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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Religion in the Harry Potter series

As I was reading the books in the Harry Potter series, one factor kept nagging me from time to time: the lack of direct reference to any religious beliefs.

However, they do celebrate Christmas (they have gifts and special dinner) and Halloween. But the church services, including the regular Sunday services are missing. Neither is there any reference to Santa Claus. This is unlike the other British authors I have read. The only time a church is mentioned is in the last book when Harry visits Godric's Hollow. Of course, when the Room of Requirements transforms into the place where people hide their things, it is compared to a cathedral.

Christian names are abundant throughout. And Harry has a godfather (Sirius Black), and is a godfather to Teddy Lupin. A godfather is a Jewish/Christian concept.

There is no direct reference to any god or almighty anywhere who the magical people worship or look up to. There is this wizard called Merlin who recurs but is surely not a god. Neither is it mentioned if Voldemort wanted to be god-like. He was more interested in the Ministry and forming a new world through his faulty ideals.

It will be wrong to suppose that they are pagan as no such proof exists either.

Perhaps Rowling anticipated objections to a witch-craft laden theme from the religious sectors and so carefully steered clear of offending (through the slightest allusion) anyone. Presence of witches/wizards in a church might be enough to cause widespread agitation. The stance of the barbaric medieval church towards witchcraft was enough of a deterrence. (Though it is mentioned in the series that the church burnt all the wrong people and the actual witches/wizards managed to escape using magic, what else?)

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