Welcome to my blog. My name is Denise M. Roper, and I am the author of the soon-to-be-published book, The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. This book was written as a result of my involvement in Harry Potter fandom. I have been a fan of the series since 2001 when I saw the first film in the theater. Immediately after seeing the film, I bought all of the Harry Potter books that had been published at that time. I read and re-read them in eager anticipation of the next book or film release. Websites such as The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet were essential sources of news and information about each new installment in Harry’s ongoing adventures.
Prior to becoming a Potter fan, I was (and still am) a fan of George Lucas’s Star Wars films, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. As a college student, I also read nearly every book about King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the quest for the Holy Grail that I could find. In my youth, I loved these heroic sagas for the adventure, excitement, plot, and characters. It was only after re-watching the original Star Wars films and re-reading Tolkien and Lewis as an adult that I became conscious of the religious elements in these three series. I read nearly every book and article I could find on Tolkien and Lewis–biographies, literary criticism, essay collections, and articles–and saw that perhaps my great love for Narnia and Middle-earth was due in part to the fact that their authors shared my Christian world view. When I became a Harry Potter fan, I strongly suspected that Rowling was following along the path that Tolkien and Lewis had walked before her. I began to see a great deal of religious symbolism in the books, but kept my theories to myself in various notebooks and journals, thinking I was alone in interpreting the books that way. I was wrong.
In 2002, I discovered What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? and The Gospel According to Harry Potter by Connie Neal, and John Killinger’s God, the Devil, and Harry Potter during the time of the intense debate amongst Christians in America over the boy wizard’s adventures. I read John Granger’s The Hidden Key to Harry Potter in March 2003, the same year that the novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released. Mr. Granger’s fascinating book explained the Christian and alchemical symbolism found in the Harry Potter series, and it served as the catalyst for the chain reaction that followed.
As a devoted science fiction and fantasy fan, I have enjoyed attending conventions and meeting other fans online. While visiting various Harry Potter fandom websites, I discovered that there were Harry Potter-themed symposiums. I live in South Louisiana and never expected that such an event would be hosted in my home state. On May 17-21, 2007, Phoenix Rising was held in New Orleans, LA. I went to it and was absolutely gobsmacked by the number of people in attendance, the costuming, the quality of the programming, and the media coverage, (which, I later found out, included MTV News). I was present in the audience for Borders’ legendary “Great Snape Debate,” and I wore my “Good Snape” badge with pride. The most enjoyable part of the event for me was, of course, the academic programming. I was delighted to see college professors from around the United States present their research papers on The Boy Who Lived. I thought that I might like to be a presenter at a Harry Potter symposium someday. Before leaving New Orleans I had picked up a postcard with the dates of the Portus 2008 Harry Potter symposium in Dallas, Texas and made plans to attend that event.
The final novel of J. K. Rowling’s seven part series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in July 2007. The Godric’s Hollow chapter sent me running to grab my Bible. I immediately recognized the two scripture quotations that were inscribed on the Dumbledore and Potter family tombstones, and had to check in my Bible for the exact chapter and verse. Aha! Matthew 6:21 and 1 Corinthians 15:26 were added to my ever-expanding collection of notes.
Later in the summer of 2007, I was involved with the second annual Babel Con science fiction and fantasy convention in Baton Rouge, LA. About five days before the event, one of the convention’s board members contacted me about a cancellation that had occurred. He had an hour of time to fill and wanted to know if I could give a talk on the new Harry Potter book. My answer was a definite yes, and I then began to write a speech, sometimes referring to my notes, but mostly relying on my Bible, my collection of art books and Medieval bestiary texts, and the Harry Potter books themselves. The result was a first draft of a paper called “Unlocking the Secrets of the Hallows: A Key to Understanding Christian Symbolism in Harry Potter,” which eventually became my presentation at Portus 2008 in Dallas. I got a standing ovation at the conclusion of my lecture in Baton Rouge, and was told my many of the attendees, “Denise, you should write a book.” In Dallas the following summer, I got the same reaction from a different audience, and so with that encouragement, I continued to write.
I began writing another paper on common themes in Rowling’s Harry Potter and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, with the intention of presenting it at Azkatraz 2009 in San Francisco. I submitted it, and to my great joy, it was accepted. The research I did for these two papers became the foundation for The Lord of the Hallows, which will (hopefully) be released this summer.
I am an instrumental music teacher by profession, with two music degrees from Louisiana State University. The world of writing and publishing is new to me, but I have summoned up my Gryffindor courage to take on this new and exciting challenge.