Frodo Good, Harry Bad

Harry Potter has magic. Lord of the Rings has magic. Harry Potter has wizards, dark evil, and an unlikely hero who overcomes obstacles with friendship and courage. So does Lord of the Rings. Yet reactions from conservative Christian critics have not been so similar.

Why do Christian critics love Lord of the Rings and not Harry Potter?
Harry Potter has magic. Lord of the Rings has magic. Harry Potter has wizards, dark evil, and an unlikely hero who overcomes obstacles with friendship and courage. So does Lord of the Rings. Yet reactions from conservative Christian critics have not been so similar.

Yesterday, The Boston Globe picked up on the dichotomy:

"The world of Christian conservatives that shuddered at the wizardry and witchcraft of J.K. Rowling's wildly popular fantasy works about boy wizard Harry Potter is now rejoicing at the revival of interest in the sorcery-packed The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien," staff writer Michael Paulson reports.

The Harry Pottermovie (and the books before it) met with hesitation and condemnation from evangelicals last month while many of the same critics are now offering little caution and much praise about Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.

As a pastor in The Boston Globe article said, "Tolkien has been much more accepted in the evangelical community." So much so, according to the article, that some theologians and pastors have taught themselves Tolkien's made-up elfish language. Meanwhile, Harry Potterbooks are burned in church parking lots.

For the last three weeks, Christianity Today's Film Forum has cataloged the raving praise for Fellowship of the Ring from religious and mainstream critics. The only red flags religious critics have raised concern the film's frequent and sustained violence.

So why are the reactions to two magical fantasies so different? The Globe found a crucial difference: Who the authors are.

"Tolkien was a devout convert to Catholicism whose religion informed his writing, while Rowling, a member of the Church of Scotland, ...

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