A Sanctimonious Harry

March 2, 2008
In the June 2007 issue of TIME magazine, an article called “The Doubting Harry” caught my attention. The short five-paragraph essay simply states the lack of religion in one of the world’s most prominent children’s book and movie series. The columnist Lev Grossman notices the absence of holiness in the famous Harry Potter series. He satirically sums up the oh-so-anticipated outcome of the series, “If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God. “

One can see where Grossman’s comical, yet frighteningly true remark originates. It comes from the lack of any religion whatsoever in most entertainment products. The Harry Potter series is only one. For other examples, one can simply visit the nearest movie theaters or even a toy shop. Do we see any popular movie that has anything to do with God or any other religious figure? Do we buy our children toys that have an association with Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism? Of course, exceptions do exist, but why can’t more businesses institute religion-based ideas into their movie plots or toy designs? If we can pay attention to the daily visits to rehab by Lindsay Lohan or the countless schemes of entering and leaving jail of Paris Hilton, can’t we do something to initiate more interest in learning about and believing in God?

Shouldn’t we at least try to heal the aching world of religion?

Our society has willingly chosen to believe in a world absorbed in magic rather than religion. Religion is now more unfamiliar to most people than Harry Potter. The closest character to a god in the series is Dumbledore, and he died in the sixth chronicle. The world we knew that was so engrossed with the importance of faith and belief is faltering, to the extent that religion cannot even find its way into a popular book.

Religion always played the biggest role in ancient empires, when certain admirable stories about angry teenage wizards did not existed. If we take into account the ancient Egyptians, their empire was built on the foundation of religion. From their cultures to their traditions, every ritual was performed and every device invented to use for religious beliefs.

Even adults born into the Christian religion eventually grow tired of going to church; when they do, they desperately seek the end of the “long and tedious” weekly celebration. Naturally, kids do not want to attend church; they want to play video games or with their Barbie. Teenagers become accustomed to spending their weekend wasting away in front of the computer screen or studying for the next day’s exam. Although one might conclude that there is simply no time to fit in God and his holy Bible, this rationalization is definitely not true, because, in one way or another, each age group finds plenty of time to watch the movie that found its way to number one on the family’s to-do list. Sadly, “Go to church and praise God” is always missing from the list week after week. Why is this holy ceremony being forgotten and the influence of it being overlooked?

Why can’t the media remember to include how important it is to go to church, praise God, and attempt to personify the Ten Commandments? Is that so difficult?

Join the Discussion

This article has 22 comments. Post your own now!

BlueRain said...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 12:41 pm
And just because there is no "prayer session" or "praise our savior" lines in the movie does not mean it is void of religious morals. Harry learns to remain strong even when pressured by the media, he keeps his friends, and he remains a good person even through all the horrible experiences he's survived. I mean, really, it's a series about good versus evil and all the in-betweens. If you took the magic out of the story, it would be a normal story. Magic makes it pop, it makes it something intere... (more »)
BlueRain said...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm
It is a good thing that Harry Potter is not purposely promoting a religion. It would lose it's fan base because then not as many people could relate to it, they'd be worried about liking something that is part of another religion. It's for the profit, but it's also for the enjoyment. It creates something where people who don't feel so offended by the lack of religion in the story can join together and find a place where they can feel accepted without all the vicious debating.
TheEarlofZerces said...
Nov. 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm
The problem with putting a specific religon in a media is that it's only going to appeal to a singly group of people, and everyone else will be horribly offended by the whole thing. The capitalist system is founded on the basis of making as much profit as humanly possible, and so capitalists will want to appeal their product to as many different kinds of people as humanly possible. Ergo, 9 times out of 10 they will not try to focus on a single religion. Now of course, their are some people out t... (more »)
blues_are.still_blue said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm
Why would the media care about spreading Christianity? It has nothing to do with them. Seriously, the conceit is overflowing from this article. Do you hear yourself when you speak?
andromeda13 replied...
Aug. 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm
i agree. i love the harry potter books, they are books, fictional books, made for entertainment, nnot to spread the word of god. 
PennyM.L said...
Feb. 17, 2011 at 3:20 am
well that coloumnist didnt know what he was saying, jkr never made it seem that dumbledore was god. thats wrong. . .
TeaCat replied...
Jun. 26, 2011 at 4:28 pm
Yes! I agree! Some people are interpreting the series the wrong way....
I200957 said...
Sept. 14, 2010 at 2:09 pm
I am thinking I go to church every single week and most of my friends do to! Where are you getting this information from? I think I understand what you are trying to say I just think it should be more clear. I love HP and I think JkR did exactly what she wanted to was put the religion very casually.
Thegirlinthemirror said...
Sept. 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm
I understand where your coming from, but not all people are religious, which makes it unfair to shove religion down their throats at any chance. Theirs also a valid reason as to why JkR didn't include any religion in to the books. The stories have already sparked up insterest for religious extremist because magic is supposedly "Devil worship. It seems to me that JKR almost deliberlately kept God out of the picture because she wasn't aiming to offend. You also have to keep in mind that everyone h... (more »)
krazykathleen said...
May 1, 2010 at 10:43 am
Harry Potter is AWESOME. If something doesn't have religion in it, it's bad for society? Whoa- that's taking it to the extreme. This is coming from a Christian, too.
krazykathleen said...
May 1, 2010 at 10:33 am
It's to the point where if religion isn't mentioned in a book series, it's bad for society? That's taking it to the extreme. Wow. And this is coming from a Christian!
krazykathleen said...
May 1, 2010 at 10:31 am
Harry Potter is awesome- it doesn't have religion in it, which is your point, I got that. However, is it to the point where if something doesn't have any religion in it, it's bad for society? That's taking it to the extreme, and I happen to be a Christian.
krazykathleen said...
May 1, 2010 at 10:28 am
I am a Christian and I'm a HUGE HARRY POTTER FAN. There's nothing about God in it, which is what you're saying, I know. But it's to the point where if something doesn't have God in it, it's bad for society? That's being exreme. There's plenty of Christian novels and media out there. Plus, how can you speak for little kids about going to church? My five year old cousin doesn't own a single Barbie and loves God!
livetoserve replied...
Jul. 28, 2010 at 9:57 am
I live for God and harry potter is my favorite series too!  i actually disagree because i think a lot of christian symbolism can be found in HP.  although dumbledore dies, he still finds ways to talk to harry--that's kind of like how God usually doesn't have an audible voice but we can still hear him.  and harry sacrifices himself to defeat voldemort (Jesus sacrificing himself to defeat sin) and yet he comes back to life.  i think there can be as much symbolism as even the ch... (more »)
krazykathleen replied...
Jul. 31, 2010 at 10:53 am

Thank you!! I totally agree! I mean, this is how I feel too! It's so nice to find someone who agrees with me that Harry Potter is not evil and witchcraft at all, rather, quite the opposite. Thank you for posting this!!!!!! :)

Oh and if you're wondering about my many posts, I posted one comment and it didn't post, so I did it again, and again. Then they all posted...... I need to work on my patience.

SpringRayyn replied...
Nov. 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm
Actually, the Chronicales of Narnia were written specifically to show religious stuff through a metaphor. The author himself said so! Of course, you can choose to perceive it differently, but that is what the C. S. Lewis intended.
Kelz1141 replied...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 11:39 am
In my youth group the teacher uses Harry Potter as a refrence to Jesus all the time! The story of Jesus and Harry Potter have a lot of similarities, BUT I would love it just as much if it didn't. Not everyone is religious therfore religion shouldn't be put into every single thing we do.
QuestionAuthority1128 said...
Dec. 19, 2009 at 10:24 pm
In response to your last question, the answer is: because we're not all Christian. America is not an entirely Christian nation. Christianity and the media are not and should not be synonymous. You can find plenty of Christian books, movies, etc if you go to specialty Christian stores. And yeah, there are bestselling religious books at Barnes and Noble. You can find plenty of them. It's just... I don't know, my argument is kind of hard to describe, but honestly you're saying &... (more »)
TeaCat replied...
Jun. 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm
*COUGH* I agree! *COUGH* 
ReflectionsofYou said...
Dec. 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm
There is plenty of Christian media out there. Movies, music,books, podcast,video games even, and you can sort through the cornyness and still come up with a nice pile of good stuff. But you won't see any of it featured on ENews. You will however see plenty of new age stuff which I consider somewhat of a religion. If anything you made me want to wright a piece on how the mainstream media ignores the success of Christian media. Good job.
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