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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

03 February 2005

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Controversy

There's a Christian bookstore near me that sells Harry Potter books. One of 31 Logos Bookstores in the United States, Canada and the Bahamas, this establishment is courting controversy because it believes Christians ought to know what's going on in that big ol' scary world out there. I respect that philosophy very much. In fact, I'm apt to make a trip to Oak Brook to see it for myself.

The reason for this sales decision (besides profit margins and generating controversy, the oldest and best marketing campaign) is to spark dialogue. I'm all for that. I hope this generates discussion, both within Christianity and betwixt the flock and unbelievers. What annoys me is this overarching idea that these Potter books are somehow anti-Christian. As National Review columnist Dave Kopel notes in his review of The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, this notion is patently false.

Lewis and Tolkien (for the most part) were able to get away with having heroes who were sorcerers and who conjured powerful magic. Why can’t Rowling? Because she’s a successful woman? Because she’s a working mother? Because she’s a capable writer? Because her religious critics haven’t read her books? Because American Christians would rather hate on fantasy novels than feed the poor, as Jesus commanded? I dunno.

I’m also baffled as to why Rowling’s Presbyterianism is not a factor here. American Christians believe George Bush when he says that he’s one of them. I’m not sure why. He produces little, if any, fruit. He doesn’t obey Jesus’ commands. He doesn’t reflect the character of the shepherd. All he can seem to come up with is to “pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” Nice work if you can get it.

Nonetheless, this is a step in the right direction. Now I know of two Christian bookstores in this world (both in Illinois) that provide their customers with more than theologically impotent smut like Left Behind.

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