AND RELIGION AN INTRODUCTION TO PLOTS, ISSUES AND THEMES The Harry Potter Saga • Story of young boy who discovers he is a wizard, destined to fight evil, covering the seven years (age 11-18) that he spends at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. • First Six books published to date (1997, 1999, 2000, 2000, 2003, 2005.) • Seventh book rumoured by fans for July 2007 release (but unlikely - J.K. Rowling only began writing it January 2006) J.K. Rowling • J.K. Rowling (b. 1965) • 2004, US dollar billionaire (1st person ever to become a billionaire by writing books). • Degree in Classics and French, worked for Amnesty International, later unemployed. • Idea for Harry Potter came to her on a train, she wrote first book on lunch breaks and while unemployed. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone • Plot: Harry discovers he’s a wizard; goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; makes friends and enemies; thwarts Voldemort’s plan to return to power; is saved from death by power of Mother’s Love. • Religious Themes: special birth, marked destiny, good vs evil, sacrificial love, trial by fire (purification of the soul) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets • Plot: Harry returns to Hogwarts, discovers the Chamber of Secrets, battles Tom Riddle/Voldemort, is saved by Ffawkes (phoenix) • Religious Themes: good vs evil, demonic possession, sacrificial love, death/resurrection symbolism… Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban • Plot: Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, hunts Harry; Dementors hunt Black (and Harry); true traitor is revealed • Religious Themes: good vs evil, dangers of doing/using evil for “good” purposes, spiritual defense against “demons” of hopelessness, despair… Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire QuickTime™ and a Sorenson Video 3 decompressor are needed to see this picture. • Plot: Voldemort has returned, Death Eaters grow in power, Harry’s name entered into TriWizard Tournament, battles Voldemort in graveyard, saved by ghosts of parents. • Religious themes: good vs evil, spiritual champion, sacrificial love, grace... Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix • Plot: The Order of the Phoenix resists Lord Voldemort, Harry is tormented at school, takes occlumency lessons from Snape, is lured into trap trying to save Sirius; battles death eaters and Voldemort, Sirius is killed; Dumbledore reveals a Prophesy • Religious Themes: good vs evil, prophesy, predestination, Dark night of the soul… Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince • Plot: Potter uses a potions textbook owned by “half-blood Prince” to excel at potions; suspects Draco of being a death eater; learns about Voldemort’s early years; discovers Voldemort has split his soul into seven pieces; works with Dumbledore to retrieve pieces; commits to leave school to pursue quest after Dumbledore’s fall. • Religious Themes: good vs evil, sacrificial love, faith… Harry Potter and Religious Communities - the controversy • The main issue: the books deal with magic and witchcraft, which are forbidden in the Bible does the presence of magic and witchcraft in these books mean that they are advocating the practice of magic by Christian children? • This question often takes three main forms… Harry Potter Book Burning Harry Potter and Religious Communities - Issue #1: Fantasy vs Reality? • Is the world of Harry Potter presented as a fantasy world, or as a “real” world? • Is it different from The Chronicles of Narnia in this way? • If a fantasy world, (read: “completely fictional, imaginative, no connection to real world” - does the challenge of Harry Potter in terms of religious response go away? • If the world of Harry Potter is presented as a “real” world, what “threat” might Harry Potter present? • Can children tell the difference between “fantasy” and “reality”? Fantasy vs Reality • The “slippery slope” argument - admiring witches and wizards in fiction leads to admiring them in real life? • The “quacks like a duck” argument - if its called witchcraft, involves spells and potions, and talking to ghosts, it is exactly what God has forbidden, no matter what context it is found in…? Fantasy vs Reality • The Satanism argument If Satan is a real force, out to snare unwary minds with all tools at his disposal, wouldn’t this include fantasy novels… (especially ones that idealize witchcraft?) Fantasy novels as tools of Satan? Issue #2 - Good vs Evil • Is Harry Potter really a “good” guy? Is Harry Potter a role model to follow, or one to avoid at all costs? • If he’s a role model to follow, what characteristics does he display that are admirable? • If he’s not, what characteristics does he display that make him a bad role model to be avoided? Good vs Evil • WWHPD? Can you (should you) use Harry Potter as a guide for making life choices? • Harry Potter as a modern-day “Grimm’s Fairy Tale”? • Cosmic good vs evil, vs everyday good & evil - lack of black and white boundaries on everyday level undermine boundaries on cosmic level? Issue #3 Secular vs Religious? • Are the Harry Potter novels, (and Harry Potter’s world) secular or religious? • Most challenged books three years running (1999-2001), over 400 challenges on religious grounds. • Can any set of books that can be seen as both a set of guidelines for Christian children to follow, AND a slippery slope down to Satanism and the Occult, NOT have some religious dimensions? Secular vs Religious • What is the nature of magic in Harry Potter?