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.