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On p. 65, Mr Houghton claims that 'Harry Potter is often excused because he is a special child, a protege of the headmaster, Dumbledore.' And on p. 86, we hear that 'This combination of his alienation and gifting makes (Harry) superior'. Two problems here: In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, ch. 17, Tom Riddle says to Harry, 'There is nothing special about you, after all.' And any special respect paid to Harry is not because he's a 'protege of the headmaster' but because he vanquished Voldemort.
On p. 81, Mr Houghton says that the coined term 'Dementor' is not far removed from the word 'demon'. Yes it is: 'demon' is from the Greek for deity; 'dement' comes from Latin, meaning something like 'from the mind'.
p. 66: Talking about Muggles, Houghton says that in Harry's world 'the rules of birth are everything'--a direct contradiction of Dumbledore's words in Goblet of Fire: 'It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be'.
On p. 56 Houghton quotes (apparently with approval) another author who claims that the Harry Potter books have 'a serious tone of... hate'. On p. 82 he says that 'the love shown in Harry Potter is noble'. Which is it to be, Mr Houghton?
These are a few examples of small errors, but to my mind they undermine John Houghton's credibility as a commentator on Harry Potter. I'd recommend that concerned Christians read the Harry Potter books themselves and make up their own minds, before venturing into the confused world of the critics.
Without any animosity, John Houghton gives a concise and excellent analysis of the Harry Potter series, together with a thorough look at the concept of human imagination in the history of creative arts and in the development of the child. He then explains what kind of reading can stimulate the child's imagination, teaching him important and useful facts of life at the right stage of his emotional development without causing harm. The question is then asked whether the Harry potter series is suitable for children or not. What is the role of magic, occult and witchcraft in literature? John Houghton answers by analysing the use of witchcraft in mythic tales and folklore and the growing influence of the New Age movement in our modern world and society.
The Harry Potter books reflect a world moving towards neo-paganism whereas, authors like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were writing in a Christian orientated society which accepted biblical truths and values. The very valid question is therefore posed as whether a comparison between the writings of these two authors and the H.P books is really appropriate.
In the last three chapters, John Houghton describes the consequences of a neo-pagan world and compares the context of the Harry Potter books with the Christian Gospel and its message of love and hope, contrasting with the darker evolution announced by J.K. Rowling in her future books.
John Houghton ends his convincing demonstration by giving very useful advice to parents and educators confronted with this type of literature and its influence on their children.
Congratulations for this excellent book!