Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From the Wall Street Journal review of Harry Potter . . .



I read this in Tuesday morning's Wall Street Journal. Meghan Cox Gurdon has written a wonderful review of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" . . . and the word is out! J.K. Rowling is a believer, and Harry is filled with Christian themes. I love it!


Snippets from the WSJ review:

“It has been widely observed that J.K. Rowling owes a creative debt to Christian fantasists JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis (apart from their fondness for initials). It’s odd now to remember that, at the same time, some parents have objected to the magic depicted in the Harry Potter books as glorification of satanic practices. For “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” confirms something else apart from the well-thought-out-ness of Ms. Rowling’s moral universe: It is subtly but unmistakably Christian.”

"The principal Hogwarts holidays have always been Christmas and Easter, but it took five books before Ms. Rowling really began tipping her hand. In Book Six, “Harry Potter and the half-blood prince,” she addressed concepts of free will, the power of love, and the sanctity of the soul. But in the final volume she gently lays it all out. The preciousness of each human life; bodily resurrection after death; mercy, forgiveness and redemption; sacrificial love overcoming the powers of evil—strip away the elves, goblins, broomsticks and magic wands and these are the concepts that underpin the marvelously intricate world of Harry Potter.

(The author goes on to point out a silver cross that appears, and two unattributed New Testament quotations recur in the story . . .)

"He discovers on the Dumbledore family tomb “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” . . . And on the grave of his own parents, he finds this: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” . . .

"Near the end, Harry visits the hereafter, where he sees joy coming to those who in life were merciful and agony meted out to those who were cruel and remorseless.

"Many readers may not even notice these intimations of Christian spirituality. There’s nothing finger-pointingly didactic here; the story is too well-made to insist on anything so obvious as a proselytizing message. . . We have in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” skillfully plotted drama, entertaining characters in a fantastically imagined world, and a moral contest that would not be out of place in Aeschyulus or, for that matter, Philip Pullman. . . ."

Speaking of reviews, there's a really well-done review of THE ELEVATOR here.

~~Angie

10 comments:

Carrie K. said...

I stayed up last night until 1 a.m. reading Deathly Hallows. I finally succumbed to exhaustion and went to bed. I still have about 100 pages left. During the scene in the graveyard, where the two New Testament quotes were found, I found myself sobbing. Not because of the emotions evident in the story - though they are there - but because of what Christians have done to J.K. Rowling. How her heart must have hurt to have fellow believers villify her as a Satanist, someone who wants to harm children, etc. I hope many, many Christians read the reviews of Deathly Hallows and look into the series for themselves, and maybe seek forgiveness for any slander or false accusations they have made toward her.

Angela said...

Good point, Carrie. In retrospect, as I look back over the ten years or so of Harry Potter, I have to admire Ms. Rowling's remarkable forebearance. She hasn't complained, explained, or defended herself . . . and I don't think I'd have been as quick to stand back and remain silent. There's a lesson to be learned here, I think . . . I'm sure there is a time to speak up and a time to refrain from speaking.

Angie

Shauna said...

Sadly, there are still some (many?) Christians who are openly condemning Rowling and any so-called Christians (in their words) who enjoy her books. It's really disheartening to think that anyone would actually question my faith in Christ because I read and enjoyed the books, but a recent anonymous comment on my blog implied just that.

Incidentally, I started reading The Elevator on Friday and got halfway through it before it was FINALLY time for Harry to be released, then I read that all day and finished your book the next day. I didn't get much else done this weekend, needless to say! ;) I liked the book, and it definitely kept me guessing.

Anonymous said...

Loved the review for "The Elevator" - right on! Clyde

ohamanda said...

I finished Harry in about one sitting...and I thought the same thing---what great Christian values. I loved the 2 scriptures. Thanks for sharing the review.

Deena said...

I have to be honest...I used to be one that bashed Jo and her writing...til my Mom got through to me. She said "How do you know since you haven't read them? That's not like you, Deena, to take someone else's word for it." She was right. So I read the first novel, and I was amazed and touched by the messages I found in these books. It was never about the magic. It was always about the characters, and the character we have ourselves.

I adored book 7, and have noticed that there are now critics who blast Jo FOR her Christian elements...but that's what makes good fantasy...a higher message...in my humble opinion.

Forgive me, Jo. Now I see...and I love it all!

Kathy said...

Haven't read Harry yet--I usually wait for the book on tape and listen to it while I'm on the treadmill.

I took the Elevator on vacation to finish it. When I was done I went to get another book and discovered I didn't have any with me (!! Who took the book out of my car??I always leave one in there for trains etc.) so I reread it!! Skipped the elevator and walked the three flights to our room each time!

Laura in Texas said...

I'm curious about this post --- and the newspaper review -- has Ms. Rowling herself said she's a believer, or are people making assumptions based on the end of Deathly Hallows? Just curious. I loved the book and noticed the parallels as I read those sections -- and was intrigued by the two scripture references -- but I've never heard or read her say anything about being a believer.

Amy said...

Great question Laura, and the answer is yes. From the Vancouver Sun in 2000......

"Harry, of course, is able to battle supernatural evil with supernatural forces of his own, and Rowling is quite clear that she doesn't personally believe in that kind of magic -- ''not at all.'' Is she a Christian?

''Yes, I am,'' she says. ''Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.''"

Laura in Texas said...

Thanks. I'm glad to hear it.