Book Reviews by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
One of the most serious problems with Rowling's works is that occult activities are used for both "good" and evil purposes. The dragon is not a symbol of evil. And are there heroic figures of goodness to be found in the Potter series? Harry Potter is hardly a figure to be emulated: he is rude, self-centered and revengeful. He uses the same kinds of occult powers as Voldemort, a character who is only more evil in degrees than Harry. So, one again we occupy a world where there is no goodness, just evil and more evil. Some dragons are evil. Others have the semblance of goodness, but this is deceptive.
The author accepts that magic does indeed play an important role in the works of Tolkien, Lewis and other Christian authors. But the real problem is not so much the presence of magic but how it is portrayed: the classical symbols of good and evil are mixed up in the works of Rowling.
For the author, the Harry Potter phenomenon is a reminder that Gnosticism is alive in our world. I remember reading a book by Elaine Pagels on the subject many years ago and thinking how much more interesting religion could be when good and evil are mixed up! There could be, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, sympathy for the dragon.
However, when we destroy the symbols of good and evil, we become incapable of making sound moral judgments. All we have is our feelings to go on.
As the author notes, we have now moved on from Harry Potter to good and bad vampires in works by Stephenie Meyer. We occupy a world which is evil and more evil, where there are no absolute values and where morality is based on sentiment.
And so, the author moves to the works of the positively anti-Christian Philip Pullman. The author suggests that the works of Rowling, who claims to be a Christian, has led to the popularity of Pullman. It is easy to suggest that Pullman should not be read by Christians. It is more difficult to suggest that Rowling should given the same degree of caution as Pullman. The author has argued his case well: we have Tolkien and Lewis on the one side and Rowling and Pullman on the other.