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What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? Paperback – May 15, 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In January, this column panned a Harry-bashing evangelical book called Harry Potter and the Bible, from Christian Publications. Now, PW is happy to point to a much more thoughtful Christian take on the young wizard phenom: Connie Neal's What's a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? In the storm of controversy, Neal navigates a via media by offering support to Christians who have decided to boycott the series, but also giving suggestions to parents who wish to read and discuss the books with their children. Spiritual discernment, Neal says, is the key for any Christian and an important quality to help children develop.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"...get ahold of Connie Neal's book. ... Christian discourse would dramatically improve if we followed her example". -- Michael G. Maudlin, Christianity Today International, Executive Editor of Christian Parenting Today magazine

"Harry is now part of the culture. Learn from it; and allow Connie Neal to help you and your children." -- Stephen Arterburn, founder and chairman of Women of Faith and New Life Clinics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook (May 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578564719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578564712
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,295,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Weaver on March 31, 2005
Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback
If you think any Christian who would be concerned about the Harry Potter books is a right-wing fundamentalist from the dark ages, don't read this book. If you are a serious Christian who wants to know whether your kids should be reading Harry Potter, or whether you should, THIS IS THE BOOK TO READ. Do NOT waste your time with "Pokemon & Harry Potter: A Fatal Attraction" or "Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick." Those authors are only a couple steps from the Inquisition, and they simply don't understand literature and how it works. Connie Neal, who works for Focus on the Family, explains why the Harry Potter books ARE good for Christian children. She explains the difference between the "wizardry" in these books and the witchcraft books found in the New Age section of your local bookstore. She shows how you can help your children find God in the Harry Potter books. I have a Ph.D. in literature and I teach the Bible on the college level and edit a theological journal, so I'm better qualified than most to say that the Harry Potter books are significant from both the literary and the spiritual viewpoints. They are at heart about the battle between good and evil, the same battle that swirls around us, and about the forces that are trying to lead us to choose the good and the competing forces trying to lead us into darkness. If you help your children find these themes in the books, the books can have a powerful influence for good.
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Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, the apparent answer commonly given to Neal's question is "Panic". The most widely reported and distributed Christian responses have been littered with hysterical, inaccurate and inconsistent reports of what the Harry Potter books are going to do to young children near you. In a pleasing contrast, Neal presents an informed and balanced account and analysis of the Harry Potter phenomenon. She begins her book by presenting a wide sample of Christian writing on the Harry Potter books. Neal suggests a view of the Christian church big enough to accommodate both people who enjoy reading the Harry Potter stories and those who do not see the books as suitable for Christian families. While Neal goes on to argue in favour of the books and to see opportunities in their popularity, she maintains respect for those who may choose to disagree with her views. Neal ably categorises the Harry Potter stories as fantasy, bringing with them many of the elements of classic children's stories. As such, she questions the legitimacy of imposing on parts of the story meanings inconsistent with their use in the story itself. However, Neal does recognise risks associated with the various motifs of magic and witchcraft employed in the Harry Potter stories and devotes two chapters to a Bible-based response to these issues. The books are definitely not "How to" manuals on magic - as another writer put it, the magic in Harry Potter is on a similar level to the technology in 'Star Trek' (Hertenstein) - but Neal is alert to the curiosity about such things the books may arouse. She suggests this may in fact provide an opportunity for parents to discuss with their children the dangers associated with magic and witchcraft.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Several months ago I picked up this book out of sheer curiosity, assuming that it was just another Harry-basher. To my pleasant surprise, however, I found that it was in fact a refreshingly unbiased and intelligent discussion of the story of Harry Potter. Connie Neal explains not only why the books are popular, but also the values readers can learn from them and even their correlations with biblical principles.
I think this is an excellent book on the topic of Harry Potter for two reasons. One, the author presents J.K. Rowling's series as literature rather than as a mere cultural phenomenon. I am a Christian who has grown up on classic fantasy by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum and other notable writers, and I have always thought that the Harry Potter books belong in this category. To me, they are simply good morality tales embellished with magical feasts for the imagination. As Connie Neal points out, classic fantasy uses magic as a literary device to make stories more exciting; writers of the genre usually make it clear that this magic is set within the context of an imaginary world and does not bear any direct correlation with the real-world practices of witchcraft and the occult. I believe Harry Potter should be examined within the context of the fantasy genre, and Connie does an admirable job of giving J.K. Rowling's stories fair treatment in this way.
The second reason I highly recommend this book is that Connie makes an earnest effort to bridge the gap between the two extremes of the Harry Potter debate by getting at the true heart of the argument: simply put, we must agree to disagree. And we must *graciously* agree. Most authors who write on controversial topics aim to persuade the reader to agree with their viewpoint.
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