Whether Christians may agree with it or not, the newest and final volume of the "Harry Potter" series has hit bookstores worldwide.
Excitement reached fever pitch over the last few weeks ahead of the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", and that anticipation was finally satisfied midnight Saturday for the many who queued up to get their hands on a copy.
"Speculation has been mounting for weeks, if not years in fan circles, as to how the final book will conclude the best loved story of the modern day," explained Christian author Nancy Carpentier Brown in a statement. "Will Harry die? Is Snape really a good guy or bad guy? Will the dead Dumbledore play a part in the last book? Will Harry conquer the evil Lord Voldemort?"
While many Christians have criticised the boy wizard of occult magic, others have been quite impressed with the children's novels. And with all the press going towards the seventh book in the "Potter" series, Christian groups have been jumping in as well to promote Christian values that they feel are inherent in the fantasy tale.
The Church of England just recently came out with a study guide to accompany "Harry Potter" using the popularity of the literature to tie in with Christian themes.
Other Christians have gone even further, however. Some say that the books are indeed Christian-centered novels and always have been.
"In the midst of all this political correctness, this tolerant, non-judgmental, relativistic world, enters a story about a school where right and wrong are defined, rules are enforced, misbehavior comes with detention, evil is evil and must be fought and goodness is rewarded," said Brown, author of "The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide" and a former opponent of the novels.
"Rowling has packaged a Christian story with a wrapping of witchcraft and magic, and through this disguise had drawn millions of children - millions of adults to read a redemptive moral story that perhaps can teach more than a religion class ever could," she added.
Looking at the symbolism in the JK Rowling creations, other people have gone so far as to claim that Harry Potter is even a symbol to represent the Son of God - Jesus.
"As we approach the release of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Potter friends and foes alike are in for the surprise of their lives," wrote Abigail BeauSeigneur in an article on the most-visited Harry Potter fan site, Mugglenet.com. "The story of Harry Potter is, and always was, a Christian allegory - a fictionalised modern day adaptation of the life of Christ, intended to introduce his character to a new generation."
To back up her claims, she cites examples such as their prophetic births, personality traits, life events, opposition to authority, battles against evil, unfair trials, as well as similarities between Lord Voldemort and the devil.
So the question that remains is whether or not Rowling is a Christian in disguise.
"Rowling is a genius to tell a Christian story in the unexpected disguise of a witchcraft tale - people who would never pick up an overtly Christian story are reading Potter by the millions, attracted to it by its modern themed packaging," concluded Brown in a statement. "Christianity has always produced great writers. Tolkien, Lewis, Percy, Chesterton to name just a few. I believe JK Rowling is a Christian writer."
But then again, there are many Christians who would disagree.
"[T]he movie version of 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' is liable to still do great business at the box office," stated Dr Ted Baehr, founder of MovieGuide.org, as the fifth instalment of the "Harry Potter" film series released last week.
"Regrettably, however, this means that even more children will be lured away from God and His Infallible Word, which says that witchcraft is evil and abhorrent. Instead of dreaming about the joys that God gives us through Jesus Christ, they will be dreaming of casting spells, using magic spells, riding brooms, and rebelling against their parents."
According to the Associated Press, "Deathly Hallows" has a print run of 12 million in the United States alone, and Internet retailer Amazon says it has taken 2.2 million pre-orders for the book. The Royal Mail says it will deliver 600,000 copies on Saturday; the US Postal Service says it will ship 1.8 million. Over 20,000 requests were received at Amazon.com on July 17 alone.
Final 'Harry Potter' Hits Shelves ... as a Christian Tale?
Whether Christians may agree with it or not, the newest and final volume of the "Harry Potter" series has come full force into bookstores.
Published 22 July 2007