Customer Review

154 of 157 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that encourages respect, March 31, 2005
This review is from: What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? (Paperback)
I'm probably coming from a rather different place than most of the other reviewers. I'm not a Christian, and I picked up this book after I'd agreed to read a passage from the first Harry Potter novel at a reading of banned books. I wanted to know more about the reasons the books had been banned in the first place and a book written from a Christian perspective caught my eye.

What really impressed me about Neal's book is how respectful it is. It's so easy for both sides of this cultural divide to just dismiss each other--you're either a secular Satanist or you're a fundamentalist yahoo. I think it's this lack of respect that Neal is really trying to get at. She thinks the debate over the Harry Potter books is worth having but she wants it to be a reasonable, thoughtful, respectful debate. The book is really a warning against some of the unthinking traps that Christians fall into when they criticize the Potter series. But it's also a plea to take the cultural debate seriously. She admonishes Christians for not being more serious about the debate--for simply accepting what they've heard about the books without reading them or thinking about the issues in context. (For example, she says that, yes, there are mythical and magical creatures in the Potter stories but also points out that such creatures exist in stories by Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Dickens. The point is to figure out what these creatures are doing in the context of the novels, not merely to see that there are such creatures in the books and simply stop there.) But she also speaks to non-believers like me. There's a passage in chapter seven where she writes: "I must add a word for any reader who does not believe there are invisible and evil spirit beings seeking to influence and harm ususpecting people . . . . Can you see how people who believe there are would rightfully be alarmed over others telling their kids, 'Don't worry. All the witchraft and questionable practices depicted in the Harry Potter books are just fantasy.'" And, I had to admit that my response was, yes, I could.

It's this tone--of trying to get people to understand and respect both sides of the argument and both sides of the Christian/secular divide that I think makes it a really remarkable book. Connie Neal gives me hope that Christians and secularlists can really talk to each other and not at each other.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2010 5:18:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2010 10:11:32 AM PST
Connie Neal says:
As the author, this review makes me very happy. Writing "What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter?" was one of the greatest challenges of my writing career, precisely for the reasons this reviewer points out. I was trying to bring together three divergent audiences, address the concerns of all three -- and help them grow to understand one another better -- without having any toss the book aside before that task was complete. This review assures me that it was worth all the careful scholarship and enduring the media and e-mail attacks during those heated times. Thank you.

Posted on Dec 1, 2010 8:29:25 AM PST
Joie_Fatale says:
I like your review! Sadly, I never see the non-Christian in support of the idea that we Christians have a right to hold our beliefs. I only ever read Christians who are fed-up with the crazy "Religious Right" and Tea Baggers promoting this. Which I find to be saddest of all.
That aside, your review is one of the most helpful.

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 10:18:13 AM PDT
MMcc says:
I appreciate this review, while the reviewer isn't a Christian, they chose not to bash either perspective and really addressed I think what the author Neal was trying to convey...Thank you. My son loves the Potter series, we try to convey to him the difference between good/evil and makebelieve and reality. This review and book really makes me feel like our decisions to allow potter books/films into our "Christian" household are okay as long as we don't lose our perspective.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2013 6:16:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2013 6:16:43 PM PST
Topaz says:
You can hold on to your beliefs; that doesn't mean they aren't stupid.
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