Harry Potter as Pro-Christian

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as Pro-Christian

                The argument that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a pro-Christian novel has been mainly fuelled by the backlash from more conservative Christian groups. The two main arguments that arise in support of this side of the debate are that Harry Potter teaches the benefits of morality and loyalty and that Harry Potter is a Christian allegory. This side of the debate is the lesser known one as is garners less media coverage but it is argued just as effectively through evidence from the bible and book itself.

The first argument is based on the point that, in the battle of good and evil in the novel, the main characters are clearly on the side of good. Through their actions and hard work, they eventually defeat their adversaries, all while promoting morality and good decision-making.  Some critics of the novel argue that Harry often breaks the rules at his school, Hogwarts, and that this is setting a poor example for young readers. However, there are others who would argue that the school rules may get in the way of furthering good or fighting evil and that Harry’s choices help kids to understand the challenges of real life decision making in a morally diverse world. In the following quote from the book, Rowling exhibits how Harry often makes decisions that have a wider view of good and bad in mind that go beyond school regulations:

“I’m going out of here tonight and I’m going to try and get to the Stone first.”

 “You’re mad!” said Ron.

“You can’t!” said Hermione.

“After what McGonagall and Snape have said? You’ll be expelled!”

“SO WHAT?” Harry shouted. “Don’t you understand? If Snape gets hold of the Stone, Voldemort’s coming back! Haven’t you heard what it was like when he was trying to take over? There won’t be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He’ll flatten it, or turn it into a school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn’t matter anymore, can’t you see? D’you think he’ll leave you and your families alone if Gryffindor wins the house cup?” (p. 270)

The argument has been made that this representation of morally objective decisions are more realistic and actually more Christian than ignoring the preventative measures that could be taken to fight evil because of school rules.

The next point that this side of the debate argues is that Harry’s story is very much a Christian allegory and that the symbolism is unmistakably in favour of Christianity. In his book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, John Granger states that, “that the Harry Potter stories ‘sing along’ with the Great Story of Christ [which] is a significant key to understanding their compelling richness” (p. 2).

His infancy is surrounded by miraculous circumstances and there is a prophesy regarding his life and death. The books even go as far as to call him “The Chosen One”. He is tempted by Voldemort to join the forces of evil but ultimately it is he who most conquer evil and return the world to light. Harry’s story can be read much like that of Christ and this allegory carries weight not just in the first book but throughout the entire series.

Harry’s transcendence into the magical world has also been interpreted as his entrance into heaven. When he turns eleven he receives the “good news” that he is a wizard and he will be leaving the misery of his current life. He becomes rich, not just materially but also in spirit and is truly happy.

Symbols such as the snake, the gryphon, and the phoenix, among others, have similar meanings in the book as they do in Christian belief and while Dumbledore’s statement that, “to the organized mind, death is the next great adventure”, is ambiguous, it no doubt suggests that he believes in an afterlife.

As for Rowling’s take on the debate, her opinions seem to refute the idea that her books are anti-Christian:  ”I absolutely did not start writing these books to encourage any child into witchcraft. ”I’m laughing slightly because to me, the idea is absurd.” According to Rowling, she” hesitated to make the religious parallels too explicit as the series developed to keep readers from anticipating too early where the story was going.”

Whether or not Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has a religious message is not up to religious groups, the church or even Rowling herself, it is up to the reader. Whatever message children discern from the book is individualized to them and unpredictable no matter how much critics read into the novel.

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