Red Letters

Red Letters


What do Jesus and Harry Potter have in common?

posted by Tom Davis

Confession time. While researching what elements go into a great novel, I became a huge fan of Harry Potter and the magical world woven together by author JK Rowling. And while Christians are certainly “disputatious” about what the books mean and whether they are good for kids, I steer clear of those debates. Sure there was magic and other elements but that’s also prevalent in other books such as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia – which I really love! Personally, I thought they were great. Devoured the books. Enjoyed the movies. I was inspired.

After finishing the final volume, I sat in awe of how Rowling tied together so many complex themes, story lines, and characters with a simple premise.

Love is the antidote to evil in the world.

For those who haven’t read the books, love and death are major themes throughout the entire series. We find early on that Harry’s mother died protecting him from Voldemort. Voldemort sought to kill him because of a prophecy about a boy who would have the power to kill him (nudge, sound familiar?)

Later we discover that love is the source of a powerful magic beyond knowing. And ultimately Harry prevails against Voldemort not because he is a more skillful wizard–but because of his love.

While I have failed to do justice to the thousands and thousands of pages Rowling penned, I cite this only to make a potent observation. What Jesus and Harry Potter share in common is the belief that love–above all other things–holds the power to transform the world.

In Jesus’ context, the ethic of love went hand-in-hand with “the Kingdom.” Jesus’ kingdom is not anything like what we’d expect. It was wholly new. Jesus came not to conquer with the sword–but to die on the cross for…for love!

In fact, Christianity’s most oft-quoted verse, John 3:16, states so plainly: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Like Harry Potter, Jesus story is about love’s triumph over evil and death.

It is that ethic of love and death that powers Jesus ministry. These are ethics to explore. And they are the beginning of a new series on what is right with Christians.



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Matt

posted August 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm


I picked up a lot of christian themes in Harry Potter.
Too bad that the Catholic Church is so closed minded about Harry Potter but then the Catholic Church has long been corrupting Christianity ever since they attempted to convert their Roman god statues over to Christian statues. I mean seriously how do giant gold statues correlate with the early Jewish/gentile Christians who were worshipping God in caves and in small homes.



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Joshua

posted August 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm


I’ve got to take a divergent view on this. I am protestant, even labeled “pentecostal” by some, and though I fully recognize the errors of the body corporate in the past in closing its mind and hearts to relevance in secular society, I also recognize that the call to holiness is a call to literally “be seperated unto” God and not to emulate the World. We are so very careful with our children in the content of programming and literature we permit regarding the concepts of magic and the Potter series differ drastically from Tolkien and Lewis. Lewis and Tolkien were Christian men. Rowling has made no such claim. Magic in their realms were divided into the creative/healing/natural arts and the arts divined to corrupt and destroy. That distinction is lost in Harry Potter, where flying cars, imps, and very literally “good” witches the frequent the page/screen. Both Tolkien’s and Lewis’ fictions were patterned after and echoed biblical accounts and truth. The Silmarillion is fascinating in the manner in which one can clearly see the tie-in to God, creation, the angels, demons, Lucifer, and the “elder race” – mankind. Who didn’t get chills in watching the most recent film adaptation of Chronicles’ when Asland steps from behind the columns and stands over the broken alter.
Where is Potter’s biblical correlation? Certainly I can find value in what Tom is saying as I can see God’s truths in many things, both secular and Christian. But I do not see that I can correlate Rowlings writings to Tolkien or Lewis or Potter to Jesus. I guess the universal truth that Love is the conquering force is the focus of this discussion and I can whole heartedly get behind that. Past that, I’ll have to agree to disagree and let it be known that I love and respect you all in the name of Jesus!



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Hans Andréa

posted August 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm


I agree Tom Davis. There are many more similarities between Jesus and Harry Potter. When Jesus was born, a star appeared in the east; when Harry was born Sirius became his Godfather (Sirius was the star of the resurrection in Ancient Egypt). Herod tried to kill baby Jesus; Voldemort tried to kill young Harry. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, Harry sacrificed himself to Voldemort and landed in King’s Cross. These are not coincidences but deliberate symbols to bring a powerful message to the world. In fact “Harry Potter” is a great symbolic masterpiece of Alchemy! There is a website devoted to the hidden symbols in Harry Potter. I’d like to invite all readers to visit harrypotterforseekers.com. I guarantee you’ll be surprised!
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (HP & Deathly Hallows)



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Hans Andréa

posted August 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm


I agree Tom Davis. There are many more similarities between Jesus and Harry Potter. When Jesus was born, a star appeared in the east; when Harry was born Sirius became his Godfather (Sirius was the star of the resurrection in Ancient Egypt). Herod tried to kill baby Jesus; Voldemort tried to kill young Harry. Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, Harry sacrificed himself to Voldemort and landed in King’s Cross. These are not coincidences but deliberate symbols to bring a powerful message to the world. In fact “Harry Potter” is a great symbolic masterpiece of Alchemy! There is a website devoted to the hidden symbols in Harry Potter. I’d like to invite all readers to visit harrypotterforseekers.com. I guarantee you’ll be surprised!
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (HP & Deathly Hallows)



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Susan

posted August 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm


Thank you for this food for thought. I have enjoyed the Harry Potter, but been a little annoyed that Halloween and especially Christmas were such empty holidays in the HP ‘verse. They got sweaters and candy, but there is no Christmas story. I never stopped to think that maybe Harry is the Christmas story.



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Mandy

posted August 5, 2010 at 8:46 pm


Joshua, does your church doctrine feel the same about Cinderella as it does Harry Potter? I never knew Walt Disney, like Rowling, to be decidedly Christian. Just curious…



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Jason

posted August 6, 2010 at 10:33 am


Never read Harry Potter…don’t intend to. Not because of the magic elements but because all the HP fanboys turned me off to the idea of the series. ;)
I think God’s big enough that he can use anything for His glory or to bring someone to Him. If it happens through Harry Potter novels, so be it. I can certainly see similarities in the examples you’ve provided for us.



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Linda

posted August 6, 2010 at 11:45 am


I think you need to clarify this statement, because it does not fully explain the death of Christ on the cross, and a person may miss the real actual meaning of the death of Christ:
“Jesus came not to conquer with the sword–but to die on the cross for…for love!”
The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as a Substitute for sinners, He died in our place, He paid the penalty we deserved for our sin against God. Jesus, who is fully God and fully sinless man willingly went to the cross to atone our sins. This sacrifice on the cross was done out of love or to demonstrate God’s love, but the actual sacrifice of Jesus was to make atonement to appease the wrath of God.



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Joshua

posted August 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm


Mandy,
Good question: I wouldn’t say I have a “church doctrine” as in a codex of “thou shalt nots”. I have a personal conviction regarding this matter. Do seemingly harmless caricatures such as Carebears, Cinderella (as you mention) and a multitude of others pose an inherent threat to my children? I think the greater question is “What is the purpose of the use of ‘magic’ in these stories and what is it teaching my children in relationship to the very real and very deadly arenas of the occult, witchcraft, scorcery, and the demonic?”. Do the plump fair-godmothers in Sleeping Beauty threaten my chilrens’ souls? I sincerely doubt it. Do they in any manner de-sensitize them to spellcraft and the occult, regardless of how “innocent”? I will always err on the side of protection rather than roll the dice. We have neighbors who’s boys watch all manner of cartoons, own all manner of “rated T” video games that contain spellcraft and violence, and who, as a result, encounter rebellion, behavioral challenges, and nightmares. My own son has dismissed himself from those boys when their language turned too foul for him to feel comfortable around while playing outside and has left “sleep-overs” at their house when night-time conversations turned to mutilation and demons. The parents of these boys are somewhat surprised that we would forbid our son to watch Avatar, Family Guy, and several other cartoons their children watch.
We hold strongly to Proverbs 22:6 “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” and to Philipians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
I don’t approach these things from a standpoint of naivety, either. Though raised in the church I rebelled and was hardcore into Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager and into college. My friends and I played with Ouija boards, listened to “death-metal” while we skated, and though I never pursued the drug scene, I certainly followed after the fraternity-sorority boozing party crowd at the university I attended. I’m not punishing my children for my mistakes. What’s that have to do with Harry Potter? Very litte except for the issue of spiritual sensitivity. My wrong choices as a teen/young adult continuously erroded my sensitivity to God. God has put all of that under the blood and blessed me in spite of it. He’s also given me insight and wisdom that I am blessed to utilize in helping my own children avoid the pitfalls I chose. Again, love and peace to all of you in Jesus’ name!



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Truthis

posted August 6, 2010 at 8:01 pm


Harry Potter was written for money and the people who put it together plagiarized it from the work of others. The Willy the Wizard case pending in London’s High Court will seek to prove just Enyo



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Truthis

posted August 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm


Isn’t Rowling about to go on trial for thieving another man’s work and wasn’t Jesus betrayed for money? And what do you suppose Harry Potter is really about? Saving the world? How about… money and power? Maybe you should ponder for a while on that other dude..Satan.



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Steve

posted August 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm


Truthis: “Harry Potter was written for money and the people who put it together plagiarized it from the work of others.” the same can be said accurately about the NIV.
I will go to war* with anyone who let’s their kids watch Disney cartoons, but not read Harry Potter. Besides talking animals and all the rumored naughty adult humor in the cartoons, there is an incessant non-Christian theme…from the little mermaid who defies her father, and everything works out all right, all the way back to “Snow white and the 7 Jewish caricatures” which besides being racist, is eros romantic hog wash. ad nauseum
Harry constantly yearns for his parents, for truth, stands up for his friends, and the kind of Justice defined in Psalms…generosity and kindness to the weak and people different than you (e.g.Muggles)and is a wizard/warlock in the same vein as Gandalf. Reading FICTION like HP is a great way for our kids to walk in the world full of unseen forces who really are out to get us, often cloaking themselves in self righteous authoritarian roles.
*due to the absurdity of this challenge, if you take me up on the war challenge, i win.
Tom: May the force be with you!



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Steve

posted August 12, 2010 at 9:42 pm


Linda;
Please consider that when you wrote the last paragraph, you were stating an aspect of Jesus work on the cross that is very true…and in no way contradicts what Tom succinctly said. He did all that, instead of solving the sin problem by, being within his rights, and killing the sinners.



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Andy

posted September 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm


Lovely look at an interesting topic.
I think there are many things we can connect between Harry Potter and faith. I don’t think JK Rowling intended all of them, but they are there nonetheless.
Regardless of Rowling’s status as a writer, we are not comparing her to Jesus, we are comparing what she created to faith and her story creates such beautiful connection that regardless of the motivations behind it, we can use the connections to help people understand faith.
I think one of the most overlooked connections is the vast complexity of the novels. If you’ve read the series more than once, the second or third time you read book 1, you begin to realize how many things Rowling planted in the first book.
It is very similar to how we now are able to read the Old Testament. God had a plan and as we read Isaiah, Psalms and other books, we can see it was all planned out to end with Jesus dying and rising for the forgiveness of our sins.



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