figg says

    Pat, your comments about many Christians and fantasy made me think of one of the Anne of Green Gables books where Mrs. Lynde denounces novels, claiming they’re “filled with lies, that’s what.”

  4. Arabella Figg says

    I just read the article (had read the comments first). I found the article encouraging, actually, showing serious and respectable academics and theologians speaking out like this. They could have just kept quiet out of shame (heh!). But two article titles quoted are book titles, yours and Travis’. Made me wonder.

  5. Arabella Figg says

    After thinking about this article more, the more I feel irked. The Goblins being the Jews? Very offensive, playing into wretched stereotypes. And Snape didn’t “seek” to kill DD. But these are selected (and quoted) statements only.

    What really bothers me is the acceptance of the series only after it’s “safe to go into the water,” i.e., when this has been clearly s-p-e-l-l-e-d out for the theologians and academics in the dunce caps. No mention of the years of ridicule or distrust of their faith people endured in their defense of the books. No mention of your groundbreaking work, John. No, the light bulb has been turned on, so these folks have “discovered” the contents of a room we saw with candlelight. And it’s as if no one had seen it before.

    Any phenomenon like this or Twilight should be carefully examined. While I’m happy to see the series taken seriously now, I echo Inked’s ironic comment above.

  6. RenaBlack wrote:

    John, wasn’t sure what to do with this, but my undergrad advisor, a Tolkien theo/phil guy and also my advisor for my HP honors thesis forwarded this to me, and it seemed like an interesting validation of what’s been going on here and at the Hog’s Head (where I hope to post this momentarily…):

    Some things that caught my eye and may be worth talking about at some point:

    P. 2-3: Eisenstadt’s one-to-two allegory theory (which sounds vaguely familiar)

    P. 3: “Elizabeth Heilman, an associate professor of teacher education at Michigan State University and the editor of ‘Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter’ says that, unlike Hermione, who adopts the cause of the house elves, ‘you don’t see Harry Potter ever taking up a cause for the sake of the downtrodden. He’s really a reluctant hero, and I’m not convinced the narrative has him effectively going beyond personal motives.’”

    P. 4: “Lois Shepherd, a bioethicist at the University of Virginia, said she found in the series an argument against prolonging physical life at all costs – a rejection of what she called a ‘quest to avoid death’ that she said was played out in the real-world debate over Terri Schiavo.”

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