I just stumbled across a comment made by self proclaimed Hogwarts professor John Granger against my book, Jesus Potter Harry Christ. It was hurtful. He says:
Jesus Potter, Harry Christ is a book that “reveals” that Jesus of Nazareth was just a literary figure in the same sense that Harry is a Christ figure. A new low, I think, but remarkable how far we have come from Harry being the anti-Christ and gateway to the occult. Punk atheists now use Harry as their means to assert that Jesus of Nazareth is a fiction.
Now I agree, my sales and promotional material may be a little dramatic – but hey, criticism before the book is even published? I feel I should take a minute to defend myself. First of all, disbelieving in the historical Jesus has nothing to do with being an Atheist! Being interested in history, and doing a lot of research, is what leads to the conclusion that Jesus was a myth. Keep God out of it. In fact it’s my confident belief that a just, fair, good God necessarily makes the historical Jesus impossible.
More pertinently, Christians have demonized Harry Potter for a decade, calling him as Granger says the anti-Christ. After book 7, suddenly Harry Potter is a Christ Figure and Christian authors are rushing to publish books claiming Harry for the Christians – something Granger was one of the first to capitalize on. And I’m not disagreeing with them at all: Harry is a Christ-figure, he is very very similar to Jesus. All I’m asking is why the mythical stories of the gospel are viewed as historical, while Harry Potter is viewed as literary.
Moreover, rather than a weak, faith-based affirmation of dogma and rhetoric I’ve put seven years of research into my heavily supported 150,000 word manuscript. “Punk Atheist?” Please, I’m a doctoral candidate for Christ’s sakes.
There have been over a dozen books exploring the spiritual/religious themes in Harry Potter’s books, allowing for Christians and spiritual seekers to find in Harry Potter feel-good meaningful support for their faiths – isn’t it about time one critical, non-religious account was given? And unlike other books, my book pays attention to the controversy itself; much more than the shared symbols in fact. Isn’t it fascinating that Churches can burn Harry Potter books and a few years later Glorify him as a new Christ-parable, a way to broach the topic with Jesus to unbelievers, and nobody comments on this abrupt change of heart? Can’t Christians be held accountable for anything they do?
Who is Better, Jesus or Harry?
Comparing Jesus Christ and Harry Potter as two literary figures (ignoring for the moment the claim that Jesus is different, because he’s real) can we see which character is superior?
As a living spirit, Jesus provides comfort and inspiration; he can also motivate his followers to great acts of charity and self-sacrifice. At the same time, as a “historical” savior, he creates dissension and conflict between cultures and ideologies. Christ teaches suffering, meekness and humility; renounce this life, look forward to the next one. Christian martyrs who did not want to live were not really sacrificing anything – while Harry, who desperately wanted to live, was. Also, while Jesus knew he would come back, Harry had no such hope. Thus his sacrifice was much grander.
Jesus teaches forsake everything for next life; Harry says fight for this one. Jesus says anything that happens is God’s will: God is in control, not me. God has a plan. Harry says, If not you, who? If not now, when? Harry takes full responsibility for this world. God (Dumbledore) is dead; and there is no one else to stop the evil in the world except us. Religion provides comfort to get us through suffering, endure this life in hopes of a better afterlife. Literature like Harry Potter inspires us to stand up, fight against injustice.
Jesus, as son of God, divine being, represents a level we can never reach. He is perfect, we are sinners. He is not an example that we can model; he is the sun that makes us feel ashamed of our shadows. Harry, in contrast, is fully human; he doubts, sins, expresses emotions, makes poor decisions, and he eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice – which importantly he had no desire to make. By his example we can compare ourselves. By his mistakes we can recognize our own. By his determination we can inspire ours.
By his hopelessness we can discover that justice means taking action without guarantee, without a promise of salvation, without the support of a symbolic order that promises redemption. True ethics is not following law, but guessing and being willing to act just because it is better than non-acting.
Most importantly, Harry Potter is popular; in a way that Jesus is not. Harry Potter’s movies have made billions, while Mel Gibson’s The Passion (for example) was disturbing, bloody and ultimately unsatisfying, riddled with with the unresolved complexities in a system where the all powerful and all knowing God has to trick or deceive his creation, Satan.
Harry’s popularity is crucial; he is the myth of our time, the best selling story. Yes he is a repacking of Jesus Christ, but one that eclipses him completely. While we can sift through Harry and trace back to Jesus, why would we? Harry is a much more humane, in-depth, alive character than the Jesus of the gospels, infinitely easier to identify with, champion, and even love.
I suppose I have to be prepared for the name-calling, protests, violence against me that is the religious reaction to all things threatening; it is unfortunate that my book will cause controversy while Christian books on Harry Potter go relatively unnoticed. Oh well. I have a feeling, once people actually read my book, they will find it much more edifying than any other Harry Potter companion guide.
I’m not really this militant. I’m a peace keeper and usually struggle to be on good terms (which sometimes weakens my writing, and sometimes makes it better). John Granger’s books are not bad and if you’re looking for a Christian interpretation of Harry Potter, he’s your man. We’re not really competitors; we’re pandering to different crowds.