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What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? Paperback – May 15 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (May 15 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578564719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578564712
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,716,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In January, this column panned a Harry-bashing evangelical book called Harry Potter and the Bible, from Christian Publications. Now, PW is happy to point to a much more thoughtful Christian take on the young wizard phenom: Connie Neal's What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? In the storm of controversy, Neal navigates a via media by offering support to Christians who have decided to boycott the series, but also giving suggestions to parents who wish to read and discuss the books with their children. Spiritual discernment, Neal says, is the key for any Christian and an important quality to help children develop.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...get ahold of Connie Neal's book. ... Christian discourse would dramatically improve if we followed her example". -- Michael G. Maudlin, Christianity Today International, Executive Editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine

"Harry is now part of the culture. Learn from it; and allow Connie Neal to help you and your children." -- Stephen Arterburn, founder and chairman of Women of Faith and New Life Clinics

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"You will most likely agree more with one side than the other, but you'll probably also find some points on the opposite side that make you pause to think." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Neal has written this book because she herself seemed to be unwittingly dragged into the debate. She and her family enjoy the books, tempered with a good bit of parental guidance. Nonetheless, she was surprised at the angst that her position seemed to stir up among fellow Christians. This book presents both sides of for/against Harry Potter issue fairly, and in some ways uncompromisingly agrees with both. In the first 60 pages she plainly outlines the popularity of the books, what both sides of the controversy are saying, what the books are about, and whether or not they are simply fantasy literature.
Neal is most helpful in relating the way that our first impressions of something, as illustrated by the Boring figure, a type of Rorschach ink blot, effects the way we view it. People who have been warned that the books are full of witchcraft and strange demonic impish creatures (Dobby) will undoubtedly find just that when they read it. On the other hand, people who have the viewpoint that Harry Potter is children's fantasy literature will find no witchcraft and think Dobby is nothing more than a very funny elf-creature of Rowling's imagination. Neal, quoting Lewis, says that to superimpose any outside meaning upon the intrinsic meaning given in the story is to distort the author's meaning. One can only call Dobby demonic if one looks up the word elf in an occultist dictionary and see that elves are spirit-creatures who are unclean, then connect these unclean spirits to demons, then connect these demons back to Dobby, which is rather unfair to the mischievous Yoda-looking house servant. This also makes even Santa Clause and Keebler crackers dangerous.
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Connie Neal, thankfully, puts to rest a lot of the claptrap that has surrounded the supposed "evil" that the Harry Potter series represents. Compared to Richard Abanes' "Harry Potter: The Menace behind the Magick" (which, with all due respect to Mr. Abanes, is too one-sided), Mrs. Neal goes out of her way to show that the debate can be viewed from both sides of the fence and that both sides have valid points; and that is up to parents to decide whether the books are appropriate for their children. But she does make clear that one should read the books FIRST before deciding.
After explaining the apparent secrets behind the phenomenal success of the novels, "What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter" comes out decidedly pro-Harry, thankfully. It makes the point that J.K. Rowling is simply following in the best traditions of fantasy writers that preceded her, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Roald Dahl; indeed, it is mentioned that Rowling took Lewis' "Narnia" series as part inspiration for her books. Neal also points out that many evangelicals have been inconsistent in their application or desire for censorship or at least keeping certain books away from the hands of children; they'll favor "Narnia" but deride Harry Potter -- even though both series delve heavily into witchcraft, divination and unimaginable atrocities. Her analysis of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is particularly instructive: Scrooge is astrally projected from his body during his meeting with the three spirits; by the standards of the critics therefore, if Harry Potter is to be banned, so should the Scrooge story. Neal explains why this is simply outrageous.
Neal shows how the Harry Potter series can be used as an evangelizing tool, and even applies the "WWJD?
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Format: Paperback
Several months ago I picked up this book out of sheer curiosity, assuming that it was just another Harry-basher. To my pleasant surprise, however, I found that it was in fact a refreshingly unbiased and intelligent discussion of the story of Harry Potter. Connie Neal explains not only why the books are popular, but also the values readers can learn from them and even their correlations with biblical principles.
I think this is an excellent book on the topic of Harry Potter for two reasons. One, the author presents J.K. Rowling's series as literature rather than as a mere cultural phenomenon. I am a Christian who has grown up on classic fantasy by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum and other notable writers, and I have always thought that the Harry Potter books belong in this category. To me, they are simply good morality tales embellished with magical feasts for the imagination. As Connie Neal points out, classic fantasy uses magic as a literary device to make stories more exciting; writers of the genre usually make it clear that this magic is set within the context of an imaginary world and does not bear any direct correlation with the real-world practices of witchcraft and the occult. I believe Harry Potter should be examined within the context of the fantasy genre, and Connie does an admirable job of giving J.K. Rowling's stories fair treatment in this way.
The second reason I highly recommend this book is that Connie makes an earnest effort to bridge the gap between the two extremes of the Harry Potter debate by getting at the true heart of the argument: simply put, we must agree to disagree. And we must *graciously* agree. Most authors who write on controversial topics aim to persuade the reader to agree with their viewpoint.
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