I’ve been in the grips of the Deathly Hallows since getting my hands on a copy yesterday. I’m about halfway through, but posting will continue to be light until I’ve finished. So far, it’s very good.
Update: I’m finished. Rowling continues to amaze. Now that I can see the whole picture, the series seems even better than I first thought.
Warning: Spoiler alert. The following contains oblique references to the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I don’t think I have given anything away, but you might just want to go ahead and finish the book before reading the rest of this post.
I disagree too with those who think that this tale of good versus evil is somehow morally muddled. Read this ridiculous piece and wonder if the author has ever read any of the books or any of Tolkien’s books for that matter, which excepting the Silmarillion with it’s incredible creation and fall narrative and description of Middle Earth’s pantheon, is the only time you’ll find an explicitly religious theme in Tolkien’s Middle Earth fiction. There are no temples or priests in middle earth or any distinctly religious ceremonies at all. Wizards, like Gandalf, are according to the Silmarillion, minor deities and the elves are the chosen race–with humans a distant second and dwarves were originally an act of creative disobedience that the the creator Eru had mercy on and allowed to live. Other creatures were a part of the original creation song or Melkor‘s (and later Sauron’s) coruptions of it. Stretching it a bit, you might say that the dwarves were ancestor worshippers and the elves along with a few men and hobbits get to go to “heaven” via the Grey Havens. Still, critics like to present Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as great literature (which it certainly is; I’ve read his trilogy 4 times) and a story with a clear Christian moral lesson in contrast with other similarly epic works, like the Harry Potter series.
Tolkien was, like me, a Christian and his story certainly presents a picture of temptation and redemption, though Tolkien himself said that he detested allegory. He even chided his close friend and author C.S. Lewis for using allegory in his Narnia stories. Tolkien’s faith certainly influenced his stories, I am not denying that, but I don’t see how Tolkien’s stories are more Christian than other stories with the same themes. I see those same elements in Rowling’s series as well. To wit, a seemingly weak, unlikely (or at least untested) “hero,” though tempted, eschews power and is willing to embrace great personal sacrifice, even to the point of death, to save his friends and his world. Yes, that brief description follows closely the story of Christ’s sacrifice for His people, but such themes are found in good literature throughout the course of history. To me, the distinctions in the works of Tolkien and Rowling have more to do with being from different generations and having different educational backgrounds than the authors’ faith. For the record, Rowling has stated that she believes in God, not magic and is a member of the Church of Scotland. I’m not saying that she’s an orthodox Christian, but nothing in her books makes me doubt her faith. (I suspect that the criticism from certain conservative circles has more to do with her left-wing politics than the content of her faith, though one’s political views can certainly interfere with and corrupt one’s faith. Further, the political views she expresses in her books are more often libertarian than left-wing, and as you know, I don’t consider a libertarian political philosophy incompatible with Christianity.) If Frodo Baggins is a type of Christ, then Harry Potter is as well. Along those lines, Rowling also said that if she had advertised her faith more, people might have been able to guess the outcome of the series.
End of rant. Note: I have edited this entry to be more precise and more internally consistent. No doubt I may find more corrections need to be made in an admittedly hastily-written post, but I hope that the present form is intelligible and useful to the reader.