Friday, November 30, 2007

Harry Potter

Growing up, I read a lot of sword & sorcery novels. The Dragonlance Chronicles stand out as some of my favorites (along with The Black Cauldron, the Earthsea series, LOTR, etc). I learned a lot about courage, honor and self-sacrifice from those books. I think they really helped to shape my character, and I think it's a good thing for kids to read that kind of book.

I see similar themes in Harry Potter - friendship, courage, honor, loyalty (more on that later) and love. The latest issue of Gilbert magazine pointed out that the primary themes, "particularly in the last three books, are redemptive suffering and love's victory over death." Hey, what's not to like, for a good Christian boy like myself? And as I've said before, I really love the fact that the HP series portrays evil as ugly and repugnant. Nobody wants to be Voldemort. Nobody wants to be Draco.

Rowling herself offers two quotes that "sum up - they almost epitomize - the whole series" (her words). The first is engraved on Dumbledore's sister's tombstone: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." That's from the Sermon on the Mount. The second key phrase is also from a tombstone, and also from the Bible: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (that's from First Corinthians, 15:26).

The Harry Potter series is not Christian fiction, thank goodness. Most of the entries in that particular genre are, to be generous, second rate. And even the good ones end up getting skipped over by people who aren't interested in "religious books." But the HP series is certainly full of Christian themes. In a 15 Oct interview, Rowling said the Christian themes "have always been obvious. But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going." So, it wasn't about hiding her real intent. It was about maintaining the story's surprise.

So, I think the well-intentioned people who criticize HP for glamorizing magic are missing out on something good and significant. Criticize the writing, call it cliche'd or juvenile or whatever. But don't call it evil.

1 comment:

revolution said...

no one ever mentions the chronicles of pridain/black cauldron.