A couple of weeks ago I did a couple of posts on Harry Potter (here and here) and found out just how hot a topic he is. Like magic, comments started appearing out of nowhere, and we conjured up quite an interesting discussion . . . ok, I'll quit trying to be funny, I know its not working.
In some cases and places Shadowmancer has outsold Potter. The interesting thing about this is that it is written by a clergyman, yet it is written for a secular audience. The author says it is undergirded with Biblical values, but it is not explicitly Christian - it's written for a secular audience. Interesting - there's lots of buzz about this series and a movie deal has already been signed.
G. P. Taylor's spiritual journey is chronicled on the Christianity Today feature, its an interview by Dick Staub. He has had quite a life - involvement in the occult, and work for a record company that enabled him to do "gigs" with the Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello and Adam and the Ants. After his occult involvement God called him to Christ and he felt God calling him into the ministry. Ministry was the last thing he wanted to do, so he became a policeman, figuring God couldn't call him from there. But God called him anyway. Interestingly, his first church was St. Mary's in Whitby, which was the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula, and where Dracula's grave was supposed to be.
Taylor never had any interest in writing, but he did speak on the occult and the New Age alot. At one point, someone challenged him to write a children's book, and one thing led to another and he ended up writing this story.
Here's a short synopsis from the article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution:
The first book in what Taylor calls a thematic trilogy, "Shadowmancer" (Putnam, $16.99) bristles with religious subtexts, supernatural powers and magic. But it also is a rollicking, straight-ahead page-turner that can appeal to kids and adults, just like "Potter."Taylor says of his book:
Set in 18th-century England, the novel pits an evil vicar named Obadiah Demurral against three young people — Raphah, an African shipwrecked on the English coast, and Kate and Thomas, two local kids from the bottom of the social barrel. By the end, God and Lucifer (or characters who are "Shadowmancer" versions) are battling for control of the universe, with the humans hanging on for the ride.
The story is laced throughout with Christian symbolism, but Taylor says it's not a Christian book. "The themes are far too dark. It's got themes from paganism and all sorts of religions in it. I've gotten e-mails from pagans who've accepted it very well. I've gotten e-mail from Jews who think I've written a Jewish book. Shalom, brother!" he adds with a laugh.
Two characters who seem quite different from other fantasy novels are Demurral, the man of God who's turned against God, and Raphah, the black-skinned hero in an all-white landscape.
"I've always been fascinated with how things can be done in the name of God that are completely anti-God," says Taylor. "Actually, the majority of ministers in the 18th century weren't all that hot on Christianity . . . you name it, they were doing it. I think about 150 of them were hung for various crimes."
As for Raphah, he's definitely a reaction against Potter. "I got sick of little Harry Potter being a nice little white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and so are his mates, a white girl and a white guy," Taylor says in a phone conservation from his home in the small village of Cloughton, on the Yorkshire coast. "I couldn't find any real black African heroes [in fantasies for young readers]. This has struck a great chord with people of color."
It's a book that is a secular book for secular people, and yet has the moral code of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, and it really ends there.In the Christianity Today interview he made a few comments about the magic in Harry Potter which are interesting:
I've got to admit, I'm one of these Philistines who has never been motivated to read Harry Potter. I've seen the movie. From what I've seen of the movie, there's not a lot of witchcraft in it. I'm an authority on Wicca and paganism. What she does is more party-time magic. There are some vague references to things that are taking place, but there are no spells in it.As an authority on Wicca and paganism, he says that the Potter books don't have a lot of witchcraft in them, yet, there are many young people in England inquiring about becoming witches as a result of the Potter books. That comment is sure to stir the debate a good bit more. Several of those who commented on my prior posts agreed with Taylor's first comment, about the lack of witchcraft. But his second comment seems to support the fears of all those here in America who said that Harry does provide an introduction to witchcraft.
But if it doesn't attract people into the occult, why has the Pagan Federation of Britain appointed a youth officer to deal with all the inquiries from young people who've read Harry Potter and all these other books and now want to become witches?
One of the things I will be curious to know about is whether or not Taylor's book will have similar effects. In the Church of England article, Taylor says that in his book "the fight between good and evil in his book has been appealing to Jews, Muslims and atheists, as well as Christians." OK, thus far no witches have been attracted to the book but atheists have, and this in a book undergirded by Christian principles. Again we get back to the issue of people reading their own worldview into what they read. As I mentioned in a prior post, I have heard of people claiming to receive their introduction to the occult from C. S. Lewis's Narnia series.
Stir those comments in with John Granger's book, The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, which asserts that Rowling writes from an explicitly Christian worldview, and we've got the makings of quite a debate.
It will be interesting to see how the buzz for these books plays out.
Hat Tip - Thunderstruck