As the title suggests, author John Granger is looking for God in Harry Potter. Although Granger makes some astute, well-considered, even tantalizing points, he often appears to be stretching as much as Harry himself trying to grasp the elusive Golden Snitch.
The book would make a wonderful teaching aid in assisting young readers to find Biblical parallels in the Harry Potter books. but instead of presenting his provocative ideas as possibilities, Granger assumes the voice of authority as he makes declarative statements like, “Given the many clues in names, words and events that Rowling has given us to point us to Griffindor house as God’s Army and Slytherin as Satan’s servants, we can rest assured this is edifying reading for Christians.” However, unless he has personally spoken with Rowling, the author is assuming he knows something nobody else knows.
Granger makes several attempts to position Rowling in the same category of writers as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien who use internal “pretend” magic to represent our relationship with God as opposed to those who practice the occult who call on forces from without. He points to the vital difference between “invocational” magic (to call in) and “incantational” magic (to harmonize), saying the magic of Lewis, Tolkien and Rowling is of the “incantational” variety.
Granger makes a strong case for Biblical symbolism and deeper hidden meanings in character names, mythical beasts and other symbols, and there is no doubt Rowling drew from classical and even Biblical sources for certain aspects of her work. Granger also spends a great deal of time on the language and symbolism of alchemy he believes Rowling wove into the plot of each book, and he claims that this alchemy represents the spiritual process repeated in every book. In fact, according to Granger, Ms. Rowling has mapped out her books in fine detail with an alternating internal/external progression, imbued every mythical beast, book title and almost every character name with Biblical meaning, made a plethora of those same characters nifty dual-natured entities that represent the God-Man, while she also structured every story so that it copies the alchemist’s formula. Whew!
The sheer amount of work it would take to orchestrate and deliver that many tedious layers of spiritual formulas and hidden Biblical symbolism in every book is hard to wrap my mind around, especially given the time frame in which Rowling cranks out these books. While J.R.R. Tolkien spent decades developing his intricate legendarium and layering it with deeper meaning, I have to wonder if sometimes a name is just a name for Ms. Rowling.
However, Granger does point to an interesting comment made by Rowling where she says her faith (Presbyterian/Church of Scotland) is the key to understanding the books. Perhaps Granger is on the right track after all.
If you are interested in the “Harry Potter” debate, pick up a copy of ‘Looking for God in Harry Potter’ by John Granger. It is worth a read.
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