Harry Potter as Jesus Christ

Harry Potter as Jesus Christ

Now that the final Harry Potter movie has been released, this means author J.K. Rowling's fourteen-reign of terror has finally ended. And it means that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of wayward Christians who were seduced into the magical world of the boy wizard will finally give up on their heresy and come back the church.

Of course, both of those things never happened in the first place, but I would be interested to see if any of the scores of panicked adults who decried the Harry Potter books and movies feel slightly foolish about their jeremiads against popular entertainment. Well, that might be wishing for too much because these reactionaries don't do much deep thinking in the first place. Maybe they were offended that the Harry Potter fantasy was more compelling and interesting than their own.

In any case, there's so much Christian symbolism in the Harry Potter universe that as a Christian, why wouldn't one be proud? No matter what J.K. Rowling personally believes, her story is ultimately one about good fighting evil and eventually triumphing. Despite if you think the books are low brow writing or not, the motifs are woven into the story very well and carry over into the movies. A committed Christian who--gasp!--likes also to have a fun time at the movies outside of "The Passion of the Christ," can easily identify the theme of sacrifice and redemption, even without the usual garb.

Case in point: in the final film (and by now, who hasn't either seen the movie or read the books?), Harry essentially dies. Awakened in what he thinks is King's Cross station (get it?), he meets his deceased mentor, Albus Dumbledore, where all relevant plot points are revealed, including one telling line. As Harry learns of the facts behind Dumbledore's death at the hands of nemesis Severus Snape, the latter accuses the former of "raising Harry to be a pig to a slaughter." Harry must die, Dumbledore says, in order for the series arch villain, Lord Voldemort, to be vanquished.

When I saw this part, I thought: Dumbledore is God the Father, Harry the Son, and Snape the Holy Spirit. Each of them has played a role where all of the actions are guided to get to the crucial point. Is Harry ready to die? He says he must, although he is fearful of it. He has spent the entire series grappling with his final destiny, and he resists the temptation to flee. In the end, he is killed, but comes back (by what agency we don't know) and has a final confrontation with Lord Voldemort.

Any Christian would immediately seize on these elements and could actually be buoyed by them. Rather than being repulsed, it's a reaffirmation of what he knows. Good does triumph, but only with the ultimate sacrifice. And most touchingly, when Harry realizes he possess the most powerful wand ever created, what does he do? He breaks it in half and throws it off the side of a rampart. Good looking and smart, one might say. He's humble to the end because ultimate power does not interest him.

It's too bad these motifs won't be cherished by Christians as a way of showing how universal they are. Instead, the same tired accusations are trotted out: that the Harry Potter movies and books promote witchcraft, denigrate Christianity, blah blah blah. Of course, if this series had been written by C.S. Lewis, the tune would be very different.

But no matter, I suppose. This franchise is one of the first that manages to keep any religious messages well coded yet obvious to those intrigued by them. Serious Christians who want to keep tabs on what their kids see and read would do well to consider viewing the books with this in mind, rather than making it forbidden fruit.