Archive for the ‘Connie Neal’ Category


How many of these books have you read? I have read most (but not all) of them and have met several of the authors, including John Granger, Travis Prinzi, Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, Eryn Pyne, Ed Kern, James W. Thomas, George Beahm, Steve Vander Ark, and Melissa Anelli. Oh, yeah. I wrote one of the books on the list also. ūüėČ

Essays and Literary CritiquesEdit Essays and Literary Critiques section

These include book analysis, studies, theories, philosophy, essay compilations, and literary criticisms.

Guides, Folklore, MythologyEdit Guides, Folklore, Mythology section

Guides and facts based in the book series. Includes encyclopedic books.

Franchise and FandomEdit Franchise and Fandom section

Books based on the sucess of the actual series, franchise, and fandom.

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Miscellaneous books that don’t fall into other categories.

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Here’s my report on Infinitus 2010, the largest convention in the history of the Harry Potter fandom. It was held July 15-18 at the beautiful Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.¬†This report is an account of my personal experience there and is by no means all-encompassing. There were about nine academic programming tracks happening simultaneously, and it would therefore be impossible for me to experience all that this convention had to offer without a time-turner! ūüėČ

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1:30 p.m. I attended the Welcoming Feast, where it was announced that 1,700 fans had gone through registration thus far, and that number would probably increase by tomorrow.

3:00 p.m. After browsing the Common Room, Art Gallery, and Vendor’s Room, I returned to the Common Room for the Marauder’s Meet-Up, which featured a lively discussion of the canon and fanon lives of Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, James Potter, Lily Evans, and Severus Snape. Just before the¬†Marauder’s discussion¬†I finally met one of my favorite bloggers in person, Hanako M. Ricks (“hmrpotter”).¬†Please¬†read my blogroll for links to her “Confessions of a Grown-up Fangirl” and “Hollywood News” Harry Potter blogs. Hanako is awesome!

4:00 p.m. I went to a great presentation by author Connie Neal entitled “How the Muggle Media Mishandles Harry Potter,” in which Connie gave examples of all of the Rita Skeeter-worthy articles that were published about J. K. Rowling after the Harry Potter author had a bit of a wardrobe mishap. Rather than focusing on what Rowling had to say about the Harry Potter series’ Christian imagery, the muggle media¬†tried to create a scandal by publishing¬†sensationalist articles about Rowling accompanied by embarassing photographs. Connie Neal is the author of What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? (2001), The Gospel According to Harry Potter (2002/2008), and Wizards, Wardrobes, and Wookies (2007).

5:00 p.m. I enjoyed conversing with Connie Neal, Logospilgrim, and David Gras¬†after¬†Connie’s presentation ended. Connie autographed my program. (I have all of her Harry Potter books, but didn’t have them with me.) It was so nice to finally meet Logospilgrim in person. She is a very sweet person, and soft-spoken, as I imagined she would be. The Quiet Professor has written a few books about Orthodox Christianity and Severus Snape, which you can read about on her site at¬†www.logospilgrim.com. Fellow presenter David Gras is also a Christian Harry Potter fan. I met him and his wife for the first time at Portus 2008, and it was really nice seeing them again.

6:00 p.m. Valerie Frankel¬†was signing copies of her Harry Potter parody novel, Henry Potty and the Pet Rock,¬†at the Craft Faire. (See www.HarryPotterParody.com for more about Valerie Frankel’s parody books.) She graciously offered to share her author table with me, and I was glad to accept her offer because my official book signing time was scheduled¬†on the last day of formal¬†programming, opposite the presentation of A Very Potter Sequel. (I knew that most of the Infinitus attendees would be viewing that. It’s incredibly popular.) Anyway, I enjoyed sitting at the Craft Faire with Valerie. The best part was when Percy Weasley himself,¬†Chris Rankin, walked in unannounced and hung out with the fans. He even autographed my Infinitus program! ūüôā The wizard rock concert was going on during all this, so I missed most of it. However I did take a break to visit the wrock merchandise tables to buy a few CDs, including “Muggle Relations” by The Ministry of Magic, “BMiN/E” by ALL CAPS, which includes a great Ron/Hermione song (“Lumos Flies”), and the Remus Lupins dropcard EP, ALL ACCESS: The Next Great Adventure. I really like “Don’t Let the Muggles Get You Down” on that EP.

Friday, July, 16, 2010

9:00 a.m. I browsed the Vendor’s Room, Fandom Museum, and Common Room again. I¬†usually¬†make a daily visit to the Common Room to check the notice boards and to pick up fliers, business cards, etc. from the freebie table. I also put business cards and bookmarks on the freebie table each day to promote my book as well as that of some of my author friends who were not able to attend Infinitus, such as J. W. Braun and M. B. Weston.

10:30 a.m. I attended John Granger’s fascinating lecture “The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter,” which covered such topics as literary alchemy, story setting, postmodern themes, the hero’s journey, allegorical satire, Christian symbolism, and narrative misdirection. John’s presentation was great, as always. ūüôā¬†Visit his blog at www.hogwartsprofessor.com to read his Infinitus convention report when you have the chance.

I had lunch with my Mom at Emeril’s today. The menu offered “Sorcerer’s Starters,” “Magical Main Courses” (I had the Dragon Burger, lol!), and “Potions.” My potion of choice was sweet tea.

2:30 p.m.¬†I attended another wonderful John Granger presentation, “The Historical Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Why Witches and Wizards Went Underground After the English Civil War.” After the presentation, I bought a copy of the Potter Pundits book Harry Potter Smart Talk, which John autographed for me.

4:30 p.m.¬† I went to Logospilgrim’s talk, “Severus Snape, Jedi Master,” which combined two of my geeky obsessions, Harry Potter and Star Wars. ūüôā

After supper I attended one of the most ambitious fandom projects I’ve ever seen, Lena Gabrielle’s Deathly Hallows musical, The Final Battle. Lena is quite a talented composer, and if you didn’t get to see this epic musical at Infinitus, look for it on YouTube in August. The CD “Love Will Prevail: Songs from the Final Battle” is quite good, especially Lena’s duet with Christian Caldeira of Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. On the CD, Lena sings the part of Lily and Christian sings¬†the part of¬†Severus Snape on “The Prince’s Tale.” It is really beautiful and sung¬†with so much emotion.¬†Bravo! In the staged musical there were some really awesome moments that got huge cheers from the audience, such as Neville¬†telling off¬†Voldemort (and killing Nagini) and all of the awesome Ron/Hermione kisses. (Yes, there were kisses, plural.) I loved Ron and Hermione’s love duet “Never Letting You Go,” especially when Harry interrupts the song with “Oi! There’s a war going on here!”¬†That bit was hilarious.¬†Bellatrix brought the house down with a chorus of singing and dancing¬†dark wizards on¬†“Death Eaters Rejoice!” It was also great fun to see the Leaky Cauldron’s Melissa Anelli as Augusta Longbottom and John Noe as John Dawlish. Their fight scene got a huge laugh from the audience.¬†John Noe also played the part of Percy Weasley. No pressure with Chris Rankin in attendance, right John?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

10:00 a.m. I went to hear David Gras’ presentation “Harry Potter: A Symbol of the Infinite Power of Courage and Love” which¬†included a great group discussion session. David also mentioned some of the similarities between Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins, which is a topic that is of great interest to me. I wrote quite a lot about that in my book, The Lord of the Hallows, and¬†I appreciated David’s comparison of both¬†Harry and Frodo’s sufferings to the¬†story of Christ’s Passion.

11:00 a.m. Connie Neal’s “Holidays in the Harry Potter Books: the Significance of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter” was really outstanding. She gave numerous examples of Biblical allusions in all seven Harry Potter books,¬†with emphasis on the stories of Christmas and Easter. I really loved this presentation.

1:30 p.m. I was in the audience for “The Potter Pundits Live Onstage at Infinitus” featuring Travis Prinzi, John Granger, and James W. Thomas. I had met both Travis and James at Portus two years ago, and it was great seeing them again. (I met John Granger for the first time at Azkatraz last year.) Great news! Travis Prinzi is currently editing his second Hog’s Head¬†Conversations book, James W. Thomas is writing his second book on Harry Potter entitled Rowling Revisited, and John Granger said he’s updating Unlocking Harry Potter. The Potter Pundits were awesome, as always.

4:00 p.m. I heard most of Travis Prinzi’s excellent “Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake,” much of which¬†I was familiar with from reading Travis’s wonderful book,¬†Harry Potter & Imagination.¬†I was sorry that I had to leave a few minutes before it was over to get ready for the final presentation….

5:00 p.m. This was the last hour of formal programming. “Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Symbolism and Themes in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia” was presented by Denise Roper. (That’s me!) Yeah, I had to follow Connie Neal, Logospilgrim,¬†John Granger, David Gras, James Thomas, and Travis Prinzi. No sweat, right? ūüėČ The presentation actually went rather well.¬†From the Infinitus program book: “Both J. K. Rowling and C. S. Lewis have been recognized as great Christian authors of fantasy literature. In this presentation, the themes of Good vs. Evil, the Immortality of the Soul, Self-Sacrificial Love, Death, Resurrection, and Making the Choice to Believe are examined in the light of both authors’ profession of the Christian faith. the influence of the Narnian books on Harry’s adventures will be discussed in detail, including the symbolism of the lion, serpent, eagle, raven, badger, unicorn, stag, phoenix, centaur, dog, werewolf, and much more.” Whew! I covered as much of that as I could in an hour. This was followed by a book signing in the vendor’s room. Travis’s last presentation as well as my lecture and book signing were scheduled opposite the musical A Very Potter Sequel, which was a huge hit at Infinitus. I was happy that Travis and I actually had an audience for our presentations in spite of the fact that we had to compete with such a huge fandom event.¬†After supper I realized that I missed all of AVPS and would have to watch it later on YouTube. Oh well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

7:00 a.m. I went to Mass at the Church of the Holy Family in Orlando.

9:00 a.m. I visited briefly with Travis Prinzi, and then later, Connie Neal.

9:30 a.m. I went to the “Weasley Is Our King!” meet-up that Hanako invited me to attend. It was fun to talk about Ron and all of the other Weasleys at this last event before the leaving feast.

10:30 a.m. brunch/leaving feast.

11:00 a.m. Parselmouths wrock concert. After the feast, I had time to visit with David Gras, Erin Pyne (of the wrock band House of Black & also an author of books about the Harry Potter fandom), Logospilgrim, and many others. I talked with Kristina Horner of the Parselmouths, then later Luke Conard of Ministry of Magic. I just wanted to tell¬†Kristina and Luke¬†how much I enjoy their band, ALL CAPS. I’m also a huge Ministry of Magic fan. I also spoke briefly with Alex Carpenter of The Remus Lupins (another wrock band that I enjoy), and he invited me to their (then) upcoming concert in New Orleans. Jason Munday of Ministry of Magic was with him; he has a solo act called Skyway Flyer, which is quite good. Since Skyway Flyer would be opening for the Remus Lupins on tour, that was a wrock concert that I knew I would want to see. I’ll write another blog post later about the wrock concerts I attended in New Orleans after Infinitus.

My Mom and I along with many other Infinitus attendees spent the afternoon at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, a spectacular ending to a spectacular event. Well done, Infinitus!

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The Infinitus 2010 Formal Programming Schedule has been posted at www.infinitus2010.org. Here are just a few of the presentations that I hope to attend:

Thursday, July 15

4:00 Our Own Rita Skeeter: Muggle Media Mishandles HP (Connie Neal)

Friday, July 16

9:00 Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-grade Alchemist? (Deborah Hunt)

10:30 The Seven Literary Keys to Unlocking Harry Potter (John Granger)

2:30 The Histroical Hidden Key to Harry Potter (John Granger)

3:30 Sacrificing to Save: Love, Loss, and Redemption for Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore (Emily Honey)

4:30 Severus Snape, Jedi Master (Logospilgrim)

Saturday, July 17

10:00 Harry Potter: A Symbol of the Infinite Power of Courage and Love (David Gras)

11:00 Significance of Holidays in HP: Halloween, Christmas, and Easter (Connie Neal)

1:30 The Potter Pundits (Travis Prinzi, James Thomas, and John Granger)

4:00 Severus Snape is a Fiery Snake: How a Slytherin Became the Bravest Hero (Travis Prinzi)

5:00 Sneaking Past the Watchful Dragons: Christian Themes in Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia (Denise Roper)

My presentataion is scheduled during the very last hour of the last day of formal programming.¬†I don’t know yet when my book signings for The Lord of the Hallows will be, but if you want to buy a copy, please visit www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows or visit the sidebar to get information on how to obtain a signed copy from me.

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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.

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