As this week presents the final installation of the wildly popular Harry Potter movie series, Christians are again asking the question of whether or not they should avoid the stories and films. After all, the main characters are witches and warlocks that cast spells and perform wizardly deeds almost constantly. Episcopal priest and Boston University Ph.D. candidate Danielle Tumminio teaches a seminar at Yale on Christian theology and the Harry Potter series, and she recently wrote a commentary for the Religion News Service on this topic.
Tumminio compared the films with other fantasy stories such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia in that they must be evaluated with a “big-picture approach” and not simply on the basis of their details. In the same way, she says, Christians cannot take a few verses out of the Bible and claim they alone represent a Christian worldview. “Christianity is defined by much more than its stance on witchcraft. It’s concerned with how to love well, whether there is life after death, whether our mistakes can be forgiven, and what kind of hope there is for the future.”
Beyond the setting of the film, says Tumminio, the characters of the Harry Potter series are on a faith journey seeking to learn about trust, love, power, and friendship. “…It’s not coincidental that Harry plays Seeker on the Hogwarts Quidditch team. He is, in many ways, searching not only for the golden Snitch but also for a way to be true to the concept of love, which in turn plays out in his struggles to love his neighbors and honor his parents.” Tumminio said her students used the experience in her seminar as moviegoers could use the film—as an opportunity to bring up the faith discussion with their parents and peers.
What do you think? Does the Harry Potter series of books and films bring up an opportunity to talk about issues of faith, or do they promote evil and therefore should be avoided? Present your thoughts below.