Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #3: Christian Ending?

Ms. Rowling said in a 2000 Vancouver interview that she didn’t talk about her Christian faith because if she did readers from “age 10 to 60” would know exactly how the story would end. In another interview, she told the reporter with questions about her faith to come back after the seventh (and that, if he had read it, he wouldn’t have to come back because his questions would be answered). Harry offers himself as a sacrifice in Chapter 34, experiences something like a holding station for the after-life in Chapter 35, and then rises from the dead (or his figurative death) and slays the evil one in Chapter 36. Did Harry’s walk into the dark forest as sacrificial lamb strike you as Christian allegory, heroic monomyth, or what? Did it meet the expectations created by Ms. Rowling’s interview comments?

Comments

  1. chrystyan says:

    While I was reading DH, I wondered at the time if the Elder Wand was so named because of its age, or because it was made from the wood of an Elder tree. My thought skipped to tree lore and wanted to check out some lore about what type of tree(s) the cross of our Lord Jesus was said to be made from. Then the Hawthorn wand appeared, and I noted that definitely the crown of thorns might have been made from hawthorn, and lastly thought of Harry’s own Holly wand. Holly was also a pointer to Christ and the berries His blood. Harry ended up with all three wands, and had trouble using the blackthorn wand (the tree of dark magic). This isn’t an accident, and sure enough, the website on British tree lore at http://www.the-tree.org.uk (see “British trees”, then choose your wood–the Elder also has “traditional information” link then is this quote concerning the Elder also the wood that supposedly Judas hanged himself:

    In Love’s Labour Lost reference is made to the common medieval belief that ‘Judas was hanged on an Elder.’ We meet with this tradition as far back in English literature as Langland’s Vision of Piers Plowman (middle of the fourteenth century, before Chaucer):
    ‘Judas he japed with Jewen silver
    And sithen an eller hanged hymselve.’
    Why the Elder should have been selected as a gallows for the traitor Apostle is, considering the usual size of the tree, puzzling; but Sir John Mandeville in his travels, written about the same time, tells us that he was shown ‘faste by’ the Pool of Siloam, the identical ‘Tree of Eldre that Judas henge himself upon, for despeyr that he hadde, when he solde and betrayed oure Lord.’ Gerard scouts the tradition and says that the Judas-tree (Cercis siliquastrum) is ‘the tree whereon Judas did hange himselfe.’
    Another old tradition was that the Cross of Calvary was made of it, and an old couplet runs:
    ‘Bour tree – Bour tree: crooked rong
    Never straight and never strong;
    Ever bush and never tree
    Since our Lord was nailed on thee.’
    In consequence of these old traditions, the Elder became the emblem of sorrow and death, and out of the legends which linger round the tree there grew up a host of superstitious fancies which still remain in the minds of simple country folk. Even in these prosaic days, one sometimes comes across a hedge-cutter who cannot bring himself to molest the rampant growth of its spreading branches for fear of being pursued by ill-luck. An old custom among gypsies forbade them using the wood to kindle their camp fires and gleaners of firewood formerly would look carefully through the faggots lest a stick of Elder should have found its way into the bundle, perhaps because the Holy Cross was believed to have been fashioned out of a giant elder tree, though probably the superstitious awe of harming the Elder descended from old heathen myths of northern Europe. In most countries, especially in Denmark, the Elder was intimately connected with magic. In its branches was supposed to dwell a dryad, Hylde-Moer, the Elder-tree Mother, who lived in the tree and watched over it…

    HAWTHORN
    Christian Folklore:
    • “The Hawthorn was reputedly used for Christ’s crown of thorns, and indeed the plant is supposedly referred to in Holy Scriptures long before the Passion, for the famous ‘burning bush’ by which Moses first spoke with God on Mount Horeb is thought to have been another variety of hawthorn, the Crateagus pyracantha, a native of the lands around the Mediterranenan and introduced into France in 1629.” (Palaiseul)
    • “At the time of the Crusades, a knight setting out for the Holy Land would offer his lady a sprig of hawthorn, tied with a pink ribbon, as a token that he would ‘live in hope’.” (Palaiseul).
    • “In Normandy, even today (19 ), it is believed that lightning will never strike hawthorn (or a house protected by hawthorn) since lightning is the work of the devil and cannot strike the plant that touched the brow of Christ, a belief that is shared in Brittany, where the robin is also venerated because, it is said, it was when breaking off a thorn from the crown of Jesus that a little blood stained its breast.” (Palaiseul)

    (At any rate, you might not agree with the politics or religious belief’s at the tree site, but sure gives interesting lore to either think about or dismiss).

    Harry didn’t like Ron’s or Hermione’s reaction to the Elder Wand at the end of the story…Hermione’s reverence for the object or Ron’s inward desire to keep and use it. Harry did the right thing and let it as well as the Resurrection stone (& Sorceror’s stone) pass from his use as an object (like the rest of Hallows)–not to use them as a way to usurp, gain power or trump God. (His exception was the Cloak, which is one object/possession/treasure I believe he kept rightly.) I also enjoyed Professor Trelawney hurling her crystal balls (objects) at the Death Eaters during the battle.

  2. In a number of posts on this page and others, the image of the child at King’s Cross has been discussed. Some have argued that Harry can’t be a Christ figure, because he was possessed by the seventh Horcrux of Voldemort.

    I would like to point out that Christ took upon himself the burden of our sins. He himself may not have been sinful, but he carried our sins to the (King’s) Cross. If Voldemort’s soul is a metaphor for sin, then Harry’s carrying this soul to King’s Cross is consistant with his being a Christ figure.

    Isaiah 53:4
    Surely he took up our infirmities
    and carried our sorrows,
    yet we considered him stricken by God,
    smitten by him, and afflicted.

    I Peter 2:24
    He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

  3. hambrick91 says:

    Is it just me, or does Harry’s deliverence of the muggle-borns at the MOM resonate as something of a parallel with Christ harrowing hell? It’s not a perfect parallel, by any means, but certain elements are there:

    1) He desends to a basement floor of the Ministry (which itself is already underground)
    2) He walks past the dementors (demons) into the courtroom (place of judgement)
    3) In righteous anger, he acts to disarm the bad guys and protect and defend the muggle being questioned at the time
    4) After claiming the horcrux (with Hermione’s help) he leads the muggle-borns to freedom and does his best to ensure their safety

    On second thought, perhaps Christ purging the Temple would be a better parallel, but this section of the story nonetheless resonates a Christ-story with me. Jesus did, after all, come to set the captives free.

  4. It’s not just you, hambrick91. I thought of the “harrowing of hell” too. And I think it’s a better echo than cleansing the Temple, because people were being held captive there, not worshiping.

  5. According to Rowling (from an interview I found linked on Travis’ site):

    Katie B: Why was kings cross the place harry went to when he died

    J.K. Rowling: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds

    “The name works rather well”… can’t get much more obvious, now can you?

  6. jjmahoney says:

    I’m just looking forward to the eventual interview where Rowling talks freely about her faith. I just read the Deathly Hallows review on Plugged In Online and didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or email them a scathing email for being so ignorant. While they don’t push their “magic is forbidden in Scripture” argument so much (they admit it’s mechanical in nature, not spiritual), they still take pot shots at Rowling like they might an unbeliever. Here is the worst of the quotes to me (from the conclusion):

    “As confusing and troubling as it may seem to have a lightning bolt-branded boy-wizard as a Christ figure, J.K. Rowling tries to create one in Harry. But while he is “savior,” he is also He-Who-Must-Be-Saved. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows conjures a world that practically begs for something to have faith in.

    Rowling’s mythology is closest in construction to that of J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, but it doesn’t give evidence of godly faith in any of the ways their stories do. Time columnist Lev Grossman noticed this when he wrote, “If you want to know who dies in Harry Potter, the answer is easy: God. Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind. He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn’t. … What does Harry have instead of God? Rowling’s answer, at once glib and profound, is that Harry’s power comes from love. This charming notion represents a cultural sea change. In the new millennium, magic comes not from God or nature or anything grander or more mystical than a mere human emotion. In choosing Rowling as the reigning dreamer of our era, we have chosen a writer who dreams of a secular, bureaucratized, all-too-human sorcery, in which psychology and technology have superseded the sacred.”

    There is no doubt that J.K. Rowling will be remembered as one of the most well-read writers of our age. She will also be remembered for ignoring the simple truth of a very old—and sacred—text: We love because He first loved us.”

    So, they are applying real world laws to a make believe world? Ludicrous. News flash. Harry isn’t Jesus.

    It is my belief that groups like this have “Saint Lewis” and “Saint Tolkien” blinders on. Anything by Lewis and Tolkien are like holy writings. But they seem to be judging Rowling based on her fiction alone (and a very limited knowledge of historical literature too), but they haven’t taken the time to read anything about her as a person and things she has said in interviews. I wonder if they would issue an apology for the things they have said about a fellow believer or if they would continue to hurl insults at her for being a “bad Christian”. :-\

  7. Beth Priest, certified HogPro All-Pro, sent me these preliminary thoughts on Deathly Hallows last week with her permission to post:

    We all have the favorite lenses through which we’ve viewed these wonderful stories of Rowling’s, and most of us (especially thanks to you and the helpful way you connected the stories to so many different genres) view them through several. I loved seeing all the different kinds of echoes and strands in the final tale.

    But my favorite lens, the glasses I can’t help but pick up and put on over and over, is the Christian Story, the Gospel lens. My favorite image of Harry, and one that I’ve repeated over and over, is that he has been, all along “a beloved son worth dying for.” That idea really colored my reading of DH.

    It would be so easy to see Harry as the Christ figure of DH, and in many ways, with his sacrificial, surrendered walk toward death (with all the evil figures jeering and taunting him, so reminiscent of Aslan padding to the stone table) I think we are supposed to view him in that light. But it’s not a neat one-to-one kind of comparison. Harry is a type or
    symbol of Christ here, much in the way that each of us as Christians (“little Christs”) is supposed to be. I think the deeper way to read this scene is to realize that Harry is still what he’s always been most deeply throughout the books: Every Man.

    The verse that kept coming to mind for me is this one: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live…” I also thought of Bonhoeffer’s quote “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”

    Harry is bid to “come and die,” to give up his life. That he is ready to do so, and willingly puts himself in the place of sacrifice for those he loves, shows us how much he has learned from his mother. He has her eyes, and all along I’ve wondered, as I know so many others have too, if that did not mean he also had her willingness to die for others. It turns out he does. He sees that parallel too. When he’s talking to Riddle as they circle each other in the great hall, he tells Riddle that he’s just done for all of his loved ones what his mother did for him. He sees his sacrifice in that mold, that light.

    What fascinates me and makes me realize that Harry is still “Every Man,” a picture of a soul that is growing in holiness and sanctification (there’s that alchemical nod) is that it’s not Harry’s willingness to die that *saves Harry.* He is able to
    walk up to death (with the help and encouragement of his cloud of witnesses, the loved ones who have gone before him) and he is able to take death and essentially go through it and come out on the other side, because the ancient magic, the grace, the power of his mother’s blood refuge is STILL operating. I know we’re told that protection ceases when he comes of age and leaves his aunt’s house. But because that blood still runs in Voldemort’s veins (life running in the midst of death! darkness not being able to overcome it!) that protection is still kept alive. And so Harry lives. He is still dependent on someone else’s sacrifice (and it strikes me this makes Lily, not Harry or Dumbledore, the key Christ figure in the books).

    Harry is healed by what he goes through there in the forest and in King’s Cross, especially when Voldemort’s curse seems to cast out/kill the evil bit of Voldemort that had attached itself to Harry all those years before. That too seems to point to Harry as an every man figure.

    You were right that we’d end up at King’s Cross eventually! I love that it was King’s Cross where he has the final big talk with Dumbledore: a train station, a journeying place, and the one that Harry has always known as a “liminal” place (a door between the muggle world and the wizarding world, and now a door into an even more real world than either of the other two). I suspect a lot of us had Lewis on our minds as Harry walked through the forest to meet his death, and King’s Cross reminded me of Lewis too – both the “Wood Between the Worlds” and also the train station in Prince Caspian where the kids are called back to Narnia.

    I don’t think we’re to miss the sacrificial almost crucifixion like aspect of what Harry has just gone through. When he comes back to life and wakes on the forest floor, Narcissa’s *nails pierce* him. If I’m not mistaken, her nails were even described as blood red in an earlier book.

    And I love how he emerges from the forest almost re-born, a new man, a new creature. When Hagrid carries him, weeping, in his arms, I think we’re supposed to think about the first time Hagrid carried Harry out of the wreckage of his parents’ house when he was just a baby. Unbeknownst to Hagrid, Harry has survived yet another killing curse. And he is still as dependent as a baby on outside help and grace. I think that’s one reason I love Harry’s character so much. He is a “savior” figure, a hero, but he is enabled to do what he does, to respond to his call, only because he himself is saved by a love deeper and more ancient than his own. His own sacrifice, his own ability to love, his own overcoming of
    temptations…all of them are born as a response to the love that is first shown to him.

    I hope at least some of these ramblings make sense! What a marvelous story Ms. Rowling has given us, with such wonderful echoes of the Great Story.

    Still thinking!
    Beth

  8. bubbygirl says:

    HI, this is Maria. my laptop crashed again and I lost my username and password so I registered again.

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but the change kindness and love? made in creecher really spoke to me about the transforming love of God. So much else about the book echoed Christian themes to me but others have already said most of what I was thinking. I think the bible quotes were great but I also think it was good that she didn’t make it obvious that’s where they were from. I also noticed that God was thanked quite a bit throuout the story when something happened..
    I don’t really think this was a coincidence.

    Maria

  9. I think the Christian allegory was all over DH, but I found Harry’s willingness to give up his life as the biggest one to me.
    He didn’t seek glory, he didn’t make a big scene, and he knew it was something he, and he alone had to/could do.

    Even as sure as Harry was about his purpose, he still seemed to hesitate for a brief moment with his fears about what death would be like, if it would hurt, the fact that he had lived through so many dangerous things so many times, which reminded me of Christ in the Garden.
    Matthew 26:42
    He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

    I felt like Harry, even with his worries/concerns about giving himself up as a sacrifice, he knew it HAD to be done and that he was the only one who could do it to save everyone, which is what happened with Jesus in the Garden. He asked the Father if something else could be done, but in the end, decided to do His will because He knew it HAD to be done.

    Another aspect I found interesting in Chapter 34 was the dialogue between Harry and his parents:

    “You’ll stay with me?”
    “Until the very end,” said James.

    That reminded me an awful lot like Matthew 28:20 and Jesus’ words to his followers:
    “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    “Harry had been expecting it, knew his body would not be allowed to remain sullied upon the forest floor; it must be subjected to humiliation to prove Voldemort’s victory” – Chapter 36
    That made me think of the humiliation that Christ went through for us, being stripped of us clothes, beaten, jeered, and crucified as a criminal.

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned it, but I thought it was significant that Dumbledore’s tomb was broken. Even though, Albus didn’t rise from the dead, I thought it was specific imagery to the tomb rolling away on the first Easter morning and a lot like the stone being broken in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when Aslan resurrected.

    Harry waking up in “King’s Cross” after his “death”, naked, and having to put on a new set of clothes reminded me of 1 Corinthians 15:40:
    “There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.”

    I love Harry as the hero, but especially, as the hero who helps those who don’t help him, such as Malfoy and Griphook.
    Malfoy could’ve died in the flames, but Harry was determined to go back and save him.
    Harry rescued Griphook and made sure that he got the care he needed, even though, he made off with the sword and said bad things about wizards and was untrustworthy.
    Harry doesn’t give up on people. He could have given up on Ron when he left the camp, but welcomed him back with open arms and gave him another chance, much like the Weasley family did with Percy, which reminded me a lot of the Prodigal Son parable.
    And, even though, Harry knew Voldemort was bad news and would probably not repent, he DID give him a chance at the end, which Voldemort ended up refusing.
    Harry is a forgiving character and is able to try to see the best in people (when there is some), even to those who have done him harm.

    Lasty, I found the epitaph on James and Lily’s graves was highly symbolic of how Christians have victory over death.
    “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (Chapter 16)

    Reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15:55:
    “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

  10. The discussion of Harry as “Christ figure” or “everyman” has been quite interesting. However, this may be one case where we can have it both ways. Harry’s experience fits with a classical understanding of baptism.

    True, there’s no water involved in the “King’s Cross” scene. (Wrong stage, eh, John?) But I doubt the mention of Harry being naked is there just so Dan Radcliffe can go starkers on the big screen. In early times, people went naked into the baptismal pool. Then as they emerged, they were given brand new clothes … just like Harry finds new clothes (warm and clean at that), right at hand.

    Classical understanding of baptism is that it represents a passage through death into resurrected life, a joining of the believer to Christ in his death on the cross and subsequently to the resurrection. The believer dies to the old ways of sin and rises to a new, pure, holy life that is to be lived in faithful imitation of Christ. The practice of immersion is a symbolic drowning, going down into death. Although this symbolism is harder to see in the later practice of sprinkling, the understanding of baptism as a sort of drowning remains.

    Baptism is intended to do away with sin, to put to death that sinful part of the self. Harry’s passage into death removes the piece of Voldemort’s soul that has been bound to his own. What had been fused together is now separated. The fragment of Voldemort’s soul is that flayed child-like thing huddled and thumping piteously yet repulsively. It’s also an excellent representation of the sin nature as the self being curved in on itself to the exclusion of all else … which is likely why neither Dumbledore nor Harry can do anything to help it.

    This drama plays itself out at “King’s Cross,” an image of the London train station that has marked Harry’s transitions between the two worlds in all the books, as JKR explained. But, as has also been noted, the name fits. Baptism joins the believer to the death of the King on his cross … and to his subsequent resurrection. Thereafter, the baptized Christian is to live as a sort of “little Christ.” To live as a baptized Christian is to be a sort of Christ figure.

  11. cassiane says:

    Go, mslilly, but just a nitpicking point. Harry indeed offers up his own life in order to defeat Voldemort, but Christ himself did not choose the way of self-sacrifice and self-humiliation not knowing the outcome. Being both God and Man, he knew. I’m reminded of an Orthodox Paschal hymn: “In the grave bodily; in hades with thy soul, though thou wast God; in Paradise with the thief; and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit . . .” Being of one nature with the Father and the Spirit, he knew what he would accomplish. But the grief and agony he endured–because he knew that his voluntary sacrifice and humiliation would lead certain of his own people, whom he loved–is something none of us mortals can begin to understand.

    But poor Harry, like us, is a mortal, and when he offers to lay down his life, he doesn’t know the outcome. But he is like Christ in his voluntary acceptance of death.

  12. Coppinger Bailey says:

    I want to come back to this thread & post something about the veil soon, but right now I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for sharing these ideas! You have pointed out so many things I missed in my first bleary-eyed reading of the story’s end! The nativity at Godric’s Hollow…the cloud of witnesses in the forest…Pieta imagery… Wow!

    Just to add a new one from my perspective… my first “Wow! Yay!” in the book came when reading about Harry’s departure from Privet Drive: “The Seven Potters.” In order to save Harry now that the blood protection of his relatives had expired, his friends literally had to take him on & become him. Removing Harry safely from Privet Drive and sending him off on his journey was the last thing the older members of the Order & the next generation did together as a group (until the Battle of Hogwarts, that is).

    Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, & Fleur all stepped up and drank a part of Harry, literally becoming him. And they all make these brilliant comments about what it’s like, from their own perspectives, to be Harry. Harry stands there & watches the casualness with which his friends treat his body & listens to their expressions. Ms. Rowling also specifically calls all the Potters “doppelgangers,” or “dual identities.”

    Fred & George make a joke out of it, “hey, we look just alike!” Ron (the “body” of the trio) kids about the missing tattoo, and Hermione (the mind) says what terrible eyesight Harry has. Harry the “spirit” doesn’t “see and know” with his eyes, but Hermione does! Bad eyesight would be hard for her to handle! I was surprised at first that Fleur was part of the group, but then it made sense to me because Fleur was always grateful to Harry for saving her little sister (whether she was in any real danger or not). So even Fleur gets a chance to take on Harry & help him, despite her own vain comment to Bill “ew, don’t look at me! I look ‘orrible.” Fleur may be vain, but she’s brave, & she sure ain’t no fairy princess.

    Mundungus is the only one of the 6 who has no interest in taking Harry on, even after Moody tells him that it’s the protectors, not the imitators, who have the most to fear. Mundungus, who never really had any personal experience with Harry, was the biggest chicken, and his failure during the rescue, in part, contributed to Moody’s death.

  13. Anybody have any comment on what happened in the Room of Requirement? Clearly a sort of Harrowing of Hell (what’s burning there is “fiend fire” after all, and it’s one of the few things that destroys souls contained in Horcruxes.

    I was thinking last night about Harry snatching Draco out of the fire and I thought of this passage (1 Cor 3:13-15):

    “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
    If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
    If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

  14. John, thanks for sharing Beth’s thoughts. I’m reminded of the reason I really liked all those discussions at B&N after Half-Blood Prince came out.

    Beth–thanks for putting all of that together in such a wonderful and meaningful way.

    Pat

  15. I wish I could edit my comment–thanks to all of you for insights in the Christian perspectives of Deathly Hallows. I’d made a lot of the same connections, but y’all put them together in a much more coherent manner.

    Pat

  16. A few thoughts from one late to this forum,

    I have been amazed at all the nuances of Christian imagery I have read here–I only saw a fraction of them in my own reading of the text. A couple that perhaps haven’t been mentioned? –Harry coming back to Hogwarts and meeting his friends who are ready to fight. They are thrilled to see him, thinking he will lead them against Voldemort in battle, and Harry must inform them his is on a different type of mission. They don’t understand and are crestfallen, much like the disciples who expect a battle against Rome, yet Jesus tells them He didn’t come to set up an earthly kingdom. –I kept hearing these words in my head after finishing the book: yet these three remain, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. The closer Harry got to the end, the more important these became.

    When I first read this I thought, wow, that is a problem in the Harry-as-Christ image:
    “Harry “dies” to protect the students, professors, and order members from the wrath of Voldemort (the evil one). Christ did not die to save us from the wrath of Satan. He died to save us from the wrath of God.”
    But then I thought, what is the wrath of God? God’s wrath or judgement is against sin, and the payment for sin is death. And Harry’s sacrifice is to take death so others won’t have to, which is what Christ does for us. Also, as esoterica described and Paul clearly teaches, Christ’s death sets us free from the *power* that sin has over us, much like Harry defeats the power V. wants to wield.

    Lastly, I wince whenever I read a description of Harry Potter as a Christian story, as if now Christians (and I am one) are going to rush to force it into their mold as dogmatically as they once rejected it, or else push even harder at arguing it cannot possibly have anything to do with Christianity because it is not an exact retelling of the gospels. I have loved these books from the start because of Biblical themes like sacrificial love, but I would call them stories that ooze truth, in big and small ways. God’s truth cannot help but shine, intended or not, often in unlikely places. It matters less what a writer’s intention was than how God chooses to reveal Himself. I seem to remember hearing/reading that even C.S. Lewis didn’t regard his stories as allegories, but that doesn’t stop them from teaching. I have read those books too many times to count, and since the second reading, never–not once–have I failed to find a new spiritual truth in them. “And for us this is the end of all the stories…But for them it was only the beginning of the real story…” (The Last Battle)

  17. I am no great literary mind, scholar, or theologian but I adore the Harry Potter series and I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength – so I hope that I am qualified enough to add my two cents worth here. :o)

    One of my favorite sections in DH was in Chapter 36 when the battle is won and Harry retreats under his cloak for some “peace and quiet”. This reminds me of what we see Jesus doing so often in the New Testament: retreating from the crowd for some rest and relaxation, for prayer, for meditation. Sometimes with his closest friends/disciples (remember when Harry secretly took Ron and Hermione with him to Dumbledore’s office?), but often alone. I loved this beautiful image.

    However, what truly stood out to me – jumped out at me really – from the part of the story just before Harry dons the cloak, were these words on pg 745 (Scholastic):

    “McGonagall had replaced the House tables, but nobody was sitting according to House anymore: All were jumbled together, teachers and pupils, ghosts and parents, centaurs and house-elves…”

    This so vividly brought to mind for me the following passage from Galatians (Chapter 3, verses 26-28):

    “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
    For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (New American Standard Bible – yeah sorry I didn’t quote the KJV)

    I haven’t heard anyone else mention this in anything I’ve read so far, but it sure hit me like a ton of bricks when I read (and re-read) DH. I’m not trying to say this series is pure Christian allegory. I know better than that, but as Tina said above “God’s truth cannot help but shine, intended or not, often in unlikely places. It matters less what a writer’s intention was than how God chooses to reveal Himself.” I treasure the truths that Rowling has, knowingly or not, allowed to shine throughout her magical tale.

  18. hambrick91 says:

    I haven’t read these comments in several weeks, so it’s good to catch up! I am one of those who, like John, initially read the first book to convince my daughter that they were not for Christians. At the end of the first book I was blown over by the Christian symbolism, and we immediately jumped into the series. I was so glad to get pointed to this site by commentator from Star Parker about a year later. Though I’ve just recently started posting, I’ve read everything I could get my hands on from this site for the past two years. It was (and is!) exciting to realize that what I caught in the first and subsequent books was just the tip of the iceberg of the symbolism that’s hidden in here. Being of an evangelical background, I’ve learned so much from my more orthodox/liturgical brothers and sisters out there. Thank you!!!

    But back to the Christian ending. I was especially caught by Trudy K’s comments of seeing the Kin’gs Cross scene as a form of baptism. What struck me was how the King’s Cross scene culminates Harry’s search for an adult faith. Harry has had a childlike faith to the end of HBP, as many have pointed out. And as we all know, much of DH discusses how he puts off childish things, as it were, and embraces his faith fully, as an adult. He searches, wanders, feels abandoned, gives up for a time, then is re-energized and re-committed. It is AFTER re-embracing his faith and committing to it that he goes through was Trudy K sees as a sort of “adult baptism” and new birth. Harry emerges from the forest as a new creation..the old (doubts, fears and questions) had passed away, the new (peace and understanding and acceptance) had come.

    This echos the stories of many believers through the ages, but I was especially struck by the parallels to CS Lewis. As I recall his story, Lewis was raised in the faith, faltered mightily after his mother’s death and under the guidance of a cold and distant father, abandoned Christianity altogether in favor of atheism, then through many situations, began the journey back to faith in Christ, first mellowing to agnosticism and then embracing Christianity so fully that he became one the best ever apologists of the faith.

    I’m no where near the analyst many of you are, and I may have Lewis’ story a bit mixed up, so feel free to inform me of my errors! Thanks, John, for starting this whole website as well as your other writings. I, for one, am having a blast!

  19. Potter Family “Nativity Scene” in Godric’s Hollow?

    Christmas Eve, carols being sung in Church, and the war memorial in the public square (:-) is also seen to be a “James, Lily, and baby Harry” scene.

    The Potter Family is depicted on Christmas Eve as a “miniature” of an obviously greater Holy Family: “Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus”. This can’t be accidental.

    Note some symbolic connections:
    1. St. Joseph, foster-father of Jesus in the Bible, was the father of JAMES;
    2. Virgin Mary is a LILY [White Flower symbol of unsullied purity; Western Christian Art and some Eastern Orthodox Icons depict the white lily in the Archangel Gabriel’s hand when announcing that Mary would conceive a child, Jesus; cf. corresponding Lotus-Lily virginal symbolism in Far Eastern “Om Mani Padme Om”]; and,
    3. Jesus is the “THE BOY WHO LIVED” — sound anything like the BABY that Herod/Voldemort was trying to kill, but “who lived”?

    Uncanny similarity that must be purposeful on J.K. Rowling’s part.

    For your consideration,
    Taphos

  20. Arabella Figg says:

    Well, with Jo’s astounding acknowledgement of Oct. 17, is there any doubt to be had? All disagreements can go in the dustbin of Potter-is-demon-spawn history.

    How hard we fought for the predominant Christian elements of the series to be acknowledged and accepted, only to be continually scorned. Lev Grossman, Richard Abanes and co., apologies are in order, but we don’t expect them.

    Even kitties can have the grace to look ashamed–sometimes….

  21. I’m a latecomer on the Harry Potter journey, having only just completed reading book 7. I certainly noticed the ‘nice’ themes (love stronger than power etc) in the earlier books but nothing quite prepared me for the strong Christian symbolism in Deathly Hallows. Chapter 34 and Harry walking to his certain death brings tears to my eyes every time I even think about it.

    I found this blog searching Google on “deathly hallows religious references” and I’m glad I did too!

    I’ve enjoyed reading the great comments on this page on the Christian allegory and the comparisons with the Narnia series.

    No analogy can perfectly depict the original. In Narnia, Aslan was the creator (a divine character) who gives up his power but doesn’t truly enter into his creation in the same way as Christ. In HP, Harry Potter is very much a human with no “above creation” divine nature whatsoever.

    Both are beautiful depictions but of course both have to fall short of the Christ story because neither can get to the heart of the true God/true man paradox of Christ. I love both stories, but I think Harry’s very human struggle with his impending sacrifice moves me the most.

  22. PS. If Ron is like St Peter who would Hermione be … Luke – the studious writer? And Snape is more of a Pontius Pilate than a Judas.

    (Not that I think there’s much to be gained by ‘matching’ every character!)

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