Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Harry Potter' Author J.K. Rowling Opens Up About Books' Christian Imagery

'They almost epitomize the whole series,' she says of the scripture Harry reads in Godric's Hollow.
...That was the plan from the start, Rowling told reporters during a press conference at the beginning of her Open Book Tour on Monday. It wasn't because she was afraid of inserting religion into a children's story. Rather, she was afraid that introducing religion (specifically Christianity) would give too much away to fans who might then see the parallels.

"To me [the religious parallels have] always been obvious," she said. "But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going."...

But if she was worried about tipping her hand narratively in the earlier books, she clearly wasn't by the time Harry visits his parents' graves in Chapter 16 of "Deathly Hallows," titled "Godric's Hollow." On his parents' tombstone he reads the quote "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," while on another tombstone (that of Dumbledore's mother and sister) he reads, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

While Rowling said that "Hogwarts is a multifaith school," these quotes, of course, are distinctly Christian. The second is a direct quote of Jesus from Matthew 6:19, the first from 1 Corinthians 15:26....

(HT: Mark Shea, whose own Harry Potter post on the First Things website can be found here.)

EDITED TO ADD: Many, many thanks to for the link, and welcome to the many who are visiting as a result. But let's make sure credit goes where it's due: as the link makes clear, the story comes to us from, of all things, As for me, I learned of it from Mark Shea -- but he gets many more hits and comments than I do, so he won't begrudge me some! And again, do see his own Potter post at First Things.

I'll add an opinion of my own to Ms. Rowling's remarks: it's wonderful to have her say all this publicly, but if she had never done so, I'd have been prepared to go on interpreting the books this way just the same. The scriptures deployed in Deathly Hallows speak for themselves. The Christian themes elsewhere in the saga are less explicit, but, as a "New Criticism" partisan who rejects the personal-expression theory of literature and who (with Eliot) doesn't believe that an author's own interpretation of his work is of intrinsically greater value than anyone else's, the author's endorsement of my interpretation is welcome but not essential.

That said, there is a certain triumphant sensation is hearing JK affirm what was widely gathered from previous interview snippets and the books themselves themselves: that she is a Kirk member, grounded though not quite solid in her faith, and profoundly engaged in at least some of the questions Christianity answers.

Also: scroll down a few posts to see whether the name "Pius Thicknesse" is a hit on Pope Pius XII. Spoiler: it isn't.