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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

Harry-potter-stars_thumb
3187 Points

I’m really glad a piece was done on this issue. People really seem to be opening up their minds and coming around. I definitely like to see this :)

Posted by harrygetsme on August 20, 2009, 01:27 PM report to moderator
Da1a_thumb
1749 Points

I read the article on Sunday…thought it very ironic compared to what used to be said about the books. I never thought they needed to be judged by how they relate to religion….but JKR does say (in the article) that she thought the religious themes were hard to miss.

Erin

Posted by Rin68nyr on August 20, 2009, 08:16 PM report to moderator
R_film_02trio_study_thumb
39 Points

It’s great to hear that theologians and religious scholars are giving a reassessment of the Harry Potter series. I am a devout Christian, and I have never believed that the HP series are a substitute to the Bible. However, I do feel that they take themes from the Bible which only strengthen my religious beliefs. Contrary to teaching wickedness and evil, the books, in my opinion, discourage evil and show the choices people must make in choosing sides. I have been disappointed in fellow Christians who have burned the books, and have said awful things about them. Yes, there is witchcraft, potions, flying, and other magical happenings which are condemned by the Bible. But if people can look beyond the magic, they can find a story that reflects some values from the Bible, including risking your life by choosing good over evil. Again, the books should not be used as a substitute or supplement to the Bible, but they can be used to encourage morality, goodness, etc., which values Christians and non-Christians alike should aspire to.

Posted by LoyalGryffindor90 on August 20, 2009, 09:48 PM report to moderator
R_film_02trio_study_thumb
39 Points

Sorry for double-posting, but I have to say that I personally never experienced opposition to Harry Potter. This never occurred in my church or elsewhere. I only saw such opposition on television, and in occasional new reports. That alone should show how minimal the opposition is. I feel that the books are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and if I read the Bible word for word, I’m sure there will be parallel’s between Biblical stories and HP. At any rate, it didn’t take long for me to separate the magic from the moral and spiritual lessons.

Posted by LoyalGryffindor90 on August 20, 2009, 09:59 PM report to moderator
I-quote_hogwarts0144_thumb
3987 Points

Some of this sounds pretty true and I’m glad it’s positive for once. Harry Potter does have some very good moral messages about death, love, good & evil, and I feel I’ve learned a lot from it …

Posted by BewareoftheNargles {WBM} on August 21, 2009, 07:27 AM report to moderator
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6690 Points

printing it out so i can read it later…that picture on the article is hysterical! lol

Posted by levi-OH-sa, not levio-SA [neville♥myhero] on August 21, 2009, 11:26 AM report to moderator
Greenavatar_thumb
16484 Points

Oh, it’s so nice to see an article written by people who actually know what they’re talking about, who are Christians and scholars, yet have read the books and approve of them. Because people who criticize without even reading the series just makes me wonder at how stubbornly ridiculously irrational people can be …

Avpm_15_by_cuttlefishbella_thumb
4630 Points

Interesting.. I, personally, have never noticed the religious themes, except the qoutes on the gravestones in Godric’s Hollow. I wish people could just see that this IS just a book.

Posted by Live Laugh Love Potter ♥ROAR♥ on August 22, 2009, 09:57 AM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
53 Points

Amazing finally an article that really shows the true feelings of informative religious readers who read for enjoyment.
A real Christian will always enjoy reading books that entertain and give an opposing view to bigotry in any form.
HP is a book I read alongside the Bible, Bill Cosby, etc. Those who called JK an anti Christ are the ones who will not be in heaven ( judge not lest you be judged) and thank GOD for that.
Oh did I mention that I am an ordained pentecostal minister in the COGIC.

Posted by jerseypopopx6 on August 22, 2009, 07:26 PM report to moderator
Ml_ico_thumb
48 Points
As, is quoted: "Rowling herself, in the wake of the final book’s publication, says she thought the religious themes had “always been obvious,”

Given this, why is this now “news?” Come now, friends, haven’t you sought out other HP resources which have been bearing this out all these years? My other fave podcast has been having fun sharing these connections since 2005!

BTW, the opening citation was not only a quote lifted out of context but also an incomplete quote. As has been stated, if the news isn’t controversial, it isn’t news. Leave it to an HP connection to show us that better reporting still exists.

Posted by DartFrog on August 22, 2009, 08:30 PM report to moderator
1956p_thumb
3481 Points

at last they have started to understand what hp fans had seen since the beginning

Posted by cleber*ROAR!* on August 24, 2009, 03:24 PM report to moderator
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44 Points

Most western literature contains so-called religious themes because politics and religion have fused various times over hundreds of years to the point where it is integrated into most of our world’s cultures. However, I prefer to regard the Harry series as spiritual (containing ethics and religion-based moral tales) and ethical rather than religious per se, which can often refer to the blind adherence to a particular faith. You can be religious and spiritual, you can be spiritual and you can be religious without being spiritual. I think it rather presumptuous to presume that all moral and ethical behavior (loyalty, choosing others over one’s self, kindness, honesty, etc.) is necessarily religious. As many athiests and agnostics embody those characteristics as “religious” people.

I will say that the rather loudmouth Religous=Blind Dogma types who are a significant minority were given far too much press in light of the fact that most people who consider themselves religious are moderate free-thinkers who did like Harry Potter, or at least thought it was nonsense to believe the books were somehow Satanic. The only so-called religious person I knew that disapproved of Harry was very proud to state that he had never read any of the books. His wife and son, however, had no problem buying and reading them. :)

Posted by Calamity Jamie on August 24, 2009, 11:26 PM report to moderator
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44 Points

“presumptious to presume….” ::sigh:: if only I had read more carefully before posting that redundancy. Sorry.

Posted by Calamity Jamie on August 24, 2009, 11:28 PM report to moderator
Avatar_hp_thumb
4024 Points

This is so great! I love that they have some positive news concerning religion and Harry Potter.

(Ha ha, Laura Mallory!!!)

Msn_thumb
586 Points

I’m happy this isn’t ANOTHER negative artical :)

Posted by HermioneRon4ever on August 29, 2009, 07:20 PM report to moderator
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