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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is Harry Potter true?

Page update: 21.07.07

Flutterby: You've got all the Harry Potter books out, I see.
Alcuin: Yes. I'm speaking to a parents' reading circle on Friday. They want me to talk about the spirituality of the Potter canon.
Flutterby: It's interesting that many adults are almost as keen on Harry Potter as their children are.
Alcuin: Yes. What do you think, Flutterby? Is Harry Potter true?
Flutterby: Certainly.
Alcuin: Yes, I've come to the same conclusion.
Flutterby: The Harry Potter canon metaphorates some very important spiritual truths.
Alcuin: I agree. And the refreshing thing is that it does that without being religious.
Flutterby: God is not religious.
Alcuin: No. He's not that silly.
Flutterby: Or that cruel.
Alcuin: No. Or that exclusive.
Flutterby: No.
Alcuin: In contradistinction, God is sensible, kind and inclusive.
Flutterby: Can you name a single extant religion on your planet which is sensible, kind and inclusive?
Alcuin: I'd have to look hard. Tibetan Buddhism, I suppose. And the more intelligent type of middle-of-the road Anglicanism.
Flutterby: And some of the progressive Mormon groups are getting there.
Alcuin: Yes. But you're right, Flutterby. Most major extant religions on this planet are front operations for spiritual fascism.
Flutterby: And control.
Alcuin: And spiritual disinformation.
Flutterby: And so are their official scriptures, unfortunately.
Alcuin: Is Harry Potter scripture?
Flutterby: Yes.
Alcuin: I didn't expect you to say that. I was being provocative.
Flutterby: You've heard the same thing said yourself at conferences.
Alcuin: That's true. It has sometimes been suggested that the Harry Potter books function as de facto scriptures for unchurched children.
Flutterby: Who says that?
Alcuin: Non-Christian education professionals mostly. They sometimes speak in these terms – particularly those who work in the literacy domain, teaching children to read or teaching teachers to teach children to read, or those active as librarians or training people in librarianship. They speak of children having a reverence for the Harry Potter texts that is biblical / scriptural in nature. Many children study and re-read the texts obsessively, learn and quote key passages, insist on fidelity to the text when challenged by grown-ups on matters of detail, and pray to the leading characters in the books for guidance and help at times of personal crisis – especially those which have to do with bullying or dysfunctional relationships with teachers or parents.
Flutterby: I can understand that. It's good.
Alcuin: I suppose that the Harry Potter books could not have been so extraordinarily successful without the active support of the Holy Spirit?
Flutterby: No. Or without the active support of those benign influences which, in your human religious culture, are often referred to as the Holy Spirit.
Alcuin: It seems to me, Flutterby, that if Harry Potter is scripture, it should be possible to identify a number of short texts from the books which substantiate this assessment.
Flutterby: Fair comment. How about looking at the very beginning of Book 1?
Alcuin: Right. OK, here we are. Book 1: “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.” (HP1 – 1:7)
Flutterby: The exegesis is fairly straightforward there, isn't it?
Alcuin: Is it?
Flutterby: Well, let's have a think. These are the opening lines of the Harry Potter canon. The reader is introduced to the existence of a comfortable, complacent and self-congratulatory human mindset which regards the spiritual world as nonsense.
Alcuin: “Number four, Privet Drive” is comfortable.
Flutterby: Yes. And “proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” is complacent and self-congratulatory.
Alcuin: OK. And “anything strange or mysterious” is a reference to the spiritual world.

Flutterby: That is a coherent reader-response, I would have thought.
Alcuin: Yes. And perhaps the Bible makes a similar point, though less elliptically, when it says: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” (Ps 14:1a – NIV)

Flutterby: Good point. The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no spiritual world.’ The Harry Potter canon controverts that idea strenuously. The Harry Potter canon says that there definitely is a spiritual world. And it's fun. And it's accessible. And it's non-religious.


Is Harry Potter the Son of God?
A Mugglenet editorial by Abigail BeauSeigneur

Harry Potter's magical tale might be truer to life than you think
Some ideas from Jennifer Vineyard on

Harry Potter's Magic and the Market: What are Youth Learning about Gender, Race, and Class?
Robin Truth Goodman writes in the University of Louisville Journal

Harry Potter and the recessive allele
Thoughts on the genetics of Wizards and Muggles

Harry Potter and the Bible
An essay by Lisa Cherrett

The Harry Potter books and movies - charming stories or a demonic plot?
A resource page compiled by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

The Fundamentalist anti-reaction to Harry Potter
1 .. 2 .. 3 .. 4

The Harry Potter Lexicon
A complete encyclopedia of the Harry Potter Universe

Chapter by chapter synopses of the Harry Potter books
Summaries by William Sylvester, Maureen Knight and John Kearns at The Harry Potter Lexicon


Kristianne Wych Christian Wicca

Understanding the New Age Children

Teen issues

No such thing

Why is church so serious?

A symbol for the New Age


Index of blog contents

Spirituality websites worth watching


Adrian said...

Now I have to read Harry Potter. When I was a boy, I think I looked to Frank Herbert's Dune as my unofficial, non-feligious religious bible.

Gwyn Calvetti said...

Interesting take on the whole Potter phenomenon. Much more refreshing than all those who would like to see it removed from school libraries!