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."

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