It's always interesting when a cultural artifact becomes a cultural phenomenon. There was not a lot of initial promotion for the first Harry Potter book, and expectations were modest. But somehow word-of-mouth buzz moved the series past a tipping point, and Harry Potter became something larger. No longer was J. K. Rowling an unknown author laboring in obscurity. She became an international media celebrity, wealthier than the Queen of England, with millions of fans around the world clamoring for every word and detail about Harry.
This makes me wonderwhat would it look like if we saw comparable levels of Harry Potter mania directed to the Christian story? It's not like crowds are awaiting the next Bibleman DVD or staying up all night to read Miroslav Volf's newest book. Or Isaiah or Jeremiah, for that matter. Can you imagine people packing the streets of Ephesus in eager anticipation of the publication of part two of Luke/Acts? Or release parties in Corinth celebrating the receipt of Paul's second epistle to them? (Dress up like your favorite super-apostle!)
I wonder if there have been times in church history when the gospel narrative was this gripping a cultural phenomenon. People probably wouldn't be this crazy about Harry Potter if they had all grown up in a context where they had heard the Harry Potter stories so much that they no longer seemed fresh. The challenge for us in a post-Christendom era is that people have become anesthetized to the Christian story. They've heard it already, or they think they've heard it already. And it doesn't capture their imagination the way today's imaginative narratives have. In a world of Harry Potter, Star Wars, 24, and Heroes, it's hard for the Christian story to compete.
Those of ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more