PowerPoint Presentation - Harry Potter and Religion

The Harry Potter
• 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,
• 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
• 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
• 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
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• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
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
Secular vs Religious
• What is the
nature of
magic in