On our Facebook page we’ve been talking about Harry Potter and religion as the latest movie debuts this Friday. The discussion has been interesting because the Evangelical writers have a totally different perspective on Harry than I do. I don’t see it as a story of compassion, sacrifice and love, although those are certainly elements. I see it as a Greek saga full of honor, integrity, courage, independence and the warrior virtues. I see more of the Nine Noble Virtues in Harry than I see the compassion and love of Christ.
I find it fascinating that we have such different views of the series. To me Harry is very much a product of the modern age. The children can’t depend on adults to protect them or solve their problems, from malevolent entities hunting them to the ordinary horrific bullying of schoolmates. The teachers participate in the bullying, encourage students to break the rules, hold them to a double standard, send students into danger’s way and push them to accomplish almost impossible tasks. Family, teachers, and government officials are all bound to disappoint, aren’t worth consulting, will only make things worse and will likely dismiss their fears. Children reading Harry Potter are being given the same message their grandparents heard as teenagers: you can’t trust anyone over 35.
It’s true that Harry is realistic in these child/adult relationships to some degree but it seems such a grim lesson for a child. I want to say childrens stories should be more innocent, more light-hearted and demonstrate a model of supportive adults and obedient children. I think that’s a naive desire. Children’s stories have always been “Grimm.”
In a way, Harry Potter could be the mascot of the “It Gets Better” campaign. Once free of the adults making plans for him and involving him in their machinations, whether with good or bad intent, Harry finally finds happiness, love and a bright future. Isn’t that how it should be?
Check back for lots more Harry Potter posts, articles and discussions over the next few days! Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook to keep track of the conversations happening there!