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Boston Globe Examines Relationship Between Harry Potter and Religion

HP References
Posted by: Edward
August 19, 2009, 11:31 AM

The Boston Globe has published a lengthy article regarding the growing acceptance of the Harry Potter books among the religious communities and scholars.  Citing the advancing moderate views by a number of religious scholars and theologians, the article relates their argument that the Harry Potter books "contain positive ethical messages and a narrative arc that is worthy of serious scholarly examination and even theological reflection."  These messages, the article continues, speak to two issues closely examined by people of faith - morality and mortality - as well as issues of tolerance, acceptance, the fight between good an evil, among others.

Russell W. Dalton, an assistant professor of Christian education at Brite Divinity School in Texas, relates his thoughts on the growing religious acceptance of the books by saying:

"When stories become as popular as the Harry Potter stories, they no longer simply reflect the religious views of the author, but become artifacts of the culture, and they say something about the culture that has embraced them.  And that is certainly the case with Harry Potter."
The piece continues, noting particular elements of social commentary found in the Harry Potter books, specifically tolerance, shown by 'Harry's refusal to take part in the anti-Muggle bias demonstrated by some pure-blood witches and wizards.'  Lana A. Whited, an English Professor at Ferrum College in Virginia, is quoted as saying, "One of the overall themes of the Harry Potter series has to do with race and race-based persecution."  Mr. Dalton echos this sentiment by saying "To Dumbledore and Harry and his friends... it didn't matter whether you were Muggle-born, or whether you were a giant, whereas clearly the Death Eaters, the evil ones, were intolerant of people who were unlike them."

This lengthy piece goes on to cover a number of other subjects, ideas, and arguments regarding the relationship between Potter and religious thought.  The article concludes on the topic of life and death, good and evil; subjects found throughout the Harry Potter series.  Lois Shepherd, a bioethicist at the University of Virginia, is quoted as saying:
"Death, in the philosophy of the series, is not to be feared.  It is in fact those who fear death the most - Voldemort being the supreme example - who engage in unspeakable acts of evil."
The full Boston Globe article can be read via this link.

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77 Comments

Noavatar-thumb
34 Points

Maybe JK was just using a familiar story plot so that we might more easily identify with Harry’s journey. Good morality doesn’t always have to be religious; religion just seems to be the easiest vehicle for it! I definitely want to know what JK thinks of this article!

Posted by amberleigh on August 20, 2009, 12:36 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
34 Points

Maybe JK was just using a familiar story plot so that we might more easily identify with Harry’s journey. Good morality doesn’t always have to be religious; religion just seems to be the easiest vehicle for it! I definitely want to know what JK thinks of this article!

Posted by amberleigh on August 20, 2009, 12:37 AM report to moderator
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34 Points

sorry for the double post!

Posted by amberleigh on August 20, 2009, 12:38 AM report to moderator
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362 Points

Thank you! Open minded religious folk DO exist. I was beginning to wonder…

Posted by fantasylover12001 on August 20, 2009, 01:08 AM report to moderator
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879 Points

Wow, Brite Divinity School is part of my university xD

Posted by deadtree ♥WBM♥ on August 20, 2009, 02:14 AM report to moderator
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28 Points

Intresting… but at the same time not suprising.
Anyone with an open mind would be have been able to see from the very first book that the Harry Potter story was about the power of Love, tolerance, and friendship.
After seven books and countless copies the world over, the ‘Religious Right’ finally ‘get it’.
If you can’t beat them… join them.

Posted by LordAramis on August 20, 2009, 02:24 AM report to moderator
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1373 Points

I’m really happy to read it! That’s a good news! I remember the woman Melissa Anelli was talking about in her book. The woman who was against Harry Potter because according to her the whole story of JKR was anti-religious. Her name was Laura Malloy or something alike.

Posted by Pollytomat on August 20, 2009, 05:49 AM report to moderator
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4852 Points

thank you!!!!!!!!

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on August 20, 2009, 08:26 AM report to moderator
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4852 Points

its really great to find lots of important people who have lots of power really like HP and find all the moral and good stuff in it!

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on August 20, 2009, 08:28 AM report to moderator
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654 Points

thats cool. its kind of like c.s. lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”
And HP almost has become its own religion!

Posted by mjkalldaway (ROAR) on August 20, 2009, 08:33 AM report to moderator
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556 Points

i read the whole article….its so interesting and logical…

Posted by Astha on August 20, 2009, 08:54 AM report to moderator
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770 Points

I like that they are finally discussing the good messages of Harry Potter. The last Harry Potter vs. religion article I read talked of how bad it is to engage in witchcraft. I think the fact Harry is a wizard creates the interest, and regardless if they can do magic, there are good wizards and bad wizards in the Harry Potter universe, showing it’s not magic that’s bad, but how people use it. I think it’s interesting in some of the articles I’ve read about this topic. In one they talk about Hermione, a morally strong character, using questionable magic to control others (petrificus totalus on Neville in the Philosopher’s Stone), but she uses it in order to stop evil (Voldemort). I think if you look at the magic as pure fantasy and fun (Harry Potter being well-known for getting people to read) there are a lot of good messages and I’m glad people who attack Harry Potter as being inappropriate due to witchcraft are beginning to see that.

Posted by crazyforSeverus on August 20, 2009, 09:28 AM report to moderator
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As Harry himself would say, “Caught on, have you? Took you long enough…” :)

Posted by Cibele on August 20, 2009, 09:31 AM report to moderator
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332 Points

Cibele that was funny!!
Well, I am Christian and I think that there is nothing bad about Harry Potter. I was furious when I read the previous article about Harry Potter vs. Religion. Harry Potter is about friendship, loyalty, love, sacrifice and good against evil. I am glad that some people have finally opened up their minds!

Posted by Hermione_Granger1987 on August 20, 2009, 11:31 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
523 Points

“Citing the advancing moderate views by a number of religious scholars and theologians…”
Most of these scholars and theologians have always held this view but that isn’t exciting enough to publish in our media, is it?
I am episcopalian and most priests I have talked enjoy the books. But when one of them was called for an interview before a book release and told the reporter this, the reporter was no longer interested in the interview.
I would also like to point out that those of you bashing “those religious people” are being just as judgemental as those few who are judging our beloved books.

Posted by Jennibelle on August 20, 2009, 12:53 PM report to moderator
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