Author John Granger sees religion amid the witchcraft.
Friday, July 15, 2005
By JOHN A. ZUKOWSKI
...But is Granger stretching too far to make the Christian connection?
Granger's heard that criticism.
So he makes his case with both his credentials and Rowling's history.
First the credentials.
Granger admits to being a "Great Books" devotee who has studied classical languages and shuns popular culture. He doesn't have a TV and was so out of touch with pop culture that when someone mentioned Ned Flanders from TV's longest-running show "The Simpsons," he didn't know what it was.
"I though it was a reference to an obscure 17th century novel or maybe it was someone in the novel 'Moll Flanders,' " he says. "But I did an Internet search and found out what it was."
He's also researched the woman who wrote the Harry Potter books.
Rowling has a mythologized past of being an unemployed single mother writing the first Harry Potter book in a café. However, she was well educated, Granger says.
Rowling studied Latin -- almost a second language to her, Granger says -- and knew the literary classics that Granger affectionately calls "The Great Books."
She's also is reportedly so fond of C.S. Lewis' Christian-fantasy Narnia books, which include "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," that she once said she can't be in the same room with one of the books without picking one up.
Rowling is a member of the Church of Scotland -- known in the United States as the Presbyterian Church -- and has occasionally talked about her faith, Granger says.
"She said in an interview that if she talked about her faith every fan would know what would happen in the books," he says. "She's baptized her children and she's said multiple times that she believes in God."
There's evidence Rowling studied the books that contain the Christian symbolism Granger has discovered, he says. And Granger says Rowling is following what Christian author C.S. Lewis started in the 1930s.
Lewis and his friend and fellow Christian J.R.R. Tolkien started injecting Christian themes into their books. It was their way of expressing their Christian beliefs without being preachy. The result was Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and Lewis' Narnia series.
Rowling is following in the tradition of smuggling Christian themes and symbols into a fantasy story, Granger says.
"However, she's much more from what I guess could be called the liberal wing of the church, she's not an apologetic like C.S. Lewis or Tolkien," he says. "Lewis was a big critic of science and Tolkien had a problem with modernity. But Rowling is much more critical of social institutions. She's interested in pointing out the problems in prisons and courts and schools."