No, I'm not talking about Severus Snape and his vampiric qualities. Last night's midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the latest installment in the blockbuster book-movie franchise, brought with it comparisons to another teen fantasy phenomenon, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.

The sixth Harry Potter film features front and center the budding hormones of the now-16-year-old wizards, but, compared with Meyer's vampire oeuvre, J. K. Rowling's Harry seems downright innocent - a phrase rarely attached to the magical tales, at least among many evangelicals.

The "question" of Harry Potter - good fun, or evil vehicle for witchcraft? - has circulated through Christian culture since the first movie introduced the boy wizard to the mainstream in 2001. Eight years later - years that have brought the series' conclusion and Rowling's admission that her Christian faith deeply influenced her work - many evangelicals still oppose the book's positive portrayal of witchcraft and wizardry, fearing it gives curious children an entry point into the occult.

Christianity Today magazine has weighed in on the controversy; I personally believe the books are not only harmless, but can also deepen our faith by engaging our hearts and minds in an epic story that explores some very biblical ideas, a la Tolkien and Lewis. The series' conclusion relies heavily on Christian imagery (I'll stop there to avoid spoiling Deathly Hallows' incredibly powerful finale), and in the end, we see that the spells and potions are merely plot devices to depict themes of good vs. evil, the importance of sacrifice, and the power of love. Even the Vatican has stepped out in support of Half-Blood Prince, giving the film a surprising two thumbs up to its ...

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