Who’s afraid of Harry Potter?

The Rev. Brandon Austin is pastor of the North Sacramento United Methodist Church

The sermons on Harry Potter and the message of Jesus will be held at North Sacramento United Methodist Church at 650 El Camino Avenue starting Sunday, October 2, at 11 a.m.

Fans of Harry Potter know that “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” Professor Snape, Draco Malfoy and those “muggle” Dursleys are determined to be rid of Harry; they fear he has the ability to strip them of their power.

People in the real world fear Harry, too, for the same reasons. His story contains descriptions of Hogwarts, where young wizards and witches are schooled in the casting of spells and other magical practices. Some religious adults believe that exposing children to J.K. Rowling’s books tempts them to the occult; they are concerned that exposure to Harry, Ron, Hermione and other so-called satanic characters will lead young readers’ impressionable souls down the slippery slope to exercise evil practices as they hex animals, peers, parents—even pastors.

Please do not consider me unsympathetic to those concerned about Harry’s story. On the contrary, as a preacher, I know the power of stories and how they can be used for good or ill. We must take care to fashion the stories that govern our lives; our stories help us to know who we are and who we may become.

My deeper concern is that, in our fear, we will attempt to protect our children from the very curiosity, creativity, imagination and faith that ultimately may save their world—and ours! Rowling’s character Dumbledore says it best: “Curiosity is not a sin.”

Are there connections to be found between the story of Harry Potter and the story of Jesus? I will be presenting a series of six sermons at North Sacramento United Methodist Church on the subject soon.

Come and explore with us the issues presented in both the story of Harry Potter and the Gospel accounts of Jesus. We’ll look at family; the good and evil uses of power; the real magic of true friendship; the value and hazards of being a parent, teacher or mentor; and the joys and pains of being adopted. There’s a lot to learn from these stories about moral—dare I say “Christian”?—values. Have a little faith.