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Despite wizardly ways, Harry Potter is a good Christian, claims former Yale theologian

Witchcraft and sorcery notwithstanding, expert says Harry Potter represents Christian values.

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Harry Potter expert
 Harry Potter expert and Yale lecturer Danielle Tumminio claims in her new book that Harry Potter is a good Christian.

PR NewsChannel) / November 24, 2010 / WATERTOWN, Mass. / Despite being a wizard and living a world of magic, a former Yale University theologian says Harry Potter is a good Christian.

"I really, firmly believe that we need to read the books with an eye beyond witchcraft," Danielle Tumminio, the Harry Potter professor says. "I don't have the sense from the books that the witchcraft is designed to make us want to be witches and wizards. I think it's designed to teach the reader about fighting for one's values and fighting for love."

Tumminio guest lectured at Yale University and taught a course on Harry Potter, which morphed into a new book to be released next month.

In "God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy in an Ivy League Classroom" (Unlocking Press), she explores how readers often overlook Christianity in J.K. Rowling's work. 

When Tumminio, who holds three degrees from Yale and is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church, taught Christian Theology and Harry Potter at the Ivy League university during 2008 and 2009, the course drew a religiously diverse group of students, including an Indian Christian, a Kenyan Episcopalian and a Chinese atheist.

The Harry Potter expert says she structured her forthcoming book the way she did her class: by exploring Christianity's influence on Rowling's themes of evil, sin and resurrection.

With Hollywood rumblings already suggesting that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" will break the "Star Wars" film franchise record in ticket sales, the Harry Potter professor's book will arrive in time for Potterheads to enjoy this holiday season. The latest film has grossed more than $300 million since its release last Friday.

Harry Potter expert connection to Rowling

Tumminio's connection to Harry Potter stretches far beyond the professor's fondness for the series; her father suffers from Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), a rare and incurable degenerative neurological disease similar to multiple sclerosis (MS), which claimed J.K. Rowling's mother. 

"Part of why Rowling wrote the series was to process the death of her mother," says Tumminio, "so I found myself while teaching the class often asking what the books had to say to me about my own father's very similar demise."

The onset of PLS typically occurs after age 40, and often requires victims to rely on a cane or wheelchair as the disease progresses. Throughout her book, Tumminio draws parallels between faith and fiction as they relate to death.

"I thought a lot about the moment Harry faces death at the end of the seventh book, when he is surrounded by the friends and family who have died," says Tumminio. "They become a community of saints to him, and that gives him great comfort. I wound up, in turn, thinking of those who were so supportive of me. And I found that image to be greatly comforting."

Danielle Tumminio

Phone: (203) 809-3393


SOURCE: "God and Harry at Yale"

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