02/08/2015

Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter (by Nicole Rivera)

I was contacted, about a month ago, by someone on the Goodreads site. Nicole Rivera had seen my positive review of ‘Looking for God in Harry Potter’, and wondered if I would be interested in reading her new ebook. It started as a master's thesis, and has been adapted into a series of short devotions based on quotations from the Harry Potter books.

Intrigued, I said I would be happy to do this, and was given a coupon for a free download of the pre-publication ebook, 'Finding unauthorized faith in Harry Potter'. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect; I thought that perhaps it would be a highly academic tome, but it turned out to be in the style of a daily devotional guide, each one beginning with a quotation (sometimes more than one) from one of the seven Harry Potter books. There are about ninety sections in all, each focusing on a small but significant aspect of the book, and pointing to different steps in the Christian walk.

Devotional reading is usually based on the Bible, and I quickly discovered that there are at least as many Scriptural quotations as there are from JK Rowling’s works. Very often a Bible passage says something similar to a passage from a Harry Potter book; sometimes it’s complementary. The author takes us skillfully through Harry’s life, showing his growth as a person, his understanding of his purpose, and his many battles against evil. There are examples of loyalty, of good choices in difficult circumstances, and of tremendous sacrifice.

Harry learns that the power of love is what matters; it’s what protected him as a baby, and what enables him to win through in the end. By the time he discovers this in the original series, it’s obvious to many that Harry is a Christ-figure in the allegorical side of the stories. Nicole Rivera takes it further, leading the reader not just into some new insights about Harry’s life, but showing how the story of Jesus is relevant today, and how fiction can encourage and inspire us in our faith.

Although much of the book, particularly towards the end, is pushing for Christian commitment, the whole is geared towards encouraging people to think outside the box, to align themselves with Christ, to understand the Christian life from a different point of view. The author shares some of her own journey of faith, including an unhealthy obsession with the JK Rowling’s books; she had to put them aside for a while, before returning to them in a more constructive way.

The writing is excellent, the points well made, and I found it a thought-provoking book: so much so that I didn’t want to read more than two or three sections at a time. It inspired me not just to think in new ways about my own Christian journey, but to re-read the Harry Potter books!

Highly recommended to anyone who has enjoyed the series and has wondered about their Christian significance. I would strongly recommend reading the books first, however, or at least seeing the films; without some background understanding of Harry’s story, this book would be confusing and not particularly relevant.

Note that these devotionals have only been published, so far, in separate ebooks, each one referring to just one of the Harry Potter books. The Amazon links at the side direct to the first of them; you can 'look inside' them without buying to see a taster of what they are about.

The entire book is not yet available to the general public, but should soon be published in print.

Review by copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Ken Kuhlken said...

Sue, Many thanks for your gracious and thoughtful comments. Ken Kuhlken, Hickey's Books