Boy wizard Harry Potter has received his second affirmation from Christian clergy in less than a month as a protestant minister, in a new book, compares the fictional magician to Jesus Christ, reports the Ottawa Citizen.
The latest praise for the widely popular book and movie series comes on the heels of last month’s blessing from the Vatican. Officials at the Vatican talked glowingly about the Potter series at a news conference about the New Age movement.
“The author, J.K. Rowling, is a Christian by conviction in her way of living and in her writing. I don’t see the least problem in the Harry Potter films,” the Rev. Peter Fleetwood, a former official of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told reporters.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world. They aren’t bad. They aren’t serving as an anti-Christian ideology.”
According to the Citizen, a film reviewer for the U.S. Catholic bishops’ website has told parents: “Harry Potter is so obviously innocuous fantasy that its fiction is easily distinguishable from real life. Harry uses his ‘magical powers’ for good to fight evil.”
The Harry Potter books have received strong condemnation from many in the evangelical Christian community who believe the series promotes witchcraft to young readers.
The Rev. John Killinger, author of the new book “God, The Devil and Harry Potter,” says Harry is far from being a devil or a witch. Rather, says the Presbyterian minister and academic, he actually is a Christ-like figure. Killinger calls the four-book series “a modern interpretation of the gospel.”
Killinger, the Citizen says, claims there are many similarities between the lives of Harry and Christ. Just as Herod tried to slay the infant Jesus, so the evil Lord Voldemort attempts to kill Harry at birth. And just as Jesus conquered death in his final encounter with evil at the cross, Harry triumphs in the fight over the Sorcerer’s Stone and in the cemetery in the climax of the fourth novel, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
Like Christ, Harry is also ready to sacrifice his life for others, Killinger says. He jumps on the back of a troll and thrusts a wand up its nostril to rescue his friend Hermione. He also drives off a large black snake to rescue Justin, another fellow student.
“I could easily say, in the words of the old popular song, ‘I’m just wild about Harry,'” writes Killinger.
Author Rowling belongs to the Church of Scotland and has said she attends somewhat regularly, but is not big on “religion as rules,” according to the Citizen.
Last year, she told a reporter the fact she is a Christian “seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said ‘yes,’ because I do.
“But no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me. If I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader – whether 10 or 60 – will be able to guess what is coming in the books,” she said.
In 2001, Rowling surpassed John Grisham and became the best-selling author in the world. Her four books have sold 116 million copies and been translated into 47 languages, and the two Harry Potter movies to date have earned more than $577 million.
Jack Brock, pastor of Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, N.M., made his feelings on Harry Potter widely known in late 2001 when his church had a Harry Potter book burning. He told the El Paso Times that his stance has not changed and that he was disappointed in hearing that the Vatican saw nothing wrong with the series.
“It’s a very sad decision because it’s putting the proverbial stamp of approval on the book, which is horrendous because it is a book about witchcraft,” Brock told the paper.
People have asked Brock what the difference is between Harry Potter and Snow White or “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The difference is that in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ Snow White is the heroine,” Brock said. “In ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ Dorothy is the heroine and the wizard turned out to be a con man. … In Harry Potter, Harry is the hero and he is a witch. That is a big crossover there in their approach. I don’t know what the pope is thinking.”