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Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Harry Potter and the Search for Hardcover Copies

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While visiting Barnes and Noble day before yesterday, I asked the clerk at the counter about reserving a boxed set of all seven Harry Potter novels in hardcover. I came to the party a little late, you see, and I only own a set of paperbacks. I had purchased them on a gift card, thinking then that, should the rumors turn out to be true and they really did draw me into witchcraft, I could trash them or give them away and feel free of fret. That’s an unfortunate use of alliteration, but still.

After reading the first four books, I quickly ran out and bought book five, and then read number six soon after. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to turn either of my cats into wine goblets, and thus, I desired a set of longer-lasting hardbacks.

Well, the clerk behind the counter smiled and politely explained that a boxed set of hardcover books that would include the latest novel—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—would not follow until a few months after the final novel’s July release. My plans deflated, I have found myself considering other means of meeting my goal.

I’ll likely go ahead and just get the boxed set that came out soon after the release of the last book, and go on anticipating reading Deathly Hallows with everyone else on July 21st.

As for those paperback copies, I am giving them to the college library for which I used to work. As a library for a bible college, I am sure of their reluctance to shelve these troublesome tomes. But my old boss—the head librarian—told me once that if I can convince her that the novels would somehow benefit theology students, she’d take them.

The library carries an exhaustive collection of holiness works, and stocks an impressive collection of classical literature as well. Nearby, you can even find Patrick O’Brian’s tales of the HMS Surprise. Unfortunately, the Left Behind series shares room on the very same stacks.

While Harry Potter would make an interesting addition simply because of the inherent implications for the church’s ability to interact with the culture, I will need to demonstrate those facets of the book that edify faith. To believe that J. K. Rowling may follow in the same footsteps as the Inklings isn’t very popular in some circles, though I believe I can make a compelling case.

The work of John Granger already lays an impressive primer for discovering the faith related aspects of the books. I often refer to an interview conducted by Anne Morse of Breakpoint with author Connie Neal who has utilized the books to witness to nonbelievers. There’s even the writing of that one fellow that shares my noble and most excellent name.

My personal conviction is that, should Rowling even turn out to be a faithless author merely looking to entertain us with a fresh spin on an old paradigm (the hero’s journey), her stories are ripe for theological extraction, discussion, and even illustration.

However, I do not believe her to be faithless. I believe it possible that Christians will look back ten years from now with a much different perspective on the boy who lived, similar to C.S. Lewis when he first published the Space Trilogy. When Lewis first wrote about Ransom, most of his critics believed he was still an atheist. Years later, after Lewis had effectively demonstrated his faith, we took another look, and we saw there something special.

Perhaps history will repeat itself. Perhaps not. Either way, the books will remain on my shelf, hardcover or no. I will read them to my children. And I will enjoy them myself for many years to come.

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Written by taj

March 8, 2007 at 12:34 am

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