Harry welcomed into church
It's been a couple of weeks since the record-breaking publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and while most of the familiar elements - midnight queues, speed-reading reviewers, claims that JK Rowling can't write for toffee - were present and correct, one thing seemed to be missing this time round. Where are the pictures of angry, book-burning Christians? Where are the denouncements of the books as pagan incitements to the occult, drawing the nation's children down the path of witchcraft? It has all been strangely quiet on the theological front.
While the view from the lunatic fringe of American evangelism doubtless remains as rabid as ever, there are signs of a definite softening of attitudes in the UK. The clearest of these is the publication last month of a Church of England guidebook to the billion-selling series - Mixing It Up With Harry Potter by Kent youth worker Owen Smith.
Aimed at 9-13 year olds, the book uses JK Rowling's magical novels as the basis of 12 lessons - or "sessions" - which provide the basis for an hour's discussion and activities, from film clips to prayers. The book draws parallels between events in the books and the real world to explore concepts such as sacrifice and mercy.