August 16, 2009

‘Harry Potter’ a scholarly phenomenon

The Harry Potter books by British author J.K. Rowling have expanded beyond the literary world into scholarly and religious realms, an author says.

Russell W. Dalton, author of Faith Journey through Fantasy Lands: A Christian Dialogue with Harry Potter, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings, said the popular literary series about a young wizard has earned a special cultural significance, The Boston Globe said Sunday.

There is a whole burgeoning field of religion and popular culture, not just looking at what exact parallels there are, does it jibe with religious beliefs or is it counter to religious beliefs, but looking at these stories as a reflection of the spiritual or religious sensibilities of the culture, said Dalton, an assistant Christian education professor at Texas' Brite Divinity School.

Philosophy Professor Gareth B. Matthews agreed the seven Harry Potter books deal with religious concepts as well as philosophical issues.

The Potter books are not explicitly religious in the way that C.S. Lewis's 'Narnia' tales are, but there is a strong sense of evil, and issues of good and evil are not only philosophical issues but also theological issues, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor told the Globe.