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    A Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld

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WEB LINK - amazon.comA Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld

by Francis Bridger

In WEB LINK - amazon.comA Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld (Doubleday, 2002), Anglican theologian Francis Bridger argues that the over-arching message of the Harry Potter novels is the all-conquering power of love. As an ethics teacher, Bridger is particularly appreciative of Rowling's skill in demonstrating the growth of her characters through the increasingly complex moral decision-making they employ. The Potterworld characters are rarely portrayed in terms of black and white, and Bridger applauds and explores in great depth the "grayness" of most of Rowling's principal characters. To Bridger, the depth and reality of Rowling's characters, not the magical universe they inhabit, is the key ingredient to the popular appeal and wide success of these novels. Harry is vulnerable and real to his readers: he is neither a devil nor a saint but simply "The Boy Who Lived".

While he finds that the value system of Potterworld is consistent with the Christian belief system, Bridger stops short of identifying Harry as a Christ figure or acknowledging any explicitly Christian messages in these novels. He makes no presumptions with respect to Rowling's religious beliefs and confidently states that he believes that the "snippets of Christian theology" in Rowling's novels were worked in without any overt intent on her part (and perhaps without her knowledge even). He finds that Rowling's treatment of death and resurrection put her most at odds with Christianity, and he accordingly cannot believe that she is writing with any particular theological intent. Granger would disagree with this conclusion, as he notes that Dumbledore, who often acts as Rowling's direct narratorial voice, refers to death as "the next great adventure". While Rowling has said explicitly that the dead cannot be brought back to life in her fictional universe, Granger would argue that she quite clearly believes that there is a "next life that makes death anything but the end".

   -- Penny Linsenmeyer

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