Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Are Harry Potter Books Christian?

A number of fellow Christians have attacked the Harry Potter books because of their favorable portrayals of wizards, magic and the like. Personally, I've never been convinced that the Harry Potter books (which I enjoy very much) are anti-Christian instead of possibly just non-Christian, like a lot of modern literature.

That's why I was interested to read about the take on Harry Potter from Baylor University professor Scott Moore. He believes the Potter books are "rich with Christian allusion," according to this Baylor news release. The news release includes a reprint of Moore's article "Why I Am Looking Forward to Harry Potter."

Excerpts from the release:
"'The books are rich with classical and medieval Christian allusion,' (Moore) says. 'J.K. Rowling relies for instance on images of the phoenix and the unicorn in the early books. Both are commonly appropriated by the medieval Church as images of Christ.'"

"In addition, Moore says Harry and his friends are being schooled in classical and Christian virtues (courage, prudence, temperance, justice, faith, hope, and love). Yes, they attend a school that ostensibly teaches spells and potions, but they get that all wrong. When any student can consistently make a spell work, they are as surprised as anyone. (In fact, they initially don't like Hermione because of this.) What they are learning is courage, friendship, and the value of the truth consistently from the school's headmaster."

"'Albus Dumbledore's insistence that one call [the book's villain] Voldemort by name is a reflection of his courage and his commitment to calling things by their proper names -- truth-telling," Moore says. With a name meaning "willing death' -- which is how Lucifer is frequently described in medieval theology -- Voldemort cannot kill Harry because of the power of self-sacrificial love ('agape' -- his mother died loving him)."


Stacy said...

When the first books came out, Focus On The Family and some other Christian groups stated they were inappropriate for young Christian readers. I did not let my children read these books. I even went to far as to throw one away that was received as a birthday gift for one of my sons. It was stated that the author use to be a practicing witch and that there were actual incantations in the pages. Now that these books have been around for awhile, they are receiving comparisons of which you listed. I recently heard them compared to the Chronicles of Narnia series. I am embarrassed that I didn't really investigate them, that I have been critizising them for years, and that I actually threw a gift away. Shame on me. I've attempted to lighten up alot on issues such as these. My teenagers listen to music that normally I wouldn't approve of, but I've decided that I can't shelter them too much or it will backfire one day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for saying this.

Lorri said...

I was mortified when my son was criticized by strangers when he visited his grandparents' church wearing his nicest shirt, a Hogwart's polo he had received as a birthday gift! I never let him wear it again, even though I found the content and values of the book to be less offensive than, say, Huck Finn (required reading).

Anonymous said...

Stacy, that should teach you to have a mind of your own. Investigate for yourself and make your own decisions. Don't base your whole life on what other people think/say/do about any subject.

Lorri, I too would have been mortified - but, at the person's making the criticism! If it was his nicest shirt, maybe you should get him some other nice shirts...But, more to the point, you have allowed others to cloud your own judgement! Read above to Stacy..

I have no opinion of the Harry Potter books because I haven't read them for myself! I have seen the movies and the special effects are quite good. I don't think one book or movie (or series of same) is going to turn a child (or anyone else) toward witchcraft, satanism, etc. and away from Christianity, Judaism, etc. I think it is how the child is raised and the values the parents instill in that child!!!! I am apalled at the closed mindedness of many people! A mind is like an umbrella/parachute, it only works when it is open.

And I will give you my true identity when and if you decide to have said open mind and can behave like a mature individual.