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God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister's Defense of the Beloved Novels Hardcover – December 23, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Some Christians find fault with Harry Potter's magical world of witches and wizards. Presbyterian minister Killinger comes to the aid of "the boy who lived," arguing that he is an "often unwitting Christ figure" whose story draws on Christian themes and teaches useful lessons. Killinger finds many parallels in the history of Christian storytelling, both inside and outside of the Bible, to J.K. Rowling's grab bag of characters, motifs and creatures. But his interpretations are strained, often well beyond the breaking point. One can imagine that Rowling is alluding to the philosophical concept of "quiddity" with the name "Quidditch"-though why exactly that should matter Killinger never makes clear. But when he suggests that the lightning-bolt-shaped scar on Harry's forehead recalls a few Old Testament scholars' belief that the divine name YHWH originally meant "lightning," he is simply indulging in etymological conspiracy theories. Potter fanatics will be alarmed that Killinger gets the composition of Voldemort 's wand wrong (it is made of yew, not oak), but most everyone else will have stopped reading by then anyway. Killinger's fellow mainline Protestants are not troubled by Harry Potter, and conservative Christians will hardly be reassured by Killinger's fondness for Jungian archetypes and parapsychology. Francis Bridger's A Charmed Life has already covered this territory, with far greater success.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Advance Praise for God, the Devil and Harry Potter

“At last! A sensible Christian reading of Harry Potter. ... Remember, even Jesus himself was accused of necromancy by his enemies!” --Harvey Cox, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School, author of Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian’s Journey Through the Jewish Year

“A great read ... A wonderful antidote to some of the sheer silliness and malice of other religious commentators on the Potter books.” --Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary, New York

“Augustine said that Christian truth is ever ancient and ever new. John Killinger has placed Christian truth in a significant new setting, the struggle of good and evil in the Harry Potter novels. His book is a must-read for all who seek to understand these best-selling novels and how the Gospel intersects with them. Creativity abounds, not just in Rowling’s novels, but also in Killinger’s analysis.” --Dr. William B. Oden, resident bishop of The United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas

“John Killinger brings the mind of a theologian and the heart of a writer to the task of successfully uncovering deep Christian values and traditions in the Harry Potter stories. For fans of Harry Potter, Killinger’s scholarship can only deepen their enthusiasm. For Harry Potter’s naysayers, Dr. Killinger’s book adds convincing new arguments to the discussion.”
---Robert D. Black, executive producer of 30 Good Minutes and president of Chicago Sunday Evening Club

“It is always such a joy to read a book written by John Killinger. He is a breath of fresh air in a world of oppressive conservatism which sees evil in so many good things. His latest book, God, the Devil, and Harry Potter: A Christian Minister’s Defense of the Beloved Novels, is a delightfully playful and enjoyable diagnosis of the popular Harry Potter series. I am sure others will find the same refreshing experience as I did in this wonderful defense of Harry Potter against the modern-day Inquisition.” --Fr. Joseph F. Girzone, author of the Joshua series and Trinity: A New Living Spirituality
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (December 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312308698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312308698
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,768,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a fellow pastor AND fan of the Harry Potter novels, I picked up this book with much interest. The introduction was intriguing enough, so I proceeded with the book. There is no doubt in my mind that evangelicals will dismiss this book as blasphemous. Harry Potter as Jesus? Dumbledore as God the Father? Fawkes as the Holy Spirit?? While I recognize the merit of Killinger's basic argument--that many of the themes in the Potter books are themes that have a Christian basis (if not an outright Christian character--I felt that his comparisons are exaggerated or altogether too weak to stand.
Of course, like others, I am totally embarrassed by the Christians who have dismissed the Potter books as "evil." I was hoping this book might be a reasonable, substantive argument against those accusations. Alas, it is not. In fact, it reads more like a synopsis of each of the Potter books in print with some theology thrown in to boot. Killinger's admiration for the Potter books stands out more strongly than any argument he makes for the books not being anti-Christian.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By tbearlupin on January 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
(First of all, this is coming from a huge [Christian] fan of the HP books.) While some of his points do make since, most are not sufficiently explained, and are therefore unbelieveable. Killinger makes a lot of glaring mistakes; for example, he doesn't seem to understand the concept of a dementor other than the fact that it can (can being the main word) suck out one's soul. He also gives quite a few incorrect discriptions of exact events in the books. (An example: He said that Hagrid had turned Vernon Dursley to a pig in Sorcerer's Stone, but he actually gave DUDLEY Dursley a pig's TAIL.) The one crucial point that I think he has actually brought across is the role of good vs. evil in the series.
Overall, if you are a person who is looking to see if the series is appropriote for you or your children, buy this book. Otherwise, if you are a fan looking for a good defence of the books, don't waste your time.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Wgner on May 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While reading this book I got the impression that Killinger wrote this book to refute Abanes's book on Harry Potter. He was irate over what Abanes wrote (which I completely understand) and so he posted his defense. However, he slips into many of the same mistakes as Abanes, although going the opposite direction.
1. He lambasts anti-Potterists as narrow-minded and numbskulls...it isn't going to win any friends.
2. His mainline Christian tendencies come out in force when he's quoting the Bible, referencing the JEDP hypothesis, an eschatological redaction of the Gospels, and Tillich's views on the mythological meaning of the resurrection. Along with referring to the Nativity as a "legend" he is hardly making any friends or credibility with the fundalementalists who have probably already have passed him off as a "so-called Christian" who is a part of Satan's deception.
3. If you did not understand the vocabulary of my last point, you will not understand the vocabulary of Killinger. I got a Religion degree from an Evangelical school, but even I had a hard time keeping up with his over-use of theologically-laden terms. Fortunately, he has enough sense to explain kerygma in an subordinate clause, but why even use it in a popular book anyway? Unless you have taken a few Theology or Bible classes, you're going to need a Theological Reference book by you at all times.
4. I consider myself well-read in the area of great Christian thinkers, but even I had to pause frequently before Killingers large block quotes to place the authors, ranging from Chesterson, Buechner, Nouwen, to Merton. Great people, but not read much outside the small Christian academic circle. A little help would be nice to understand who these people and why we should listen to them.
5.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amaranth on April 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
While the title of this book looks promising,its content leaves much to be desired.At times, Rev. Killinger has a rollicking read, cleverly weaving Scripture and passages from the Harry Potter novels. MOST of the time, however, he is clunky,pedantic, and tries to string together unrelated ideas. Killinger opens the book bragging about how many churches he has led,and ends up being the mirror-image,mainline version of Richard Abanes,author of the "Harry Potter and the Bible" rant.

For example, when Killinger discusses Harry summoning his father's spirit as a Patronus,he drags in the New Age bestseller "Embraced by the Light", the Tibetan Book of the Dead,and Paul's letter to the Hebrews about the "cloud of witnesses." In another section,when trying to refute the Harry Potter series' connection to the occult,he does a laundry list of miracles in the Old and New Testaments,as well as various Christian saints,that goes on for several pages.He engages in constant name-dropping,referencing Henri Nouwen's "The Wounded Healer",Marcus Borg's "Meeting Jesus again for the first time",the Apocryphal Gospels,and equating the spiritual consciousness in the series with the famous tree-sitter Julia Butterfly-Hill,who in turn he equates with "the Buddhists of the 1970s who set themselves aflame for world peace."

Killinger nobly attempts to defend the Christian content of the Harry Potter series.While he tries admirably,he fails spectacularly.
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