‘Thinking Matters:’ A HogPro Mission Statement?

This morning in Thinking Matters, an “online publication written for lay Christians in New Zealand,” ‘Stuart’ wrote a five point explanation of why Harry Potter is edifying reading titled ‘Muggle Matters – is Harry Potter a Doorway to the Occult?‘ I think articles like this, which despite their understandably poor grasp of Potter/Rowling trivia (what church she is in, when she said she wouldn’t discuss her faith, etc.), are very encouraging signs. Stuart thinks and, more importantly, writes, in a mainstream, mainline evangelical journal, that Harry Potter is more than “not dangerous” or “okay if handled judiciously” but excellent reading.

Perhaps it is time, then, to say “Mission Accomplished” in the battle to rescue Harry from the Harry Haters in culture war ghettos. Or, better, to acknowledge that we have already moved on to win high ground in the battle with Harry Hallowers, on the one hand, who see the Hogwarts adventures as disguised evangelical tracts rather than edifying reading, and, on the other hand, the academic Hairy Hearted who would dissect Harry as cultural artifact and deconstruct him into meaninglessness.

It is the sober middle if higher ground I think I have always been seeking to read Harry Potter as literature wherever that path leads (see ‘Dumbledore Votes for Gay Marriage?’ below). This means noting the spiritual and Christian meanings of the stories, implicit and explicit, without projecting Biblical narratives into the books or imagining Rowling as a closet Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, or C. S. Lewis impersonator.

As important, I want to avoid the opposite and more likely pitfall of faux “academic objectivity” that denies reader experience, anagogical artistry, and the traditions of Symbolist literature within which Rowling writes. To dismiss Rowling as just a writer of Schoolboy novels “as seen in Tolkien’s magical mirror,” as Harold Bloom does, without explaining how those traditions shape and account for the profound resonance within readers’ hearts that these stories have is to substantive, slow-mining criticism what taxonomy is to biochemistry.

Your thoughts are appreciated, as always.


  1. I think the author of the article makes a number of good points (although, while you’re bothered by the fact issues, I’m bothered by the typos, which seem to be largely homophone based but should’ve been caught in a proofread, but oh, well).

    As with other declarations of the sort, however, I think it may be premature to say, “Mission Accomplished!” The issue isn’t your arguments or those of Travis, Stuart and others. It’s getting people to the table.

    On that note, I’m happy to say I read your article in Touchstone magazine – imagine my surprise to see a magazine in our pile with your name on the cover! I’m going to keep rescuing it from the periodical pile in hopes my parents will read it. 🙂

  2. The title caught me by surprise.. I thought at first that it was referring to us.

Speak Your Mind