This Millennial Church Worships Harry Potter As A Sacred Text


Like all things, it began as a podcast.

Two graduates from Harvard Divinity School, Vanessa Zoltan and Caspar ter Kuile, are the minds behind ‘Harry Potter and the Sacred Text’, an entire website devoted to a podcast about reading the Harry Potter series “not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives”.

Vanessa and Caspar have the credentials. As a resource for spiritual practice, they recommend a book titled ‘Lectio Divinia’ a scholarly work about how medieval monks read Christian scripture. These texts are written to apprehend the universe in intellectual and abstract proofs, and the meditative experience of reading such airy and profound scripture puts one in a monk-like state, so distant from this world.

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To read Harry Potter like one would read medieval scripture is a daunting thought. But Vanessa and Caspar have a specific methodology, one that they use to describe exactly what they mean by ‘sacred’.

“Our effort becomes a key part of what makes the book sacred. The text in and of itself is not sacred, but is made so through our rigorous engagement.” This complicates things. If the text is not itself sacred, but is only made sacred by literally ‘reading into it’, then the context of the Harry Potter series itself is devalued. Could we not just as easily study The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Why not The Lord of the Rings?

The final element of ‘sacred’ clarifies:

“Scholars of religion explain that what makes a text sacred is not the text itself, but the community of readers that proclaim it as such. The same applies for us.”

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Transcripts of each episode can be found here on the podcast’s website. One of the more notable episodes is “The Mirror of Erised – White Privilege”. Each episode explores a subject of major significance through the lens of Harry Potter, such as ‘grief’, ‘loneliness’, ‘love’, ‘destiny’ or ‘betrayal’, and therein lies the crux of its appeal: you can read anything you like into the text.

If a sacred story is merely a story engaged with universal themes, then thousands of stories can ultimately be considered sacred. The presence of the genuinely mystical, a text that is one-of-one, irreplaceable, such as the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah, is not here. Harry Potter is still only secular.

But a secular replacement for religion is exactly what millennials are after. This is where the church comes in.

The post This Millennial Church Worships Harry Potter As A Sacred Text appeared first on Viral Thread.



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