The House Cup goes to Yale: God and Harry Potter at Yale by The Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio

Most college students, most people, in fact, seem to view theology in the same way they view flossing or eating Brussells sprouts: as something that they know is important  but which isn’t fun, engaging, or very easy to understand.  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, beloved by millions of readers, appear to be at the opposite end of the spectrum, as they are fun, engaging, and easy to read and since they are often (incorrectly) thought to be more entertainment than edification.  Who would have thought that theology and Harry Potter could have been combined to create a class that changed lives at Yale? The answer to that question is Rev. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio,  who created an incredibly popular seminar at Yale, tackling the sometimes daunting subject of theology by studying it in the context of the Harry Potter universe. The class took on subjects such as sacrifice, Christology, grace, and the  problem of evil, as portrayed in Rowling’s novels. The incredibly popular course garnered international attention, and now, Rev. Tummino takes readers where she has taken students, to a study of theology unlike any other.  Follow me after the jump for the full review.

God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom (Unlocking Press 2010) is a delightful read, covering the creation and implementation of the first semester of her beloved course of Harry Potter and Christian thought, as well as visiting the major themes covered in the class. Rev. Tumminio’s writing is engaging and approachable, making the reader often wish for the opportunity to be in an actual class with her.  She takes daunting subjects like Arianism, soul-making theodicy, and the Pelegian heresy and makes them accessible and clear, without diminishing their complexity and importance. Along the way, readers will discover the theological richness of the Harry Potter novels and  get to visit with Christian thinkers from  Augustine to Julian of Norwich to C.S. Lewis, who preside over the  study rather like the old Hogwarts Headmasters in their portraits: nodding, adding comments, and, above all, vibrant and engaging rather than long-gone, dusty fellows who put us in mind of Professor Binns.

Rev. Tummino also includes thought-provoking discussion questions at the end of each chapter that will allow the reader to continue his or her own explorations of these topics, and which also serve as excellent tools for the teacher who might like to use this text in an academic setting.

Though the topics sometimes plumb the depths of Christian thought, Rev. Tummino never lets the reader tumble into the abyss. With a perfect balance of easy-to-grasp theology and connections to the Potter universe, she makes both theology and Harry Potter more relevant and meaningful.

So, grab your Bible, your copies of the Harry Potter books, and  an every-flavor cupcake, and join this delightful teacher for an amazing journey that will teach, encourage, and inspire. God and Harry Potter at Yale is a  must read for teachers, for students who will wish they had Rev. Tumminio on their faculty, and for anyone who wants to understand theology  or Harry Potter in a wonderful new way.


  1. Sold!

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