To many devout believers, regardless of the denomination, Harry Potter anything is typically frowned upon. With the magic, evil wizards and overall just plain absence of God in the series' books or their film adaptation, it's no wonder why some people don't necessarily want their children watching it. I've been a believer since I was a young child and I've also been a fan of Harry Potter for almost as long as I could read. While this series definitely features its share of ghosts and dark creatures, it's nowhere near as controversial as other movies featuring the same thing, like The Grudge, or Insidious. So that leads me to think that there must be something deeper than the magic that resonates with such a wide audience of viewers; believers and non-believers alike. The entire series and the film adaptations are full of Christian themes that we'll examine more thoroughly.
To begin, we'll start with Lord Voldemort, the main reason Harry's life is the way it is. When Voldemort was Harry's age in school, he was no doubt one of the most promising students there. But he was power hungry; he constantly sought power and it wasn't enough for him to have the long life that many wizards and witches had; he wanted to be immortal and was willing to do anything to get it. So, similar to the way Satan and several other angels fell from God's grace and into Hell, Voldemort and his followers fell from the high pedestal they were once placed on by their peers and professors, specifically Albus Dumbledore, the proclaimed “Leader of the Light”....like Christ, but with much more flaws. Voldemort and his followers committed almost every crime imaginable and often had to use coercion or manipulation to get others to join their cause. On his journey to seeking immortality, Voldemort overheard a prophecy which said that a child born at the end of July would have the power to defeat him. Believing this child to be Harry, Voldemort tracked his parents relentless until he found them in their home after they had been betrayed by a friend, Peter Pettigrew, also known as Judas of Iscariot. When Voldemort found them in their home, he immediately killed Harry's father, and when he ordered Harry's mother, who was using her body as a shield in front of Harry's crib, to step aside, she refused and he killed her anyway. When he turned his wand on Harry, the curse backfired and harmed him instead. What Harry' mother did is similar to what Christ has done for us time and time again. He had every opportunity to forgo the pain and persecution and crucifixion, but He chose to die for us anyway. We learn later on in the series that Harry's mother's sacrifice is what continues to protect him as he encounters Voldemort, just like we're covered under the blood of Jesus.
So in trying to kill Harry, Voldemort only ends up damaging himself and is ripped from his body where he spends the next decade and a half as a spirit wandering in Albania (of all places). When Harry is reintroduced to the wizarding world, he learns the true reason his parents died and as signs start pointing towards Voldemort making a return, everyone looks to Harry as the “chosen one” and savior of the wizarding world. When Voldemort returns for good, there are some people that believe Harry, but there are more that mock him. Jesus's life was centered around teaching the gospel and facing persecution from the non-believers, much like Harry's was when he told them of Voldemort's return. We see time and time again throughout the series how Harry encounters Voldemort and it seems like he'll finally meet his end and yet he manages to get away. As followers of Christ, this is our life on the daily basis, although considerably much less cinematic and with no wand-waving magic involved.
Eventually, when Voldemort publicly makes his return, Harry realizes that he must begin his journey of setting out to destroy Voldemort. He leaves school with his two best friends and together they piece together the puzzle that is to destroy Voldemort. This is similar to what Jesus did; when it was time for Him to begin His ministry, He left His parent's house, and with His twelve disciples, He set out to spread the gospel. Like Jesus, like his parents, Harry also experienced his fair share of betrayal. His friend's father was willing to hand him over to Voldemort, and for a while, his best friend Ron turned his back on him. When the series reaches its turning point during a battle in Hogwarts, students that Harry went through six years of schooling with tried to hand him over to Voldemort. Eventually, Harry takes it upon himself to willingly give himself to Voldemort. He meets Voldemort in the forest for a final time and willingly allows himself to be killed.
But because he's the main character and there are several chapters left in the book, he doesn't die. Instead we learn that when Harry willing to die for all of the people in the wizarding world was akin to his mother dying for him. Harry doesn't die, rather another part of Voldemort dies and Harry returns from “limbo”. This resonates heavily with Christ willingly allowing Himself to be beaten, mocked, and hung on a cross where He died. However, on the third day, He rose again to continue doing His work. This is exactly what Harry did. When they discovered Jesus's tomb empty, they questioned where he was. While Voldemort was distracted and exclaiming that he had killed Harry Potter, Harry hides under his invisibility cloak as everyone questions where he is. In the end, the two fight and Harry destroys Voldemort for good.
I started reading Harry Potter when I was in second grade and read the last book for the first time in seventh grade. Since then, I've reread it close to thirty times and each one, I struggle with the concept that this is classified as a children's series. There are themes of classism, racism, sexism, the concept of children and orphans of war, a corrupt government and many more social injustice issues that arise as the series progresses. Of course, the way the media presents Harry Potter makes it hard see if you don't know what you're looking for. I'm sure that more teachers would be more likely to teach Harry Potter in their classrooms if they understood how useful it could when teaching themes like the ones listed above. I'm sure the fact that this is all centered around a world of magic make it much easier to just pass it off a something fun for kids, which it is, as well as a way to sell merchandise, but I believe it is so much more.