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What's a Christian To Do with Harry Potter? [Paperback]
by Connie Neal

For those who support the series, "Harry Potter" books are more than an acceptable reading choice. They can present extraordinary opportunities to engage in evangelistic, public debate and to impact the lives of children and adults, both believers and nonbelievers, who read and love the stories.

Waterbrook Press (May 2001). Trade paperback. 224 pages.

Author Web Site(s): http://www.connieneal.com/

Reviews:
Check out reviews at Amazon.com of What's a Christian To Do with Harry Potter?.

Edenstar Review:
"What's a Christian To Do With Harry Potter" is a handbook, not a detailed, in-depth analysis. This makes it more accessible to the average reader who simply wants to know whether it's safe to let his or her children read the books.

Ms. Neal shows that there are no significant contradictions between the values taught by Jesus and those in the Harry Potter books. She cites OT and NT references making it clear that Harry Potter is sound, not suspect. For example, many of Harry Potter's critics complain that Harry and his friends lie to gain their ends. However, Ms. Neal describes the story in Joshua 2 showing Rahab the prostitute lying to guard the lives of two of Joshua's spies. She even mentions that Rahab is one of only four women listed in Jesus' genealogy. She points out that morality can trump strict obedience to the law. The key is in having the wisdom to know whether and when to break the law.

Remember that these books are about children. They are not always going to behave. They will sometimes lie, cheat, steal, and sin in other ways. However, Harry shows a deep desire to do right. Dumbledore reminds Harry of this when they recall that the Sorting Hat could have put Harry into Slytherin House, but instead went with Harry's desire to be in Gryffindor. This shows the true nature of Harry's heart. And it's the heart that guides us: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7, KJV). This shows the difference between Harry & Co. and Draco & Co. Harry's Gang desire to do right, Draco's followers actively seek evil.

Many Christians complain that the books promote witchcraft, satanism, and the like. However, Ms Neal says that the Harry Potter books do not contain Biblically-forbidden behavior: occult activity, summoning demons (or Satan), divination and so on. The magic in the Harry Potter books is closer to the telekinesis that's a staple in science fiction and fantasy. In fact, the one teacher who instructs students in divination makes predictions that are so vague as to be useless, and is generally seen as a buffoon.

Ms. Neal also reveals that Ms. Rowling made up the magic words using terms derived (mostly) from Latin. They have no real-world equivalents. When children tell her they're casting her spells, she tells them, "Don't bother. They don't work."

I believe the last two chapters are the most significant. Both discuss using the books as teaching tools and as beginnings of discussions with children and with adults. There are tables (on pages 92-93 and 99) clarifying the disagreements between the pro and the con factions. And since the Harry Potter books don't enter the areas of doctrine, they remain what Paul calls disputable matters.

My only real criticism is that Ms. Neal takes a lukewarm approach: One can read the Harry Potter books as if they're written from a Christian perspective. But since Ms. Rowling hasn't ever stated anything about this, Ms. Neal avoids speculation. Considering the amount of Christian symbolism, references and values that permeate the books, I think Ms. Neal could have come out more strongly regarding this aspect of the books. And this is a small quibble.

I recommend this book strongly.

Reviewed September 28, 2003 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.

Product Code: 1481
ISBN: 1578564719




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