Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry Potter and Christianity

(if you are well-versed in Christian themes in literature)
I'm just wondering if some of the right-wing Christians who have been so vehemently opposed to Harry Potter for the past 10 years will lighten up after reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Christian themes are all over this book. Here's the just one example: A verse from scripture plays a pretty significant role in the story. I'll give you the verse. You can look it up yourself.

1 Corinthians 15:26
For those of you who don't own a Bible or are just feeling a little lazy, go here.

So now we can uncritically embrace Harry Potter, right? Not quite. While the basic Christian message is played out in the story, there are some subtle details we have to be aware of first. I can't go into much detail, because I don't want to just give away the whole thing to those of you who haven't read the book yet, but suffice to say, I think Rowling has at least a passing knowledge of the Gospel of Judas and a basic understanding of Gnosticism, a heresy which has plagued the Church on and off since the first century. If you want me to go into more detail on this, just ask (most of you have my email address).

Does the fact that J.K. Rowling has given us a Gnostic Christian interpretation diminish the Christian themes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? I think it does - but just a little. Like I said, the most important Christian themes and ideas are still there, and the story can be easily employed by ministers, preachers and teachers to underscore Christian themes like service, selflessness, and love.

I'm sure there will be some obstinate people in whose eyes J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter will never be acceptable. But Christ gives us a principle which we can use to judge their acceptability: "Whoever is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:40). Given the strength of the images and the clear connection to Gospel values, I believe that J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series are definitely "for us."

Monday, July 23, 2007

I've been busy

I just got back to work after about 2 weeks of travelling around the the Northeast doing the Lord's work.
Okay, that makes it sound a lot grander than it was, but I did take a group of 16 young people and 4 of us adults to a Work Camp in Hoosick Falls, NY for a week (July 8 - 14). I did this before with a few kids from St. Stephen's in VA, but this was a totally different experience. These teens were at least a year or two older than the one's I took before, and these teenagers actually wanted to go! Can you imagine that! We were the only Catholic group there, and that could have been problematic (my church had issues with anti-Catholic sentiment among some of our more fundamentalistic brothers and sisters at last year's work camp), but all the other church groups treated us with as much respect and love as I could have hoped for. I had an awesome crew of young people to work with most of whom had been to more work camps than me. As I get pictures back from the kids, I'll post them on my newly-created Myspace page. (I'll get to that in a second.)

Last week, I was in Boston at an "Institute in Lifelong Faith Formation." Exploring the various models and methods of faith formation across the entire lifespan. I learned all sorts of good stuf about multiple intelligences, the 4MAT process of learning, different learning and teaching styles and read a great book about teaching by Parker Palmer called The Courage to Teach. Look it up if you've ever been or might consider becoming a teacher.

Yes, I did just set up a Myspace. I had to, really. I'm currently employed as a youth minister and it would be silly to ignore one of the most popular ways in which young people communicate. I mean, one of the freshmen girls promoed a pretty awesome movie night for the parish almost entirely though Myspace. We had nearly 50 people come out to it. Every one of the young people on my work crew at camp told me that the best way to stay in touch with them is through their Myspace pages. So I have one now. I'll still use this as my primary blog though.