Potter's final frontier

The boy wizard conquers religion

It's taken ten years, but a piece in the Boston Globe suggests Christians in the US have finally succumbed to Harry's charms. Upon publication, the supernatural series sparked controversy among evangelical Christians, who took umbrage at its perceived satanic themes and banned the books from many US libraries. But the narrative focus on morality, tolerance, eternal life and grand battles between good and evil has forced many Christian critics to take another look. As the Globe notes:

Harry's ultimate struggle with death has cemented the romance between religion scholars and the Potter series, the initial controversies over wands and wizardry now largely overshadowed by discussion of Harry's character and life choices.

And it quotes Mary Hess, of Luther Seminary in Minnesota:

Rather than decrying as wicked certain elements of the series - as far too many Christians have done - we ought to be inviting our communities into deeper appreciation of both the similarities and the contrasts between the stories and our Christian faith.

After you're done with that, take a peek at Ryan Gilbey's New Statesman review of the penultimate Harry Potter film, The Half-Blood Prince.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Karen Bradley as Culture Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The most politically charged of the culture minister's responsibilities is overseeing the BBC, and to anyone who works for - or simply loves - the national broadcaster, Karen Bradley has one big point in her favour. She is not John Whittingdale. Her predecessor as culture secretary was notorious for his belief that the BBC was a wasteful, over-mighty organisation which needed to be curbed. And he would have had ample opportunity to do this: the BBC's Charter is due for renewal next year, and the licence fee is only fixed until 2017. 

In her previous job at the Home Office, Karen Bradley gained a reputation as a calm, low-key minister. It now seems likely that the charter renewal will be accomplished with fewer frothing editorials about "BBC bias" and more attention to the challenges facing the organisation as viewing patterns fragment and increasing numbers of viewers move online.

Of the rest of the job, the tourism part just got easier: with the pound so weak, it will be easier to attract visitors to Britain from abroad. And as for press regulation, there is no word strong enough to describe how long the grass is into which it has been kicked.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.