A few years and several books ago, I got thick into it, coming down on the anti-Potter side. But people I know and respect have read the books and can give solid arguments for fitting the books into a Catholic worldview. So not having read the books and avoiding fads like a bad plague, I let the matter rest. But every once in a while, a great article will stir the pot and make us rethink our positions.
This is such an article, Harry Potter and “the Death of God” by Michael O'Brien. It is long, but won't consume one's life like the books have on the release date.
Rowling has tapped into the human drama, the story that is as old as the Iliad, but without Homer’s deep insights into human motivation; as old as Beowulf, but with the roles confused and the lessons lost; as contemporary as The Lord of the Rings, but without Tolkien’s depiction of humility, genuine virtue, and wisdom. She has taken pains to make her tale more complicated than a simplistic bad guy versus good guy scenario, more complicated even that a scenario with the frontier lines of good and evil merely shifted. Clever and inventive, she has scrambled all the frontiers, interior and exterior, vertical and horizontal, and the only orienting factor is the fate of the dynamic ego of the central character.
Many of the arguments resound with my feeling towards the series. Not having read them, I can't personally critique them, but they set off the intuition as wrong. Wrong because of the focus, wrong because of the popularity, wrong because of the attention they get (stealing time from what other areas of our lives.)
Narcissism doesn't lead people to God, it doesn't make us strive to become better Christians. Good wholesome literature should do that at some level. Reading isn't a 'good' in and of itself. It can be an addiction like any other if it supplants what is good in our life.
As Tolkien once pointed out in his essay on fantasy literature, the writer who hopes to feed the imagination in a healthy way must remain faithful to the moral order of the real universe, regardless of how fantastic the details of the fictional world may be. The Natural Law which God has written into our beings cannot be entirely eradicated, but it can be gravely deformed, leading to distortion of consciousness and conscience, and hence our actions. Healthy fiction, no matter how wildly it may depart from the material order, teaches us to love ourselves in a wholesome manner, by loving our neighbor. Indeed, even by loving our enemies—at least by trying to learn to love them, and by believing that it is right to do so. With grace this is possible. But selective love (coupled with selective hatred) does not lead to freedom. It is the feelings of love without the substance of love, the feelings of freedom without the foundations of freedom. If God is the absent father—or the father who perhaps never existed—the hero and his readers are left only with such emotions, their hooked loyalties, their love of the self’s insatiable appetites, which they feel cannot be denied without a killing curse of self-annihilation. That is why so many people cling fiercely to the “values” in the Potter books while ignoring the interwoven undermining of those very values.[emphasis added]