Support the Café

Search our Site

Theology and ‘The Boy Who Lived’

Theology and ‘The Boy Who Lived’

Danielle Tumminio describes her course “Christian Theology and Harry Potter.”

Over the years I’ve offered the Christian Theology and Harry Potter class, students consistently rank it a favorite, regardless of their faith tradition. This may be because my students treasure any excuse to re-read their favorite saga, but my sense is that the real reason for the course’s success runs deeper than that: The subjects theology tackles — what the purpose of evil is, whether we can maintain relationships beyond the grave, what forgiveness looks like — are the ones that keep our minds racing at 2 a.m., when we’re wrapped in warm blankets and sipping hot milk for comfort. Yet without a vocabulary — Christian or otherwise — to express those questions, it’s hard to find lasting resolution or peace. That’s why I tell my students that I know Harry Potter brought them to the class, but I hope that theology keeps them there, because questions about how much we love our neighbor or how much we embrace diversity are worth some curiosity, whether one is planning to become an elementary school teacher or a cardiologist. In other words, while I don’t expect or encourage my students to embrace the Christian faith, I do ask them to consider the kinds of questions that faith demands.

At the end of the first year that I taught the Christian theology and Harry Potter course, one of my sophomores asked if she could speak with me. She came from a secular background, a home in which religion was a banned topic. “Your class gave me a way to talk about questions of ultimate meaning,” she said. “I never had that before.”

I left smiling that day. It was the highest compliment she could have offered.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Murdoch Matthew

Resonant point in Ms. Tumminio’s essay:

. . . what the Harry Potter books do is to accomplish the work of Christ utilizing a whole community instead of a single person, which explains why no individual character closely resembles Jesus. This means that salvation is accomplished not by one person but by many people working together, with love (aka God) for a guide. Ethically, a theology like this has important implications because it empowers people — both in Harry’s world and our own — to live the life compassion for which Jesus lived and died.

Vast implications in this little statement.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café