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The Gospel According to Harry Potter: Spirituality in the Stories of the World's Most Famous Seeker Paperback – September 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664226019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664226015
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Westminster John Knox Press had a hit a generation ago with The Gospel According to Peanuts, and is now rapidly expanding the franchise, with The Gospel According to the Simpsons released last year and titles on J.R.R. Tolkien and Disney still to come. This entry by Neal (What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter?) takes on J.K. Rowling's conservative Christian critics with an exhaustive enumeration of parallels some striking, some skimpy between Rowling's fictional world and the tenets of Christian belief. Platform nine and three-quarters becomes a reminder of the nature of faith; Albus Dumbledore shows mercy much like the Christian God. Neal is well aware that pagan readers of the series can find plenty of parallels of their own to the world of witchcraft, and she admits that such prooftexting is only marginally more substantial than finding castles and chariots in cloud formations, but she plods on doggedly nonetheless. The overall effect is disappointing on two fronts. Readers will find little here that genuinely illuminates Rowling's moral or literary vision, at least any more than Dumbledore does himself in his more sermonic moments. And juxtaposed with Harry's fantastic world, the claims of Christianity seem to lose rather than gain plausibility, becoming just another interesting fairy tale. Still, Christian fans of Harry will be glad that someone is countering the critics, and Neal's earnest writing may win both Rowling and the Gospels a few new readers.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author of more than 30 books, Neal (What's a Christian To Do with Harry Potter) makes another entry in the field of explication of Harry Potter according to Gospel standards. While such an effort may seem ill-conceived to the casual observer, Neal's attempt is far from the first of its kind (think of The Gospel According to Peanuts) and not alone in the current book market (think of The Gospel According to the Simpsons, by which the author admits she was inspired). Neal's approach is not surprising, drawing moral lessons from Rowling's explicitly moral books, adding her own Scriptural parallels but her defense of the books should be a welcome ally for many librarians and readers who have seen the Potter series assailed for its depiction of magic. For most collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Connie Neal is a trusted best-selling author who writes on family, marriage, parenting, communication, and pop culture. She has authored dozens of books which have been featured in Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Decision, Entertainment Weekly, Marriage Partnership, PBS, and media worldwide. She has a BA in Communication from Pepperdine University; MS in Education, Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University. She has edited & contributed to five major Bible projects and toured America as a speaker for Women of Faith. She is the premier Christian authority on Harry Potter. Her Instructional Design work helps others communicate more effectively using new media. Now she is transitioning content online (through Kindle Direct Publishing) and to online learning in keeping with research-based multimedia principles to enhance understanding.

Customer Reviews

It is an enjoyable read all on it's own and has a lot of "I never thought of that" ideas.
God's Muggle
Not only does He know our names, but He sees every detail of where we are, and He will not allow anything to stop us from receiving our invitation to His Kingdom.
D. Torres
I highly recommend this book to parents looking to connect with their children in a similar way.
Novel Teen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By John W. Morehead on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had the privilege of providing some editorial review to the manuscript for this book prior to its publication. I became aware of Mrs. Neal's work through her previous volume on the controversial Harry Potter series, and was intrigued by her approach and perspective. She continues this fine work with this latest volume.
It is no secret that the Harry Potter series has set off a firestorm of controversy. In Western popular culture the dividing lines have been drawn over the series (now expressed in film with the second film due in theaters in November in the U.S.), with a polarization between pro- and anti-Potter perspectives. Traditionally, evangelical Christianity has a track record of articulating many valid concerns about the rise and influence of Paganism in American culture, but little work has been done addressing just why so many are rejecting the church in favor of alternative spiritual pathways, or creatively engaging popular culture to mine various concepts that can be used as bridges to communicate the gospel. Thankfully, _The Gospel According to Harry Potter_ provides a remedy to this situation.
Mrs. Neal recognizes that both pro- and ant-Potter advocates can (and will) find elements to support their contrary views on Potter. Thus, Mrs. Neal specifically states that she is not writing to articulate a pro-Potter position, but rather, she is looking at the Potter series with the specific intention of finding elements within the series that discerning Christians can use as bridges for communication to individuals interested in Potter (and perhaps the general fantasy genre as well).
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Anthony G Pizza VINE VOICE on August 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Evangelical and other devout Christians distrust popular culture and at times see it with outright hostility. This has been true in theater, on radio (Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman's wailing "Why should the devil have all the good music?") at toy stores and bookstands. J.K. Rowling's wildly successful Harry Potter book series is notable here, its themes of supernatural powers, combined with huge sales to pre-teens, inspiring criticism and even misguided protests such as library lawsuits and book burnings.
Recently, however, many conservative Christians have come to respect the Potter books for sophisticated portrayals of good and evil. Connie Neal addresses her Potter interpretation "The Gospel According to Harry Potter" to these Christians plus the few left who remain hostile toward a book series many of them never read.
Ms. Neal traverses through the first four Potter books, summing overlaying themes of each. She selects episodes (standing on the 9 ¾ platform, the shrinking door keys mystery, Ginny Weasley's rescue), character profiles (false faces of Professor Quirrell and Mad-Eye Moody, consistent citing of Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore as a God-like figure) and character quotes. She then relates this at length to a Biblical story or theme, constantly focusing on the panoramic, constant battle between good and evil and subtleties within it. (Neal states on its front cover no one involved with the Potter series proper has authorized this book. Perhaps this is reason Neal provides a teaspoon of Potter followed by two cups of Bible.)
Ms. Neal, perhaps for Christian unity or not wanting to put Christian words into Harry's lightning-scarred head, fails somewhat to directly contradict anti-Potter views or any of the series' darker themes.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By "hollygirl717" on March 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
Connie Neal has written a gem of a book that any parent or caregiver can use to help the child(ren) in their life benefit from the moral reflection available in the Harry Potter books. It is so wonderful to see a Christian using sanity, reason, and common sense in dealing with the Potter phenomenon instead of the knee-jerk reactions made by so many Christian "leaders" who don't even bother to READ THE BOOKS before they condemn them. Way to go, Connie. Thank you.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is wonderful! It is really helpful.
I started reading the Harry Potter books after the second movie came out and I loved them! The only problem was that all my friends hated them and said they were evil, satanistic, etc. When ever I tried to bring the subject up they would change it immediatly. As a last straw I bought this book and read it. It was truely amazing. It makes so many connections between my two fave books. So one day at school I gave this to my best friend and told her to read it. Well, she didn't at first but I finally persuaded her to. After she did, she told me that she may have been wrong about HP and was sorry for judging it before even reading them. About a week later during lunch she came up to me and told me that she had actually watched the movie! While she's not as big of a fanatic as me, she still enjoys them.
This book is a great way to show your friends that Harry Potter is not at all what the christian critics make it out to be. I highly recommend this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Sanders on April 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
I found Neal's book to be an interesting approach to the controversy between Christian Potter lovers and haters, yet I felt it was a rather weak and unimpressive attempt on Neal's part.

In Neal's introduction, she claims to have a dual purpose in writing the book: 1) to present a counterargument to the idea that just because one can examine the series and "find things [that] can correlate to real-world occult practices" (Neal viii), this proves that the Harry Potter books are about witchcraft, and 2) "to interest people who have been turned off by traditional ways of communicating the [gospel] message" (Neal xiii).

To be fair, I do believe that Neal technically achieved both of these goals in her book; she does present a compelling counterargument to the idea that the Potter books are about witchcraft, and her writing does seem to have the potential to interest people in the gospel who have been turned off by traditional evangelistic methods.

However, I believe her first goal is achieved even before reaching the midpoint of the book, and the remainder of the book feels tedious and petty. Concerning her second goal, I believe the non-Christian reader's interest may be piqued by Neal's unconventional communication of the gospel, yet the author's continual reemphasis of a handful of biblical truths seems likely to detract from the power of her evangelistic effort. The reader will likely experience déjà vu every few chapters: "Hasn't the author previously explained, thoroughly, this exact same point half a dozen times?"

A word of advice for would-be authors: do not achieve your goals halfway through a book. If you find you have made your point after only 80 pages, end the book there.
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