Newswise — Many religious leaders have criticized the enormously popular Harry Potter books and movies, saying they lead children to an unhealthy interest in the occult. Some also blast manufacturers of Harry Potter merchandise for capitalizing on that success.

But many people of faith who have delved into the Harry Potter novels champion them — including Dr. Greg Garrett, a professor in English at Baylor University, in his new book “One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter.”

In the book, Garrett — who has described J.K. Rowling’s epic as “the best and most powerful contemporary retelling of the gospel narrative” — takes a look at how the controversy and universally-powerful subject matter have made the Harry Potter books both the most-read fiction in history and the most-banned books of the 21st century.

Along with questions of good and evil, J.K. Rowling, author of the Potter novels, has much to say about modern society in her books, Garrett says.

Throughout the saga, “Rowling pokes fun at celebrity culture and at the way the media fuel celebrity in an incestuous cycle that helps sell their own products,” he writes.

Garrett draws parallels between Potter’s magical world and the reality of today’s world, which “cannot differentiate between ‘heroes and celebrities.’” Harry was born to parents who opposed evil and sacrificed their lives for their infant, thus becoming “The Boy Who Lived.” He also was left a small fortune by his parents (although he spends it frugally on everything but candy).

“Like a prince, then, or like the scions of the rich and famous, Harry could have grown up gawked at and fussed over his whole life without having had to do anything to earn such approval,” Garrett writes.

But — as Harry Potter fans know — he grows into “a very human, but very noble, person from whom we can learn much about heroism and sacrifice.”Nov. 12 is Harry Potter Fan Appreciation Day in Canada.

Garrett, who has degrees in English and theology, also is author of “We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2” and “The Gospel According to Hollywood.”