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Looking for God in Harry Potter Paperback – February 17, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Granger (no relation to fellow brainiac Hermione), a homeschooling Christian father of seven, initially resisted when a friend encouraged him to read the Harry Potter books. But Rowling's novels, sprinkled with literary allusions and strong biblical values, won the classicist over quickly, and he became an avid spokesperson for the series. This book transcends the responses of some other Christian writers (those in support, like Connie Neal, or in sloppy accusations, like Richard Abanes) to offer a serious literary and Christian appraisal of the first five books. Granger begins with the thesis that all humans are "wired" to respond to "stories that reflect the greatest story ever told," including that of Harry's struggle against evil. The best part of the book is Granger's lucid commentary on Rowling's use of language—the insights into character names alone are worth the price of admission—and his keen awareness of word play. Although some arguments are a stretch, and there are a few tiny mistakes (in a footnote, for example, Granger claims that the hero of James and the Giant Peach was named James Potter, like Harry's dad, when it was James Henry Trotter), this is obviously a painstakingly researched book. It is easily the best examination to date of the spiritual legacy of "the boy who lived."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

This production is an effective synergy of writer and reader. While a few of his interpretations are contrived, for the most part, John Granger approaches the Harry Potter novels with focused intelligence, scholarship, and wit. This wit, along with Granger's personal asides and the illustrative quotations from the novels, is what narrator Nick Sandys builds on to make his delivery a delight. Sandys enters fully into Granger's perspective, sounding first dubious about Harry Potter's moral importance, then gleefully surprised. Sandys knows how to evoke individual characters well through shifts in tone, and when to linger, as both Granger and J.K. Rowling do, for emphasis. G.T.B. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: SaltRiver; 2 Updated edition (February 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414306342
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414306346
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Trainor on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Looking for God in Harry Potter is an updated and improved version of Granger's earlier writing on the subject. Not only is this book up to date with reference to every Potter book Rowling has written, it is also edited in a superior fashion. This book succeeds on a number of fronts: 1) It details the important themes of the Potter books extremely well. This has allowed me to enjoy and appreciate the books much more than when I first helped read Sorcerer's Stone to my son. The Potter stories are great on their own but Looking for God in Harry Potter allows you to see the deep themes Rowling is baking into these stories. I guarantee you will appreciate her writing skill and the books themselves significantly more after reading this guide. 2)This has helped me to reinforce the themes in the Potter books, which are really the great themes we are faced with in life, for my son. It has given me an informed, adult view on Rowling's writing that has created many "teachable moments" with my son.

I consider myself a decent reader but, to be honest, it's amazing how much I missed in Rowling's books that John Granger has captured in great detail. From the themes in each of the Potter books to the hidden meaning of most of the character's names--the detail and analysis will astound you if you are a Potter fan. If you'd like to see a serious treatment of Rowling's world as literature--and benefit from the experience--this is your book.

If you are a Christian reader who has felt a bit guilty in your love (or your children's) for the Potter books I urge you to buy this book. The loud, opposing voices in the Christian media have created a dangerous image for Rowling's stories and you may know people who have warned you not to let Harry Potter into your home.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not only an excellent answer to any religous relative you have who claims that the Harry Potter series is a demonic plot to misguide Christian youth (well, I've been hearing that), it may also be the first serious academic-type analysis of that series.

The author lays out his bona fides early on to be deciding whether books may be pro- or anti-Christian. He is a father who does not even allow television in his house and originally read Harry Potter to screen it when one of his children brought it home. He expected to forbid it and only wanted to be able to say what exactly is wrong with it (if only every modern Pharisee were so thoughtful) and instead found the book in the aligorical tradition of the Narnia series. The characters and settings might be wizards and magic, but he lays out a case that the subtext and underlying story is more New Testament.

On the one hand he lays out the differences between the sorcery banned in the Bible and portrayed in the book. I'll shorten it to say the bible condemns INVOCATIONAL magic which CALLS demons and powers from the "other side" as not just profane, but a bad idea because those beings rarely want to do what you want them to. J.K. Rowling's characters do INCANTATIONAL magic by NAMING the thing they want--light, disarm, etc. And the word became flesh. This he argues is different and not the threat the former type of magic poses. Granger explains it much better.

And on another track he lays out the similarities between Harry's story and Biblical narratives we are "supposed" to read.
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Granger has refined and sharpened his already-potent message of how these phenomenally successful books have such broad appeal and why they deserve to be taken seriously as literature from his first book on the subject (Hidden Key to Harry Potter, 2003). Granger's base message is that love conquers death, a fundamental principle of Christian thinking ... but it is a message that has resonance for others as well. Granger shows compellingly how Harry is resurrected from the dead via sacrificial love and/or a clear Christian symbol in each of the 5 books. Accordingly, I thought his writing was at his strongest in Chapter 7, titled "The Triumph of Love Over Death."
I always enjoy hearing (or reading) Granger's explanation of the alchemical imagery and structure in the Harry Potter novels. Once the reader understands the basics of alchemy and its uses in great literature, it is possible to appreciate the rich layers in these novels so much more. I think that appreciation of the alchemical structure and symbolism, following a grand tradition in British literature in particular, is fundamental to really understanding these books, and this is an area of analysis of Rowling's work not previously touched on by many (or any?) scholars. The chapters in Granger's book relating to the symbolism replete in the Harry Potter novels, as well as the name meanings, are also a joy to read.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book-by-book analysis, which is perhaps an excellent starting point for Christians who are skeptical or even hostile to Rowling's novels. Granger's analysis of each of these books is so compelling that it should foster questions and reflective thought in even the staunchest of critics.
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