Searching for Christian Imagery in ‘Harry Potter’

NPR reports that Christians and University Professors have discovered edifying Christian content in Joanne Rowling’s Hogwarts Saga. In a piece last Saturday titled Searching for Christian Imagery in Harry Potter, Guy Raz breathlessly interviews professors from Pomona and Brite Divinity School who think that Harry — and Dumbledore! — are Christ figures.

Who would have thought!

We have officially reached the end stage of the literary equivalent of scientific discovery, having worked our way through “Absurd!” (2003) to “Needs More Study!” (2006) to, at last, “We’ve always known that!” (2009). Congratulations, All-Pros, we have moved from fools and Procrustean projectors to NPR Orthodoxy.

Does the article title remind you of anything? (H/T to Lynn!)


  1. Arabella Figg says


    I was amused by:
    Professor EISENSTADT: The wand seems to me to represent God, the Father. The stone which confers resurrection represents the Son. And the cloak of invisibility clearly stands for the Holy Ghost.

    THAT’s a new interpretation of wands! And the other two. Aargghh.

    Reading all this “great revelation” stuff makes me feel tired and outraged. I’m glad they’ve finally gotten into the sandbox, but taking credit for discovering it is maddening. And they don’t even understand the sand, much less the buckets and shovels. To add insult to injury, they’re being hailed as experts and will no doubt write execrable books that get it all wrong. Perhaps you should send them copies of your books so they see how behind they are and give credit where it’s due.

  2. Remember when NPR used the by-line about “brew”-ing the news? This would have been late 80’s early 90’s, for those looking into time lines. Well, this is another example of their “brewing” – it took all these years for them to get the idea! Really makes you wonder about their insight into all the other news they allege to explore, doesn’t it?

    As for the comments reported, puh-leeeeeeeeeeeze. Get a literary degree and learn about symbolic writing for your integrity’s sake! The wooden-ness of the allegorical “suggestions” about wand/stone/cloak may return CS Lewis from the grave to refute such blatant dull sixth-former–ism.

    Of course, we knew better all along and the truly insightful have clustered here for years!!!!!!!

    What do they teach in these schools nowadays?

  3. Arabella Figg says

    Do academics ever look anything up? I Googled ‘Harry Potter Christian Meaning’ and John’s Looking for God in Harry Potter came up as the third hit. Under ‘Harry Potter Christianity,’ the 2007 MTV Rowling interview on the Christian meaning is fifth.

    Or do they have a lightbulb flash on in their head and think they’re the only ones who have ever seen the room? Thank God, literally, for John, Travis, and everyone who is part of this community.

  4. Well troops, perhaps this is just a divinely appointed opportunity for us to experience some of our trio’s sufferings: this does rather resemble the Daily Prophet’s big reveal–You-Know-Who is back! Who would have guessed! (Forehead slaps all around!)
    I know what they teach in these schools, and it’s not Plato, Professor Kirke.

  5. Arabella Figg says

    It’s apparently not sense or sensiblity, either.

    Yes, Elizabeth, just like the Ministry/Daily Prophet!

  6. Here’s a question I responded to on another board. I think it hints at the Christian symbolism that may not be popularly explored on NPR or in academia. What do you think?

    Originally Posted by Benisse
    I have not followed Harry Potter series that closely, just read the first 3 books and the last 2 books, so I hope this question is not too dumb. But anyway, who/what is that baby in the King’s Crossing scene after Voldemort apparently kills Harry? Why was it something Harry didn’t want to/was not supposed to help? Thanks for your thoughts on this…

    This is the remnant of the self-absorption that Voldemort has become. It is beyond help of any sort because it is totally self-absorbed. It cannot be reached by Harry or Dumbledore, or, horrible to contemplate, even God! It is located at King’s Cross, a way station to fuller and more complete reality, but it will not and cannot because it so wills, move past its embryonic conception of reality and selfhood.

    To grasp this you need to understand what making a horcrux entails and what the physical changes that occurred in Voldemort mirrored -the state of his soul- so that the end result is shown to be what those sorts of choices result in and amount to in truth. A veritable Dorian Grey in eternity! Now, imagine what the Reality is really like into which Harry can travel and from which Dumbledore has come. One then realizes the microscopic entity that Voldemort has chosen to become and limit himself to by his self-concern and selfishness. Harry is only on the outermost outskirts of True Reality also known as Heaven. Thus Voldemort is the picture of the self-directed.

    A startling picture, is it not?!

    You will find the idea more fully developed in THE GREAT DIVORCE by CS Lewis when you get to the portion about the inability of heaven to enter where it is refused. It is not because of an unwillingness on God’s part. It is the refusal of the offer by the self-concentric. Voldemort is a totally self-centred entity and the result of the same focus.

    Recall that Harry thinks about and receives what he needs in King’s Cross. He has perfected vision and does not need his glasses any more. He can imagine clothes out of the white mist. These are images of the capacity of the developed soul as it enters the Presence of God with a right heart. Now, Voldemort should be able to do the same, since he is in the same environment, shouldn’t he? Yet the choices that made Harry into the person he is are open to Voldemort! Remember Harry tells him in the final duel “I’ve seen what you’ll become, Tom. Try for some remorse.” Voldemort chooses, in the face of all the evidence of his own life’s choices and Harry’s constant victories over him, to assert self at the expense of his eternal soul (or what remains of it).

    Fascinatingly, after Harry sees all this in King’s Cross, he goes back to fulfill his role. Harry goes out-of-self-for-others. He takes the King’s Cross, bears it, dies, and resurrects – leading to safety and victory for the wizarding world (and muggles, too, by the way). The epilogue pictures in miniature and in the secondary world of Harry et alia what awaits in ever more glorious expression in Primary Reality.

    I go by inked there also.

  7. For me, hearing this report on NPR was much like Harry listening to the news in OotP. I was eager to hear it, thinking they’d talk to some people who’d done fairly substantial work on the subject (like maybe John)… but alas, it turned out to be really lame stuff. Like Elizabeth, I was irked by the interpretation of the three Hallows.

    But the Johnny-come-lately comparisons with the Daily Prophet were spot-on … and funny.

    When my son and I saw OotP in the theater, right after Fudge bursts out with “The Dark Lord — he’s back!”, some adult near us let lose with a “No ____, Sherlock!”

    The dying/rising stuff and other Christian concepts and symbolism … yeah, it’s there and rather obviously so.

  8. Kelli Jones says

    So do you think guys that J.K. Rowlings did it intentionally or she was merely writing an interesting story? I mean, maybe it’s us people who looks for further meaning about Harry Potter story. To tell you honestly, I haven’t thought of that, I merely read Harry Potter and I haven’t noticed the underground meaning.

  9. I’m with Kelli. I believe that Ms Rowling is a brilliant writer, don’t get me wrong. But could it be that she just wrote it as a fun fiction? Maybe unconsciously the images were arrived at.

  10. Yes I do agree that Ms. J K Rowling is a gifted writer. It may be very realistic that she got the imagination of possible worlds in fact fictitious world.


  11. Rowling put a lot of everything into the Harry Potter books and no doubt there is some Christian imagery and also Harry and Dumbledore can be Christ figures.
    From another point of view, there is also a lot of Pagan stuff and Harry and Dumbledore can be pagan figures.
    From the third point of view, there is a lot of ancient Greek and Roman in the books. Could H and D be from that culture? Well, why not?

    I perceive such articles as tribute to Joanne and the greatness of the work she has created. If there was no depth, where would be nothing to discuss and nothing to enjoy.

    Rebecca, webmaster

  12. Traci Holtzman says

    It’s natural for Christians, who have been eternally zealous recruiters, to hope that something popular like HP has a silver lining in it for them, too. It was the same way in medieval scholasticism wherein Socrates and others were surely living in heaven because their reason and methods were irreproachably too beautiful for God to condemn *these* pagans.

    It would put all of those ponderous and hopeful Christians to final rest on this topic were they to know that Jimmy Page, that very well informed student and sometime practitioner of the occult, is a close friend of Rowling, and freely consults his background for her books.

    By the way, Rebecca, it’s easy to come across Christ figures in allegorical fiction for we are all archetypically attracted to feeling that we, too, have spent time nailed to a cross. We also forgive, resurrect, come again, are tempted, and related to God. So how can literature avoid it?

  13. The point is, that you should not have to try to search for Christian content. If one is a Christian (writer, artist or whatever), then one´s work and life should demonstrate one´s faith openly and honestly.

  14. Rebecca, you are so right. What joy can be derived from discussing works that are flat and one dimensioned. Seeing how much interpretation can be given to all of Rowling’s works is a testament that she has indeed done a great job.

  15. The background of the writer will influence their works,,,this is natural. Since J Rowling is a christian, she will put any value of Christian in her work. Overall, her work is great,,,I love it.

  16. The background of Harry Potter’s writing have this positive and negative effects to the readers. Most are amazed with how he conquers challenges with the used of magic but few says that it is a bad influence because normal humans don’t really have magic.

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