Juanita Sunday, Special Correspondent
Bretaan posited in a 2006 issue of Gottesdienst: A Journal of Lutheran Liturgy that characters and concepts from the Potter series corresponded too closely to the contemporaneous ecclesio-political scene of the LCMS to be a coincidence: "In Potter, the themes of power at all costs; journalistic disintegrity; and institutional incompetence, self-preservation, and denial of culpability cannot but call to mind Our Beloved Synod. We know what it is like to keep our heads down in fear of catching the attention of You Know Who and paying the ultimate price. The Reporter is our Daily Prophet, obscuring the realities we all fear and leaving us to a world of rumor. And who failed to see through the recent installation of all those fireplaces at the Purple Palace? It doesn't take a degree from the seminary OR Hogwarts to see that you can't spell Ministry of MagIC without IC. All the LCMS lacks, is, unfortunately, a Harry Potter. Instead we got a surplus of Xenophilius Lovegoods."
Bretaan's words were more than bold: Rowling herself has vouched for their accuracy. "The LCMS was always in my mind as I plotted the Potter series," she said. "The truth is stranger than fiction, even when fiction has people puking giant slugs out of their mouths for an hour. I got that idea while I read the minutes of a 1997 CTCR meeting."
Rowling's acknowledgement of indebtedness to the LCMS historical narrative has been a bonanza for armchair literary analysts. "Slughorn is one sherry party away from the first house on Seminary Terrace, and I can't remember now which Preus it was whose first call was to St. Catchpole LC in Ottery MN," posted Anthea Firth at the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Forum online. Debate rages over whether evidence from the Potter corpus supports the identification of a curiously unGermanically-surnamed LCMS insider with the Half-Blood Prince. Early drafts of The Prisoner of Azkaban are rumored to have had Remus Lupin's first name as Karl. And radio producer Geoff Schwartz frankly admits, "I got goosebumps when I was reading Deathly Hallows to my kids and we got to Lee Jordan and Potterwatch. I did, I got goosebumps."
While the LCMS is THRILLED, THRILLED, THRILLED for the media attention Rowling's announcement has meant for the North American church body since there's no such thing as bad publicity and publicity=evangelism=more people in heaven, dissenters have made their voices heard from predictable quarters. Gottesdienst itself published a statement from editor Barry Leane, who argued, "The Harry Potter series glorifies the occult and takes a disappointingly weak position on house elf liberation. Seriously, you people think this is OK?" Bretaan rejoined, "Yeah, but Leane hates everything."
In a strange twist, recent events again have the clock hands of LCMS clergy and parishioners twitching toward "mortal peril." Controversies in the last few months have people wondering if You Know Who could return to power. Was Rowling an historian, or a prophetess? If the latter, she may still get her chance.