Harry Potter: Spiritual reading?

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"Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" premiered yesterday to rave reviews, including from the Vatican and the USCCB.

"As they did in the franchise's earlier films, magical elements in this sixth adaptation of J.K. Rowling's hugely popular fantasy novel series serve merely as props in a study of loyalty, friendship and the varied human responses to temptation," the USCCB Office of Film and Broadcasting says in its review.

L'Osservatore Romano called the sixth film the best adaption yet, benefiting from older, more complex characters. Noting that "Rowling's vision lacks a reference to transcendence," the Vatican paper also pointed out that there is a clear demarcation of good and evil.

There's no longer a doubt, as there seems to have been when other new Harry Potter books and movies have come out, that the magical material is worthy of Christian eyes. In fact, there's even a Catholic podcast dedicated to dissecting the Potter series chapter by chapter at Star Quest Production Network.

This podcast reminds me of a point religion scholar Karen Armstrong makes about our desire for mythos. While logos (reason) has dominated the religious landscape in modernity, Armstrong says, the longer history of religion reveals that the spiritual practice of interpreting scripture (read as a myth that contains truths and not as literal fact) allows one to experience God.

So Harry Potter obviously isn't scripture, but can we also come to experience God through reading and interpreting a good story, a good myth?


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