There is no denying Harry’s popularity as ‘Book 6’ breaks all sales records.
And amongst certain branches of Christianity the debate seems to rumble on about whether or not Christians should be reading about ‘witchcraft’ and the like (a really good summary article of both positions here).
But having finished reading The Deathly Hallows yesterday, and also having watched Order of the Phoenix (OOP) on the same day, it strikes me that this argument is often carried out on far too superficial a level.
In the past I have defended the books on the basis of their general ‘moral framework’ of good and evil. But I now think that the reality is less positive than that.
In OOP, Sirius tells Harry, “We all have dark and light within us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.” Although positively this avoids the naive assumption that everyone is ‘good’, this kind of self-determinism is clearly a long way away from the Biblical picture of mankind helpless to choose the good without the work of the Spirit.
There is more to be said about the worldview of Harry Potter, but I am convinced that it is precisely because this mirrors so accurately the worldview of so many in the West that the book has done so well. In saying this I acknowledge firstly, that this may happen on an entirely subconscious level for many if not most readers and secondly, that it is also an excellent story which keeps its reader gripped.
So the ‘danger’ for Christians reading or watching HP, is that they do so with an uncritical mind, and begin to accept the worldview presented there, rather than critically evaluating it against the Biblical truth.
(For further reading, Hollywood Jesus provide a typically stimulating discussion of OOP here)