In a book that is sure to delight Harry Potter fans and spiritual seekers alike, Connie Neal embarks on an exploration into J.K. Rowling's created world of magic and mystery and enumerates more than fifty "Potteran" themes that can be seen as glimmers of the Christian gospel. With an arsenal of charming allusions and parallels, Neal persuasively demonstrates that Harry Potter need not be rejected as a threat to the Christian faith, as some have claimed. Written accessibly in short three- to four-page chapters, Neal's The Gospel According to Harry Potter is both a much-needed stroke of interpretive genius and a fascinating reflection on our time's most popular literary series. This is a must-read for everyone intrigued by the Harry Potter phenomenon.
The author of more than 30 books, Neal (What's a Christian To Do with Harry
Potter) makes another entry in the field of explication of Harry Potter
according to Gospel standards. While such an effort may seem ill-conceived to
the casual observer, Neal's attempt is far from the first of its kind (think
of The Gospel According to Peanuts) and not alone in the current book market
(think of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, by which the author admits she
was inspired). Neal's approach is not surprising, drawing moral lessons from
Rowling's explicitly moral books, adding her own Scriptural parallels but her
defense of the books should be a welcome ally for many librarians and readers
who have seen the Potter series assailed for its depiction of magic. For most
collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Westminster John Knox Press had a hit a generation ago with The Gospel
According to Peanuts, and is now rapidly expanding the franchise, with The
Gospel According to the Simpsons released last year and titles on J.R.R.
Tolkien and Disney still to come. This entry by Neal (What's a Christian to Do
with Harry Potter?) takes on J.K. Rowling's conservative Christian critics
with an exhaustive enumeration of parallels some striking, some skimpy
between Rowling's fictional world and the tenets of Christian belief. Platform
nine and three-quarters becomes a reminder of the nature of faith; Albus
Dumbledore shows mercy much like the Christian God. Neal is well aware that
pagan readers of the series can find plenty of parallels of their own to the
world of witchcraft, and she admits that such prooftexting is only marginally
more substantial than finding castles and chariots in cloud formations, but
she plods on doggedly nonetheless. The overall effect is disappointing on two
fronts. Readers will find little here that genuinely illuminates Rowling's
moral or literary vision, at least any more than Dumbledore does himself in
his more sermonic moments. And juxtaposed with Harry's fantastic world, the
claims of Christianity seem to lose rather than gain plausibility, becoming
just another interesting fairy tale. Still, Christian fans of Harry will be
glad that someone is countering the critics, and Neal's earnest writing may
win both Rowling and the Gospels a few new readers. (Sept.) Forecast: WJKP has
sold more than 10 million copies of its Peanuts book and, more recently,
70,000 copies of The Gospel According to the Simpsons. Notwithstanding its
flaws, and despite the stiffening competition (the Doubleday book reviewed
below will be joined in January by a St. Martin's title on the spirituality of
Harry Potter), this could be a hit. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business
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