Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter analysis by Fr. Steve Grunow

I'm not trying to start a debate. I just wanted to share what I thought was an excellent summation from Fr. Steve over at the The Word on Fire blog. The Professor is the only one of our children who has been allowed to read the whole Harry Potter series* (after both Sean and I read them) so I also allowed him to read Fr. Steve's analysis of the final movie installment which you can find in the links above.

It opened up a wonderful discussion this morning touching on a few different areas... the meaning of 1 Cor. 15:26 ("The last enemy to be destroyed is death.");  how three Lord of the Rings characters can each be considered "Christ figures" and how that allegory serves the story. But most importantly, the real tragedy of the character of Voldemort. As Fr. Steve so succinctly puts it, "If we are sympathetic to his plight it is because we know that he is not a fallen angel but a man, and therefore his tragedy is that the offer of grace remains until the end--- but it is an offer that he chooses to refuse." Anyway, because of the great conversation it inspired, I wanted to share it here with anyone who might also enjoy it.

Literature and theology discussion before 8am... I love homeschooling!

*None of the children have seen beyond movie #3 and even then, there are parts in each that we skip over. I've found with my children that movies can be more visually disturbing than books. No movie is worth disturbing a good night's sleep... there's and mine!


  1. Ahhhh. My Hubby and I enjoy discussing all of the theological connections of the HP series. We have been watching since the beginning of our marriage. Sort of an old tradition. I think the best is the character Snape and how he is driven by love. I think it is another way of seeing how distorted things can look from inside our own sphere. Seeing another as they really are can be the hardest often another's intent is nothing like how we perceive it.

  2. Great article - thank you. Yes, I loved the story of Snape and thought the whole Neville sub-plot was brilliant too.

  3. Thanks for this. I keep putting off Harry because I'm not interested in reading the series but I can't give them to my oldest without reading them! I'll start here.

  4. First let me say I enjoy your blog so much, you are obviously a dedicated Catholic and mom.
    Please beware of recommending Harry Potter to others. Yes, there is controversy around the books, as there should be. Our Holy Father has discerned and advised faithful Catholics to stay away and NOT TO EXPOSE THEIR CHILDREN to this series with signed and dated letters giving his support to the critics of the series. The chief exorcist of Rome, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, has repeatedly given the same warning to families. Be careful of which side of this debate you choose to be on. This is not a matter of dogma- you can choose to not agree with our Holy Father, but have you really dug into the danger involved if sources such as these have repeatedly given their warnings of the harm that is possible to our children's souls? For more info I recommend this link:

  5. First of all, nowhere in this post did I recommend that people read this series of books. What I recommended was reading an analysis of the final movie written by a priest that sparked an interesting conversation between my son and I about everything from literary devices to Tolkien to Scripture. I was sharing it with anyone else who might be interested in the same kind of "literary" analysis. (I put literary in quotes because Fr. Steve does acknowledge that his analysis was based on the movie, not the books.) I also began this post by saying I was not inviting debate because frankly, it's all been said before and for a long while now.

    Secondly, we have read what the Holy Father said when he was not the Holy Father yet and the context of those statements and the debate behind whether he really wrote them or if they were written by a secretary. We have also read Fr. Amorth's statements as well and the books he has published before making those statements and the concern behind the validity of his credentials. I promise you, we do not take such opinions lightly. But ultimately, as you pointed out several times, this is not a matter of dogma, but rather opinion. I trust that you will allow me mine as I allow you yours.

    In the future, I would prefer people not try to passive aggressively threaten me with the "dangers to my children's souls" . The dangers to my children's souls that are out in the world are numerous and vast. That's why we protect them with love, prayer and the sacraments. I agree with the point made in this article, "The Rite of Exorcism is a Sacramental, not a Sacrament. Thus, Confession and the Blessed Sacrament are actually more powerful." A point that the article goes on to say that Fr. Amorth often makes himself when counseling younger priests.

    To assume or insinuate that an intelligent, faithful Catholic, who is well read and in touch with the goings on in the world today, hasn't delved into this discussion is frankly, rather insulting. With so many dangers out there in the world to combat and guard ourselves against like pride and self righteousness, just to name a few, and recognizing that what is a temptation for one person, might not be a temptation for another, let's not let this difference of opinion be a dividing factor. I personally agree with Mr. Shea when he says, "Now, nobody is under any obligation to enjoy HP books. But, according to Romans 14, they are under an obligation not to pass judgment on those who do." I also believe in not passing judgment on those who choose to avoid them, unless they come into my house to bully me. But even then, in Christian charity, I am called to forgive them and pray for them. Please pray for me.