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Harry Potter and the Christians Who Di-Spell Him

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“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we all must face the choice between what is right, and what is easy,” Professor Albus Dumbledore cautions Harry Potter. Many Christians tend to view the Harry Potter series as demonic, refusing to watch the movies or read the books because they fear their children will be enthralled with witchcraft. However, they do not realize how much Christian symbolism J.K. Rowling cunningly wove into her fantastic stories. Almost every spell and choice each character makes holds a deeper meaning than what the reader’s mind can comprehend without extensive analysis. Although Harry is viewed as a bridge to witchcraft in most Christian denominations, it is perfectly acceptable for believers to engage in the series because characters make the right choice due to the unconditional love they have for each other, it draws parallels to Christian beliefs, and the magic and spells are not Satanic and will not encourage children to practice Wicca.
Opponents of the Harry Potter series argue that there is no distinction between right and wrong in any of the books. They claim that when Harry disobeys, he is immediately rewarded for his bad behavior. In the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry and Ron make a risky decision. It is Halloween Night, and a fearsome troll has entered the castle. All students are instructed to follow their House Heads and proceed to their dormitories for safety. The Heads take attendance, and discover that Hermione Granger, an acquaintance of Harry and Ron’s, is missing. Covertly, Harry and Ron steal away to find her. Instead, they find the troll, who corners them in the girls’ bathroom where Hermione happens to be. Frightened out of their wits, Harry and Ron use their amateur knowledge of spells to bring down the troll and save Hermione. Several professors stumble upon the scene looking for the children, and realize the first years have knocked the troll unconscious! A shocked Professor Minerva McGonagall chides them immediately, taking ten points from Gryffindor House for disobedience. Later, she gives them back ten points on account of their bravery. McGonagall overlooks Harry’s rash decision and instead rewards his courage. Throughout the series, Harry, Ron, and Hermione put their lives on the line in order to save one another. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, the trio is trapped in the dungeon in pursuit of the legendary rock. The only way to cross the room is to play a life-size game of barbaric Wizard Chess, where the chess pieces literally kill the other pieces. Ron, who happens to be the best at Wizard Chess, volunteers to stay behind and play the game for his friends. Unfortunately for him, a knight crushes his horse and almost kills Ron with a blow to the head. He lives, and later expresses that dying was a sacrifice he would have been willing to make for his friends. Dobby the house elf, a friend who remains fiercely loyal to Harry throughout the series, makes a decision to save his friends even though Bellatrix Lestrange threatens him with death. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the trio, Ollivander the wand-maker, and Luna Lovegood are imprisoned in the dungeon of Malfoy Manor. Although prisoners are not able to apparate, (teleport) Dobby is. He apparates to the dungeon and frees Harry and his friends. Bellatrix, a crazed Death Eater, screams at Dobby and calls him a traitor, to which the house elf retorts, “Dobby has no master. Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!” (Deathly Hallows part 1). Outraged at his reply, Bellatrix throws a dagger at Dobby as everyone escapes. Alas, the house elf dies. However, he is content with the choice he has made. As he lies dying on the beach, he remarks, “What a beautiful place… to be with friends.” (Deathly Hallows Part 1). Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dobby loved each other with an unconditional love that only true friends can share. Their willingness to sacrifice their lives so that the other may live can be compared to John 15:13-“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” (English Standard Version Bible).
The most obvious example of conflict between good and evil is the extreme rivalry between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Harry represents love, and doing what is right and morally just, no matter the cost. On the other hand, Lord Voldemort represents evil incarnate and the lust of power for personal gain. John Granger explains this concept thoroughly in his book, Looking For God in Harry Potter:
Bad guys don’t do the wrong thing after struggling with a decision; they almost automatically do what most advances their individual or group advantage without regard for principle. Good guys often are tempted to do the wrong thing-may even do the wrong thing- but they either choose the right or repent of their error in light of right and wrong. (Granger 16).
Although it would be easier for Harry to stand by and watch someone else fight his battles, he does what is right because he knows he and those he loves will suffer if he cowers. Contrastingly, Draco Malfoy, a fellow student and enemy of Harry’s, does what he knows is wrong for personal gain. In his sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he becomes a Death Eater, one of Voldemort’s followers. Draco’s task is to kill Albus Dumbledore, the Hogwarts Headmaster. If he does this, he will advance to a higher level among the Death Eaters and become one of Voldemort’s most favorite followers, sharing power with the Dark Lord. Harry and Draco’s rivalry parallels the life of the common Christian- the constant battle between good and evil, light and dark. Every day, the Christian is faced with temptations. He can either give into those temptations readily, or fight against them and continue in his holy walk with Christ. In the end, the Christians who ignored the world’s evil voices will spend eternity with their Creator. Harry and the “good guys” always win in the end, with confidence that they have made the right choices. Therefore, Harry Potter parallels with Christianity by illustrating the constant battle between good and evil, and esteeming light over dark.
Perhaps the most common argument against Harry Potter is that the magic in the books is Satanic and dark, which will lead children to the practice of Wicca. Stern Christians contend that J. K. Rowling is Wiccan, which is how she acquires spells and major plot points for her books. In the first book, Lily Potter, Harry’s beautiful mother, was killed by Voldemort when she tried to protect her son from the Dark Lord. Some Christian denominations see this as symbolic of the Wiccan mother goddess, who protects her followers. How can this be true, when Lily clearly sacrificed her life to save her son from evil? Is this not symbolic of Jesus Christ giving his life for the world? Dumbledore explains Harry’s mother’s love for him in The Sorcerer’s Stone:
Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort does not understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us protection forever… It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good. (Rowling 299).
Jeremiah 31:3 parallels Dumbledore’s quote by stating how great God’s unfailing love and kindness is. As for the spells the characters use, they are not Wiccan, as some Christian denominations believe. J.K. Rowling was deeply interested in Latin and Greek mythology, so she studied both at Exeter University in Scotland. Her spells come from Latin roots- for instance, a common spell the Harry Potter characters use is “lumos,” which is a form of the Latin word for light, “lumen.” Still, these strict Christians persist. If the title of the first book in the series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, how is it not evil? The Bible clearly warns on many occasions not to practice sorcery. Originally, J.K Rowling had titled her book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Her publisher in England was fond of the title, but Scholastic decided no American would ever read a book with the word “philosophy” on the cover, so the publishers changed it to sorcerer. J.K Rowling herself claims to be a practicing Presbyterian. She proudly declares, “I go to church myself. I don’t take any responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my own religion.” (Adler 1). In conclusion, the rumors about Rowling being Wiccan and drawing her ideas for her books from Wiccan beliefs are untrue. Her ideas simply spring from her love of the Latin language and Greek mythology.
The Harry Potter series is perfectly fine for Christians to read and watch. John Granger makes the observation that “the magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries.” (Granger 4). The seven books are a wholesome series for people of all ages to read- they portray the continuous battle between good and evil in a creative way and illustrate that making the right choice, no matter what the cost, is always best. Christians can learn to accept Harry and gain a deeper appreciation for their faith, and non-Christians can perhaps be intrigued to further investigate unconditional love. Both parties can also remember Dumbledore’s wise words: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Works Cited
The English Standard Version Bible. Wheaton. Good News Publishers. 2005. Print.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Dir. David Yates. Warner Brothers, 2010.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York. Scholastic, 1997. Print.
Granger, John. Looking For God in Harry Potter. Carol Stream. Tyndale House, 2004.

Adler, Shawn. “‘Harry Potter’ Author J.K. Rowling Opens Up About Books’ Christian

Imagery.” MTV, 17 Oct. 2007. n.p. Web. 31 Oct. 2011

Join the Discussion

This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

NobodyYouKnow said...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm
In this article, you made a great point and argued it well. Though I am not particularly religious myself, I was very impressed by the way you represented the morals of your faith and the way that a completely harmless and enjoyable fantasy series adheres to them.
Teily said...
Jan. 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm
I'm a Christian, and I'm happy to say at my church we aren't those in Salem crying "Witch!" That doesn't mean I don't understand where you're coming from. I started reading the Harry Potter series shortly after the first movie came out. I remember being dragged along to this Christian conference my family was going to and telling a fellow eight year old how I was reading the fourth HP book, and she replied, "Harry Potter's bad." I was floored and was still in shock by the time I got home. It's i... (more »)
PrincessGrace replied...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm
oh yeah my current church thankfully doesn't think Harry Potter is evil, but my former one did. I mean, they would have whole study groups and such on the evils of Harry Potter. It's just the narrow-mindedness of some people that irks me, because my old church liked Twilight and Narnia and Lord of the Rings. AAGH
Teily replied...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm
I would think more churches would be opposed Twilight, but surprisingly, few are.
PrincessGrace replied...
Jan. 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm
I would think so too. I am not a Twilight fan...It think it glorifies darkness. :p
savetheplanet said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm
HAHAHAHA, after reading this article I googled it just to see what people said about this. I'd heard about extremists saying it promoted witchcraft but I'd never heard it personally. Anyway I found this Christian website that said some of the most ridiculous things I'd ever heard. Talk about crazy...
PrincessGrace replied...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 8:48 am
I know right?? What I hate is that churches promote Narnia and Lord of the Rings, which both have magic and witches and wizards who perform magic, but say Harry Potter is evil. :/
savetheplanet replied...
Jan. 22, 2012 at 10:15 am
WOW.... That's so stupid.
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