In this book John Granger succeeds phenomenally in describing–and defending the very existence of–the Christian symbolism and doctrine that veritably burst from the seams of the Harry Potter series. There is a reason the books are so popular: Rowling is writing subversively edifying Christian fiction in the tradition of all the “greats” of classic English literature, for the postmodern reader of the 21st century. A golden quote from the final chapter:
J.K. Rowling delivers difficult truths to a postmodern audience in such a way that they accept the ideas they would otherwise reject, even laugh about. The existence of the soul? The importance of choosing to believe? The certainty of a life after death and a judgment of those with atrophied souls and darkened hearts? Rowling smuggles these golden wheelbarrows and quite a bit of Christian doctrine and ideas about the human person via her story line right past the most skeptical, even cynical, readers in history. (269)
Near the end, Granger lists the following classic works of literature as “most helpful in understanding Harry Potter” from the perspectives of character, plotting, literary alchemy, and Christological symbolism: Dante’s The Divine Inferno, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Dickens’A Tale of Two Cities, Austen’s Emma, Stoker’s Dracula, and Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays.
I read Granger’s first book on this topic, The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, published in 2002 when only 4 of the 7 books had been published. (I also read Looking for God in Harry Potter, a re-working of Hidden Key and published in 2006.) Based on his analysis of the gospel themes and the literary alchemical formulas that he recognized Rowling was using, Granger made a lot of predictions about the rest of the books–and got a ton of them right. Now that the series is complete, and that Rowling has directly confirmed the Christian content of the books, Granger’s thesis is totally vindicated.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves great literature, or loves Harry Potter, or who thinks the latter doesn’t belong in the former.