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|The Gospel According to Harry Potter|
by Connie Neal
Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
Suggested by: Greg Slade
Neal states right up front that this is not a critical analysis of the Harry Potter books, but rather a "selective reading" of the works looking for elements which can be used to illustrate Biblical truths. It is not her contention that J.K. Rowling deliberately inserted so many Biblical parallels and allusions into the Harry Potter stories. Rather, she is trying to show that the same sort of "selective reading" which some people have used to try to portray the books as promoting occult practices can be used just as well to come to the opposite conclusion. In fact, reading through this work, you could almost come to the conclusion that the Harry Potter books would be useful in a Sunday School curriculum.
However, that somewhat tongue-in-cheek motive comes second to what is a driving force in Neal's life: "I have endeavored to communicate the Bible message in fresh ways so that those who have never really heard it can apprehend it." (p. x.) In other words, it doesn't really matter if Rowling is deliberately inserting Christian themes and allusions into the Harry Potter books or not. They are in the books, and that means that children's (and adults') love of the Harry Potter books can provide a common ground upon which to discuss those Christian ideas. In other words, even if Rowling did not intend to preach the gospel through her books, they can be used to illustrate it.
It would only be fair to point out that some of Neal's analogies are a little strained, and do not always accurately reflect even those aspects of the books on which she is concentrating. But still, there is much value in her insights. (July, 2004)
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