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For nearly a decade, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has been a litmus test of evangelicals' commitment to defying popular culture. Some churches have consigned Potter novels to bonfires because of the series' portrayal of magic spells and wizardry. For some Christians, it was as if an occult hand had nudged unknowing children toward pop witchcraft.

John Granger, a homeschooling father of seven, admits to feeling cautious about the series, which he had not heard about until Rowling published the fourth volume, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in 2000. When a pediatrician loaned the book to Granger's eldest daughter, Granger began reading Goblet of Fire for himself, and before long he was a convert.

Granger self-published The Hidden Key to Harry Potter in 2002. He now pursues a similar theme in Looking for God in Harry Potter, which is published by an imprint of Tyndale House. He promotes the books and related materials through a website, HogwartsProfessor.com, and teaches free online Potter courses through Barnes & Noble.

Granger's enthusiasm reaches a comic level after he quotes dialogue between Harry and Hermione:

"Harry, I can't believe it … You conjured up a Patronus that drove away all those dementors! That's very, very advanced magic. …"
"I knew I could do it this time," said Harry, "because I'd already done it. … Does that make sense?"
It makes sense, Harry, but perhaps only if you look at this as a Christian who is familiar with the Gospel according to John.

Granger has become such an enthusiast that it's tempting to call him the Comic Book Guy of Potterville, after the guardian of comics trivia on The Simpsons. Unlike Comic Book Guy, though, Granger can assemble his enthusiasms into a coherent argument. For instance, ...

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October 2004

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