I decided to plunge into murky waters.
When the Harry Potter series first came out, I was at the end of my high school career in a Christian school. The subject matter didn’t really appeal to me, and that was good, because in those days the Christian world recoiled at the idea of Harry Potter. Wizards tend to be accepted, but witches? N. O. Dark magic? Unthinkable. So because I was older than the target audience and fully enveloped in Christian culture, Harry Potter was off limits.
Now the series is 20 years old, and these stories are still going strong. J.K. Rowling is touted as the world’s first author billionaire, due to the success of the books, movies, and theme parks. (Holy cow. Theme parks? Could you imagine creating a storyline and characters that spawn theme parks?) Not only do I write, but I study as much about writing as I can in hopes of improving my craft. And Rowling comes up time and again as examples of what to do. As far as I can tell, she is held at the pinnacle of contemporary children’s literature right now, and as a children’s author I would be remiss not to take note.
So I decided it was time to read them. I borrowed the series from a friend and opened the first book with much trepidation. I’m not really scared of the subject matter anymore, but I’m not really into fantasy, and I was afraid the story just wouldn’t grab me.
It did. The hype is legit.
I read the first three books in one week, and I was almost halfway through the second book before I remembered that I was supposed to be analyzing these stories to find out why they are so popular. The fact is they are simply well-written, amazing stories, with likable, (or dislikable,) relatable characters. A good story should make you forget that you’re reading a story, and these stories absolutely do that.
I don’t really need to convince the rest of the world of the merits of the Harry Potter series. I am decidedly behind the times on this one. (Obviously.) But I did want to address it from a Christian perspective, especially the perspective a parent and author.
I think the biggest roadblock to Christians is the magic aspect. Yes, there are wizards and (gasp) witches and cauldrons and magic spells. But another very important part of the story is the fact that this world of magic is to be kept separate from the normal (Muggle) world. I think Christians balk at the idea of magic because they are concerned kids might try to translate that to our normal life, and the Bible is pretty clear on rejecting sorcery in our practical lives. But in the story, magic isn’t used in the practical lives of normal people. It is only used in the context of the wizard world, and they deliberately keep it there. They even have a government agency monitoring that fact. So when you a.) remember that this is a work of fiction and b.) see the lengths Rowling has gone to keep magic where it belongs, I think the question of magic is answered. And here is the most unpopular statement I’ll make today: If a Christian is going to reject Harry Potter solely on the basis of magic, then they must reject Lord of the Rings for the same reason.
Neither Harry Potter nor Lord of the Rings mention God, or even Satan for that matter. But they both constantly discuss good and evil. And both strongly oppose evil and strongly advocate for good. For this reason, as a parent, I have no hesitation in recommending either series to young readers. As with everything, parents should use the topics and story lines as springboards for discussion about right and wrong and what the Bible says. But there is no reason to reject it .
As an author, I absolutely recommend these books. The storytelling is impeccable. I have a new standard to strive for.
I know this topic is debatable. Chime in and tell me what you think of this series. Yay or nay?