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Some personal observations on the Harry Potter series


I'm reading the book "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger (Saltriver 2004).  I'm about half way through it, and so far a lot of what Granger suggests makes sense.  His argument is that J. K. Rowling follows the basic themes of great classical literature (Greek, Latin and English) of the struggle (within the individual and among individuals) between good and evil, choices and consequences, selfishness and sacrificial love, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.


He suggests (and I agree) that the popularity of the books lie in Rowling's recasting of these themes to appeal to a modern audience - - themes which is 'hard wired' into all people of all generations of all ages by God, and to which all generations instinctively respond.  The ultimate (and God - intended) manifestation of these themes is, of course, the redemptive work of Christ on behalf of each of us.


I did a quick search on the web and found Granger's web page.  I haven't looked at much of it, but what I've seen looks interesting.  Here's the link if you'd like to check it out:


Something else came to me as I read Granger's book, something that I think further explains the popularity of the Harry Potter stories.  In their book "The Fourth Turning" (Broadway Books 1998), William Strauss and Neil Howe suggest that we will soon experience a cyclical time of crises (the last one was the Great Depression and World War II) as well as a convergence of the generations that typically, in the past, have lined up to deal with such crises.  Specifically, Strauss and Howe suggest that, at such times of crises in the past, a convergence of generations (older 'Prophets' and younger 'Heroes') provide the basis for the human talent-set needed to get society through the tough times ahead.  In the last crises it was F. D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill's generation in the role of the older 'Prophets' and the generation that marched off to fight in World War II (my parents, uncles, aunts, and parents-in-law) in the role of the younger 'Heroes'.


The Harry Potter books came out in the nineties, at the time that "The Forth Turning" suggests the generational constellation for the next crises was forming.  These are the older Prophets (i.e.: Baby Boomers) and the younger Heroes (i.e.: Millennials) of the 21st Century.  Therefore, it seems to me that the theme of older prophets (Albus Dumbledore) helping younger heroes (Harry, Hermione, Ron, etc.) win out in a crisis is the right stuff at the right time.  If there's anything to "The Forth Turning", the Harry Potter series would naturally appeal to younger and older readers alike at this time - - the stories just happen to be the stories that match the mood and the psyche of the current Prophet-Hero generational mix.






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