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Boston Globe Examines Relationship Between Harry Potter and Religion

HP References
Posted by: Edward
August 19, 2009, 11:31 AM

The Boston Globe has published a lengthy article regarding the growing acceptance of the Harry Potter books among the religious communities and scholars.  Citing the advancing moderate views by a number of religious scholars and theologians, the article relates their argument that the Harry Potter books "contain positive ethical messages and a narrative arc that is worthy of serious scholarly examination and even theological reflection."  These messages, the article continues, speak to two issues closely examined by people of faith - morality and mortality - as well as issues of tolerance, acceptance, the fight between good an evil, among others.

Russell W. Dalton, an assistant professor of Christian education at Brite Divinity School in Texas, relates his thoughts on the growing religious acceptance of the books by saying:

"When stories become as popular as the Harry Potter stories, they no longer simply reflect the religious views of the author, but become artifacts of the culture, and they say something about the culture that has embraced them.  And that is certainly the case with Harry Potter."
The piece continues, noting particular elements of social commentary found in the Harry Potter books, specifically tolerance, shown by 'Harry's refusal to take part in the anti-Muggle bias demonstrated by some pure-blood witches and wizards.'  Lana A. Whited, an English Professor at Ferrum College in Virginia, is quoted as saying, "One of the overall themes of the Harry Potter series has to do with race and race-based persecution."  Mr. Dalton echos this sentiment by saying "To Dumbledore and Harry and his friends... it didn't matter whether you were Muggle-born, or whether you were a giant, whereas clearly the Death Eaters, the evil ones, were intolerant of people who were unlike them."

This lengthy piece goes on to cover a number of other subjects, ideas, and arguments regarding the relationship between Potter and religious thought.  The article concludes on the topic of life and death, good and evil; subjects found throughout the Harry Potter series.  Lois Shepherd, a bioethicist at the University of Virginia, is quoted as saying:
"Death, in the philosophy of the series, is not to be feared.  It is in fact those who fear death the most - Voldemort being the supreme example - who engage in unspeakable acts of evil."
The full Boston Globe article can be read via this link.

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444 Points

Glad to see they’re finally catching up with the rest of us. It’s a good article, and nice to see after all the negative press from people who hadn’t bothered to read the books. It’s sad, though, that some of them still won’t read the books. They are missing out on what has become a cross-generational shared text.

Posted by Eeyore on August 19, 2009, 12:55 PM report to moderator
3048 Points

None of what they discussed in this article particularly surprised me, for we as a fandom have known for a long time that the books have prompted readers and audiences to contemplate a variety of issues and extrapolate the problems afflicting the Wizarding world to our own Muggle one. The books do address a number of ethical dilemmas and present a discussion of them that is both informative but simultaneously engaging.

Posted by Kirk on August 19, 2009, 01:07 PM report to moderator
523 Points

This is a fabulous article. Several of the speakers at LeakyCon touched on the connections between HP and faith. And it goes without saying that the book says much about bigotry, persecution, and even politics. One of the speakers even called HP a “modern myth” with the power to change lives and possibly even the world. What would Dumbledore do?

Posted by Rhiannon on August 19, 2009, 01:29 PM report to moderator
388 Points

This is interesting.
I suspect that Joseph Campbell might say that Harry is the latest incarnation of the ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’.

Posted by Hydrus on August 19, 2009, 01:35 PM report to moderator
1245 Points

Hmmm. And some of us just read them because they’re good books.

Posted by dcsbelle [WBM] OOM3, CW on August 19, 2009, 01:51 PM report to moderator
29 Points

completely and totally awesome :)

Posted by MollyMicro on August 19, 2009, 01:55 PM report to moderator
39 Points

Finally, some sense.

Posted by Aesa Haettr on August 19, 2009, 02:05 PM report to moderator
519 Points

Nice news… I s’pose.

Posted by Robbie Rowe on August 19, 2009, 02:19 PM report to moderator
534 Points

Has anyone even READ IT?

…And she posits that the New Testament depiction of elements of the Jewish community is represented by the goblins (unappealing bankers) .

I don’t know about you, but that interpretation doesn’t sound particularly tolerant to me.

Posted by Bell Dema [FTC!!!] on August 19, 2009, 02:21 PM report to moderator
1839 Points

This truly is good news. I am very happy to see that some organized religions are finally coming around the bend so to speak. I think many were way too quick to condemn HP, when in fact it is one of the most beautiful, positively themed stories presented to our youth (& us older folks as well).

Posted by Lillylove on August 19, 2009, 02:25 PM report to moderator
1223 Points


Posted by AudreyLouiseLovegood on August 19, 2009, 02:26 PM report to moderator
1223 Points

Oh… Bell Dema, true… that’s not too cool :(

Posted by AudreyLouiseLovegood on August 19, 2009, 02:28 PM report to moderator
1223 Points

well… I’m STILL happy that they’re making baby house elf steps :D

Posted by AudreyLouiseLovegood on August 19, 2009, 02:29 PM report to moderator
1067 Points

Cool! This is exciting. Sounds as interesting as a John Granger lecture! I love the academic religious analysis of these books! I forget if I’m in a literary or theological discussion! :)

Posted by eiVega on August 19, 2009, 02:40 PM report to moderator
3271 Points

A good religious view for once! And yes, it is funny how when the books first came out, the critics said that they were anti-christ books. lol

Posted by Half-Blood Princess66[ROAR!] on August 19, 2009, 03:14 PM report to moderator
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