Cultural Arts Review: The Harry Potter Series and J.K. Rowling’s Struggling Faith

Posted on September 26, 2013 by

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There are many religious parallels from the Harry Potter series and Christianity, even though some faiths have strongly rejected J.K. Rowling’s work.  Many conservative Christians say that it promotes witchcraft.  While the books are clearly science fiction, the last book, Deathly Hallows, especially, has many biblical references. 

            The most obvious biblical reference is at the end of the book, when Harry becomes the “Master of Death” and “resurrects” from the dead the spirits of his parents, his godfather, Sirius Black and his old teacher.  With this example there are so many parallels to the story of Jesus and his resurrection.  Another example is when Harry finds biblical quotations on tombstones at Goodrich’s Hollow. 

            A few biblical teachings portrayed in the Harry Potter novels are self-sacrifice, courage, anti-discrimination, and loyalty.  Harry’s mother sacrificed herself for Harry as an infant to save him from Voltemort, similar to Jesus sacrificing himself. Harry and many other characters throughout the series face their fears and fight for the good of their people, as Jesus and his apostles did.  Harry and his friends do not discriminate against the giants, werewolves, and house elves… but instead welcome them, like in the bible.  All of the good characters show extreme loyalty to Dumbledore, but mostly Harry.  I think these are themes you could find in any religion.  For example, sacrifice is a common occurrence in Hindu rituals.  Courage, anti-discrimination, and loyalty fall along the lines of “morals,” which we discussed in class as being involved somehow in every religion.   

            There is also some animal symbolism, for example the phoenix, the unicorn, and the snake.  The snake is always symbolizing something bad in the Harry Potter series, and Satan is often represented as a snake.  In Harry Potter it is the Slytherin house, and the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.  The phoenix represents Christ’s resurrection in its re-birth, and the unicorn is a symbol of purity.

            I could go on and on with examples and more in depth into the biblical references, but I have just highlighted the obvious cases.  J.K. Rowling is a church-going Christian author who struggles with believing in a basic Christian belief of life after death.  During her book tour she explained how her beliefs of life after death seem to change almost weekly, and how that is very obvious within the books.  She was raised Christian in the Anglican Church.  Even though J.K. Rowling, the author, is Christian, many conservative Christian leaders have strongly criticized how detrimental these books could be to Christians and children.  Many say it promotes witchcraft, but I strongly disagree.  If Christianity is something you believe in, and you claim it as your “way of life,” how could you not put biblical references into your stories?  I think it would happen whether she was doing it on purpose or not.  I obviously disagree with the conservative leaders who think this series will corrupt young minds and lead to witchcraft.  There are many positive life lessons to be learned from Harry Potter, along with many biblical portrayals of the morals that go along with a good, Christian life. 

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