The Harry Potter series released the final film this past weekend, renewing the topic of the epic saga and the phenomenon that has captured a huge audience both young and old.
Early on, some in the Christian community took offense at the series, making the case that the author glorified witchcraft and a rebellious nature in children. I never shared that viewpoint because if you take that stance literally you’d probably have to throw out the Chronicles of Narnia and Star Wars and any number of wonderful works of literature and film.
As the series progressed, another element developed as well. Potter became a “Christ figure” in many ways. That term is well defined by Wikipedia thusly:
A Christ figure is a literary technique that authors use to draw allusions between their characters and the biblical Jesus Christ. More loosely, the Christ Figure is a spiritual or prophetic character who parallels Jesus, or other spiritual or prophetic figures.
Ordinary Pastor looks at it from a slightly different perspective and provides the following breakdown.
What do we have in the Harry Potter series? We have an enemy who threatens to destroy as he pushes his wicked agenda. We have a hero character who seems unlikely and weak, yet uniquely powerful and driven. He is characterized by self-sacrifice, mission, the honor of his parents, vindication of good, and friendship. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of others and the defeat of evil. Potter is called the chosen one who fights the evil one and must ultimately defeat death.
If we stop right there we have to say that this sounds very familiar to us as Christians.
I don’t think you can make a one-to-one literal comparison between Harry Potter and Christ or even Christians but that’s not the point. You relate to characters that you can see bits and pieces of yourself in. To wit, I relate to the formerly lost soul searching for greater meaning in Luke Skywalker but I also emulate the self confident rebel with a heart of gold in Han Solo.
With Harry Potter we have a little bit of both. He’s an innocent kid that has great responsibility thrust upon him at an early age and becomes a young man of conviction that willingly sacrifices himself for the greater good. There are a lot of elements of that description that we would all benefit from emulating. Of course Christ is the only perfect example and that is why every comparison to him is limited, but you can see why his legacy echoes in the character traits of so many of our favorite heroes.
In short, I’m not saying that we should be wearing WWHPD? (what would Harry Potter do?) bracelets any time soon. I’m just saying that it is neat to see glimpses of Christ in a character that is so well beloved by fans of all spiritual backgrounds.