Friday, October 31, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

Tour Date: Nov. 2nd

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It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Shack

Windblown Media; 1st edition (July 1, 2008)


Wm. Paul Young was born a Canadian and raised among a Stone Age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of former New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult and now enjoys the "wastefulness of grace" with his family in the Pacific Northwest.

Visit the author's website.

The author will be on the Blog Talk Radio show on on November 4th at 2PM ET. Come and listen!

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Windblown Media; 1st edition (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0964729237
ISBN-13: 978-0964729230


A Confluence of Paths

Two roads diverged in the middle of my life,
I heard a wise man say
I took the road less traveled by
And that's made the difference every night and every day

—Larry Norman (with apologies to Robert Frost)

March unleashed a torrent of rainfall after an abnormally dry winter. A cold front out of Canada then descended and was held in place by a swirling wind that roared down the Gorge from eastern Oregon. Although spring was surely just around the corner, the god of winter was not about to relinquish its hard-won dominion without a tussle. There was a blanket of new snow in the Cascades, and rain was now freezing on impact with the frigid ground outside the house; enough reason for Mack to snuggle up with a book and a hot cider and wrap up in the warmth of a crackling fire.

But instead, he spent the better part of the morning telecommuting into his downtown desktop. Sitting comfortably in his home office wearing pajama pants and a T-shirt, he made his sales calls, mostly to the East Coast. He paused frequently, listening to the sound of crystalline rain tinging off his window and watching the slow but steady accumulation of frozen ice thickening on everything outside. He was becoming inexorably trapped as an ice—prisoner in his own home—much to his delight.

There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry.

Of course, it is also true that storms interrupt business and, while a few companies make a bit extra, some companies lose money—meaning there are those who find no joy when everything shuts down temporarily. But they can't blame anyone for their loss of production, or for not being able to make it to the office. Even if it's hardly more than a day or two, somehow each person feels like the master of his or her own world, simply because those little droplets of water freeze as they hit the ground.

Even commonplace activities become extraordinary. Routine choices become adventures and are often experienced with a sense of heightened clarity. Late in the afternoon, Mack bundled up and headed outdoors to struggle the hundred or so yards down the long driveway to the mailbox. The ice had magically turned this simple everyday task into a foray against the elements: the raising of his fist in opposition to the brute power of nature and, in an act of defiance, laughing in its face. The fact that no one would notice or care mattered little to him—just the thought made him smile inside.

The icy rain pellets stung his cheeks and hands as he carefully worked his way up and down the slight undulations of the driveway; he looked, he supposed, like a drunken sailor gingerly heading toward the next watering hole. When you face the force of an ice storm, you don't exactly walk boldly forward in a show of unbridled confidence. Bluster will get you battered. Mack had to get up off his knees twice before he was finally hugging the mailbox like some long-lost friend.

He paused to take in the beauty of a world engulfed in crystal. Everything reflected light and contributed to the heightened brilliance of the late afternoon. The trees in the neighbor's field had all donned translucent mantles and each now stood unique but unified in their presentation. It was a glorious world and for a brief moment its blazing splendor almost lifted, even if only for a few seconds, The Great Sadness from Mack's shoulders.

It took almost a minute to knock off the ice that had already sealed shut the door of the mailbox. The reward for his efforts was a single envelope with only his first name typewritten on the outside; no stamp, no postmark, and no return address. Curious, he tore the end off the envelope, which was no easy task with fingers beginning to stiffen from the cold. Turning his back to the breath-snatching wind, he finally coaxed the single small rectangle of unfolded paper out of its nest. The typewritten message simply said:

It's been a while. I've missed you.
I'll be at the shack next weekend if you
want to get together.

Mack stiffened as a wave of nausea rolled over him and then just as quickly mutated into anger. He purposely thought about the shack as little as possible and even when he did his thoughts were neither kind nor good. If this was someone's idea of a bad joke they had truly outdone themselves. And to sign it "Papa" just made it all the more horrifying.

"Idiot," he grunted, thinking about Tony the mailman; an overly friendly Italian with a big heart but little tact. Why would he even deliver such a ridiculous envelope? It wasn't even stamped. Mack angrily stuffed the envelope and note into his coat pocket and turned to start the slide back in the general direction of the house. Buffeting gusts of wind, which had initially slowed him, now shortened the time it took to traverse the mini glacier that was thickening beneath his feet.

He was doing just fine, thank you, until he reached that place in the driveway that sloped a little downward and to the left. Without any effort or intention he began to build up speed, sliding on shoes with soles that had about as much traction as a duck landing on a frozen pond. Arms flailing wildly in hopes of somehow maintaining the potential for balance, Mack found himself careening directly toward the only tree of any substantial size bordering the driveway—the one whose lower limbs he had hacked off only a few short months before. Now it stood eager to embrace him, half naked and seemingly anxious for a little retribution. In a fraction of a thought he chose the chicken's way out and tried to plop himself down by allowing his feet to slip out from under him—which is what they had naturally wanted to do anyway. Better to have a sore butt than pick slivers out of his face.

But the adrenaline rush caused him to over compensate, and in slow motion Mack watched his feet rise up in front of him as if jerked up by some jungle trap. He hit hard, back of the head first, and skidded to a heap at the base of the shimmering tree, which seemed to stand over him with a smug look mixed with disgust and not a little disappointment.

The world went momentarily black, or so it seemed. He lay there dazed and staring up into the sky, squinting as the icy precipitation rapidly cooled his flushed face. For a fleeting pause, everything felt oddly warm and peaceful, his ire momentarily knocked out by the impact. "Now, who's the idiot?" he muttered to himself, hoping that no one had been watching.

Cold was creeping quickly through his coat and sweater and Mack knew the ice rain that was both melting and freezing beneath him would soon become a major discomfort. Groaning and feeling like a much older man, he rolled onto his hands and knees. It was then that he saw the bright red skid mark tracing his journey from point of impact to final destination. As if birthed by the sudden awareness of his injury, a dull pounding began crawling up the back of his head. Instinctively, he reached for the source of the drum beat and brought his hand away bloody.

With rough ice and sharp gravel gouging his hands and knees, Mack half crawled and half slid until he eventually made it to a level part of the driveway. With not a little effort he was finally able to stand and gingerly inch his way toward the house, humbled by the powers of ice and gravity.

Once inside, Mack methodically shed the layers of outerwear as best he could, his half-frozen fingers responding with about as much dexterity as oversized clubs at the ends of his arms. He decided to leave the drizzly bloodstained mess right where he doffed it in the entryway and retreated painfully to the bathroom to examine his wounds. There was no question that the icy driveway had won. The gash on the back of his head was oozing around a few small pebbles still embedded in his scalp. As he had feared, a significant lump had already formed, emerging like a humpbacked whale breaching the wild waves of his thinning hair.

Mack found it a difficult chore to patch himself up by trying to see the back of his head using a small hand-held mirror that reflected a reverse image off the bathroom mirror. A short frustration later he gave up, unable to get his hands to go in the right directions and unsure which of the two mirrors was lying to him. By gingerly probing around the soggy gash he succeeded in picking out the biggest pieces of debris, until it hurt too much to continue. Grabbing some first-aid ointment and plugging the wound as best he could, he then tied a washcloth to the back of his head with some gauze he found in a bathroom drawer. Glancing at himself in the mirror, he thought he looked a little like some rough sailor out of Moby Dick. It made him laugh, then wince.

He would have to wait until Nan made it home before he would get any real medical attention; one of the many benefits of being married to a registered nurse. Anyway, he knew that the worse it looked the more sympathy he would get. There is often some compensation in every trial, if one looked hard enough. He swallowed a couple over-the-counter painkillers to dull the throbbing and limped toward the front entry.

Not for an instant had Mack forgotten about the note. Rummaging through the pile of wet and bloody clothing he finally found it in his coat pocket, glanced at it and then headed back into his office. He located the post office number and dialed it. As expected, Annie, the matronly postmaster and keeper of everyone's secrets, answered the phone. "Hi, is Tony in by chance?"

"Hey, Mack, is that you? Recognized your voice." Of course she did. "Sorry, but Tony ain't back yet. In fact I just talked to him on the radio and he's only made it halfway up Wildcat, not even to your place yet. Do ya need me to have him call ya, or would ya just like to leave a message?"

"Oh, hi. Is that you, Annie?" He couldn't resist, even though her Midwestern accent left no doubt. "Sorry, I was busy for a second there. Didn't hear a word you said."

She laughed. "Now Mack, I know you heard every word. Don't you be goin' and tryin' to kid a kidder. I wasn't born yesterday, ya know. Whaddya want me to tell him if he makes it back alive?"

"Actually, you already answered my question."

There was a pause at the other end. "Actually, I don't remember you askin' a question. What's wrong with you, Mack? Still smoking too much dope or do you just do that on Sunday mornings to make it through the church service?" At this she started to laugh, as if caught off guard by the brilliance of her own sense of humor.

"Now Annie, you know I don't smoke dope—never did, and don't ever want to." Of course Annie knew no such thing, but Mack was taking no chances on how she might remember the conversation in a day or two. Wouldn't be the first time that her sense of humor morphed into a good story that soon became "fact." He could see his name being added to the church prayer chain. "It's okay, I'll just catch Tony some other time, no big deal."

"Okay then, just stay indoors where it's safe. Don't ya know, an old guy like you coulda lost his sense of balance over the years. Wouldn't wanna see ya slip and hurt your pride. Way things are shapin' up, Tony might not make it up to your place at all. We can do snow, sleet, and darkness of night pretty well, but this frozen rain stuff. It's a challenge to be sure."

"Thanks, Annie. I'll try and remember your advice. Talk to you later. Bye now." His head was pounding more than ever; little trip hammers beating to the rhythm of his heart. "That's odd," he thought, "who would dare put something like that in our mailbox?" The painkillers had not yet fully kicked in, but were present enough to dull the edge of worry that he was starting to feel, and he was suddenly very tired. Laying his head down on the desk, he thought he had just dropped off to sleep when the phone startled him awake.

"Uh . . . hello?"

"Hi, love. You sound like you've been asleep." It was Nan, sounding unusually cheery, even though he felt he could hear the underlying sadness that lurked just beneath the surface of every conversation. She loved this kind of weather as much as he usually did. He switched on the desk lamp and glanced at the clock, surprised that he had been out for a couple hours.

"Uh, sorry. I guess I dozed off for a bit."

"Well, you sound a little groggy. Is everything all right?"

"Yup." Even though it was almost dark outside, Mack could see that the storm had not let up. It had even deposited low, and he knew some would eventually break from the weight, especially if the wind kicked up. "I had a little tussle with the driveway when I got the mail, but other than that, everything is fine. Where are you?"

"I'm still at Arlene's, and I think me and the kids'll spend the night here. It's always good for Kate to be around the family . . . seems to restore a little balance." Arlene was Nan's sister who lived across the river in Washington. "Anyway, it's really too slick to go out. Hopefully it'll break up by morning. I wish I had made it home before it got so bad, but oh well." She paused. "How's it up at the house?"

"Well, it's absolutely stunningly beautiful, and a whole lot safer to look at than walk in, trust me. I, for sure, don't want you to try and get up here in this mess. Nothing's moving. I don't even think Tony was able to bring us the mail."

"I thought you already got the mail?" she queried.

"Nope, I didn't actually get the mail. I thought Tony had already come and I went out to get it. There," he hesitated, looking down at the note that lay on the desk where he had placed it, "wasn't any mail yet. I called Annie and she said Tony probably wouldn't be able to make it up the hill, and I'm not going out there again to see if he did.

"Anyway," he quickly changed the subject to avoid more questions, "how is Kate doing over there?"

There was a pause and then a long sigh. When Nan spoke her voice was hushed to a whisper and he could tell she was covering her mouth on the other end. "Mack, I wish I knew. She is just like talking to a rock, and no matter what I do I can't get through. When we're around family she seems to come out of her shell some, but then she disappears again. I just don't know what to do. I've been praying and praying that Papa would help us find a way to reach her, but . . ." she paused again, "it feels like he isn't listening."

There it was. Papa was Nan's favorite name for God and it expressed her delight in the intimate friendship she had with him.

"Honey, I'm sure God knows what he's doing. It will all work out." The words brought him no comfort but he hoped they might ease the worry he could hear in her voice.

"I know," she sighed. "I just wish he'd hurry up."

"Me too," was all Mack could think to say. "Well, you and the kids stay put and stay safe, and tell Arlene and Jimmy hi, and thank them for me. Hopefully I will see you tomorrow."

"Okay, love. I should go and help the others. Everyone's busy looking for candles in case the power goes out. You should probably do the same. There's some above the sink in the basement, and there's leftover stuffed bread dough in the fridge that you can heat up. Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yeah, my pride is hurt more than anything."

"Well take it easy, and hopefully we'll see you in the morning."

"All right honey. Be safe and call me if you need anything. Bye."

It was kind of a dumb thing to say, he thought as he hung up the phone. Kind of a manly dumb thing, as if he could help if they needed anything.

Mack sat and stared at the note. It was confusing and painful trying to sort out the swirling cacophony of disturbing emotions and dark images clouding his mind—a million thoughts traveling a million miles an hour. Finally, he gave up, folded the note, slid it into a small tin box he kept on the desk, and switched off the light.

Mack managed to find something to heat up in the microwave, then he grabbed a couple of blankets and pillows and headed for the living room. A quick glance at the clock told him that Bill Moyer's show had just started; a favorite program that he tried never to miss. Moyer was one of a handful of people whom Mack would love to meet; a brilliant and outspoken man, able to express intense compassion for both people and truth with unusual clarity. One of the stories tonight had something to do with oilman Boone Pickens, who was now starting to drill for water, of all things.

Almost without thinking, and without taking his eyes off the television, Mack reached over to the end table, picked up a photo frame holding a picture of a little girl, and clutched it to his chest. With the other hand he pulled the blankets up under his chin and hunkered deeper into the sofa.

Soon the sounds of gentle snoring filled the air as the media tube turned its attention to a piece on a high school senior in Zimbabwe, who had been beaten for speaking out against his government. But Mack had already left the room to wrestle with his dreams; maybe tonight there would be no nightmares, only visions, perhaps, of ice and trees and gravity.

Copyright © 2007 by William P. Young

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Harry Cast His Spell by John Granger

Tour Date: October 31

When the tour date arrives, copy and paste the HTML Provided in the box. Don't forget to add your honest review if you wish! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST WHEN THE TOUR COMES AROUND!

Grab the HTML for the entire post (will look like the post below):


It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Here is a special Wild Card for Halloween! The author is:

and the book:

How Harry Cast His Spell: the Meaning Behind the Mania for J.K. Rowling’s Bestselling Books

SaltRiver (September, 2008)


John Granger is an author, speaker, and popular guest on talk shows and interview programs. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied classical languages and literature, he uses Harry Potter to teach English literature online at He is a frequent speaker at academic and fan conferences, and has been interviewed as a “Harry Potter expert” in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the DVD of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He and his wife, Mary, have seven children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (September, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414321880
ISBN-13: 978-1414321882



Dear Reader,

Some may wonder why a publisher of distinctly Christian books would publish a book about the Harry Potter series, which, while phenomenally successful, has been criticized by some groups within the Christian community. The answer is really quite simple.

Millions of young people are reading the Harry Potter books, providing parents with a wonderful opportunity to use stories their children love to read to start discussions with them about Christian ideas and values—and about how to evaluate the worldview embedded in any piece of literature. We hope How Harry Cast His Spell will serve as a catalyst for such discussions and as a bridge to growth in faith and spiritual understanding.



Imagine yourself walking in the park with your dog in the cool of the evening. Just like in the movies, a flying saucer descends from the skies and lands gently on the empty softball field behind the vacant warehouse. A little green man drops from a metal ladder under the craft and scurries toward you. You and the dog have seen this played out so many times on late-night television that you almost yawn.

The little guy doesn’t threaten you or order you to take him to your leader. As you may have expected, the Dobby look-alike just wants to talk with you about Harry Potter. After all, doesn’t everybody?

J. K. Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels sold more than 375 million copies and were translated into more than sixty languages between the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the original United Kingdom title) in 1997 and the end of 2007, the year in which Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. The first five Harry Potter movies each set records for opening box office, and the series as a whole had, by early 2008, already surpassed both the twenty-one-film James Bond series and the six Star Wars films as the most successful movie franchise of all time. The alien, like all good travelers, has done his homework about his planet vacation, and I’m betting that all the interplanetary guidebooks these days are urging earthbound tourists to talk about Harry with the natives this year. What else are they all sure to know about?

I first heard about Harry Potter and his friends in 2000. I was the homeschooling daddy to seven young children ages one to twelve years old, and I didn’t want anything to do with the young wizard-in-training. From what I had heard from a coworker (whose judgment on literature I thought was not to be trusted), I assumed the books were serial schlock on the order of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels. Being something of a snob, I read the first Potter paperback just so I could explain to my oldest daughter why we don’t read trash like this.

She calls it my “green eggs and ham” moment. Overnight, I was transformed from “I do not like them in a box; I do not like them with a fox” to reading the stories aloud to the younger children and discussing them at length with the older girls. I remember in that first week of Harry excitement when another colleague at work told me that Christians “as a rule” despised the books. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

What’s Your Favorite Scene?

Back to the little green space guy in the park.

My bet is that the question his earth guidebook recommends he ask you is about your favorite scene in the books. Why would he want to know that? Because, besides being a great opening for conversation, unlike Earth’s academics, our friend from outer space probably wants to learn something he can take back to the planet Zeno. I’m betting he wants answers to the big question, the only question that really matters about Harry Potter. He wants to know what it is about these books that has made them the “shared text” of children, parents, and grandparents on every continent and

archipelago of the planet.

So why do readers young and old love Harry Potter? This is an important question, and the answer is a bit of a shocker. Before I share it with you, though, let me explain something I said earlier. I said you could have knocked me over with a feather the day I heard Christians didn’t like Harry Potter. You might recall that quite a few Christians in 2000 were, in fact, burning the books and asking that they not be allowed in public or school libraries funded with their tax dollars. Why was I so surprised by that? Because the reason I liked the Harry Potter books so much and the reason I was reading them to my children was the implicit, explicit, and very traditional spiritual, even Christian, content of the books, which I thought was as obvious as it was edifying. I was interested enough in this subject that I gave a series of lectures on it at a C. S. Lewis Society gathering and at a local library. Before I knew it, ideas that had been floating around in my head found their way to book form. And in something like a Walter Mitty transformation, I morphed from Latin teacher to Harry Potter expert and media go-to source.

How Does Harry Cast His Spell?

Someday soon, folks who track this sort of thing to write about the intellectual history of popular culture will be sitting down to put together their notes on prevalent ideas about Harry Potter. What they will find, I’m pretty certain, is an arc of change much like the one described by J. B. S. Haldane: “Theories pass through four stages of acceptance: (1) this is worthless nonsense; (2) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; (3) this is true, but quite unimportant; (4) I always said so.”1 The historians of popular culture tracking how people understood Harry will discover that folks thought

Harry Potter was (1) anti-Christian, even demonic; (2) anti- Christian in the sense of being an invitation to the occult; (3) not Christian, anti-Christian, or spiritual—just magic; (4) profoundly Christian, like C. S. Lewis (“I always knew it”).

As broad as the always growing consensus about the depth of the Christian content of the Harry Potter novels now is—broad enough that in a recent documentary about her work, Rowling felt it necessary to deny at length that her purpose in writing was to convert readers to Christianity2—it bears recalling that even five years ago Christian critics of the series had convinced most people (and, it seemed, all journalists) that Harry was anything but Christian and that these books were dangerous for children to read.

How could they have gotten it so wrong? And why did readers believe them?

Answering the question “Why do readers young and old love Harry Potter?” explains the others because if they had gotten that one right, they couldn’t have asserted what they thought about Harry and his author. The answer, believe it or not, is very simple, if frequently misunderstood. Readers love Harry Potter because of the spiritual meaning and Christian content of the books.

Let me explain what that doesn’t mean before I jump into what it does mean.

First, it doesn’t mean that the Harry Potter novels were written especially for Christians, with Christians in mind, or most important, for the sole purpose of evangelizing nonbelievers into accepting the Christian faith. None of those things are true, and none of them have anything to do with the answer to the important question of why we love Harry Potter.

Harry Potter is not the Left Behind series or even the Chronicles of Narnia in terms of being an in-your-face Christian drama or altar call.

Even now that J. K. Rowling has discussed the scriptural quotations in Deathly Hallows, I doubt that her readers would say they love her books because of their Christian meaning, especially her non-Christian readers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and around the world. My guess is that few if any readers, adults or children, responded to their first or last Harry Potter adventure with a whoop about the traditional Christian imagery or the literary alchemy that in many ways structures each story.

So how can the Christian content of the stories be the reason people love the books if they don’t understand this content for what it is and if evangelization wasn’t the author’s point in writing the novels?

The answer to that question is pretty straightforward, but it takes a couple of steps to get into—and the rest of this book to

explain in detail. Religion and literature have a long history, but almost none of us, even the English majors, studied that relationship in school. So let’s start with an expert.

The argument begins with Mircea Eliade, a professor at the University of Chicago. In The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion and the Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual within Life and Culture, Eliade explained that “non-religious man in the pure state is a comparatively rare phenomenon, even in the most desacralized

of modern societies.”3

Eliade’s point is pretty simple. Human beings are spiritual by design, whether you believe that design is an accident of evolution or straight from God. By our very nature, humans resist an exclusively secularized world in which our faculties for perceiving a reality “saturated with being” have no play. It doesn’t matter that schools, courts, and lawmakers have made the “G word” something taboo in education, government functions, and public discourse outside of presidential elections; human beings live on myth, religion, and spirituality because we’re hardwired for it.

Modern and postmodern secular cultures that have driven the sacred from the public square are fighting the tide. Our world may be radically different from traditional, God-focused civilizations, but it is still crowded with religious elements. As Eliade wrote, “a small volume could be written on the myths of the modern man, on the mythologies camouflaged in the plays that he enjoys, in the books that he reads.”4

Even the act of reading serves an important religious or mythic function:

Even reading includes a mythological function . . . because, through reading, the modern man succeeds in obtaining an “escape from time” comparable to the “emergence from time” effected by myths. Whether modern man “kills” time with a detective story or enters such a foreign temporal universe as is represented by any novel, reading projects him out of his personal duration and incorporates him into other rhythms, makes him live in another “history.”5

Accepting Eliade’s premises that (a) humans are designed to experience the sacred and (b) humans will pursue this experience even in a culture that denies both a human spiritual faculty and a spiritual reality per se, answering the question about why we love Harry Potter is a slam dunk. The act of reading itself serves a religious function in a secular culture, but Harry gives us much more than that. Reading about Harry and the world of magic qualities is a respite from a universe without ennobling truth, beauty, or virtue. But more important, in image, character, and theme, these stories are the vehicles of spiritual meaning and specifically Christian artistry from the English literary tradition.

We love Harry Potter because we are designed for religious experience—and these books deliver religious experience the

way coal trucks used to deliver fuel into people’s basements: in a barely controlled avalanche. This isn’t an evangelistic mountain slide meant to catch you off guard and force your conversion. It is the rhetoric of great storytelling with a host of religious and mythic hooks to catch on your Velcro heart, a heart designed to capture and resonate with these hierophanies, or intrusions of the sacred.

The business of this book is to peel away the layers of that rhetoric so you can understand the various symbols J. K. Rowling uses, the themes she develops, and the many traditional devices and structures she borrows from English “greats.” Almost all these tools are Christian, but much more to the point, the English literary tradition in which she writes—twelve centuries of it, give or take a few hundred years—is exclusively Christian.

This bothers quite a few readers, so it is worth spending a moment to explain. Myth and archetype are okay to these readers, but once something becomes one specific religion, all their defenses go up. I don’t know if it is fear of being converted or simply narrow-mindedness, but the heels go in deep against the idea that Harry Potter is written in religious language that is almost exclusively Christian. Even so, there’s just no getting around this.

It is true that a phoenix, a unicorn, and a griffin are symbols found in cultures around the world. It is true, too, that these magical creatures are understood differently by different cultures compared to the way they are understood by English writers and readers. But in English stories, these symbols have specific Christian meanings (see chapter 9). Not knowing this meaning or insisting on a plurality of other meanings is not broad-mindedness or religious pluralism. It’s just ignorance and, if I may be so bold, perhaps a little Christ-o-phobic.

If Rowling were an Islamofascist, Hindu Brahmin, or Buddhist ger dweller, when writing an epic adventure in English and within English traditions, her hands would still have been essentially tied to writing a Christian story. This huge monocultural sow that is the English literary tradition cannot be butchered in such a way that gets you Parliament of Religions bacon in slabs.

My job in How Harry Cast His Spell is to act as your guide through what I assume is already familiar territory, the seven Harry Potter books, and to point out all the religious and mythical elements specific to the tradition in which J. K. Rowling did her writing. Unless you’re a very unusual reader indeed, this will be an eye-popping ride your first time through, so we give it a double pass to make sure you don’t miss anything essential.

In the first ten chapters, we’ll hit the high spots of alchemy, themes, and symbols, with a chapter-by-chapter introduction that takes a large view of the whole series, one subject at a time. We start, for example, with magic in literature because many readers don’t see how that can be “religious” in any way when every revealed tradition forbids playing with magic. After that, we take similar long-range looks at the hero’s journey, literary alchemy, and how symbols work. Then when we’ve made the first trip through and we understand what all the little marks on the Marauder’s Map mean, we’ll jump into the seven Harry Potter novels themselves one at a time to see what we can make of them. I’ll explain the religious meaning and Christian content of each book, as well as why I think readers respond to them the way they do. Your job is to grasp what I explain and to see what I missed. This is the fourth edition of this book, and every update has been improved by readers who have written me to share something meaningful I missed.

Where Does This All Come From?

Before we dive in though, I am obliged to answer three questions I am inevitably asked at public talks I give:

❖ Do I really think Rowling intentionally gave the books all this meaning?

❖ Have I ever met Rowling? Has she confirmed that this was what she was doing?

❖ How did I figure all this stuff out?


This is a polite way of saying, “John, could you be imagining all this?” I have three reasons for thinking J. K. Rowling is a profound writer who writes at several levels, some of which are well below the story line.

First, the woman has a first-rate education. Many readers familiar with the Cinderella story of her being a single mum on

the dole when she wrote the first book imagine she was a welfare mother without a high school diploma who just got lucky. The truth is that she has an education and a degree equivalent to graduating from a prestigious American liberal arts college, say, Middlebury or Wesleyan, with a major in French and a minor in classics. She has said her stories come from the compost pile of books she has read, and I’m guessing this pile is several stories high.

Second, Rowling didn’t dash off these stories. She claims she first thought of Harry Potter on a train in 1990. In the seven years before the first book was published and in the ten years it took to write and publish the seven books, Rowling planned, replanned, and filled notebooks with backstory she would never use in the published novels. “Planning” is her recommendation to all young authors, and it is the signature of her genius as a writer. There is nothing accidental or off the cuff about her work; if it’s in there, she put it in there deliberately.

And third, the suggestion that Rowling didn’t mean the books to be as profound as they are misses out on something essential. A lot of the most profound meaning of the books is in the formula of how the books are written, the things that happen again and again in every book. Harry’s resurrection from the dead in the presence of a symbol of Christ could be accidental once, granted. But his doing it seven times without a variant is hard to scratch off as something unintentional. Rowling is, first and last, an accomplished storyteller—and the profound meaning of her writing is evident in the weave of the story fabric she creates.



In words of one syllable, no, I have not met Rowling, and no, she has not told me one thing about her books. I think these questions are also polite ways of saying something completely different from the surface meaning. Folks who ask me this, as a rule, believe that only authors understand their books, and anyone else who interprets their fiction is just guessing. Having just written that Rowling is a very intelligent and very intentional, even formulaic, writer, let me rush to add that she would be an unusual writer (perhaps the first in history) if she understood her books’ meanings comprehensively or even much better than very intelligent readers. She certainly does not have a monopoly on interpreting her books.

I like to think, in fact, as neat as it would be to talk with Rowling someday, that our conversation wouldn’t be about the meaning of Harry Potter. From what I understand of such things from reading other authors, talking about her books’ meaning would be just about the most insulting thing I could do. In other words, asking Rowling what she meant in her stories is insulting; if what she meant is not discernible to a serious reader, I would be saying implicitly that she is a poor writer. And by restricting the meaning of the works to the author’s intention and understanding of them, I would be suggesting that she as author is a god, fully conscious of her influences, prejudices, and meanings to every reader and aware of every valence and meaning of her stories’ symbols.

I admire Rowling enough as an artist and a person that I do not to want to diminish her remarkable literary accomplishment or suggest she is something more than human. Two of the themes within the Harry Potter novels are that we respect people for who they are and that we struggle to come to terms with the limits of individual understanding. Let’s avoid the celebrity school of interpretation that believes only writers understand their books; it leaves all the fun to the writers and insults them horribly in the bargain.


Here at last is an honest question! The answer will probably disappoint you. Not only have I not spoken with Rowling, we also grew up on opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Not much common ground there, then, at least in a literal sense. Comparing and contrasting our worldviews and educations, though, I think it’s fair to say that, despite significant differences, our ways of looking at the world have been calibrated with similar prescription eyeglasses.


❖ Rowling grew up as something of a Hermione, a nerd who studied more than her share of classical and modern languages. I studied Latin, Greek, and German in high school and was certainly a geek.

❖ She chose to go to church (Anglican Communion) even though her parents and sister did not and sought baptism and confirmation on her own as an adolescent. I was baptized as an infant into the Anglican Communion (ECUSA), and when my family stopped going to church when I was in high school, I continued to attend and was confirmed alone among my siblings.6

❖ We both read and reread C. S. Lewis, Jane Austen, and the rest of the English greats because we loved the stories and the genius of the storytellers.

❖ I became interested in esoteric and literary alchemy while still in college and have continued to study its history and place in literature since. Rowling said in 1998 that she “read a ridiculous amount” about alchemy before writing Harry and that alchemy set the “magical parameters” and “internal logic” of the series.7

I could go on, but let’s leave it at this. Both in interpreting what Rowling is saying and in the rather more bizarre field of guessing what she was going to write, my track record since 2002 has been good enough that I have been a keynote speaker at every Harry Potter conference of any size in the last five years, not to mention being interviewed by more than one hundred radio stations, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time magazine. Odds are pretty good you’ve even seen my face as well, because I’ve been on national television to answer Harry questions on CNN and MSNBC, and for an A&E special that eventually became a DVD extra in the Order of the Phoenix movie package. I’ve taught online classes to international audiences at Barnes and Noble University, I blog daily on Harry subjects,8 and I’ve written a book about how Rowling does what she does: Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader.

But to answer your question about how I figured all this stuff out, it always comes back to that fact that we share a similar eyeglasses prescription. Same church upbringing, same kind of classical education, same nineteenth-century dinosaur reading list, same interest in—can you believe it—alchemy.

Which brings us back again to our overarching question: Why does everyone love Harry Potter? Believe it or not, the answer is that it’s the transcendent meaning of the books and, specifically, their Christian content, with which readers resonate. Go on to the next page and let’s begin our trip through the mythical and religious meaning that drives Potter-mania.

Chapter 1


The magic in Harry Potter is traditional literary spellwork that acts as a counterspell to the materialism of our times.

More than any other book of the last fifty years (and perhaps ever), the Harry Potter novels have captured the imagination of the reading public worldwide. Hundreds of millions of copies have been sold to date. However, although the books have been wildly successful, no one as yet has been able to explain their popularity. The aim of How Harry Cast His Spell is to answer the question “Why do readers young and old love these stories?” The answer, believe it or not, is not great marketing, movie tie-ins, or product placement; it’s the transcendent meaning of the books, and more specifically, their Christian content.

The Harry Potter books, in case you have lived on the planet Zeno since 1997 or have recently come out of a coma, recount the adventures of an English schoolboy as he advances from grade to grade at Hogwarts School. Hogwarts is no ordinary boarding school, however, and Harry Potter is no typical student—the former is a school for witchcraft and wizardry, and Harry is not only a wizard-in-training, but the target of attack by the worst of evil wizards, Lord Voldemort, and his followers, the Death Eaters. Each book ends with a life-or-death battle against Voldemort or his servants and enough plot twists to make you dream of saltwater taffy.

I am convinced that the fundamental reason for the astonishing popularity of the Harry Potter novels is their ability to meet a spiritual longing for some experience of the truths of life, love, and death that are denied by our secular culture. Human beings are designed for transcendent truths, whether they know it or not, and they pursue experience of these truths and some exercise of their spiritual faculties anywhere they can. Mircea Eliade suggested that modern entertainments, especially books and movies, serve a mythological or religious function in a desacralized world.1 That the Harry Potter stories “sing along” with the Great Story of Christ in the tradition of English literature is a significant key to understanding their compelling richness and unprecedented popularity. We love these books because they satisfy our desire for religious experience in a big way.

Sound loony? I take hits from both sides of the Potter wars for this thesis—from Potter fans who are shocked by the suggestion that they have been reading “Christian” books and from Potter foes who are shocked by the thought that there could be anything “Christian” or edifying about books with witches and wizards in them. But like it or not, Harry’s Christian content and the fact that he takes us out of our materialist mental prisons are what keep his readers coming back again and again.

As the magical setting of the books has caused the most controversy in religious communities and has the most important and obvious spiritual significance, I’ll start with the setting and several formulas Rowling observes in every book to begin the discussion of what drives Potter-mania.

Magical Setting

Some Christians have objected to Harry Potter because Christian Scripture in many places explicitly forbids occult practice. Though reading about occult practice is not forbidden, these Christians prudently prefer (again in obedience to scriptural admonishments to parents) to protect their children because of the books’ sympathetic portrayal of occult practice. These Christians believe that such approving and casual exposure to the occult opens the door to occult practice.

Reading the Harry Potter books myself has convinced me that the magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries. Loving families have much to celebrate in these stories and little, if anything, to fear. What they have to celebrate is the traditional, edifying magic of English literature—a magic that fosters a spiritual worldview that is anything but occult oriented.

I say this without hesitation because the magic in Harry Potter is not “sorcery” or invocational magic. In keeping with a long tradition of English fantasy, the magic practiced in the Potter books, by hero and villain alike, is incantational magic, a magic that shows—in story form—our human thirst for a reality beyond the physical world around us.

The difference between invocational and incantational magic isn’t something we all learned in the womb, so let me explain. Invocational means literally “to call in.” Magic of this sort is usually referred to as sorcery. Scripture of every revealed tradition warns that “calling in” demonic principalities and powers for personal power and advantage is dangerously stupid. History books, revealed tradition, and fantasy fiction (think Dr. Faustus) that touch on sorcery do so in order to show us that the unbridled pursuit of power and advantage via black magic promises a tragic end.

But there is no invocational sorcery in the Harry Potter books.

Even the most evil wizards do their nasty magic with spells; not one character in any of the seven books ever calls in evil spirits. Not once.

The magic by spells and wands in Harry Potter is known as incantational wizardry. Incantational means literally “to sing along with” or “to harmonize.” To under stand how this works, we have to step outside our culture’s materialist creed (that every thing in existence is quantitative mass or energy) and look at the world upside down, which is to say, God-first.

For some, the distinction between invocational and incantational magic is a new idea. I’ve been asked how prayer fits. “Isn’t prayer invocational? Aren’t we calling out to God with this concept—invoking his name—when we pray? How is this ‘bad magic’?” Calling out to God isn’t bad magic, of course, and the reason helps to clarify the difference between sorcery and the “good magic” of English literature. It is the difference between the psychic and the spiritual realms.2

In a materialistic age such as the one in which we live, the distinction between the psychic and the spiritual is hard to keep straight, though it is an understanding all traditional faiths have in common. We struggle to hold on to this distinction because we have been taught that everything existent is some combination of matter and energy. Everything that’s not matter and energy, consequently, is lumped together as “peripheral stuff” or “delusion.” It’s hard to remember the differences between things thrown together in the garbage can of ideas!

The distinction between the psychic realm and the spiritual realm is critical. The psychic realm—accessible through the soul and including the powers of the soul, from the emotions and sentiments to the reason and intellect—is home to demonic and angelic created beings and is predominantly a fallen place apart from God. The spiritual realm is “God’s place”—the transcendent sphere within and beyond creation and the restrictions of being, time, and space.

Invocational magic is calling upon the fallen residents of the psychic realm. Prayer is the invocation of God’s name that we might live deliberately and consciously in his presence within time and space. Incantational magic in literature—a harmonizing with God’s Word—is the story-time version of what a life in prayer makes possible. Invoking the powers of the psychic realm is universally forbidden in both literary and revealed traditions. However, calling on the spiritual realm and pursuing graces from it are the tasks for which human beings are designed, insofar as we are homo religiosus. One function of traditional English literature, of which Harry Potter is a part, is to support us in this spiritual life.

Christianity—and all revealed traditions—believes creation comes into being by God’s creative Word, or his song. As creatures made in the image of God, we can harmonize with God’s Word and his will, and in doing so, experience the power of God. The magic and miracles we read about in great English literature are merely reflections of God’s work in our life. To risk overstating my case, the magic in Harry Potter and other good fantasy fiction harmonizes with the miracles of the saints.

C. S. Lewis paints a picture of the differences between incantational and invocational magic in Prince Caspian. As you may recall, Prince Caspian and the Aslan-revering creatures of the forest are under attack from Caspian’s uncle. Things turn bad for the white hats, and it seems as if they will be overrun and slaughtered at any moment. Two characters on the good guys’ side decide their only hope is magic.

Prince Caspian decides on musical magic. He has a horn that Aslan, the Christlike lion of these books, had given to Queen Susan in ages past to blow in time of need. Caspian blows on this divinely provided instrument in his crisis.3 By sounding a note in obedience and faith, Caspian harmonizes with the under lying fabric and rules of the Emperor over the Sea, and help promptly and providentially arrives in the shape of the Pevensie children themselves.

Nikabrik the dwarf, in contrast, decides a little sorcery is in order. He finds a hag capable of summoning the dreaded White Witch in the hope that this power-hungry, Aslan-hating witch will help the good guys (in exchange for an opening into Narnia). Needless to say, the musical magicians are scandalized by the dwarf’s actions and put an end to the sorcery lickety-split.

In the Narnia stories and other great fantasy fiction, good magic is incantational, and bad magic is invoca tional. Incantational magic is about harmonizing with God’s creative Word by imitation. Invocational magic is about calling in evil spirits for power or advantage—always a tragic mistake. The magic in Harry Potter is exclusively incantational magic in conformity with both literary tradition and scriptural admonition. Concern that the books might “lay the foundation” for occult practice is misplaced, however well intentioned and understandable, because it fails to recognize that Potter magic is not demonic.

Perhaps you are wondering, If Harry Potter magic is a magic in harmony with the Great Story, why are the bad guys able to use it? Great question. Just as even the evil people in “real” life are certainly created in God’s image, so all the witches and wizards in Potterdom, good and bad, are able to use incantational magic. Evil magical folk choose of their own free will to serve the Dark Lord with their magical faculties just as most of us, sadly, lend a talent or power of our own in unguarded moments to the Evil One’s cause. As we will see, the organizing structure of the Potter books is a battle between good guys who serve truth, beauty, and virtue and bad guys who lust after power and private gain.

Some fans of Lewis and Tolkien contrast those writers’ use of magic with Rowling’s, arguing that, unlike the world of Harry Potter, the subcreations of these fantasy writers had no overlap with the real world. They suggest that this blurring of boundaries confuses young minds about what is fiction and what is reality. But Lewis and Tolkien blurred boundaries with gusto in their stories—as did Homer, Virgil, Dante, and other authors whose works regularly traumatize students in English classes. Certainly the assertion that Middle Earth and Narnia are separate realities is questionable, at best. Middle Earth is earth between the Second and Third Ages (we live in the so-called Fourth Age). Narnia overlaps with our world at the beginning and end of each book, and in The Last Battle is revealed as a likeness with earth of the heavenly archetype, or Aslan’s kingdom. Singling out Rowling here betrays a lack of charity, at least, and perhaps a little reasoning chasing prejudgment.

That the magical world exists inside Muggledom (nonmagical people are called “Muggles” by the witches and wizards in Harry Potter), however, besides being consistent with the best traditions in epic myth and fantasy, parallels the life of Christians in the world. I don’t want to belabor this point, but C. S. Lewis described the life of Christians as a life spent “in an enemy occupied country.”4 What he meant is that traditional Christians under stand that man is fallen, that he no longer enjoys the ability to walk and talk with God in the Garden, and that the world is driven by God-opposing powers. Lewis’s Ransom novels illustrate this idea.

Why do we love the magic of Harry Potter? I think we have three big reasons to be excited by it. First, we live in a time in which naturalism, the belief that all existence is matter and energy, is the state religion and belief in supernatural or contra-natural powers is considered delusion. The incantational magic in Harry Potter, because it requires harmonizing with a greater magic, undermines faith in this godless worldview. Harry’s magic, even if only experienced imaginatively in a state of suspended disbelief, gives our spiritual faculties the oxygen our secular schools and the public square have tried to cut off. And by under mining the materialist view of our times, it can even be said that the books lay the foundation for a traditional understanding of the spiritual, which is to say “human,” life.

Next, because there is overlap between the “magical” and “Muggle” worlds of Harry Potter, there is the edifying suggestion that the prevalent bipolar worldview of Americans, in which the world is divided by an arbitrary state versus church dichotomy, not to mention the secular versus sacred illusion, is just so much nonsense. The spiritual and traditional understanding of the world is a sacramental one, in which the spiritual suffuses the material (just as the human person is a psychosomatic unity with spiritual faculties). The breakdown of the Muggle/magic divide helps readers see that existence itself (in not being matter or energy) unites all reality and that “greater being” is found only in pursuit of the sacred, not the “scientific” and profane.

And third, we love the magic in Harry Potter because it helps us exercise those atrophied spiritual powers we have (as we identify with Harry and his friends), while at the same time encouraging us to be heroic and good alongside them. This is no small thing, and we’ll be returning to it in the coming chapters.

Have you heard stories of children being sucked into witches’ covens because they want to be like Harry? Reports of rising membership in occult groups since the Harry Potter books were published inevitably turn out to be generated by proselytizing members of these groups. People who track the occult for a living explain that, despite Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter, membership in these groups in Europe and the United States are minuscule and are in decline despite a decade of Harry, Buffy, and occult milieu entertainment.5 Children are far more likely to become Hare Krishna, gynecologists, or members of a Christian cult than real-world witches or wizards.

And even if children were being seduced into the occult because of their desire to do spells, I have to hope this would be under stood by thinking people as a shameful, tragic aberration, more indicative of the child’s spiritual misformation than a danger in the books. The Dungeons and Dragons craze in the sixties and seventies and its attendant occult paraphernalia sprang from an unhealthy fascination and perverse misunderstanding of The Lord of the Rings, an epic with clear Christian under tones. If we were to avoid books that could possibly be misunderstood or whose message could be turned on its head, incidents like Jonestown would logically suggest thinking people should not read the Bible.

What about the title of the first book in the Potter series? If there’s no sorcery in these books, how come the first book and

movie are titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Well, because that isn’t the title of the first book. Arthur Levine, under whose imprint the books are published by Scholastic in the United States, changed the title from Philosopher’s Stone to Sorcerer’s Stone because he was sure that no American would buy a book with philosophy in the title. An Orthodox Christian bishop has noted that Harry haters “have missed the spiritual forest for the sake of their fixation on the magical imagery of the literary trees.”6 If there is anything tragic in this misunderstanding of Harry Potter by well-intentioned Christians, it is the tragedy of “friendly fire.” Just as foot soldiers are sometimes hit by misdirected artillery fire from their own troops, so Harry has been condemned by the side he is serving. Because some Christians have mistaken fictional magic for sorcery, they have misconstrued what is a blow at atheistic naturalism as, of all things, an invitation to the occult.7 If the “magical trees” in Harry Potter are of any help in retaking ground lost to those who would burn down the spiritual forest, then Rowling has done human communities every where a very good deed.

I receive e-mail from readers almost daily about the “problem” of reading Harry Potter in light of its transcendent meaning and specific Christian content. They insist that the symbols, themes, and meanings of the books are perfectly comprehensible without any reference to an imaginary Christian subtext that believers are projecting into the books.

The mistake these readers make when they insist that the symbolism of Harry Potter is not “exclusively” Christian is that they just don’t understand a disturbing fact about English literature.

I have friends who teach and write about Saudi Arabia and Arabic culture in general. Their work is not restricted to Islam, certainly, but they wouldn’t be experts in their field if they weren’t aware of the tremendous influence of the Koran and the Islamic worldview on culture, politics, and everything Arabic. This, I hope, is a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, in a post-Christian era (culturally speaking), and one in which universities are in large part overly hostile to religious meanings (mine certainly was!), the simple, disturbing fact that English literature until the last fifty years was (ahem) “exclusively” a Christian field escapes people. Christian authors writing for a Christian reading audience—and writing books, plays, and poems that would edify them in their spiritual and workaday lives as Christians—was the rule of English letters until well after the first World War.

In explaining the popularity of the Harry Potter novels as a function of the response of a spiritually deprived world for edifying, transcendent experience (even experience limited to entertainment), I am frequently accused of proselytizing and forcing Christian meaning into the text. What a hoot! No one accuses my friends who are Saudi scholars of trying to convert people to Islam because their reports on Middle Eastern current events and trends are heavy on the place of Islam in Arabic culture.

If some Harry fans are uncomfortable because other readers, Christian or not, are interpreting the Potter books in a Christian light, I beg these readers to ask themselves where the problem exists. Reading books within a Christian literary tradition (if not for an exclusively Christian audience and not in a manner that is overtly Christian in any denominational or parochial sense) invites discussion of the Christian elements of the story and of the tools from the tradition the author uses. Literary alchemy, religious symbolism, and doppelgängers, for instance, don’t make much sense outside of the tradition in which these books are written and in which these tools are used.

I have no evangelical cause or agenda here in discussing the Christian content of these books. My only hope is that readers will come to a greater appreciation of these works via the discussion of Harry Potter as traditional English literature, which, again, is an overwhelmingly Christian subject. William Shakespeare’s plays and James Joyce’s novels are impenetrable outside some appreciation of their spiritual context and the traditions of English literature. J. K. Rowling’s stories are no different.

If readers want an exclusively secular view of the books—that is, a reading of them outside of the context and traditions in which they are written—this is probably not their book. English literature (Harry Potter is undeniably root-and-branch English literature) is as Christian as Tibetan culture is Buddhist and Saudi politics is Islamic.

Denying this is not “having a broad mind” but living in a fantasy. Likewise, refusing to see the Christian elements in Harry Potter and insisting it is demonic is not a greater piety or fidelity to the faith; it is just a reflection of not understanding the place of literature in the spiritual life, of not understanding the Christian tradition of English literature, and of not understanding the popularity of Harry Potter.

Let’s move on from Harry’s edifying incantational magic to the battlefield of good versus evil in these stories.



1 “The Truth about Death,” Journal of Genetics 58 (1962-1963): 463–464.

2 J. K. Rowling: A Year in the Life, a documentary by James Runcie (December 30, 2007), ITV1

3 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (New York: Harcourt, 1957), 204.

4 Ibid., 205.

5 Ibid.

6 J. K. Rowling: A Year in the Life.

7 Face to Face with J. K. Rowling (December 7, 1998),

8 See


1 Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 205.

2 For more on the confusion between the psychic and the spiritual realms in our time and the dangers of occultism, please see Charles Upton’s The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age (Ghent, NY: Sophia Perennis, 2001), 134–137.

3 See C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, chapters 7 and 12. Readers of the Narnia books remember from The Magician’s Nephew that Aslan created that world with his song—as does the divinity in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

4 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Collier Books, 1960), 51.

5 “Fundamentalism Afoot in Anti-Potter Camp, Says New-Religions Expert:

Popular Culture Enjoys an Autonomy, Explains Massimo Introvigne,” Zenit News, December 6, 2001, _03.htms.

6 Bishop Auxentios, Orthodox Tradition 20, no. 3 (2003): 14–26.

7 See C. S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair for this modern tragedy told in story form. The Silver Chair is a vibrant story of the confusion and modern enchantment with materialism or “life underground.” Is there any Narnia moment greater than Prince Rilian’s victory over the Emerald Witch in chapter 12?