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on September 26, 2005
Connie Neal hits a home-run with this book! She gives an overview of the first four Harry Potter books, then draws scriptural parallels with incidents from each.

For example, in the first book, Harry has been raised by relatives who have tried to keep him as down-trodden as possible; they are determined to keep the truth of his identity a secret from him. But one day he receives a mysterious letter not only addressed to him personally, but also to exactly where he sleeps! "Mr. H. Potter, Cupboard Under The Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey". His Uncle destroys the letter before Harry can read it, but more keep coming every day. No matter how hard Uncle Vernon tries to evade the letters and to keep Harry from reading one, every one of them knows exactly where Harry is. Finally, in desperation, Uncle Vernon takes the entire family to an island in the sea. The last letter is hand-delivered by a trusted messenger, and is addressed "Mr. H. Potter, The Floor, Hut-On-The-Rock, The Sea".

Here we see a beautiful illustration of "The Unstoppable Invitation" that God sends to each one of us. 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. He even sent a personal messenger to make sure the invitation was delivered! He sees beyond our circumstances and surroundings and knows our true identity and destiny, even when we can't.

Connie Neal's book is an invaluable resource for starting faith-based discussions with your children and friends who have read the books. I am reading through this with my 11-year old daughter, who is as big a Harry Potter fan as I am. I heartily give it two-thumbs up!
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on April 16, 2015
I am enjoying reading this book. As I read the original books I could see that the author was trying to teach morals that I am sure the children were not aware of. It is also a great way to teach the Bible stories.
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on September 24, 2012
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on October 28, 2002
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). Just as the Apostle Paul drew upon various Pagan sources and ideas that were used to communicate the gospel to sophisticated Pagans of the first century, contemporary Christians may wish to explore Mrs. Neal's book for suggestions on evangelizing contemporary Pagans and others interested in spirituality but "turned off" by the church. Although not everyone will agree with her approach, it is worthy of careful consideration.
Mrs. Neal has done the Body of Christ a real service in authoring this book. It is my hope that the efforts of others interested in creative engagement with popular culture on behalf of Christ will be stimulated by this fine volume.
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on April 19, 2007
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. If you continue rambling, the readers will likely lose interest in the remainder of the book and, if they continue reading until the end, will walk away with a bad taste in their mouth. Visionary goals and insightful revelations only make a powerful impact on the reader if they are able to finish a book, reflect on the intriguing arguments presented within it, and walk away continuing to ponder what they have read.

Neal's ideas in and of themselves have a strong potential to influence readers, but in actuality she significantly hindered her books' potential by her presentation of these ideas.
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on July 31, 2007
Connie Neal's book was written before the last book of the Harry Potter series. She can easily and confidently update it now that the series is finished and the truth is even more obvious. I was skeptical about a Gospel connection since I had given credence to the bad press on J.K. Rowling's use of witchcraft before I actually read the series. (I am very ashamed of that now.) I did not comprehend her clever symbolism until I read the last three chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a second time; that's when it hit me squarely between the eyes that Rowling did plow a road into the pagan world that any thinking Christian should be able to use.

Connie Neal caught on quickly to what should have been obvious to the careful reader. The compelling world of Harry Potter did not make paganism and Satanism attractive at all, but she used some of their terminology without any real promotion of real Wiccan style of witchcraft. Rowling's witchcraft was her magic quill and amazing compelling storytelling craft. The parallels to paganism are themselves symbolic of fallen world and so Hogwarts School and the Muggles are various levels of philosophy and logical reasoning. I am afraid that most of us are in the lowest "Muggle" level. (I was more than most)

I am now praising God for J.K. Rowling's genius and am so impressed with how she probably outdid C.S. Lewis and Tolkein both. That is hard for me to say because I have been such a fan of these great Christian thinkers and authors ever since I discovered them as a child. I did not fully understand what their stories were really about until later. I wish somebody would have told me the Gospel when I was a child, it would have been easy for them to use The Lord of the Rings as a vehicle to explain the sacrifice of Christ for the people that He created since I knew there must be something deep and profound about The Lord of the Rings, I just couldn't make the connection for myself until later. I discovered Narnia later and Lewis's "magic" was even clearer to my mind than Tolkein's. (I understood because I had become a believer by that time.)

Not only did J. K. Rowling give us an important tool to reveal the Gospel truth, she taught me to not give up on those who need the Gospel most, those who are looking desperately for some sort of "magic" to help them have power over the madness and ugliness that is stealing hope from the dying world. Evil has been vanquished by the ultimate "Deathly Hallows" of the cross of Christ, now we must get the truth to those who haven't understood 1 Corinthians 15:26 quoted by Rowling that "the last enemy to be destroyed is death." Harry faced the question skeptically at first in symbolism, but his eventual personal discovery has given the neediest in the world the heads up that maybe death and suffering are considered an "enemy" by God. Jesus Christ did in reality what couldn't even be conceived or believed by an uncomprehending, lost world! I also love the way that Harry discovered his treasure and his love was so much with his friends that he was willing to give his life to save them. (I risk giving away too much for those who haven't yet read the Harry Potter series.) Don't be afraid of what you don't know yet.

I plan on helping people who do not know that evil, death and despair have been destroyed in reality. The law of God and the mercy of a loving Savior are still yet to be discovered, but they are well acquainted with Harry Potter's world. It is no great leap now that the light has shone even deeper into the abysmal darkness of the pagan world thanks to J. K. Rowling and people like Connie Neal who have the vision to see and clarify the lost world's obstructed view.
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on June 26, 2010
I recently finished the devotional book I was doing with my son in the mornings before he left for school. So I went to my husband's office and snooped around for a book that might work. (He is a pastor.) And I found this book on his shelf. Since my son loves the Harry Potter stories, I thought this would be a neat book to read with him each day. I was not disappointed. I found this book interesting and insightful. It enabled my son and I to talk about a lot of the different aspects in the Harry Potter stories and compare and contract them with what the Bible says. I enjoyed the discussions that arose with my son from reading each chapter. I highly recommend this book to parents looking to connect with their children in a similar way.
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on August 2, 2003
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. (In personal asides, she recalls criticism received in radio and TV interviews and dealing with fallout from a satirical story on the Onion Web site relating Potter to Satanism.)
A librarian at a Micigan Christian school and webmaster of one of the larger Harry Potter sites recently said of Rowling,"She is writing extremely moral books that show that evil is real and you have to take a stand against it, even at great cost to yourself." Connie Neal effectively relates that bedrock Biblical truth to Harry's spiritual quest. She also compares friends, enemies, mentors, and wolves dressed as sheep Harry encounters to Jesus' own ministry, while retaining Jesus' divinity and Harry's mortality.
To that end, the "Gospel According to Harry Potter" is useful to homilists and Sunday school teachers wanting to relate today's most popular action-adventure story with the first and truest. This book allows non-Potter readers to effectively discuss the series with those who've read them. It is recommended to Scripture readers intrigued by "the boy who lived", essential for Potter readers intrigued by the One who lives.
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on September 19, 2003
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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on January 12, 2004
Our Sunday School class tried to use this book as a basis for a weekly class. While the book itself is engaging and interesting, you really have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to come back to it week after week. The book does not work well for group study -- it is mainly a series of snippets from the novel combined with a Biblical application of that snippet. Each is short -- 2 to 3 pages -- and we found that the application information was highly repetitive. That said, I enjoyed reading the book myself, and would recommend it especially for anyone who's trying to relate the cultural context of Harry Potter to their religious convictions. The author does an outstanding job of pointing out the good in the books.
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