Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld by Frances Bridger

This book was also one I picked up from the library to try to get moving on my Hogwarts Challenge.  I thought it might be interesting because the author is a pastor and a theologian (as well as Principal of Trinity Theological College in Bristol, England), taking on his views of the Harry Potter books.  Because this looked liked a rather scholarly book, I had expected there to be in-depth, dry analysis of everything Harry Potter --  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was actually very interesting, and very well-written.  Bridger begins by stating that while this book is not necessarily written in praise of Harry Potter, it does contain praise, and that "I write as a theologian, a Cristian, a pastor, and a grandparent, and find myself engaging with Potterworld on all four levels."  (p. 5)  He is quite familiar with the writings of C.S. Lewis, and makes comparisons throughout this book to Lewis' books of Narnia, as well as other writings by Lewis.  As I read through the book, I found myself stopping a few times, just because I was really agreeing with Bridger and what he was saying.   For example, he makes the point that these books had a strong appeal to both adults and children, simply because the same things appeal to both groups of readers (a good story, great descriptions, etc).  When I was reading, I think, the third book, someone I knew was always saying, "But it's a child's book.  Why bother reading it?"  Bridger makes the excellent point (on page 41), "It isn't the child in us that responds to Potterworld -- it's the person."   He states that the stories are what appeal to people of all ages, and are similar to how Tolkien or Lewis can appeal to readers of all ages. 
Now that the Potter series has finished, I don't know how many people will be reading Bridger's book, but I think it's a fascinating companion to the Harry Potter books.   There are still some people who might believe that these books should be banned, or that they contain evil in them that can contaminate children.  However, to anyone who thinks that the books are a bad influence should be handed a copy of this book (which, I know, they would probably find fault with, as well -- *sigh*).   I'll leave you with a quote from Chapter Five (p. 113-114): "To read Harry Potter requires a huge act of faith.  It requires us to suspend our cherished belief that the world around us is the only possible kind of reality there could be and to accept that, in the imagination at least, there could be another.  What is more, by its very nature, Potterworld asks us to switch off our rational circuits - those parts of our brains that tell us that what we're reading simply can't be happening - and to enter a universe in which the normal laws of nature are overtaken by an alternate reality which is somehow capable of impossible feats."    Sounds good to me!   Reading this book made me want to go back to my shelves and start reading this series all over again (and I just might pick up a copy of Bridger's book for myself, to keep handy). 

Please note: it is stated right on the cover that this book "has not been authorized by J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros."  -- Just so you know.  :)

Where I got this book:  Library!

Category for Challenge
- read any book that has charm in its title, any book that deals with gives something or someone a new aspect (for example the nerdy guy become a handsome doctor) 


Red said...

Thanks for your review of this book. It's nice to see a book about spirituality in HP that is 1)by a Christian and a pastor and 2) that isn't about how all people who read this will burn in hell for all eternity.

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