Master of the genre: J.K. Rowling

The Masters: J.K. Rowling

The third and final fantasy master of our time I am naming as J.K. Rowling, for her Harry Potter series. However, I hope you discuss worldview and witchcraft with your teens when you talk about these books.

When the Harry Potter books first started coming out, many Christians were concerned that these books would draw kids into the world of Wicca and ouija boards by making witchcraft appear desirable. It wasn’t crystal clear then whether Harry, the young wizard, was really on the light side. Or was he learning the occult?

However, as the series matured, it became apparent that Rowling’s is another fantasy world, not related to the principalities and powers discussed in the Bible. Like other fantasy works, there is a deeply evil (and memorable) bad guy. There is also a young, fumbling protagonist who works for good and who eventually gets more adept at it. It is clear that Rowling’s worldview is a moral one.

Along the way, Harry Potter does use incantations and so on, which are bound to make us Christians nervous if we are aware of the Biblical ban on witchcraft in Leviticus 19:26 & 31. This would be a great thing to discuss with your teens: what exactly is it that God is forbidding in consulting mediums and necromancers? Where is the idolatry?

At the same time, Harry’s use of words as instruments of power is an echo of Biblical truth. God creates using words. Jesus is described as the Word made Flesh. There is something we can learn or re-learn here, and that is that our words, what we say, really do matter.

Another reason some Christians object to Harry Potter is because he attains some great powers. Is he becoming godlike? Will this aspect lead our kids astray somehow?

Well, the Superman comics portray someone with godlike powers as well. I used to love reading Superman comics when I was a kid. IT was fun to imagine being able to fly and so on. But of course I knew it was fiction. So do Rowling’s readers.

Rowling’s genius is in her broad array of memorable characters. There are Hagrid, the half-giant who loves strange monsters; Dumbledore, the wise schoolmaster; and many more. Rowling’s world is the work of many years of imagining characters and details. In my opinion this puts her in a similar league to George Lucas. —Phyllis Wheeler

3 thoughts on “Master of the genre: J.K. Rowling

  1. Seth

    In no way do I mean to be offensive. But isn’t it true that
    Harry disobeys the schools rules going unpunished on many
    occasions? There are a few in which he does get punished, but
    the number, from what I know is, somewhat low compared to the times
    he gets away with it. Also, I do believe that the magic is based
    off of occultism. Rowling even admitted that she did research
    in order to make it more realistic (or something like that I
    believe) Like I said, I’m still researching, and
    am in no way meaning to be disrespectful.

  2. Editor Post author

    You are not being offensive! I welcome others’ ideas, politely stated, which yours is. It’s very true that Rowling is controversial.

  3. Meredith Leigh Burton

    I enjoyed your examination of the Harry Potter series. While I agree with the comment that Harry does “get away” with breaking rules, I think Rowling does this at certain times to illustrate grace. Harry is definitely not a Christ figure, but a person who, like all of us, struggles everyday to fight against the alluring power of evil. He is different from Voldemort in that he chooses, despite many falterings, to stand firm in the fight for good: “It is not our abilities that determine who we truly are, it is our choices” (Dumbledore in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

    As far as the books being Christian, Chamber of Secrets, to me, is by far the most Christian explicit. I could definitely see an allegory running through the first three or four books; then some of the imagery became blurred to me. I definitely agree that Rowling’s world view is a moral one and that sacrifice is a major theme in all her books.

    I love that Rowling portrays her villain as strangely empathetic though repellent. Her complex character development and imagination does indeed make her an unforgettable author. I’m still happy that I was right about Professor Severus Snape!

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