By Valerie Halim
When I first came to college, I was appalled by the fact that a lot of my peers have never read or watched Harry Potter.
My suite mate, for example, was never allowed by her parents to watch Harry Potter because it carries the theme of witchcraft and magic. Although Harry Potter received tremendous accolades from people around the world, Christian parents often discourage their children from reading or watching the series. The concerns of Christians towards the series vary from Harry Potter promoting witchcraft to Harry Potter teaching questionable morals.
But what if I tell you that the Harry Potter series teach Christian values? This statement may sound very bizarre, but I kid you not. I have done my homework on this.
Inspiration of the Story
What more should be said if the author has revealed it herself?
During her Telegraph interview in 2007, the series’ author J.K. Rowling revealed that Christianity had been a major inspiration for the Harry Potter books. The author confessed that although her family were not Christians, she spent her childhood seeking faith and attending church regularly.
Rowling also stated that the religious parallelism has always been obvious in the novels. One of them was the themes of life after death and resurrection. These themes, she said are obvious in the finale of the series.
It is no longer a surprise if we see the Christian story and its values weaved into the magical world of Harry Potter.
“Wounded Christ” Discourse
Throughout the series, big themes such as “sacrificial love for the greater good” frequently emerged. According to theology scholars in University of Pretoria, the Harry Potter series contains a wounded Christ Discourse.
In Christian theology, Christ defeated sin and death not by might but through sacrificial love and vulnerability. A similar idea is seen in characters like Harry and Lily.
In the last book of the series, Harry sacrificed himself to Voldemort, to stop him from killing more people. From this act, we can see that Harry did not try to save his own life but willingly gave it up for the greater good. Then, just as Voldemort cast the death curse to Harry, Harry ‘died’. However, little did Voldemort know that he actually killed part of his own soul inside of Harry. Harry then eventually resurrected as a whole person, no longer a fragmented part of Voldemort.
Although Harry is not portrayed as a Messiah figure, Rowling gave us glimpses of the gospel story: Christ’s love, death and resurrection.
Harry Potter and Faith
Being Harry Potter is not easy. Imagine having to live in your abusive relative’s closet and treated like you were worthless for 11 years. Afterwards, on your eleventh birthday, a half-giant came to you and told you that you were a wizard. Despite his initial hesitation, Harry chose to believe and followed Hagrid to the Wizarding world.
After being introduced to the Wizarding world for about a day, Harry has to take another step of faith. To get to the Hogwarts express, one must find platform 9 ¾. However, the only way is by going through the brick wall between platforms nine and ten. Harry knows that running through a brick wall is not possible, but he took the risk anyway.
There could have not been no Hogwarts or Hogwarts express like how people often doubt the existence of God. Nevertheless, Harry chose to believe.
The Deeper “Magic”
In an article, literature scholar Emily Griesinger argued that both Harry Potter and the Christian narrative used the concept of a deeper “magic.” The deeper “magic” refers to a force that is more powerful than what the eye can see. One of the examples can be seen in the story of Harry’s mother Lily.
As revealed in the beginning of the series, Lily Potter chose to protect her son rather than safe her own life. Through her act of sacrificial love, her son was safe from the death curse. Lily’s death showed that sacrificial love trumps death and brings life.
Give the Series a Chance
The Harry Potter series offers plenty of Christian insights. The series explores themes of faith, obedience, vulnerability, and sacrificial love to introduce the gospel story to children and adolescents. Even though there are some elements of the story that is not Christian, if carefully analyzed, the story does contain a Christian narrative and message.
Even, if you are still somewhat unconvinced, I urge you to still give the series a chance. After all, the books teach a lot of good values we all can learn from.