Book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (American Edition 1998; first published in Great Britain as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997)
Author: J K Rowling (1965-)
Connection with ABC-TV’s LOST: The official LOST website links the book to episode 117, “…in Translation.” Hurley comments on Sawyer wearing the glasses he found: “Dude, looks like someone steamrolled Harry Potter.” Harry Potter is trained in a school hidden from the outside world, much as the island is also hidden.
Review of the Book
Shortly after the last Harry Potter book was published, Joanne [alias J. K.] Rowling talked about the Christian imagery in the series. (See MTV’s article “‘Harry Potter’ Author J.K. Rowling Opens Up About Books’ Christian Imagery.”) From the beginning, Rowling dealt with Christian themes. But some Christians, worried that the books promoted the occult, have condemned, or strongly warned against the series. (See this article in The Christian Post.)
Fewer Christians have problems with the “magic” in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But, it seems to me that the Christian themes in Middle-earth are more hidden than they are in Rowling’s Hogwarts.
One overarching theme that many Christians can relate to in the book is the feeling of being an outsider. In his Muggle home, Harry’s Aunt and Uncle treat him with disdain, and try to suppress any “magic” tendencies they see in him. Even at school, Harry’s fame isolates him when other students either distance themselves out of awe of him, or attack him out of jealousy. And there are Snape’s prejudices against him because of the animosity between Snape and Harry’s father. But much of Harry’s persecution complex is misdirected, as he will eventually find out.
Along the way, there are other lessons to be learned that mirror the Christian faith. When Harry arrives at the train station, he is mocked by his guardians because there is no Platform Nine and Three-quarters, from which he is to begin his journey to Hogwarts. But not everything that is real is visible. In what some would call a “leap of faith,” Harry is able to gain access to the magical Hogwarts train. But he is not alone; he is able to get instruction from those who are experienced and willing to help. The example of others taking “the leap” helps him get to the other side.
Christians were not meant to make the journey alone, and the friendships Harry establishes are important if he is to be all he is destined to be. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley have disparate talents that are needed to get to the Sorcerer’s Stone before it gets into the wrong hands. (The need for this type of diversity in the “body of Christ” is emphasized by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12.)
Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to break the rules in order to save the world from Voldemort. My conservative nature is disturbed by the fact that the heroes are expected to break the rules in order to accomplish their task. Dumbledore even goes so far as to give Harry the means to break the rules without getting caught. Is this attitude toward rule-breaking consistent with the teachings of Christ?
Christianity, in many ways, started out as a dissent against authority. But, although many of the traditions of the religious leadership were rejected, Christ and the Apostles still taught that these leaders were to be respected. Even though Caesar was not to be worshiped as a god, his government was still to be respected. Only when the authorities commanded something contrary to what God had commanded were they to be disobeyed.
Was Harry Potter wrong to disobey the rules? At the first, I think he was. In writing the novel, we cannot fault J K Rowling for portraying juveniles breaking the rules. That is reality. But finding clues for a crime does not justify the policeman who broke the law to obtain the evidence, even if the outcome is good.
In our struggle against evil, we must remember that the struggle is also within ourselves. It is easy to get distracted from what really matters, as Harry did when he looked into the Mirror of Erised, which showed him his deepest longing. For those who know the series at all, you know Harry’s desires are fulfilled at the end of the last book. But he had a long way to go, and much to learn before then.
So do we.
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