I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter books since I was a freshman in college (it’s amazing how going to college opened up my world in so many ways). I like to read and engage with the books at theoretical levels, and when I was taking an independent study, I encountered John Granger’s critical work on the novels. He writes from the perspective of a Christian academic who was at first skeptical of the novels and then became a fan after engaging with them theologically.
Granger discusses the novels in context of Christianity, and the themes that engage with spiritual issues important to most Christians. He touches on major themes and ideas then goes in-depth into the first six novels (The Deathly Hallows had not yet been published at the time of publication—I also have Granger’s The Deathly Hallows Lectures, which I am sure will update his readings). He touches on some interesting themes and Christian contexts which are sure to resonate with Conservative Christians who prioritize faith in their fiction.
I greatly appreciate Granger’s perspective, as it is more effective in appealing to Conservative Christians than a more liberal approach might have been. Granger himself sounds fairly conservative, so he knows his audience well and uses his academic skills in order to be persuasive to the people who can most benefit from his book.
That said, because I am not his target demographic, I chafed a bit at some of his arguments. For example, his cultural criticism is a little backward in that it talks about human rights issues being pro-life versus pro-choice while completely side-stepping issues related to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars waging during the early 2000s. Further, it does not delve into Rowling’s own complicated class politics which come into play with the house elves or strata of wizard families. Nevertheless, the book is useful and strong in the arguments it makes.
Cross-posted to my blog.