Connie Neal is the author of What's a Christian to do With Harry Potter? and The Gospel According to Harry Potter (Westminster John Knox Press).

How did you get started on this?

I'm a mom, that's how. Actually it was before any controversy in the Christian community.  I'm very much involved in my children's lives and [the mother of] one of their friends said, "I've just read the most fabulous book.  Sarah loves it.  It's about this little boy who finds out he's a wizard and he goes off to this school to learn witchcraft."

And I went, "Oh, lovely." So I read the first book thinking I was reading it to explain to my kids why they couldn't. I could see immediately that it would be enormously popular. As I looked at it, it did not take me very long at all to decide that this was something tremendously useful for an involved Christian parent.

What do you say to people who say the problem with Harry Potter is that it encourages kids to dabble in witchcraft, divination, sorcery, and casting spells? The Bible says God abhors these things.

I absolutely agree that God abhors them.  I abhor them. One of the things that convinced me to take on Harry Potter with my children was I saw that it would be a tremendous tool for me to help them learn spiritual discernment.

I took them to Deuteronomy 18. I made it clear to my children that we are totally against witchcraft. But, I said to them, "Here's what we're going to do: What [J.K. Rowling] has done is she's mixed really fun, wonderful, creative creatures with some things that actually are real according to the Bible.  And so I want you to practice sorting it out.  As I'm reading the story, raise your hand if you find something that is also real in our world and then we can go to the Bible and ...

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The Dick Staub Interview
Dick Staub was host of a eponymous daily radio show on Seattle's KGNW and is the author of Too Christian, Too Pagan and The Culturally Savvy Christian. He currently runs The Kindlings, an effort to rekindle the creative, intellectual, and spiritual legacy of Christians in culture. His interviews appeared weekly on our site from 2002 to 2004.
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