Christianity and Harry Potter have had a complicated relationship from the beginning. Scary words like "wizards" and "magic" have resulted in banning the novels in numerous locations throughout the U.S. and caused strong opposition by Christians to the book series and its author, J.K. Rowling.
I have a different opinion.
I grew up in a Christian family. At the age of five, my dad introduced me to the first Harry Potter book. He read it aloud to me and then continued to read each book with me until the final book was released. I could have easily read the last few on my own, but we wanted to finish the series together. It is one of my best memories of childhood and this series will always hold a special place in my heart.
My response to the haters: It's just a STORY, people! It's a beautifully written piece of FICTION that explores themes such as friendship, loyalty, and love.
And let me just point out that The Chronicles of Narnia, a popular book series authored by C.S. Lewis and traditionally adored by Christians, has loads of magic in it! What makes this series so praiseworthy by the faithful while Rowling's is often scorned?
Some may say that it's simply because C.S. Lewis was a self-professed born again Christian with evangelical leanings while J.K. Rowling has said nothing of the sort. However, Rowling herself has pointed out the Christian ideals she purposely wove into the story saying, "To me, the religious parallels have always been obvious."
The main themes of the Harry Potter series are that love is the strongest power there is and that light will always triumph over darkness.
Um ... *cough cough* ... excuse me? How does this not directly relate to the lessons that Jesus taught?
The answer: It totally does!
Without giving too much away (but I mean, come on, if you haven't read these books or at least seen the movies by now, what are you doing with your life?), Harry is protected by his mother's love. He is protected from death at the hands of a truly evil wizard simply because of his mother's love.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)
In both, love defeats death.
We are all imperfect beings, but we also have the free will to choose to do good things and spread goodness in the world. Some of us do this because we believe it is the will of God. Others do this simply out of kind-heartedness directed toward our fellow man. Either way, every one of us will make mistakes, and sometimes we think our mistakes will define us. But, what truly matters is that we strive to improve the world around us and continue to choose what is right over and over again.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry's godfather teaches Harry this very thing. He says, "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are."
Throughout the books, friendship is an element of paramount importance. Harry depends on the people around him both to give him strength and to lean on. Without his friends, Harry would not have succeeded in overcoming any of the obstacles he faced and would certainly have become a much darker individual without their endless love and support. By their example, we are taught the same lesson as Proverbs teaches: "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24, NIV)
Religion aside, ALL of these things are good things. No matter what you believe or don't believe, nothing but goodness is taken from the lessons in these books. So, how can we not support these ideals? Not to mention, it's a really cool story about some awesome wizards in an epic battle of good vs. evil with the addition of romance and dragons and lovable house elves.
If you have been reluctant to read the Harry Potter series because of negative criticism directed at the fictional themes of witchcraft and magic, I encourage you to keep an open mind. Give Harry a chance! He won't let you down. He's certainly stuck with me all these years.
And will I continue to cherish this story and the beautiful memories surrounding it?