20 October 2007

The Christian Emphases in Harry Potter

I'm a few days late in discovering it, but, especially as I prepare to speak on the Christian Emphases in Harry Potter tomorrow afternoon, I was delighted to discover the following item on John Granger's "Hogwarts Professor" blog (check it out):


Of course, I share the good "professor's" pleasure at seeing this public confirmation of what he and I and a number of others have been saying for some time now. And I likewise relish the irony that it was MTV that broke the news. One wonders where the pundits are who have been toting the line that Rowling's work never had anything to do with Christianity, or that it was downright anti-Christian. Public repentance, retractions and apologies ought to be forthcoming from all those who have publicly borne false witness against their neighbor, J.K. Rowling.


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

I should add that I'm obviously not so thrilled by J.K. Rowling's other recent comment, that Professor Dumbledore is gay. I would prefer that not to be the case, but I've never suggested that Rowling is entirely orthodox in her theology. Frankly, this is a throwaway point, not at all atypical of liberal Christianity in our modern age, but hardly fundamental to the storyline. The emphases of the series fall under the category of what C.S. Lewis called "mere Christianity." That over-simplification of the faith has its flaws and weaknesses, no doubt, but I rejoice wherever anyone embraces the Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection of the Son of God. J.K. Rowling does do that.

Anonymous Lutheran said...

I have desperately wanted it to be true that there was Christian intent behind Harry Potter, but to this day I just don't see it. I see Christian influence, but that's not the same thing, of course. Nothing Rowling has said changes my evaluation.

I don't take anything at hogwartsprofessor.com very seriously. Have you read webmaster John Granger's book, Looking for God in Harry Potter? His ideas of how Harry Potter is "Christian" are based on a really bizarre concept of Christianity that seems to have more to do with medieval superstition than with the Gospel.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Dear Anonymous,

I respect your opinion, of course, but I guess we just disagree on this. I certainly have read Granger's book, and I find it to be quite good. It is true that some of his arguments seem a bit far-fetched, but I think that is the exception rather than the rule. In any case, I didn't discover his book until after I had already recognized the Christian contours of the Harry Potter series for myself. It was on the basis of those contours that I predicted how Harry Potter and the Deathl Hallows would go, and, aside from a few of the specific details, I nailed it.

If you just don't see the Christian emphases, I'm not sure what to say. Nothing hinges on it, either way. But I'm not sure what you mean, exactly, in making the distinction between Christian "influences" and "intentions." If you have been looking for whether the books aim to be a kind of intentional propaganda for Christianity, I don't believe that they are and have never made that claim; I'm not sure that Granger has, either. But the books do express Rowling's faith and hope in the resurrection, which is presented in a way that clearly (in my opinion) looks to Christ Jesus. Since she has, on more than one occasion, indicated her Christian faith, and has now more explicitly confirmed that the religious themes (which for her are Christian themes) have been obvious all along, I'm not sure how you can deny them. But, again, I would not consider your own faith and life to depend on whether you agree with this or not. They're fictional books, not the Holy Scriptures, either way.

The emphases on faith and hope in the face of death; on mercy and forgiveness, even for one's enemies; and on love, specifically self-sacrificing love, all of these things are reflective of Rowling's Christian confession. And in my opinion, she has woven that particularly significant influence upon her own life into a masterfully written story. The fact that her literary influences include (prominently) C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien has, I think, further contributed to her "mere Christianity."