Sunday, December 05, 2010

Frowning on Harry

I remember the moment quite vividly. It was sometime in the late 1990s, probably late 1998. I was driving into the garage of our first home, listening to the Voice of Prophecy broadcast on the local Christian radio station. At the time, I did not know that this brief radio program was presented by the Seventh Day Adventists, all I knew is that the guy was a good speaker and his words made sense; he was compelling. (I later parted ways with this broadcaster when he espoused Annihilation.)

It was dark outside, and I was particularly interested in the broadcast because the topic was Harry Potter, who was all the rage in the United States. Of course, I hadn’t read Harry Potter, but had certainly heard about him through the media. The books were wildly popular to say the least.

What I remember is that the speaker, Lonnie Melashenko, was chastising J. K. Rowling for not doing as Tolkien had done, namely, including a Christ figure in her books. Since at this time, only a few (maybe two or three) of the Harry Potter books were published in the US, Lonnie acknowledged that Rowling still had time to get her story right and include the Gandalf-like character who would help redeem the books. The gist of the broadcast (at least how I remember it 11 years later) was that Rowling will not have gotten her story right unless she has a redeeming Christ figure in it.

This broadcast, along with the general Christian milieu in which I lived, reinforced a negative view of Harry Potter that I have carried for years. I was attending a good, gospel-preaching church at the time, yet as I look back, I realize that the theological and intellectual level there was much different than what I am used to now. There was a fundamentalist bent at our church which was afraid of both Halloween and Harry Potter. Whether or not a good Christian family should let their kids out on Halloween was a significant point of discussion. Likewise, reading Harry Potter was frowned on.

The point, then, is that I have carried a negative view of Harry Potter for years….

This post is the first in what I hope will be multiple posts on the subject of literature in general, and Harry Potter in specific (and maybe even a little epistemology thrown in for fun). I want to construct my story/argument carefully, so I will try not to give too much away too soon. Stay tuned for more.

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