J. K. Rowling: The Next C. S. Lewis?

I’m not a big Harry Potter fan. I’ve seen several of the movies, but since I’ve not read a single book in the series, most of the plot lines go over my head. Still, it’s hard to be a student of modern culture and not at least be aware of the Potter phenomenon.

Commentator Jeffrey Weiss, however, apparently is a big Potter fan, and he sees a distinctly Christian message in the Potter story, one that may surprise the Christian critics of the series. Themes of self-sacrifice, resurrection, and the cosmic battle between good and evil are every bit as Christian as the fiction of C. S. Lewis.

Many readers who finish the Potter saga will conclude, perhaps to their surprise, that Harry’s world is at least as Christian in its essential underpinnings as is C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia.”

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5 responses to “J. K. Rowling: The Next C. S. Lewis?

  1. LOL… This is akin to calling George Lucas the ‘next CS Lewis’ because his Star Wars films contain similar themes which are found in Chrisitanity (‘the chosen one’, good v. evil, etc).

    Most storytellers employ these themes because they are based on Reality, and these things are there because as Lewis so aptly puts it regarding recurring themes in mythology (in this case the god who dies only to rise again), “they were there first in Christ”, I believe he says this in Miracles.

    No, Rowling is not worthy to untie Lewis’ thongs. The proof is Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Screwtape Letter, The Problem of Pain, The Great Divorce, etc.

  2. Hmmm. It’s an interesting thought, except that there is, surprisingly, no spirituality in the books. Harry has no God, good or bad, to pray to. He only has himself. Christian-ish themes eventually come out, such as loyalty to friends, and even a small, small amount of forgiveness, but I don’t think it rises to the level of “essential Christian underpinnings.”

    People complained that the HP books were doorways to the occult and black magic. If they were, then the world of magic is a pretty barren place. I loved the books, except for Harry’s staggering lack of growth throughout. [SPOILER WARNING] When Harry was ‘killed’ and spoke to the dead Dumbledore he had a miraculous transformation into Someone Who Understood. From that point on he showed a little grace, but it was way too late in the story and I think the event was too forced to be believable.

    I posted a short review here if you are interested.

  3. Thanks for noticing my work!
    Hm. Laz, I said nothing about whether Rowling was as *good* as Lewis. My analysis was that Harry’s World is as essentially Christian as Narnia. And Steve, I think you’re basically right about the lack of explicit religion , although Book 7 had at least three references to God and two quotes from the New Testament. Check out the dallasnews.com religion blog where I give the page numbers. The most Christian part of Harry’s World — and it is a huge part — is the power of substitutionary sacrifice. I suggest that Rowling’s take on that is distinctly Christian.

  4. Grandfather,
    I know you didn’t say anything about Rowling being as good as Lewis, forgive me if I gave that impression.

    The reason I responded in this manner was the implication sometimes present in the phrase “______: the NEXT _____?”

    I read the Potter series until Book 5 (stopped due to the conviction of the Holy Spirit) and yes I did pick up on the subst. sacrifice concept. Especially in the context of Harry’s mother who died to save him.

    However this is different from Aslan’s willing sacrifice. The Love of a mother while one of the greatest natural loves pales in comparison to what which Christ has for sinners (this is the love which Lewis refers to in Aslan).

    Whereas the love of a mother can be perverted and distorted (it’s inherently neutral), the love of Christ cannot because the One who gives it is Perfect.

  5. You might be interested in the book that I’ve written called “The Lord of the Hallows: Christian Symbolism and Themes in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter” which is available at http://stores.alibris.com/SilverUnicornBooks and at http://www.outskirtspress.com/thelordofthehallows. In this book I have made a lot of comparisons between the fiction of both Lewis and Tolkien and that of J. K. Rowling. I have given several lectures on this topic at various conventions, which you can read about on my blog at http://phoenixweasley.wordpress.com.

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