I read this book at my daughter's house.Ms. Neal takes the liberal view that Christian Right jeremiads against HP are pretty much knee-jerk reactions. She's read the books and find that there's a lot there that mirrors the teachings of Christ in a playful and effective way for young readers.To give you an idea of her logical approach, she poses this question (not verbatim): Would you let your kids read a story involving spectral visitations, astral projection, time travel (both forward and backward), and spritual transformation? No? Then you wouldn't let them read Dickens's A Christmas Carol!There was, however, one glaring oversight which is a bit of a stunner, when you think about it.Toward the end of the book, she takes a moment out to remonstrance against what she sees to be genuine spiritual dangers in the world. She warns against associating with people who claim to talk to deceased loved ones in the spirit realm. She characterises these people solely as engaged in Satanic activity. It never occurs to her to suggest that any of these people could simply be charlatans! To my thinking, they're all charlatans, with some of them more amazingly adept at their ruse than others. To me, that's the real evil; not that they're in league with the Devil, in the sense of deriving real power from a discorporate, spiritual entity. The real issue that they don't have scruples. They'll exploit your emotional vulnerability at a time of grief to take your money.I think the world would be a much better place if we stopped casting out Satan, and started casting out our gullibilities!
Finally, an intelligent and unbiased treatment of the Harry Potter series! Ms. Neal treats the series as another in the long line of Children's Literature, explaining it's literary genre and so forth. She calls to mind the fact that we must be fully convinced in our own mind whether or not to read these books to our children, yet be respectful of those holding opposing views. In fact, she lays out views from both sides in their original articles. I greatly appreciate this book as it helps eliminate the falsehood of the many urban legends being spread about this series and the author. I'm sad to say that many Christians critical of this book have not sought out the validity to the claims of the urban legends, and many have never read the series themselves. I began totally opposed to the Harry Potter series, yet as I studied it in lieu of literary techniques and the sheer genius of the author's knowledge of literature, I grew to appreciate this series and can't wait to share it with my children. By the way, they'll also be reading the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. My girls are young (6,5,3), but they already know the differences between fiction, non-fiction, biography, fantasy, myths, etc. They KNOW God's Word is true--Every Word, and they know the fairy tales we read are fantastical. It doesn't take much to help them understand such an important concept. I encourage those who are unsure about the debate to get this book. If you're already convinced in your mind one way or another, then so be it.
The mindless reviews of this book by well-meaning Christians raise a problem much larger than the _Harry Potter_ books could ever pose: they show Christians who seem unable to think critically and respond to an issue with intelligence and logic. When did reading about something become the same as doing something? What makes this series any different from the _Narnia_ books that we so rightly love? Fear comes from lack of knowledge, something that scripture so aptly points out, and people usually prefer to believe whatever they prefer to be true. Neal's book is a balanced and intelligent analysis of Rowling's series which helps the reader make an informed choice; it does not say "this is the only correct way to view these books." If you as a Christian are concerned about the _Potter_ novels, read one of them and then read this book. Allow the Lord the opportunity to help you discern with your MIND using reason and knowledge. Books are not "magic," and evil cannot somehow leap from the pages of a novel into you. Please don't become the mindless and silly caricature that so many in the world see Christians to be.
Simultaneously objective and godly, Connie Neal's commentary on the children's series that has become so controversial in the Christian world is the perfect reference for curious believers everywhere. Before you read Harry Potter or that next chain email, read this book!