Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? Remember when Santa Claus shows up (incongruously) in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? It’s a strange moment, but to my great surprise I’ve been moved by it. Lewis reminds me that even Father Christmas is subject to Jesus, just as in Prince Caspian the hosts of mythology are subject to him. The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave. – Andrew Peterson
I have been a fan of Harry Potter since I picked up the first book sometime in college in the late 90s. I didn’t think about it much at the time, I just saw a lot of good being glorified in it and was enthralled by the story. Aside from biographies and the Puritans, I’ll choose a good fiction book any day. The story of the paths of the dead in Return of the King is stunning, reminding me that Jesus is with me in the darkness. Jekyll’s slow losing battle with Hyde is demonstrates that yielding to sin does not satisfy it but actually perpetuates it and enslaves. Atticus Finch is an example of an imperfect father with rock hard conviction and integrity. Fiction can be messy, but story lingers with you and can help us understand greater truths and the gospel in deeper ways.
I think Harry Potter has lasting power and there is a lot of good built into it in a way that can stir us up in the right things. The Harry Potter series will prove to be a classic.
Side note: I will not be making this argument for Twilight.
What is the Metanarrative of Harry Potter?
Christians were warned about the dangers of Harry Potter, the draw to the occult, to witchcraft, the likelihood that Satan existed in the very pages of Rowling’s novels. Some, perhaps even some reading this, still wonder whether we should be concerned about in the Potter books. I’m not intending to tread on those concerns; we should always be discerning. But at this point, reviewing the history of the debate, the content of the Potter books, and the professions of faith from their author, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than that those of us who were once concerned about or opposed to the series were wrong. It’s edifying literature, deliberately full of Christian symbols. – Travis Prinzi
Until recently, I mostly saw how Christians opposed the Harry Potter series and warned of its witchcraft and occult references. I’ve read a few things about how Harry Potter supposedly uses the same “magic words” as actual witchcraft.
That may be true and certainly there is some maturity needed to handle these books just as there is maturity needed for many a book. Readers need to be mature enough to evaluate what is glorified? What is the imparted worldview? What main themes being ingrained through this story? Evil is awesome? Be like Voldemort? Spells are what win battles? Magic rules? Anyone saying that has not read the books.
Harry Potter is all about character over magic. Love over evil. Good triumphing in the end. Battling evil is more about courage and the willingness to lay down your own life than it is about pure knowledge or being able to aim well with your wand. That’s why Harry is not the best wizard, and why Ron is so important and why we need to see Hermione’s heart more than her dazzling skills. Neville represents more of a thirst for revenge than we may like but he also represents perseverance, growth in courage, and honoring the legacy of your parents. Neville also represents the sovereignty and grace of God. The only thing that ultimately distinguishes him from Harry is the fact that Voldemort chose to try to kill infant Harry instead of infant Neville. Their destiny is by no choice of their own and yet their destiny is affected by their very character.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25 ESV)
Think about these themes: the destiny of good to triumph over evil, sacrifice and the willingness to lay down your own life being the route to victory, loyalty, friendship, love. Doesn’t sound like a terrible story rooted in the occult to me.
Why will Harry Potter last?
Consider the long-standing, complicated issue of fate and free will, which has been endlessly debated in systematics and caused harsh and violent lines to be drawn between Christian groups. Now, watch the way events unfold in Oedipus Rex, or in MacBeth, or in Harry Potter, where free will and prophecy fulfillment interact and intersect and weave in and out of each other. The issue, in story form, produces mystery and wonder, whereas in our theological propositions, it tends to produce argument and frustration. Fairy tales give us imaginative access to truth in places our religion textbooks cannot go. – Travis Prinzi
I’m not sure if Harry Potter will have the lasting power of a Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. It might have too many roots in our current culture to be a classic. However, when I think back to my childhood and the 80s and 90s, I can think of no lasting classics like this. Harry Potter stands out. How many other series have been written using similar themes and magic and coming of age children? Along with vampires and other similar themes, I’m guessing too many to count.
I think Harry Potter will still be worth reading (movies get old very quickly!) in 25 years. The themes are so accessible and glorifying of the right things that it will last. The characters are fantastic. The story brings in way too much of the gospel to ignore it. Forget about the movies, read the books. Try not to be moved. Try not to get caught up in the war against evil. Try not to be moved by a character willing to be hated by all in order to be a major component for good. Just try. This is a story that will last because it has so much of the one story we all need.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)