Book Review: God, The Devil & Harry Potter

God, The Devil & Harry Potter: A Christian Minister’s Defense Of The Beloved Novels, by John Killinger

This is a book that could have been so much better, and ultimately fails to live up to the claims of its title, at least most of them. Written ostensibly as a defense of Harry Potter as a legitimate form of novel reading for Christians, the book is more a continual assault on conservative Christians, a term that the author seems to use pejoratively. Instead of being written in order to ameliorate the concerns of those who are less than enamored with Harry Potter, the book is more an appeal to the reader to make fun of conservatives with specious arguments and to deal with thoughtful and legitimate concerns and disapproval with scorn and contempt. The author also demonstrates a worrisome tendency to view non-biblical concepts like the descensus ad inferos, or descent into hell (87) more seriously than biblical doctrines on the resurrection, and spurious medieval traditions and gnostic gospels rather than the Gospel of John, about which the author has little good to say about its historicity (21). It is the sort of book that shows little in the way of charity, and ends up hurting the cause it advocates in the audience it ought to be aiming at, by preaching to the choir and using bad logic and a very disrespectful view of the Bible that marks the author as a very poor Christian.

In terms of the book’s contents, it is divided into six chapters that take up about 190 pages of material that include the parallel of mysterious births and miraculous childhoods between Harry Potter and Jesus Christ, and also a lot of pagan myths. The author talks about the struggle of good and evil and paints a dualistic picture where Harry and Dumbledore are good and Voldemort is pure evil when it’s not nearly so simple. The third chapter talks about the game of life, then the author moves on to talking about the magical, mystical world, where he espouses a belief in the paranormal [1], before talking about ghosts and goblins and life after death, which gets even more creepy, before ending with a more conventional discussion of the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and love, too late to redeem the author’s orthodoxy. It is difficult to determine who exactly the author is writing to, as those who are not already convinced of or in agreement with the author’s views are likely to be turned off by the author’s strident tone and love of the ridiculous.

There are a few reasons why this book is especially problematic. Aside from the author’s preference for nonbiblical material than for biblical material, the book was written before the last two novels were complete, leaving its defense incomplete and highly obsolete. The book’s defense of Harry Potter is so embarrassing that it manages to bring into question the basis of much of Christian culture by the book’s continual focus on heathen myth and the legitimacy of magical approaches, make readers like myself a bit uncomfortable for having written so much about Harry Potter ourselves [2]. What is needed is a book that presents the Harry Potter series in its complete form as a point of discussion about good and evil, and about the failings of the world’s conceptions of heroes, and about our own longings and cultural backgrounds, without feeling the need to paint the series as without any sort of fault whatsoever, or paint it as totally without value. This book is an account written by a fanboy indignant that anyone could question or criticize Harry Potter, and such defensiveness does not make for an effective defense.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Book Review: God, The Devil & Harry Potter

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