July 28, 2007


The Gospel According to J.K. Rowling: The magic world of Harry Potter begins yielding to a 'deeper magic.' (Bob Smietana, 7/23/07, Christianity Today)

I first met Harry Potter when my grandmother was dying.

On New Years Day 1999, she had a massive stroke from which she would never recover. Not wanting her to die alone, we took turns sitting by her bedside, round the clock. The night I spent with her, I brought along my Bible, the biggest cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee I could find, and a new novel, picked up from the bookstore on the way to the hospital: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Both the Bible and the "Boy Who Lived" proved good company during the watches of the night. Both pointed the way to hope in the face of death.

And there was at least one echo from the Scriptures in the Sorcerer's Stone: Lord Voldemort, the Hitleresque dark wizard in J.K. Rowling's fictional works, was defeated not by power but by love—by a young mother who sacrificed her life to save her young son. In Rowling's world, that kind of love is stronger than any magic. It can even conquer death.

By the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opens, however, it seems that death finally has the upper hand. Albus Dumbledore, Voldemort's greatest enemy, lies buried on the ground of Hogwarts. Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters have launched a reign of terror and are on the verge of replacing the Ministry of Magic with a Nazi-style government that will enslave muggles and "mudbloods" alike. Anyone who stands in their way will be eliminated.

The body count starts early—on page 12, to be exact—and the hunt for Harry and his friends doesn't let up for the next 700 pages. [...]

When the Dark Lord broke into their house, James Potter rushes to defend his wife and son, but it was hopeless. Caught without a wand in hand, he was no match for Voldemort.

Lily, on the other hand, had a choice. Voldemort wants to kill Harry, not her, and tells her to step aside. She could live and let her boy die. Instead, she lays down her life to protect him. The act of substitutionary sacrifice saved her son's life, just before the opening of the Sorcerer's Stone.

As Rowling said in an online interview (mugglenet.com/jkrinterview.shtml), the "caliber of Lily's bravery was, I think in this instance, higher because she could have saved herself. Now any mother, any normal mother, would have done what Lily did … but she was given time to choose. James wasn't. It's like an intruder entering your house, isn't it? You would instinctively rush them. But if in cold blood you were told, 'Get out of the way,' you know, what would you do?'"

One should always be careful before guessing an author's intentions, but J.K. Rowling has definitely hinted that her religious views strongly influenced her stories. It is therefore worth noting that the most moving and memorable parts of the Harry Potter series -- including the final chapters of the last book -- read like creative narrative commentaries on 1 Corinthians 13.

Posted by Matt Murphy at July 28, 2007 5:26 PM

The final chapters, I thought were straight out of the New Testament.

I loved the resolution of the series.

Posted by: Stormy70 at July 28, 2007 9:47 PM

Okay, now I am going to have to read these books. I held off for two reasons: I had heard comments from sources that I respect that the series was rather dark, and the pace at which I read is much faster then the average book release time.

I now wonder if Tolkien or perhaps Lewis met the same kind of initial opposition that Rowling has. It seems from comments that I am hearing now that the Harry Potter series is just another way to use fantasy to re-tell the Greatest Story.

Posted by: Jay at July 30, 2007 9:30 AM