March 13, 2016


The Christianity of Harry Potter (Bradley J. Birzer, 3/10/16, Imaginative Conservative)

Whatever J.K. Rowling's own political, cultural, and social stances as expressed may be-- her retroactively labeling the main mentor-wizard of the Potter series a homosexual and her disappointment with the previous pope give clues to her leftist leanings--the books are, for the most part, deeply traditionalist and humane. Perhaps even more deeply, they are Christian.

In the time-tested tradition of western heroes, Harry suffers immense loss as a baby. An evil wizard has killed his parents. Orphaned, Harry grows up friendless, neglected, and abused by his mom's wickedly gossipy relatives, a "Muggle" (ordinary) family. Yet, this ordinary family is deeply dysfunctional. Relatively middle class and lacking in any imagination, the father, tellingly, makes drill bits. He is, rather happily, a cog in the machine of modernity. The family craves the latest luxuries, repeat the conformist drivel they hear all around them, and desire nothing more than to be equal but slightly better off than their neighbors.

When clever and resilient Harry discovers at the age of eleven that his parents were wizards and that he is one as well, his destiny as a unique and powerful person becomes apparent. Gaining several close friends and attending a school for wizards, Harry finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations. Whatever his mischievous (and often quite normal boyish) faults, Harry never fails when it comes to loyalty or behaving heroically. Through the first three books, Ms. Rowling reveals--explicitly and implicitly--that her magical world is a traditional Socratic and Judeo-Christian world based on the seven traditional virtues and ethics and that our modern world is based on power and manipulation. The evil, in Rowling's magical world, have been conned into believing that power and manipulation transcend love and will work in the magical world as well. Such action, however, only leads to their own condemnation. one of her more explicitly Catholic moments, the main evil character in the story kills and drinks the blood of a unicorn. "The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price," one character explains. "You have slain something pure and defenceless to save yourself and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."

It would be difficult to find a more interesting Pauline (1 Corinthians 11:29) moment in modern children's literature.

Posted by at March 13, 2016 4:40 AM