Welcome to the new HogwartsProfessor.com!

‚Hogwarts Professor.com‚ was born in 2004 as a place I could post articles I was working on or pieces I had written in my capacity as HogPro at Barnes and Noble University‚ (BNU) Harry Potter classes. I neglected it for months at a time when I was working on other things or was between BNU courses. This negligence led to complaints and suggestions in my in-box that I needed to update the articles there, take them down, expand and publish them, or just do something! I finally asked Erick to take down all the articles last Spring when I started re-writing them as a book. Over the summer I edited a collection of essays by five Harry Potter mavens that was published as Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? (Zossima Press, 2006) and drafted Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader.

I have decided to revive HogPro.com as a weBlog rather than a place where I post complete articles for three reasons. First, I enjoyed very much the response and helpful insights I received from friends on my private forums site. After that experience, it would be hard to post something I‚’d written and just wonder what people thought as they read it. Conversation is more than half the fun of thinking aloud about Harry Potter. Having said that, I didn‚’t want to expand the forums from my ‚approved list‚ to include anyone and every one in cyber space and I wanted to insure that what I wrote could be tracked and filed (and not lost on an endless thread). A weBlog could do here what forums could not. Last, I hoped for a place where I could post briefly or at length, just start a conversation or make a mighty contribution.

I am obliged, I guess, to explain what I will be writing about here. In brief, I hope to begin answering the question that most intrigues me about Joanne Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. My first attempt to explain Potter-mania, Hidden Key to Harry Potter and the two editions of that book published by Tyndale with the title Looking for God in Harry Potter, were about the transcendent meaning of the books and, specifically, the load of Christian symbolism and meaning in them. These books helped to slay the Shelob (or at least drive her back underground) of much of the criticism from angry Christians but I think now they are only half the answer about the books‚’ literary merit and their popularity. I hope here to share the ideas in Unlocking Harry Potter that fill out the transcendent explanation with explanations of their resonance with the beliefs of our historical period.

I am a full-time Latin and English teacher at Valley Forge Military Academy and this is my first year there. Because I have four different class preparations to do every day, I am pretty much married to my job. The woman I really am married to and our seven children insist, too, that I make token gestures to being husband and father. Thank you in advance, then, for understanding if I do not post as frequently as I‚’d like to. If there is a subject you‚’d like me to address, please send it to me at john@zossima.com or post it below with a note about yourself and what you‚’d like to talk about here.


  1. Hi John,

    I’m glad you’ve started this blog. I think sometimes they are easier to keep up with, as you said.

    I’m still thinking about the title for book 7, and that’s probably just what Rowling wants. But I’ll post more about it on the proper entry.

    Just wanted to say hello, and it’s nice to see you again. It’s been a busy time for us as well, and with the power outage we had last week, everything seems a little off.

    Take care–

    Pat (Eeyore)

  2. pottersfan887 says

    I have to say that I’m one of the people who belong in the camp that thinks the Deathly Hallows is the ceremony that one must perform in order to create a Horcrux. I think that it means to take an object and, through the death of a human being, perform a ceremony that causes the object to become something living and holy–a Horcrux. That is the Hallow part, the deathly part is the murder that must be committed to split the soul.

  3. What an excellent idea this blog is.

    One of my first reactions to the new title being released was, “I wonder what John is going to make of that?” Now I can read this and find out.

    Thank you for a wonderful Christmas present!


  4. John,
    I’ve been anxiously awaiting your return to posting. I’ve read Finding God in Harry Potter, and listened to one of your lectures. Keep up the good work.

    Fr Dn Kevin

  5. John, it’s good to have you logging again, and giving us all a chance to stir our thoughts together to see which patterns seem true and make sense in the context of the themes of forgiving love leading to greater life that, like Melville’s “red thread,” runs through Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

    Also strong is the theme of forgiveness, which is introduced in the “Sorcerer’s Stone,” and how forgiveness is linked with forgetting. Forgiveness for a wrong in the past allows us to truly forget. A sign of true forgiveness, once we’ve honestly sought it, is having a hard time remembering how we were wronged or wronged someone else. The conversation below might foreshadow that, just as Nearly Headless Nick needs to overcome a slim barrier to complete headlessness, Snape has a “ghost” of a chance that Harry will forgive him and that Snape will be healed of his woundedness that is concentrated in his resentment (and in his service to) Harry.

    “About twenty pearly-white and slightly transparent figures were floating through the room, seemingly oblivious to the students in the room. With a start Hermione realized that they must have been ghosts. They were arguing. The ghost of a fat little monk was saying, “Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance. . .”

    ‚ÄúMy dear Friar,‚Äù a ghost wearing medieval clothes, complete with a ruff around his neck, interrupted him, ‚Äúhaven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he’s not really even a ghost. . .‚Äù‚Äîfrom Chapter 7, “The Sorting Hat” in Sorcerer‚Äôs Stone

    In an essay that I was inspired to write while a student in your last Barnes & Noble class, John, and then posted on my EZboard site, ‚ÄúThe Classrooms of Hogwarts,‚Äù I wrote that in ‚ÄúHalf-Blood Prince,‚Äù Rowling carefully details how each of the four elements–air, water, earth, and fire–plays a part in finding the horcrux in the cave.

    Out of thin air an invisible chain (a concrete image of concantenated thoughts pulled out of memory) gives Harry and Dumbledore access to a boat to cross a lake to reach an island (re-imagined memories felt again to be real and substantial) where they find a sort of goblet of fire.

    In Tolkien’s Moria and in Rowling’s cave, the place where evil is concentrated is a cavernous, hellish darkness where the living dead arise from a cold-fire lake of human desire that drowns men’s souls and keeps them in bondage. Evil enlarges itself, growing denser and more dark through the concentration of many “lesser” evils, the accumulation of many acts of torture, control, and murders of the soul and body. Finally, the soul’s goodness is so diminished that the human heart feels itself beyond redemption and develops a horror at the thought of turning back toward the light. The soul’s words turn to bitterness, spoken “like a stabbing tongue of fire,” and its memories of many wrongs sting like “a whip of many thongs” in its self-created darkness and self-created hell, where it is eternally separated from the light.

    Leaning toward the “defiled holy objects” hypothesis as Rowling‚Äôs intended definition for ‚Äúdeathly hallows,‚Äù and combining this with the Fisher King and Grail Quest, I‚Äôm inclined to speculate that Harry will encounter Voldemort in his stronghold (perhaps Hogwarts Castle) surrounded by ‚Äúloyal‚Äù followers and gloating over his trophies (or perhaps enraged that Harry‚Äôs succeeded in finding and purifying all but one hallow. The critical element in this scene would be Snape, who functions as Keeper of the Key for Harry as Hagrid (dark, bedeviled, outcast) did for Dumbledore. Perhaps witnessing Harry and Snape reconciled to each other will play out as the key event that gives Harry the victory over Dumbledore. I haven‚Äôt thought yet how this accords with the last part of the prophecy.

    An innocent babe attacked on Halloween (“All Hallows Eve”) and Rowling revealing what’s been swirling her Pensieve as the title for her last book at the exact time we’re remembering a Babe born in innocence on Christmas “Eve of Christ”)—decidedly uncoincidental. Another point in favor of seeing Rowling’s story as decidedly suffused with more than a cast, shadow, ghost, or shade of Christianity.

    Rob (rapierpen)

  6. Arabella Figg says

    It’s so good to have your scholarly insights back, John. Great beginning with the Deathly Hallows name.
    You mention the four humors; it would be interesting to write something about them (choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic) as they relate to the books, themes and characters, further than the Ron (choleric) and Fleur (phlegmatic) connection.

  7. Arabella Figg says

    Oops, don’t know if my original post succeeded–accidentally hit a key and post apparated who-knows-where.
    I really enjoyed your Deathly Hallows essay, John, and it’s great to have you back. I read Hidden Key when it was first published, failed to buy it and it was gone (I did get Looking for God). I look forward to your upcoming book for serious readers.
    You mention the four humors; we know Ron represents choleric and Fleur, phlegmatic. But it would be so interesting if you fleshed out all four (choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholic) as they relate to the books’ themes and characters, etc. I’m sure there’s much more there than meets the eye. Or perhaps someone has done this and you could give us a link.
    While I appreciate Rob’s post on forgiving and forgetting, forgetting isn’t always realistic, especially with seriously deep wounds. Forgiveness is most beautiful when it’s given in spite of painful remembrance, and it is possible. For example, Lupin has forgiven Snape, with full memory of the past, but forgiveness has allowed Lupin to put his memories in context, see Snape as a full member of the Order and even depend on him for help.
    I recommend the classic book Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Christian psychologist Lewis B. Smedes.
    Arabella Figg

  8. shadowquill says

    As soon as I heard of the title of the seventh volume, I wanted to know your interpretation of its meaning. My first reaction was that the two words nearly contradicted each other. After reading your in-depth analysis, I have no doubt that you (and those you referenced, of course)have nearly exausted all of the possibilities. I am in awe. I particularly liked your mentioning of the alchemist’s struggle to unite the battling elements, or in this case, the Hogwarts houses.

    Looking forward to more insight! I don’t believe I could possibly come up with anything that you haven’t mentioned, but I will be pondering the “Deathly Hallows” nonetheless.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that each word has 7 letters in it? Just a small observance…was that purposeful or a pleasant unexpected result?

  9. My first reaction to the title of the seventh book was a smile. My thought, when I heard the title of the Seventh book as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was Psalm 23: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil for thou art with me.” I thought of Dumbledore and Harry at crucial points in HBP and the pivotal response, “I am with you.” I reached for the Webster’s dictionary and sought the definition of hallow as meaning sacred, holy. I smiled even more. I see the seventh book as Harry’s walk through the shadowed valley seeking the shattered fragments of Voldemort’s soul. A Dantes experience perhaps. Harry can walk confidently knowing in the final sense that “Dumbledore” would always be “with him,” and the assuredness that there is a blessed life eternal for the good, and a thing worse than death, a second death for the damned. The agency of Harry’s blood in redemption will be interesting.

  10. lisa_HP_fan says

    I had to write and tell you how much I am enjoying your book, “Looking for God in Harry Potter.” I started reading the books about the same time that you did, and I am a dedicated Potter-head. I have a small group of local friends that get together and discuss the books every so often. When Half-Blood Prince came out, we went to the midnight release in costume (me as Snape, my favorite character) and then adjourned to a friend’s house to read together. We plan to rent a suite at a hotel for the release of Book 7.

    I am sure you have heard the news of Laura Mallory, the mother in Gwinnet County, Georgia who has been trying for two years to get the books removed from the school libraries. If only she would read your book. But since she hasn’t even read the Potter series, I doubt she will read yours. I may send her my copy when I am through with it.

    I am an ex-Christian. I lost my faith in light of the idiocy (like the hatred of Harry) that seems to have overrun the religion in the last ten years or so. I really do think that Christianity doesn’t have much to do with Christ’s teaching anymore. It’s more about excluding the “wrong” people and forwarding one’s own politcial agendas. What was once a religion of love and compassion has soured and become a religion of judgment, self-righteousness and hate.

    Not that you struck me as that kind of person, of course! In fact, your book actually gives me hope that Christianity may some day return to what it was meant to be. I just wanted you to understand where I am coming from.

    Thanks again for writing “Looking for God in Harry Potter.” I hope it helps some people see the light.


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