Harry Potter Taught Me More Than Jesus

To those who say the Harry Potter books are somehow wicked…

I think there’s a lot of truth to this postcard someone sent in to PostSecret:

I’m sure there’s supposed to be a connection between God and Dumbledore in the series… but Snape seems like more of the God-like person to me: Deep down, he has good intentions, but you would never know it because of all the shitty things he does to the people he supposedly cares about.

Also, he’s a fictional character.

  • Sarah

    Hey now, that’s not fair. Snape is way less of a jackass than God.

  • Kahomono

    I have always considered The Lord of the Rings a guide for how to be a good and moral person that is vastly superior to the Bible.

  • Heidi

    I’m not so sure god has good intentions. I think he’s more the Voidemort type. “Worship me, don’t break my arbitrary rules, torture and kill in my name…”

  • http://daysofturmoil.blogspot.com/ the Constantly Dramatic One

    I started reading the Potter series when I was 13, that’s almost a decade ago, and I agree completely with this sender.

    The books (and to a certain extent, Rowling) did thought me more about friendship, love, family, loyalty and yes, to be a better person than an imaginary god, fable tales in so-called religious books and my parents combined.

  • http://www.aussieinengland.wordpress.com Lissa

    If Voldemort is God, does that make Harry Jesus?
    “I created you only to destroy you.” – type thing.
    But we can’t have Jesus dying in a modern day YA story now, can we? Everyone has to live happily ever after.

  • Gordon

    But we can’t have Jesus dying in a modern day YA story now, can we? Everyone has to live happily ever after.

    Not everyone, you can kill the occasional red-shirt.

  • http://selflovinggirl.blogspot.com/ WildOrchid

    Harry actually died in the seventh book – it had lots of similarities with the biblical story. Voluntary sacrifice and all that. He then had a choice to stay dead or come back. I think I even saw a book about that with a Jesus with a lightening bolt scar on the cover.

    C.S. Lewis did something similar with Alsan in Narnia.

    As for Snape – look around in the fandom. Most of us already think he is a Sex God ;)

  • Kate

    Although if Dumbledore represented God, that would almost make God gay, right? And if hypothetical DumbleGod is gay… well. That takes care of the religious ridiculousness standing between me and a totally awesome gay wedding in whichever damn state I choose, doesn’t it? Also, I got my Hogwarts letter when I was eleven.

    If only.

  • middlewest

    Can you apotterists PROVE there is no Harry Potter? Hogwarts is a non-overlapping magisterium.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I agree with Kahomono, LTR is a far better guide than the bible.

  • jen

    Actually, Dumbledore isn’t much better than Snape. He may, in theory, have better intentions… But the very first time we see him, he gives the kiddies instructions to avoid – was it the forest that first year, or the 3rd floor? Either way, he tells them “stay away from xxx” without adding the “because it could kill you” and without actually doing anything about the danger. It’s very “don’t eat the fruit of this tree”, with just as little action taken to protect the young and innocent.

    As the story goes on, he leaves Harry in the dark about what’s going on whenever possible. He’ll show up, ask Harry for help, and only get around to explaining as they’re on their way, or even after it’s over. Ron & Hermione, who are often in danger because of their connection to Harry, are lucky if they get an “oh, hello,” – forget any sort of explanation.

    I’d say god & Dumbledore isn’t a horrible comparison. But then I always did think Dumbledore was a little shady.

  • Thackerie

    I find this interesting:

    While the fundies in the U.S. are decrying Harry Potter as satanic, and burning the books accordingly, a few years ago, the Church of England released a guide on using the books to get young people to think about so-called “Christian values” (which are actually just good humanistic values) — loyalty to friends, commitment, sacrifice, etc.

    It is available through Amazon and elsewhere as “Mixing It Up with Harry Potter.” The same author had previously created a similar guide based on The Simpson.

  • Enrico

    The book; “Jesus Potter Harry Christ” by Derek Murphy explores this theme extensively. Much of the book explores ancient literary archetypes and parallels.
    Murphy presents a similar conclusion that Harry Potter is a more noble and better role model than Jesus. Harry sacrificed himself for his friends WITHOUT having divine knowledge or any idea that he might one day rise again.

  • David

    For those of you who want a satisfactory explanation of Dumbledore’s behavior (and a fanfic that might be better than the original):

    http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/Harry_Potter_and_the_Methods_of_Rationality

  • PCE

    @Kahomono

    I have always considered The Lord of the Rings a guide for how to be a good and moral person that is vastly superior to the Bible.

    It’s interesting that you say that. LOTR is a biblically influenced book. Tolkien was a Christian writer and he included some explicitly Christian stuff in the books.

  • PCE

    @ Thackerie

    … “Christian values” (which are actually just good humanistic values) — loyalty to friends, commitment, sacrifice, etc.

    It’s interesting that you think these are values that are simply borrowed from humanism. Do you have any evidence that this is the case? These values are obvious in the Bible, but what humanist literature are you reading?

  • Seymour Brighton

    Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc are all at the same level of respect for me as The Bible.

    They’re human-written GUESSES at what constitutes a good person. Also they’re long, boring, self-important texts that are completely irrelevant for modern society.

    If someone says “I love LOTR” I know that person automatically has a very skewed view of the world — just like a religious person.

    I can’t believe so many otherwise-intelligent people can read (or watch) LOTR and think it’s GOOD.

  • Seymour Brighton

    PCE: Look within yourself. No need for a text. Humanist values are SELF-EVIDENT.

  • ACN

    He didn’t say “borrowed”, he said “just good humanistic values”.

  • PCE

    @ACN

    Fair enough, but my question remains. What humanist literature are you reading? I am not trying to be rude, I am seriously interested in reading humanist philosophy and was wondering what books people are reading.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    i’m in that tiny minority of people who has never read any of the books or seen the movies. i know about the HP series because people talk about them… everywhere. it’s a tad spooky, in the sense that it hardly matters if i’m reading a political blog, a gardening blog, an atheist blog, a gay blog- sooner or later someone will make the HP reference. i guess i’m just too old or something to be interested in these stories.

    C.S. Lewis did something similar with Alsan in Narnia.

    Aslan is Jesus. he says so at the end of one of the books, “but now you must return to your own world and learn of me by my other name” he says to the older kids as they leave narnia for the final time. i loved those books as a kid and i agree that they, and the tolkien books, are far superior ways of introducing children to judeo-christian values than the blood, slaughter and incest fest known as the bible.

  • ACN

    I’d start here (it isn’t really philosophy so much as a declaration of beliefs)

    I haven’t read it myself, but I’ve heard Grayling’s “The Good Book” is excellent.

  • anonymous

    Which would be rather ironic considering how LTR has a lot of Catholic influence.

    Though Tolkien’s morality was also influenced by his WW1 experience as well.

  • http://www.shadowlane.com Tony Elka

    We have a savior, and his blue police box is larger on the inside.

  • Alice

    That’s funny. Tim Minchin used that same Harry Potter book alongside a copy of the Qur’an to demonstrate how silly the concept of a “sacred” book was.

  • Kevin S.

    Seymour, somebody loving Lord of the Rings in no way indicates they have a very skewed view of the world – just that they enjoy well-written epic fantasy. People claiming they love the Bible don’t view it as fiction the way HP and LOTR fans understand their favorite books to be.

  • Laura

    My husband and I are co-teaching a whole Harry Potter curriculum in Sunday School this summer. (We are atheist Unitarians.) A lot of UU congregations are using HP as part of their curriculum. The kids love it! (So do the adults!)

  • http://loadedmashedpotatoes.blogspot.com Leonard

    @Tony Elka

    He’s also saved the world more times than God. Using a Screwdriver.

  • jen

    We have a savior, and his blue police box is larger on the inside.

    But He Himself has said that He isn’t a good man – if He were, He wouldn’t need so many rules… ;-)

  • http://www.tech-o-potamus.blogspot.com hipopotamo

    It’s interesting how Xians (or religious people in general) tend to appropriate universal values just because their book got to enumerate them somehow.
    Regardless of whether there are humanist/secular texts concerning such universal values, I will posit that that is just an exercise in summarizing/describing/comprehending such values, and that as we experience life we get a grasp and an intuition of them, by simply experiencing consequences of adhering to such values.
    As an example, I could cite the “All I needed to know about life I learned from Star Wars” meme. The movie resonates with us because it presents archetypes of friendship, loyalty, selflessness and other values that agree with our human nature.

    @PCE: Both Tolkien and Lewis were Christians and somehow wanted to explore Christian values and mythology on their books. But Tolkien was a scholar who was interested in the complexities of language while Lewis was interesting in moralizing, and it shows.
    Tolkien created a vast mythology that stands on its own, the biblical references cleverly hidden, its complexities still being discussed by Literature professionals, while Lewis’ Narnia comes out as an utterly moralizing, patronizing book, with transparent bible references.
    In a sense Tolkien’s approach can be said to be more successful, given that it is common that atheists and/or skeptics will love LOTR while disregarding Narnia. In particular, I can say that, in my case, LOTR is a better source than the bible for presenting universal values.

    There is even this anecdote in which Tolkien scolded Lewis for his Narnia books, telling him that while both pursued the same objective with their books (that of reflecting on the bible and its meanings), Lewis’ was a failed attempt due to its patronizing and by the numbers approach.
    So, no irony if an skeptic likes (or even learns from) LOTR. Universal values are self-evident. The Bible (and Narnia, by the same token) tries to teach me such values by patronizing and intimidation, while LOTR teaches such values by presenting consequences of acting upon or against them.

    @Seymour: I don’t see how my liking of LOTR can give you any prediction of my views of the world, other than probably I am of the “geeky” type. I can confirm my geekyness to you by stating that I DO love Star Wars, Star Trek, Asimov, Adams and so on. Still, I don’t think we geeks have a particular view of the world, be it skewed or not. That would be the same that affirming that murder mystery fans or avid baseball fans have a particular view of the world.

    If you’re still reading my rant, friends, get a salutation from the Hungry Hippo

    Cheers

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Of course Harry Potter isn’t real in that naive fashion that anti-Potterists like to portray. They aren’t dealing with the sophisticated, sublime arguments of the deep Potterists. They probably haven’t even read all the important secondary literature like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages” and, of course, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”. I don’t see how we are expected to respond to such individuals. When they say things like “Harry Potter is fictional” they are just betraying their own ignorance. Of course, they’ll continue to focus on naive, common Potterism and not deal with the deeply subtle arguments that real scholars have spent years talking about. So before one spends time on this sort of thing one must first try to appreciate things like the majestic mystery that is the apparently contradictory death dates for Nearly Headless Nick, or appreciate the sublime difficulty of the chronology surrounding the first death of Voldemort and the missing day, or at least learn the basics of the complicated issues surrounding Time Turners and chronological consistency.

  • Kathryn

    Yeah . . . Snape is at least consistent in his inconsistencies

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Joshua Zelinsky, raises an important point. Nobody has yet produced evidence that Harry Potter does not exist and if they look closely they will find much evidence that shows that he does. I have stood on Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. I have seen wizards perform incredible feats of magic for the entertainment of children. Dragons are part of the history of the UK and predate even Britain’s Patron Saint. St. Martin’s Lane in London is the real Diagon Alley and I have walked it’s length and seen the wonders on sale in the shops. I just don’t understand how you can be sceptical when the evidence is all around you.

  • Douglas Kirk

    Hell, The Prince by Machiavelli is a better guide on how to be a moral person than The Bible.

  • Richard H

    JK Rowlings has said that the Harry Potter series does contain Christian themes. She didn’t (she says) make it too obvious or it would have given away the ending.

    http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1572107/jk-rowling-talks-about-christian-imagery.jhtml

    She is also proud to be on so many banned book lists…

  • FriendlyAtheistStalker

    Harry Potter is my bible <3

  • http://www.jesuspotterharrychrist.com Derek Murphy

    Thanks Enrico for the shoutout – FYI Tom Rees of Epiphenom is giving away a few copies of Jesus Potter Harry Christ; if Hemant wants to offer a similar giveaway on Friendly Atheist, I’ll supply the copies. Should be heavy traffic with the last movie coming out; a lot of Christians who haven’t read the HP books will probably watch the final movie and make the connection between Jesus and Harry for the first time.

  • PCE

    @ACN

    Thanks! I will probably read The Good Book.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Kev Quondam, Kevque Futurum

    @Richard H:

    Funny. A lot of books contain “Christian” themes. A savior who sacrifices himself for the good of others. Battles between good and evil, often concentrating on the growth of the main character of the story – with some element of temptation by those evil forces.

    These are humanist elements more than “Christian” ones.

  • Fede

    @Tony Elka: you, sir, won the Internet.