Harry Potter didn’t die for your sins. No. he’s the boy who lived, and now he’s the boy who is being looked to by a growing number of people as a source of near religious inspiration. At the heart of the matter is the question of “what makes a book a sacred text?” According to followers of most religions, the books they follow are considered holy because they were dictated from the word of God or by the hand of his/her disciples. However, there is a growing crowd of people that don’t look at things quite so cut and dry. to them, it isn’t so much that the books must come from a divine source, but that they provide that same level of wisdom, solace, and inspiration as books that have classically been considered sacred.
The popular podcast, “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”, hosted by Harvard Divinity School graduates Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan, is touring the country this summer and attracting crowds in the hundreds wherever they go. When not traveling across America, they host a weekly “church” service in Boston’s Harvard Square that focuses on the deeper meaning of the works of JK Rowling.
Interestingly, the hosts of the podcast have struggled with the way this new “faith” could possibly effect people. They shy away from calling it a religion for atheists, but also wonder if “texts that are deeply moving to readers truly hold them to account in the way Scripture has among the God-fearing?”
At its heart, Zoltan says she is hoping that the teaching of the books of Potter will help impart deeper moral values to the congregants.
“To me, the goal of treating the text as sacred is that we can learn to treat each other as sacred. If you can learn to love these characters, to love Draco Malfoy, then you can learn to love the cousin you haven’t spoken to for 30 years, then the refugee down the street.”