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Harry Potter and the Christian Allegory

  • Paul Asay
  • 2008 3 Jan
Harry Potter and the Christian Allegory

Remember how controversial all those Harry Potter books were? Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) said the books “deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly.” Many parents reportedly tried to ban the book from school libraries. Time writer Lev Grossman said that the real fatality in J.K. Rowlings’ spectacularly successful books was God.

“Harry Potter lives in a world free of any religion or spirituality of any kind,” Grossman wrote. “He lives surrounded by ghosts but has no one to pray to, even if he were so inclined, which he isn’t. Rowling has more in common with celebrity atheists like Christopher Hitchens than she has with Tolkien and Lewis.”

The series’ final surprise, however, was that Rowlings thought she was telling an essentially Christian story all along. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made that intent clear as it dove into themes of sacrifice and redemption, doubt and faith. Potter himself proved to be a Christ-like avatar, willing to lay down his life to destroy evil.

“To me (the religious parallels have) always been obvious,” Rowling said. “But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going.” (, Time)