My Take: Why we’re drawn to Harry Potter’s theology
July 13th, 2011
11:29 AM ET

My Take: Why we’re drawn to Harry Potter’s theology

Editor's Note: Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is an ordained Episcopal Church priest and is author of "God and Harry at Yale: Faith and Fiction in the Classroom."

By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Special to CNN

It’s been 13 years since the first Harry Potter book landed on store shelves and provoked some Christian conservatives to begin voicing opposition to J.K. Rowling’s world of wizardry.

“Let me say something about Harry Potter. Warlocks are enemies of God,” said Becky Fischer, a Pentecostal pastor featured in a documentary called Jesus Camp. “And I don’t care what kind of hero they are, they’re an enemy of God."

“Had it been in the Old Testament,” Fischer continued, “Harry Potter would have been put to death. You don’t make heroes out of warlocks.”

First reviews of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2'

I was a graduate student at Yale when I first heard words like these, and it made me want to delve deeper into the nexus of Harry and Christianity, to see whether the books really were heretical.

So I decided to pitch a class on the subject to Yale, where I continue to teach on the intersection between Christian Theology and Harry Potter.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently about the class is what makes the Harry Potter series so spiritually rich. My sense is that, unlike some other famously theologically driven books, like "The Chronicles of Narnia" or "The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter" is less interested in teaching doctrine than in asking questions of ultimate meaning:

How can a person—wizard or Muggle (Rowling’s term for non-wizards)—respond to evil?

Is it possible to maintain relationships with those beyond the grave, just like Harry sought to have a relationship with his deceased parents?

Is it worth believing in God or, for those in Harry’s world, love, without evidence of its transformative power?

These are the questions to which Harry seeks answers throughout the series, most explicitly in "The Deathly Hallows," part 2 of which opens in movie theaters on Friday. (I tell my students that not for nothing does Harry play Seeker on Gryffindor’s Quidditch team, Quidditch being the wizarding world’s sport of choice.)

J.K. Rowling: 'Never say never' to more 'Potter'

Yet these are also the questions that motivated Rowling — who was struggling with her mother’s recent death — to write the series in the first place. Indeed, they’re the questions asked by all who seek a deeper understanding of our world.

In other words, the reason the Harry Potter series resonates with so many is that Harry’s journey is our journey; what he seeks, we seek.

But is what we find heretical, as some Christians have claimed?

The first winter I taught at Yale, I was a true seeker. I had moved out of my cozy attic apartment and into my parents’ home after doctors diagnosed my father with a rare neurological disease called Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS).

PLS is similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, the illness from which J.K. Rowlings’ mother suffered. Like those diseases, PLS is progressive and incurable, immobilizing the muscles without affecting the mind.

Driving home from class one day, alone in my car, I found myself overwhelmed by my father’s illness, by the pained look in his eyes as he struggled to cut food with a knife, by the anxiety that plagued my mother.

And then I thought of Harry Potter.

Each week, I’d been asking my Yale students to look at Harry’s journey and to determine the significance of that journey for them. In that moment, I wondered about the significance the books held for me. Could they offer consolation, and would that consolation be antithetical to Christian faith?

In the car that day, I remembered the end of "The Deathly Hallows," when Harry, walking towards his nemesis Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, finds himself surrounded by those who died but who loved Harry well: his mentors, Sirius and Lupin, and his parents, James and Lily.

Lily speaks first: “You’ve been so brave.”

“You’ll stay with me?” Harry asks.

“Until the very end,” responds James.

In other words, it is community and love that see us through even the greatest losses. That’s the same for Rowling and for Christians, for whom God is love. It is friendship and faith that help us walk—or drive, as I was doing at that moment—bravely to our destiny.

In that, I found consolation.

In the new Potter film – reportedly the last in the Potter franchise – we’ll see Harry as a different kind of seeker, one who struggles with his faith. His mentor, Dumbledore, is absent in a time of evil, as the wizarding world is subjected to a Hitler-like campaign to abolish anyone not of pure wizarding descent. Meanwhile, the equivalent of a tabloid journalist has published a book smearing Dumbledore’s previously unadulterated reputation.

Though Dumbledore taught Harry that the only way to defeat Voldemort is through the power of love, that force has been seriously called into question. With subjugation and violence all around and with Dumbledore’s image smeared, love doesn’t seem much worth trusting.

As Harry wanders through the wizarding world, he must seek for himself what is worth trusting and what is not. And, without giving too much away, let me say that when his faith in love finally takes root, transformative things begin to happen.

As movie theatres reel the final film, and as we reflect on the years we shared with members of Dumbledore’s Army, perhaps this is the takeaway: Seek.

Seek with all your heart and all your soul and with your closest friends by your side.

If you do, you may find yourself on an unpredictable path to places you never knew existed. You may meet people so unlike you that they could be properly called a centaur and you a house elf. You may walk into a dark and forbidden forest. You may battle your greatest enemy.

Through all of that, you may very well find love. And at the end, you may conclude, as J.K. Rowling did, that “All was well.” Kind of sounds like Christianity, doesn't it?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Movies • Opinion

soundoff (703 Responses)
  1. RaedRae

    I have read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the movies. I was rasied Catholic (don't practice anymore). The books to me are about good versus evil and how good triumphs over evil. It's about freindship and caring about those you love and doing what you have to to make sure they are safe and the world is safe from evil. Which I guess you could relate that to God, but I don't see it. Just because something bad happens in or lives does not mean we always turn to God or have to for that matter.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Vonnie


      I really have to disagree with you, mainly b/c the Bible disagrees with you. We don't need or have to turn to God when something bad happens? Who else do you turn to if you not God? There is nothing or noone above him in knowledge, wisdom, love, etc...

      I. Peter 5:7 – Cast ALL your cares...
      Matthew 11:28 – ...come ALL who are burdened

      God cares and wants us to turn to him. If we could handle all of life's challenges by ourselves there wouldn't be need for anxiety meds, or sleeping pills, or psychologists. There wouldn't be suicides and homicides. Where there is disorder, God brings order and where there is unrest, God's provides his peace. Be encouraged and don't be deceived by a little truth. Know the whole truth, Harry Potters gives little light to the truth.

      July 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  2. Tom Roberts

    Ms. Tumminio is right about one thing. The Christian God is Love. However, he is also holy and just and unchanging. He made it very clear to the nation of Isreal (the ancesters of the Church) that sorcery is evil. This is repeated by the apostles. So, unfortunately, though Harry Potter's theology might sound somewhat like Christianity, it is clearly not the same.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Laughing

      You are dumb, when she says christianity is love, she's saying it in an analagous form, so it should read more like, Love in harry potter is like god in christianity.

      You're also an idiot for other reasons as well, but I knew I could at least help you on that point.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • HZD

      As a seminarian at a conservative seminary–I appeal to you; read the books before making that kind of comment. You might be surprised.

      Fantasy is not intended to reflect actual reality, and yelling pseudo-Latin phrases is not witchcraft.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Tom Roberts,
      I find it very interesting that the Bible forbids something which is impossible, i.e. witchcraft (and not the modern naturist version.) Why specify not to "suffer a witch to live" if there are no witches? Same for sorcery?

      I think I'll write a book on how to keep elves out of your cupboards... or perhaps get a law passed criminalizing the use of spells in the stock market.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • twolfhound

      Perhaps had Harry learned more spells such as turning normal liquids into alcohol and walking upon lakes it would be more acceptable to the Christian community?

      July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Jennifer M

      Jesus said "By their fruits, ye shall know them" – not "by their doctrine"

      July 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Next time someone produces fruit, I'll try to remember that. (I think that was a figurative "fruit".)

      July 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Ron

      The original translation was poisoner of wells. When King James got around to it, it became witchcraft/sorcery. Not even the same thing.

      July 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • John

      There is more truth in HP than in the bible.

      July 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  3. jofish

    As a secular humanist, I can just as easily (if not better) fit the messages of the Harry Potter series into my own world view. Take from it what you will.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Laughing

      Completely agree!

      Harry is all about love, friendship, fighting evil, acceptance...... I could go on and on. I think the only thing that harry unequivocally opposes is Voldemort. I wonder how long the list of "things religions hate" is, oh wait, found my bible, it's 2,427 pages.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL@Laughing! I agree with jofish too.

      July 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • W247

      Love is mentioned about 550 times in the bible where hate is mentioned only 80 times.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Laughing


      I think you're ignoring all the smiting, killing, raping, murdering, slavery, ect....

      Loving to kill would be counted in your 550 times yet I think we both agree that probably sends a bad message.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • W247

      Absolutely true, you need to take the words into context for both sides of the argument. There are incidences where the old testament talks about the Lords enemies "hating" Him and it also talks about the things that the Lord hates. The same with Love, how many times was the word love used to describe how the people loved themselves over loving the Lord?

      That would be a good word study. Let me know your results.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Laughing

      Thanks for the homework, but I've read the bible enough times to know that there's a fair amount of hate in and it pales in comparison to the loving good messages it also tries to present. I think I'll stick with my original statement

      July 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  4. Earl

    Something that I always notice in these forums. People who claim to not believe in Christianity attack it with a blood-lust whenever they are given a chance.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Luke

      Maybe because we're tired of being attacked by it from all angles, including from religious government officials.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • jofish

      And Christians don't tear down godless atheists and agnostics? Please.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Jessica

      While a lot of Christians do attack atheists and agnostics, there are a good portion of us who do not. I know I personally respect other people's beliefs and would like to have mine respected in return 🙂

      July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "People who claim to not believe in Christianity..."
      What are you trying to imply?

      July 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • twolfhound

      At the same time, there are plenty of agnostics that don't say anything against Christians. I think both sides are pretty evenly balanced and anyone pointing out the fault of the other side is pretty clear on which side they stand.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Matt Slick

      As a Christian apologist (www.carm.org), who is in constant contact with religious and secular issues via my website and radio show, I've noticed the same thing. Basically, no matter WHAT Christians do, they are attacked and then told that it is a defense of our attacks on them. This is a dangerous practice and demonstrates that the Liberal mind-set is simply wacked. They can't see past their own hypocrisy. Anyway, the occult is real and so is spiritual deception. In fact, God warns about the coming Great Deception (2 Thess. 2)...but it must be proceeded by a lot of little ones first. Society is moving towards secularism and its moral and truth relativism. Societies cannot survive that way.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      "Basically, no matter WHAT Christians do, they are attacked and then told that it is a defense of our attacks on them."

      Okay, I'm with you so far.

      "This is a dangerous practice and demonstrates that the Liberal mind-set is simply wacked. They can't see past their own hypocrisy."

      And you lost me... ::sigh:: I imagine you talk like this on your radio show, but then can't understand why you get so many angry responses. You incite the very response you're expecting, and are giving the other side the very examples they're expecting of you as a religious talk show host. I think you're stuck in a loop, my friend...

      July 13, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  5. Charles Baker Harris

    You'd think that, as a prerequisite for writing an article like this, the author would want to know something about the source material. LOTR was not theologically driven, as Tolkien routinely noted. And the concept of fuzzywarm love as the basis for Christian theology mischaracterizes and vastly oversimplifies that complex, difficult topic.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  6. RKT

    Interesting that Stars Wars and Star Trek have come up. Those sagas, along with Harry Potter, are powerful allegories, themes that have resonated in mythology and "belief" (however you want to define that) for centuries. Good vs. Evil. The "good hero" being flawed. Salvation. Justice. Betrayal. Trust. The importance of relationships to see us through hard times. A child who is "marked" at birth to play a unique role in an epic story. Special powers. I could go on, but the point is that humans have sought meaning to life for a long time, and epic stories–truth or fiction, or a truth that has evolved to fit our own needs–are one of the ways we have explained life to ourselves. Good stories do that.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Frogist

      @RKT: Are you saying Harry had high levels of mitochlorians? 😉

      July 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  7. BRod

    I'm a Christian and I got caught up in the anti-Harry Potter hype until I actually read the books for myself, and realized that the same Christians griping about HP, were the ones griping about He-Man and Care Bears and Rainbow Brite in the 80's. And that the magic in HP had nothing to do with real witchcraft, except for use of the word "witchcraft".

    I have read all the books and seen all the previous movies and am looking forward to seeing this last film.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • HZD

      Thank you!

      July 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Matt Slick

      Perhaps you, as a Christian, might want to read what the Bible actually SAYS about witchcraft. Lev. 19:26; 2 Kings 21:6, etc. "“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead," (Deut. 18:9-11). .... I wonder how long I will be allowed to post my opinions here? Will CNN decide my biblical defense and scriptures are not to be tolerated?

      July 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Settle down with the persecution complex.
      CNN's moderation filter is automatic – it has no bias against scripture.

      That being said – you may want to be careful about spouting Old Testament passages. Leviticus is full of rules and procsriptions that are simply absurd in the modern world.

      July 13, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Civiloutside

      Well, Matt, aside from the bit about burning kids, that passage was correct about no one who practices any of those things "shall be found among you." Because none of those things are real. Though the people who claim those practices are doing something bad, yes. That bad thing is lying/fraud, not magic.

      HP is an entirely fictional world where magic can be performed. The wizards ate not all inherently fraudsters like they would be in the real world. And in a world where magic actually existed, the difference between good and bad would be what you did with the magic, not merely the fact of using it.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Matt Slick,
      I does appear that the Bible is the authority on things that don't exist.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      ^ It does appear....

      July 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Michael

    Major similarity between harry potter and any given religion is a TON of unproven magic.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  9. prodigy

    I found it hilarious that morons like Becky Fischer the "pentecostal preacher" have labeled something like a "warlock" which is not real as an "enemy of god". Oh how the big picture eludes those deluded in their own moral certainty................ which ironically is one of the great moral themes of the new testament.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  10. The Other Guy

    Well, no matter how you feel at this, you have to agree that J.K. Rowling is a much better writer than whatever stuffy old priest wrote the Bible. Now, I've read all the Harry Potter books, and they were very good, and I could barely get past two pages of the Bible without passing out. Whether you think it's a holy book or not, you gotta admit that they should have done a better job writing it. And just to clarify, relgious wackos: you're missing out.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Thomas

      Just because the Bible is boring and difficult to read doesn't mean it's poorly written. LotR is a great series and I can't read it more than 2 pages at a time. It also doesn't help that the Bible has been translated from Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • John

      The main problem with the bible is that it is fiction portrayed as fact.

      July 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Ron

    I am truly sad that the series is ending. I enjoyed a great deal, enjoyed the lessons taught. It was a wonderful series and it did do a lot of good for many people. One of the biggest things it did was to get kids, especially boys, to read books again.
    That's a wonderful thing.

    Oh, and Becky Fischer is a moron. The word 'worlock' is an ancient word for oath breaker. It has nothing to do with the books at all. I'm also pretty sure she never read a single page but comes off with her self-righteous judgements...like that's something new...

    July 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Frogist

      Ron? I didn't know wizards knew how to use computers. Or did you send you message by owl?

      July 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ron

      Just to confuse the matter, all Wiccans are witches, male and female but not all witches are Wiccan. Wicca is the religion of the Witch. Witchcraft deals the practice of magic. Not all do both. In my tradition, I was trained in both.
      Yeah, i'm okay with computers but I'm really dangerous with them...I don't try to fix most things.
      Oh, and, my owl had a mid-air collision, His wing is in a sling for at least a month. :-p

      July 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ron

      Oh, and just to mention it, Harry Potter has absolutely nothing to do with Wicca.
      It's a wonderful set of fantasy books that teaches good can over come evil and besides & many more lessons but it also got girls and boys to read again, which is always a good thing!

      July 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Ron: Thanks for the lesson! Wing in a sling? Well that's Errol for you. Not the most reliable owl. Personally I prefer to use my tadpole minions when I send my post. It's not quick but it's slimey! My best to the rest of the Weasleys!

      July 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  12. JJ in CT

    Is the author saying the bible and Harry Potter have commonalities, as the LOTR and CON? Many literal works take cues from the bible. Is she saying Harry Potter is doing so as well?

    The question is: where did the bible take cues from? There were a lot of myths about gods and heroes long before the bible was written. There are many common themes within mythology that we see as outdated and untrue. The bible will eventually go the same way as the mythology of the Greek and Roman gods the bible borrowed from.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • MB

      The Bible and Harry Potter are similar in that they are both works of fiction.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  13. cubiksrube

    I'm so glad this Harry Potter thing is now over. I won't miss it 1 bit.

    July 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Laughing

      You are the worst.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Enderverse

      Why do I get the feeling that this is not the only issue you are a minority in?

      July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  14. jimtanker

    This was one of the most thouroughly idiotic articles that I've read in a long time. As has been said here already, why are you comparing two works of fiction?

    July 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      Must agree with the comment on the writing. The flow of the article is not coherent, and an overall message is unclear.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • love not hate

      Wow... what a terrible thing to say. if it was a waste of time why did you bother reading it and taking YOUR time to respond negatively to it? I think you wasted your own time. Congrats 😛

      July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Enderverse

      LOL jeesh guys this is an Op Ed not a news story. And it WAS good enough to be published, though it is written as a thought flow and not a story.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Frogist

      @jimtanker: Well besides the reasons listed in the article, why not? Peopl can compare fiction works and still come up with important ideas. I can only guess maybe you never took a literature class.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  15. myweightinwords

    Some of the most incredibly trans-formative moments in my life have come at the prodding of a work of fiction.

    For example, there was a time in my late teens when I was still deeply buried in a conservative, evangelical Christianity when I found myself reading the fictional story of a fictional Catholic man as he was ordained as a priest. At the time, I fully and wholeheartedly believed that Catholics were misguided and wrong, that God did not accept them as they were idolaters. I read this elaborate scene, told from the point of view of the young man as he made his vows and went through the ceremony and it occurred to me that I "got" the emotion, that I understood him. The narrative filled me with the same awe and reverence I felt when I prayed, when I "approached god".

    It began a journey for me. I thought about that scene for days, revisited it a number of times. It burrowed into me and changed something inside me. I began to see things differently, and when I studied, whole new worlds opened up to me.

    Ultimately, I walked away from the faith that so confined me. Fiction is entertaining and interesting...and sometimes it can be more.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Frogist

      @myweightinwords: I think alot of the time people ignore or forget the power of artistic endeavour and how much it can reach a person where logic and practicality cannot. Your story is powerful. Thanks for sharing it.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  16. Up Your Rear Admiral

    Dumbledore > Jesus
    Michele Bachmann is a Malfoy.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • gozer

      Hermione >> Michele Bachmann. Too bad Bachmann isn't fiction.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  17. Reality

    Harry Potter, pure fiction about a moral wizard, brilliantly written.

    Christianity, semi-fiction, about an embellished, sometimes "mythicized" magic man..

    To wit:

    As per the NT, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man" atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Mcrunner34

      Wow, are you completely misinformed. You may need to check your references.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Tom Roberts


      You write well. However, I'm curious: if Chist was a lunatic, where's the body? Why did not the Jewish religeous leaders just produce the body and thereby crush this new religion (which was based on the resurection)? Why did'nt the Romans? Both hated Christianity. Just a thought.


      July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Enderverse

      Wow, so chirst is God only son because you cant find the body? What does that make Hoffa?

      July 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Tom

      I know you asked reality but I felt I could step in. Realize that christianity was nowhere near a religion when jesus lived. He had followers, to be sure, but his gospel, his divinity, his religion were all founded hundreds of years after. Have you ever heard of the Nakbah? or the other Jewish "messiahs" that have come in the past 1,000 years? Why would Romans or jews waste their time try to disprove something that is already largely held everywhere as completely false already. Plus, when you crucify someone and leave their body outside nailed to a cross, you generally don't go back to check if it's still there later, even when other crazy people are telling you 3 days later the guy rose.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Wow!

      The Christian faith wasn't started hundreds of years after Jesus death. It was started by the disciples not long after his death. Please read Acts 2. The Catholic faith was a few hundred years later.

      July 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Wow!

      Also, the Romans allowed Jesus followers to remove him from the cross and bury him per Jewish custom. That is why he didn't remain on the cross.

      July 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
      o p.168. by Ted Peters:
      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      July 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Mcrunner34

      Wow, I'm stunned about his conversation regarding where the body of Jesus may or may not be. I'm also stunned that Harry Potter would evoke such a comical gathering of reasoning regarding whether or not Jesus was risen from the dead on the third day.
      I've read much theology. Finished at seminary. I've met well trained theologians and not so good. Christian or Catholic, never trust a theologian on the issues the Bible makes very clear concerning the resurrection. Jesus appeared to his followers after he rose from the dead.
      The point of Harry Potter and Theology had more to do with understanding human suffering and the power of like-minded community. That's why the point of this opinion column was to "seek." Seek after relationships worth having, learn about the point of life...that will lead you to the things that matter the most.

      July 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  18. LetoAtreides

    I like the comparison of love that the author conveys but I'm lost with the "seeking" part. What is Harry seeking? Careful when you say "God is love" and then forget about God himself. It's fine to seek love. That's noble for certain. However, if we seek love and ignore the source of it? My fantasy hope for Harry Potter was that he would find God, but J.K. Rowling doesn't take us there. If all my departed loved ones were waiting for me somewhere, I would want to thank the one responsible for providing that opportunity for me. Enter God! Potter theology, like so many other humanist-based beliefs really never answers our purpose or direction in life. In fact, most religions ultimately focus on the self instead of God. Christ calls us to Him. If we are to know our purpose and God, we must seek Jesus. Harry benign theology just doesn't get us to that critical point.

    July 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • William Demuth


      Harry isn't real. Neither was Jesus.

      July 13, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • JohnR

      Why would you debase the reality of love by attributing to it a myhtological "source"?

      July 13, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Laughing


      Careful Leto, love for jessica ended up killing you.....

      In any event the author was comparing the power of love in the book to the power of god that has a hold over people in reality. She wasn't saying god is love, but rather, god is to christianity as love is to harry potter. Get it?

      You also expected harry to find god at the end of the series, really? I think the best part about the series is that there is Harry, introduced at a much older age to the wizarding world than anyone else, and he grows up in a household that prizes pragmatism over silly magic and tries to stamp the magic out of him (you could almost even liken the Dursley's to the quintiessential depiction of how a believer sees an atheist). Then he's introduced to this amazing magical world, anything is truely possible. Flying dragons? check. Ressurection stone that ACTUALLY brings loved ones back from the dead? Check. being able to literally not die by planting your soul in different objects? Check. All of these things are possible, but I can almost guarantee you, if you were to meet the fictional arthur weasly and tell him that not only can we make airplanes fly (without magic) but we also believe in (insert every mocking thing an atheist has to say about christianity specifically) and he would probably think your more nuts than he is. With all the sh.it hat wizards can do, they rely solely on their knowledge and don't leave it up to some big guy in the clouds to make their decisions. If anything, I'd say their outlook makes the most sense because of all the extradordinary things they can do, they don't attribute it to someone else, they say it's magic. Unlike in the real world where we've used science to uncover the reason why some magic works we've for some reason decided to attribute the source to an unseeable, unknowable being up in space and take a 5,000 shepherd's word for it that he's real and he can do some stuff.
      Harry's theology allows us to look past all the magic that is in our lives everyday and still come down to the fact that we only need to trust in ourselves in order to come out whole and do the world good.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      and my hope is that someone taking a moniker from the pages of Dune would recognize religion as a method for callous, power-hungry people to take manipulate and control the population

      July 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Laughing: About the Dursleys: I don't think they are deliberately trying to be practical otherwise they would have recognised the usefulness of Harry's gift. They are working completely out of fear and denial and, to some extent, jealousy. That's why they try so hard to keep up appearances that everything is oh so normal, but, of course, above average. They are trying too hard to make their muggle world look superior, and ending up making it look ugly.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Frogist

      Excellent point, I think you're right, that probably fits in better with how a christian views an atheist anyways.

      July 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Etcoom Speary TooToo Oh

    A screenplay? A fictional character by a fiction writer? And this lady is a professor?

    July 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  20. William Demuth

    Same lame puke.

    This is like comparing and contrasting Star Wars and Satr Trek.

    Both worlds are fictional, filled with pablum to apease the idiot children amogst us.

    Other then that, the only real difference is the creator of Harry's world admits that it is made up entertainment for children.

    Why dosen't Christianity FINALLY do the same?

    July 13, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Trekkies are more likely to follow The Prime Directive than Christians are to follow then Ten Commandments.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.