【Fantasy Theology reader】 “Harry Potter” and Children in adversity Vol. 41 Ministry, June 2019(空想神学読本 英訳版)

Following the previous series “Fantasy theology reader”, which open some of sub-culture works theologically, another challenge begins to introduce relationship between a wide variety of entertainment works and Christianity, will serve Christianity in modern Japan society. The first work featured is “Harry Potter”, known to every corner of the earth.

Needless to say, “Harry Potter” series are the epic of wizardry fantasy. The original pieces are bestseller and the movies are box-offices success all over the world. It is heating up again by emerging the spin-off series, “Fantastic Beast”. A single mother J. K. Rowling, the author of the bestselling “Harry Potter”, wrote the first one in extremely poverty. Then she experienced literally Cinderella-like transformation through “the wizard” and it has been continued.

In Christianity, however, the series are not necessarily welcomed. There are piles of “to be detested from Christianity viewpoint” including wizard, magical creature, witchcraft or fortune teller in Harry Potter series. The dark and serious worldview in the series seems to be un-children’s literature, and the stories are unfolded devastating sequence of characters deaths, which might affect Christianity’s response.

Among the numerous works of fantasy in the world, “Harry Potter” series have only been regarded with hostility as “Satanism”, been tried to keep children away from reading or watching them. It could be argued that why Christianity have been avoided Harry Potter because the world of the series is made so believable. I myself would be a later Potterian, name of the series fan, and I have been so into the world, Thus I missed so much when the series have been completed. At the same time, I had a so-called “great loss”.

Harry, the main character of the stories, spent dark days in his childhood at his uncle’s house, for his parents had passed away right after he was born. At age of 11, Harry was told that he was a wizard and then he decided to entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was the first time for Harry to meet people that could be said his company. Having enjoyed peaceful days in the school for a while, Harry threw himself into a battle against returned evil Lord Voldemort. 

Harry followed the similar fate that Jesus Christ had done. In order to defeat evil Lord Voldemort, Harry himself must choose to die. Preparing to meet his own fate, Harry went into deep forest without telling the truth to anybody. It looks like the way Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Harry lost his life once, and miraculously rose again. Finally, he defeated evil Lord Voldemort. A fairy-tale ending.

In the stories there are so many characters who became victims for Harry or to defeat Lord Voldemort. Readers feel their chest grow tight as chains of self-sacrifices in the stories. I also let out a sigh many times.

That is the theme of the “Harry Potter”. Other painful and heavy factors such as blood related principle, politically protectiveness, discrimination, family, love and hatred are described in the world at the same time. The series are beyond merely wizardry fantasy, but they consist of multi-layer structures as a problem presentation in our modern society.

“Harry Potter” series are apparently based on “Worldview of Christianity”. After completion of the entire series, J. K. Rowling clearly stated that. The world of Harry Potter is colored by full of wizardry, however, the essential thing in the series are quite “Biblical”, so we can call it as “a contemporary version of Gospel”.

By the way, Harry is the main character of the series, but he is not a superhero. On the contrary, his life was fraught with misfortune. Death of his parents in his infancy, being abused by his uncle and his wife. Furthermore, Harry was fated to die with Lord Voldemort as he was a small child. Moreover, Harry fought his enemies by himself in many cases, without people’s understanding.

Life of Jesus Christ was just the same. Although the detail of his background was unclear, he must have not lived wealthy and materially satisfied. Worked as a carpenter, helping his mother, starting to preach at the age of 30, with full of adversity. Disciples of Jesus were with him, but they never understood his real intention or meaning. Moreover, his goal was to be crucified.

In our modern society, we encounter lots of Harry and Jesus. Babies who are born in poor hygiene situation, children who are abused by their parents, kids who are abandoned by their parents, children who have compelling reasons to commit crimes and so on. “Battles” of those children are less visible and hard to understand from outside.

Still, if those children can achieve a heroic triumph, he/she will be honored. People may say, “Well done in spite of your hardship!”. On the other hand, there are so many Harrys who cannot win, and they are not even to be known his/her existence nor to be understood.

We Christian believe that Jesus Christ was born and died in hardship. We look up to Jesus and worship him. Still do we pay attention to “children who are in turmoil” around us? “Harry Potter” series are quite Christian-oriented works that raise such issues.

Written by Fuminaru Kawashima

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