Mailbag: Harry is a Christian Saint?

Friend of this blog Bruce Charlton across the pond has thrown down the gauntlet, I fear, to Christians believing that Harry is the gateway to the occult or even a problematic hero. He argues at his always challenging and more often than not edifying weBlog that Harry Potter is a Christian Saint, period, full stop. The letter he sent to me as introduction for the idea:

Dear John,

I try my best here to argue that Harry becomes an actual Saint throughout the series; knowing that this apparently contradicts what both JKR and yourself have said, but hoping that that this apparent contradiction is merely a matter of superficial definitions rather than underlying substance!

In one sense this essay is a Marshal McLuhan ‘probe’ – but in fact it does express my deep-felt intuition about what is going on in Harry Potter. If I am correct, the scope of JKR’s ambition is simply staggering (akin to, say, Dostoievsky in Brothers Karamazov) and this would also explain why she cannot be candid about what she was trying to do.

It would certainly invite ridicule and scorn (and hostility from the forces of Darkness, especially) to state or even admit that she was trying to write a book about the making of a Saint!

Still, the series is by now well enough established that it might be helpful to let people know what is going on?…

Best wishes, Yours,


I have argued, as most of you know, that Harry is a Christian Everyman rather than a Christ figure per se and that his seven year journey and alchemical transformation as living symbol of the human ‘inner heart’ is as much about his interior illumination or enlightenment within the ‘Light of the World,’ his death to ego and persona and his choice of sacrificial love, as it is about his external victory over the Dark Lord. I’m not sure this is much different in story from saying he is a “Christian saint” though there is nothing ecclesial as such in the books.

I look forward to reading your comments about the Charlton Thesis, if I must dread the blowback from Those Who Read With an Unblinking Eye.

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