Monday Faith Links: Harry Potter, Sin, Mahaney Follow-Up, etc.

My wife and I saw the final Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows Part II, over the weekend. It was very good, worthy of the end of the series, but not life-changing.

As I was reading reviews of the film last week to see what reactions people were having, I came across a really interesting story from Relevant Magazine. The article’s subhead definitely caught my attention: “Why the “boy who lived” is one of the most Christian symbols of modern pop culture.”

That’s as ironic a statement as you can make for a lot of people, especially for many Christians who have outcast the series. I avoided the books for a long time, mostly because I thought they were just for kids or teens and not because I thought they were evil.

But having read every book and seen every movie, there really are lots of Biblical and redemptive themes in the series. And the final book – especially the second half of the final book that the last movie covers – blows the top off of Christian comparisons.

That’s what Ryan Hamm, the Relevant article’s writer, focuses on in his piece.

Hamm spends a lot of time recounting the grand finale of the book, when Harry gives himself over to Voldemort to be killed and to save his friends. Of course, he’s not really dead and eventually rises to defeat “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” Here’s how Hamm breaks down the sequence of events:

Later, Harry sacrifices himself to save his friends … sound familiar? He wakes up in an all white area called (seriously) “King’s Cross.” Then he rises again and returns to Hogwarts to save his friends, deal the final blow to the Evil One and put things to rights. If none of this rings a bell, it’s time to pull out your New Testament.

I’ll admit, I didn’t really latch on to a lot of this when I was reading the books. J.K. Rowling is just such an incredible writer that I got lost in the story and couldn’t really pull back to see a bigger picture. But now having some time to reflect, it’s really pretty obvious where Rowling drew a lot of her inspiration.

Rowling talked in-depth about the Christian themes in the book with MTV in 2007, saying at the end that she attends church and referring to Christians who have denounced the books as being part of “my own religion.”

I haven’t heard many people even in my own evangelical circle really denounce the series for a while, but I hope anyone who felt that way would take the time to read them and see how inspiring Harry’s story can be. There certainly are much worse examples for people out there that claim to be promoting Christ and redemption.

In the end, Harry Potter might be one of the best evangelical tools we have to reach our culture. And in case anyone was wondering about the kind of attention Harry Potter can draw, that Relevant story had more than 2,500 comments.

Nothing else on the home page had 850.

Other Links

  • Relevant had another thought-provoking article this past week, this one dealing with sin. The writer’s argument is basically than sin gets pushed to the fringes as we focus so much on grace.
  • Mark Driscoll has gotten himself into a bit of a controversy over a Facebook post of all things. Christianity Today’s blog for women tries to throw some water on the fire and encourage some of Driscoll’s critics to take the bad with the immense good that he is doing for the church.
  • And Christianity Today has another post about pastors, this one following up on C.J. Mahaney’s decision to take a leave of absence from his ministry over allegations of pride. The story looks at how some major evangelical leaders have tried to address the problem of pride in the ministries.
  • On a less serious note but still very useful, Desiring God had a post this morning with three passages designed to help us work well in our careers even when we’re uninspired. Perfect for a Monday.
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