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Wild About Harry?
By : Craig Brown
Rating : Average Rating : 9.60 From 5 Voter(s)
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The boy wizard is back. Opening on July 11th in Australia is the fifth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, and then, on July 21st, we have the worldwide release of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows. Speculation is rife - and has been for some time - that Harry will be killed off in this book, thereby releasing author J K Rowling from constant pestering whether she would do a new series. Believe me, the world is about to go wild about Harry. A few years ago, it concerned me that more fundamentalist churches were decrying Harry as the worst thing since Arianism, and the middle ground of many churches were simply confused about or totally unaware of the phenomenon that was sweeping all around them. So I preached along the lines of the Gospel According To Harry, hoping to encourage people to examine the boy wizard through missional eyes; in other words, can we use Harry Potter to initiate conversations about Jesus?

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Comments / Feedback
Janet Thompson
Dear Craig,
As one who is "Wild about Harry" (I have reserved and pre-paid my copy of the final book!), I appreciate the angle you have taken in assessing the series.
As a former children's librarian, I tend to evaluate books from a different perspective. Children simply read books. They enter the narrative and experience the action, usually without any other judgement than enjoyment (which includes being scared, roaring with laughter, or racing for the tissue box). If a book is enjoyable, they will be back for more.
Therefore, the subtle things pass them by as they read and absorb the plot. So it is incredibly important that the values of the book should be above reproach. All sorts of propaganda can be hidden in an apparently simple story. The Harry Potter books are rich with healthy and positive values - presented within attractive and appropriate parameters - and, were I still working in a school library, I would be encouraging the children to read and discuss them.
The aspect of the stories that delights me most is that Harry is constantly called upon to make decisions - important ones - which require investigation and reflection. In the fifth and sixth books he is forced to declare himself as being for or against the insidious drift within the current beauracracy. It is a big step, with obvious consequences, and he is firm in his resolve to remain true to the teachings of his mentor. I don't doubt that this will cost him dearly in the final battle. What moved me was the fact that his mentor had tears in his eyes when he heard about the declaration. The parallel here is obvious - to an adult reader - but we need to remember as we discuss these books with our children, that they might not appreciate having morals extracted from specific actions.
As adults we should read the books and absorb the layers of meaning in order to be able to answer questions and sort out misunderstandings if they arise. We should love the storyline for its ability to take "the child within" to new places. But we should not push the deep parallels to our children. I believe that Harry Potter contains a goldmine of allegory and metaphor for sermons, discussion starting points - material that will prove invaluable in the decades ahead as the young readers mature and find that they possess clues to the solution of moral dilemmas, without remembering the source. The best children's books excel in this field. As adults, we should read them (even re-read them) to enhance and refresh our basic grasp of the growth of commitment, and to stay in touch with the pathway walked by our children. Enjoyment and delight are wonderful guides to Truth. Lessons do not need to be sombre in order to make a lasting impression.
Wouldn't it be fun to have an adult "Harry Potter" book discussion group?
Natalie Tucker
As a mother I was concerned by the statement "subtle things pass them by as they read and absorb the plot". I have not found this to be the norm especially with one of my children who absorbs, often intrigued by, every detail of the story. Whether in written form, or images, stories have impacted my children. It is something that concerns me especially when Psychologist have reported that an image can remain with you for a life time. And the same can be true of words, or word pictures. Whether a message is subtle or blaring us in the face I think was would be wise not to be too dismissive. Sometimes it's best to avoid things completely.

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