Harry Potter is one of the biggest fictional phenomena in the world, with many growing up with the books and waiting expectantly for the next film. Connie Neal, who does read and enjoy the Harry Potter books, is more concerned with the division that debates have caused. In her dedication she thanks her friend Brooke Boland:
Brooke Boland, who forced me to think further than I had at first and realise that Christians on both sides of this debate can be right with God, differ in their convictions, and still act with loving respect toward each other.
Neal feels that, as with e.g. drink, it should be to each prayerful conscience whether you read, or allow your children to read, the Harry Potter books. For some it will be a problem, for some it won’t:
(p201) I believe the Harry Potter stories have become an integrated part of the language of this generation. I pray that all Christians who are not restricted by conscience from reading the books will l make sure they don’t merely conclude that it is lawful for them to read Harry Potter, but will go on to make it profitable for the body of Christ.
She gives ideas for what churches can actively do to have their say on the Harry Potter phenomenon, rather than sitting shouting on the sidelines. This is the kind of thing that Damaris CultureWatch is interested in – it deals with difficult texts such as the Philip Pullman series and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and hoped that those who are reading the texts in the secular world will find their reviews and be encouraged to see them, not only as good/bad fiction, but as starting points for debate.
Neal worries that such debates can turn to division amongst the Christian community – and puts forward a strong argument that the Harry Potter books can be completely right for one Christian and completely wrong for another – with scriptural support for both positions. Whatsoever, she believes (p101):
The only position that cannot be upheld by God’s word is to judge, look down upon, or condemn other Christians for coming to a conviction that differs from yours. God tells us all, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7). To that I say a hearty ‘Amen!’, and pray that Christians on both sides of the debate can join me.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.