Good morning, Nerdy Bloggers!
Here is the final installment of my thesis. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I will be having some difficulty getting to this blog over the next couple of weeks, as I’m in the process of moving. Don’t worry; I will return very soon. Be on the look out for the continuation of the TV Top 30 series, as well as an upcoming book review or two (almost finished with a couple of the books listed on my Books page). Be back with you again soon!
P. S.: If you’ve missed any part of my thesis and would like to catch up, you may find the links for all the posts here.
“His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.” – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 652.
What may be determined from all this discussion of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia and symbols of agapē love, Christ figures, and redemption? That there is enough material to discuss for the length of a thesis is notable. That there is enough secondary material to allow for this type of discussion is something that is also worthy of mention. Harry Potter does not appear to be the dangerous book series that many Christians have made it out to be. The comparison with The Chronicles of Narnia is demonstrative of that. But the question still remains, what does all this mean? Taking each of the symbols discussed respectively and combining them, readers may be able to form some conclusions about their presence in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia.
One thing that is useful to note initially is that where there is one symbol of agapē love, a Christ figure, or redemption, the other two symbols are often present as well. Biblically speaking, this is true as well. Let us recall John 3:16 for example, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (Bible Gateway). Breaking the verse down, the Greek word used for “loved” is “agapaō,” which is related to the Greek word, “agapē;” there is mention of the Son—the Christ figure, and finally, the redemption of those who believe, “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” These three aspects are a representation of something akin to the Holy Trinity. This is also proven Biblically. The three parts of the Holy Trinity are God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4:8 notes that God is love, and in the Greek the word used for love in that verse is indeed, agapē (Strong 1587). Therefore, God the Father is the embodiment of agapē love. Next in the Trinity is God the Son—Jesus Christ—the ultimate sacrifice for sin and the original Christ figure. The final part of the Trinity is God the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come to his disciples after his death. John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (Bible Gateway). The Holy Spirit is received as a mark of redemption; it is redemption itself as in Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Bible Gateway). Therefore, redemption may be seen as a representation of the Holy Spirit. The symbols of agapē love, the Christ figures, and redemption are much like the Trinity, and these symbols are the ones found most often in each of the Harry Potter and Narnia novels.
As John Granger and Carrie Birmingham have both noted, it seems unlikely that all of this symbolism in Harry Potter is there by mistake, mere chance, or accident. Why then is Harry often excluded from Christian literary circles? Dan McVeigh notes in his article, “Is Harry Potter Christian?,” “But clearly Rowling writes in a specifically Christian literary tradition. The catch? That tradition is one whose High Church roots—Anglican and Roman Catholic—make assumptions built into Rowling’s use of it inaccessible to a significant segment of American Christianity.” McVeigh makes an interesting point; Rowling has not formally made any statements about her faith, save that she is a member of the Church of Scotland and that she believes in God. However, these statements and the wealth of symbolic material that is found in these novels may be enough to indicate that the study of Harry Potter in Christian circles may be useful and even edifying. We do not know for sure if J. K. Rowling is intentional in all of this symbolism, but that her works are even capable of being interpreted in the same manner as C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, seems to speak for itself to some degree. Parents who are concerned about their children reading Harry Potter should not fear its content, since the books are easily interpreted under the lens of Christian symbolism.
With one Harry Potter book remaining in the series (set to be released in the summer of 2007), readers may hope to discover an even greater wealth of Christian symbolism in the novels, whether J. K. Rowling chooses to reveal her true intentions concerning the novels or not. With Harry Potter as one of the most popular novel series for children available today, events or scenes from the novels may be easily used as an “exemplum” or sermon illustration, just as easily as many use now with Lewis’ Narnia. (The discussion of Christ figures in this thesis might be a good place to start.) In short, the discussion is not finished here. There are many, many more symbols left to discuss in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. As John 21:35 notes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (Bible Gateway). Something similar may be said of the wealth of symbolism in Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia; there is still much left to be discussed, and in doing so there are many more books to be written. As the narrator notes on Harry’s thoughts in the introductory quote, he still has one more golden day left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione. Readers too have one more golden day left with Book 7, and as C. S. Lewis remarks in The Last Battle, Harry and is friends may meet with an endless day where, like an endless book—each chapter is better than the last.
Bible Gateway. King James Version. New International Version. 2006. 27 Apr. 2006 <http://biblegateway.com/>. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 John 4:8; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Samuel 22:2-3; Acts 4:12; Colossians 1:13-14; Ephesians 1:7, 2:1-5, 2:20; Genesis 1:1-31, 3:15; Hebrews 9:12, 12:1; Isaiah 1:18, 50:6, 53:1-12, 61:10; Job 2:11-13; John 1:29, 3:16, 4:10, 4:13-14, 8:36, 14:6-7, 14:26, 15:13, 15:15, 19:17, 20:26-29, 21:9; Luke 10:18, 22:42, 24:46-47; Mark 7:37, 15:3-5; Matthew 1:21; 24:31, 26:36-39, 26:42; Philippians 2:1-2; Revelation 5:5, 11:18, 12:10; Romans 6:11; Titus 3:5.
Lewis, C. S. The Last Battle. The Chronicles of Narnia. New York: HarperEntertainment, 2005. 669-767.
McVeigh, Dan. “Is Harry Potter Christian?” Renascence Spring 2002. 6 Mar. 2006 <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3777/is_200204/ai_n9067773/print>.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. New York: Levine-Scholastic, 2005. 552, 569, 584, 596, 612, 652.
Strong, James. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. 21st Cent. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001. 1587.