« Palin Breaks a Record, Don'tcha Know? | Main | Have the Coen Bros. Gone Family-Friendly? »

November 26, 2010

Harry Potter Is 'A Good Christian'

So says a former Yale University theologian who has taught courses on HP

Despite being a wizard, Harry Potter is also a good Christian, says Danielle Tumminio, who taught a course on HP at Yale and is author of the upcoming book, God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy in an Ivy League Classroom, which explores how readers often overlook Christianity in J.K. Rowling's work.

"I firmly believe that we need to read the [Potter] books with an eye beyond witchcraft," Tumminio says. "I don't have the sense from the books that the witchcraft is designed to make us want to be witches and wizards. I think it's designed to teach the reader about fighting for one's values and fighting for love."

Tumminio says she structured her forthcoming book the way she did her class: by exploring Christianity's influence on Rowling's themes of evil, sin and resurrection.

When Tumminio, who holds three degrees from Yale and is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, taught Christian Theology and Harry Potter at the Ivy League university during 2008 and 2009, the course drew a religiously diverse group of students, including an Indian Christian, a Kenyan Episcopalian and a Chinese atheist.


One cannot ignore the role of the occult in the series; the occult makes one all forlorn and brings you into battles for your mind, which any sensible christian would avoid. Furthermore being a well mannered person is not equal to being a good christian. Harry Potter is a well meaning boy from an old fashioned high school, there is no reason why he or any other well mammered boys are christians. A christian is someone who has been given a holy spiritual gift by God for the sake of other christians and, specifically, for the service of Jesus. Jesus has to be the focal point of any christian's spiritual work. Only a vague nominal christianity of the most liberal and insincere kind vis-a-vis Jesus' personal love could ever say that a boy from a "secular" school who involves himself excessively in witchcraft is a christian, never mind one from a school of witchcraft per se who is himself a wizard and who involves himself fully in the occult. Lets get real. Certainly no theologian who undestands rebirth and spiritual gifts for the sake of the church and for eternal life could take a claim seriously that Haryy Potter is a christian. That is not to say he is not nice and well meaning but good manners does not make a christian.

And I thought Mayberry RFD--as a course in Christian living--was absurd. There must be mourning in heaven over the constant efforts to 'christianize' wrong doing for the sake of notoriety and book selling.

I'm currently smack in the middle of reading Potter for the first time - just finished The Goblet of Fire. And I have to say, there are many things I appreciate about the story beyond the author's writing talents. Though many in the church criticize its "occultic" influences (and I do quibble over semantics here, because the occult and what passes as magic in Potter are two very different things and the accusation should not be thrown around lightly), I appreciate how seriously the series takes the presence and power of the supernatural, even in its humanistic treatments thereof (an oxymoron, I suppose, but that's a hurdle in most such stories). I appreciate that its dangers are not glossed over, whether its through exploring lycanthropy and similar curses as something horrific and not sexy, or through the horror of adults and children being casually murdered by the powers of darkness. I appreciate the central character conflict, wherein the primary accusation thrown at Harry (that he is a brat who believes he is above the rules since he is special, and doesn't hesitate to act on that) and his primary defense of such (that he becomes entangled in situations he doesn't intend to be in and must then see them through) are both true. I appreciate the various explorations of character and virtue, such as in the first book when a nervous boy is rewarded for standing up to Harry when Harry is about to engage in wrongdoing - though the boy doesn't succeed in stopping Harry, the headmaster recognizes him because it is "harder to stand up to one's friends than to one's enemies".

I think there are a lot of excellent moral and character studies contained within the Potter books. Some are explorations of good, others explorations of evil, all are presented in clear and thought-provoking ways. Does that, in and of itself, make Harry Potter "Christian"? Well, no. But it also doesn't mean that there is nothing good and true within its pages.

This issue as to the evil or goodness of a fiction series such as this is based upon the intent of the author mostly. This is sadly a way to avoid the content and dress the work with a broad and prejudicial brush stroke. Taken as works separated from their authors, such works at Narnia, The Golden Compass, The Lord of the Ring, The Wizard of OZ and other current and classical literature easily could be viewed as evil as well.

The final judgment on a work of FICTION should be the readers ability to judge fact from fiction. Those that judge a work based upon another's view of it are at risk for being taken advantage of by other more subtle means.

God has given you a mind and it should be used. Trust in the Lord and not the words of man. Have faith in your own faith that these things known to be fiction are just that, fiction.

Good remarks everyone. I think there is something to this idea of sacred subtext. Although several artists admit to placing allegorical messages in their films, Kozlovic would suggest that most artists are placing sacred subtext in their films without even knowing it. Groundhog day was a popular example.


Surely you have said it and agree with you.This is because unless we allow it to happen then it will.

Judeo-Christian ethics have definitely shaped JK Rowling's take on morality. However, they have shaped the entire Western world's take on morality. It doesn't make the book Christian.
And I don't think the problem is that the book is glorifying witchcraft. The problem is that it's created such a perfect fantasy for kids to hide from life in, so disconnected from reality. Getting too involved in escape can stunt a child's development by avoiding dealing with the basic conflicts of life in a controlled environment.

And behold all things have their
likeness, and all things are created
and made to bear record of me,
both things which are spiritual; things
which are in the heavens above, and
things which are on the earth, and
things which are in the earth,
and things which are under the earth,
both above and beneath all things
bear record of me.

Now it is clearly shown that J.K. Rowling did not fully intend her series to be Christian oriented. She made them out of pure imagination, not under the influence of the Devil. But the books have Christ-like principles from what he taught. Example Dumbledore's result to love. Here are some quotes from the book itself that I believe reflect Christ:

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

"Harry, I owe you an explanation," said Dumbledore. "An explanation of an old man's mistakes. For I see now that what I have done, and not done, with regard to you, bears all the hallmarks of the failings of age. Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young...and I seem to have forgotten lately."

"...in the light of Voldemort's return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open."

"You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."

"I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you."

"Time is making fools of us again."

“Harry must not know, not until the last moment, not until it is necessary, otherwise how could he have the strength to do what must be done?”

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

"It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well."

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love. By returning, you may ensure that fewer souls are maimed, fewer families are torn apart. If that seems to you a worthy goal, then we say good-bye for the present.”

We have no need to condemn the Harry Potter books because they have not led us or had anyone the single desire to follow Satan. The movies are a different story for the enticing things they show. But J.K. Rowling showed the terms of good and evil. And we read from the Bible the terms of good and evil. This is a children series after all that makes us expand our imagination and take for what Dumbledore has said to Harry. Let us be good to one another and enjoy what we all enjoy differently, but love each other the same. If you don't desire to read the series that is okay, there are other forms of literature for you and other media. But choose wisely and for yourself, don't let anyone else follow you like your a leader. Contention is of the Devil and not of Christ.

Harry Potter has been the best movie ever in the history and now I am waiting for the its next part to be released. Interesting to check out the Harry Potter and the deathly hallows part 2 online...lolz

Yes, I agree with you. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" is the lastest adventure in the Harry Potter movie series. This great film has just release. Let's go to the cinema or search on Google to watch this.