Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 21

Thread: Religion and the Wizarding World

  1. #11
    Fourth Year Gryffindor
    Snape Hates Me
    moonymaniac's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Buried under a huge WIP
    Posts
    126
    I strongly believe they had religion.

    I don't think that they would agree with a Muggle religion like Christianity, but this is a matter of opinion.
    Well, there is the Fat Friar. I’m pretty certain that a Friar is found only in Christianity, Catholicism to be precise. I don’t know if protestant forms have anything like the Catholic orders. Since Hogwarts goes back before the protestant revolution, it makes sense that he would be a Catholic Friar. Of course, he might not have been a pure blood. Also, Dumbledore, who is also not pure-blood, but well respected by most none the less, clearly at least read the Bible, which is of course, Christian. We can deduce this by the fact that it must have been him that put the verse from Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there your heart is also, on his sister's tombstone. I guess Aberforth could have done it, but that would still show a wizard was familiar with The Bible and there is also speculation that Dumbledore is the one who had the verse straight from 1 Corinthians 15:26, The last enemy to be defeated is death. put on Lily and James' tombstone, in the church yard cemetery. Who else would have done so? Yep, Dumbledore read the Bible.

    As others point out, there is also the fact of the celebration or at least acknowledgement of Christmas and Easter, which are Christian. Regardless of how many still actually practice, as in the real world, it is evident that they have a history of religious practices, so we can assume that some at least still do.

    There is also the wizard dressed in black who conducts Dumbledore’s funeral, if I remember correctly. I automatically pictured a priest or minister of some sort. Who performed the Weasley wedding? I can’t remember that. I choose to believe they had clergymen of some sort.

    I think it is highly likely that the religious members of the wizarding community in Britain would have been majority Christian, as Christianity was the predominate religion for centuries, but it is reasonable to believe that the Patil twins could be Hindu, and that there were other religious traditions represented, just as in the real Britain.

    Muggles have science to explain what we see, so some people now say well that renders the idea of a god or gods a moot point.
    And yet they can’t explain many things like the Shroud of Turin, stigmata, medical miracles…. They can’t explain things like the origins of life sufficiently to rule out the need for a Creator, though they will say they have. Stephen Hawking, smart as he may be, can say it just happened spontaneously, all day long, but just because he says so does not satisfy the scientific method. His M-theory is just that, a theory. It supposes all sorts of things that can not be studied, witnessed, observed, verified… Yet he declares it as if it is confirmed and proves there is no need for God. Well, pfft…If you say so Stephen. The Big Bang needed something to start from; where did those first subatomic particles come from? Where did the energy originate? Where did the first seeds of that first primitive life form that slithered out of the primordial muck come from? Nothing comes from nothing, yet some scientists would argue that something came from nothing because what is nothing really isn’t nothing, so… *dizzy* Honestly, belief in some of their claims requires just as much or more faith as belief in God. I love science, but it hasn’t been able to explain everything we see and some people refuse to see what science shows if it supports things they don’t want to believe. The scientific study done on the Shroud and more specifically the sudarium (the facecloth of Jesus) is incredible.

    I completely agree that it might be even more likely for the wizarding world to be religious. I think the ability that the wizards have to seemingly create stuff out of thin air would only convince them more of the need for a Creator, particularly when they can do so much, but still can not create permanent things like food and clothing, etc…( Gamp’s Law that was referenced above) And as stated, they can not create life; they can not stop death or raise the dead to life. They may have special power, but they are far from all powerful. Plus, they do have the veil, where they can hear the departed. Afterlife….

    As a Christian, however, this issue gets more complicated. Many Christians believe Witchcraft to be wrong, so does this mean that the wizarding world can't practise Christianity? This is where I get confused.

    I think the problem some have with the idea of 'religion' in the potterverse is the equating of the 'magic' in Harry Potter with the sort of 'magic' or 'witchcraft' that the Church does condemn. Harry Potter's 'magic' is not the type of magic we can go down to Barnes and Noble and get a book on to help us cast spells. It does not call upon 'spirits' 'earth spirits', etc... It is not a form of worship or practice like Wicca, paganism, etc. that one decides they are going to do in opposition to what the Christian faith teaches. I think it is very interesting that JKR, who describes herself as a Christian, made Divination a ‘very woolly subject’ and showed that the reading of tea leaves, ball gazing, etc. didn't really seem to work. McGonagall had no use for it and Dumbledore was even going to discontinue it. But for the need to keep Trelawney close by after the prophecy, he would have. Only when she was not trying was she ‘gifted’ with the sight of prophecy.

    Anyway, the magic in Harry Potter is an (imaginary) ability that people are 'born with' similar to gifted musicians or artists. As Michelangelo had a gift from God to sculpt, Harry Potter could be said to have been gifted with magic. No matter how a non artistic person tries, they will not be able to do what Michelangelo did; likewise, no matter what a "Muggle' does, he can not perform the type of 'magic' Harry had. A wizard who was a believer would know that they were not calling on forces outside themselves or from other than God to perform it, and so they would know their ‘magic’ was not against God’s laws, but a gift fom Him. Therefore, in these fictional books, we have a fictional magical Fat Friar. I do think the persecution might have made them anti-Muggle, but not anti-God, or Jesus.

    I think there was also mentioned a painting with some moving sinister looking monks. Monks are also religious. And of course, there is the biggest hint of all, the revelation of the afterlife, and damnation, as we see with the portion of Voldemort's soul, which is definitely a religious belief, even if not specific to a particular faith. The fact they have proof of the soul is pretty huge too, actually.

    So yes, though JKR intentionally left religion very vague, she definitely dropped hints of it around, so I think it is within Canon to explore it. I would go so far as to say a story about Harry’s conversion after his experiences in DH would be quite appropriate. Who is going to come back from a near death experience, after meeting a ‘dead’ person, witnessing a withered soul, and not be changed? And why would it be necessary for Voldemort to repent?

    Religion…it’s in there!


    /My 2 cents…okay, maybe 20 cents.

  2. #12
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Being Chased by Singing Dwarves with Valentines
    Maple_and_PheonixFeather's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Behind my piano
    Posts
    701
    Moonymaniac, that is possibly the best post ever!

    The points you make are very valid indeed.

    Another thing that i just remembered: the theme of the entire HP series is Love. This is also a Biblical theme.

    I read somewhere (I think it was a magasine called the "Banner") that Harry Potter symbolises a lot of things in the Bible. I'm not sure what I think about that, but there sure is a lot of Biblical ideas in the series!

    Shoot, I had another point, but I can't remember it right now It'll come back to me
    GRYFFINDOR PRIDE!
    Avvie by me, banner by TM_Wandstick.
    It matters not what one is born, but what they become.Don't let your praying knees get lazy, and love like crazy!

  3. #13
    Inverarity
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by moonymaniac
    I strongly believe they had religion.
    I suspect religion still exists because wizards have interaction with Muggle society, there are a lot of Muggle-borns or people descended from Muggle-borns, and so they are going to bring their traditions into the wizarding world. At the same time, it's hard to imagine that their religious beliefs have stayed consistent with Muggle beliefs. For one thing, they've probably been cut off from any ecclesiastical authorities, unless you think that the Catholic Church and other religions have formed special wizarding branches. I certainly can't see purebloods letting Muggle priests perform baptisms and confessions on them. Also, much of what wizards see with their own eyes contradicts what most religions have been saying for centuries. Now, you can formulate a Christian theology that takes into account magic, but it will diverge pretty quickly from orthodox Christianity. Same for orthodox Islam (though there are some mystical sects in Islam that would have less problem incorporating wizards into their worldview). I actually think Judaism would have less problems. But in any case, what religion they practice would be markedly different, except perhaps for the "new entries" from the Muggle world. (I can actually see this being the basis for quite a bit of conflict, say between "Muggle Christians" and "Wizard Christians.")

    And yet they can’t explain many things like the Shroud of Turin, stigmata, medical miracles….
    Yeah... they can, actually.

    They can’t explain things like the origins of life sufficiently to rule out the need for a Creator, though they will say they have.
    Let's be careful with terms, here. Science has ruled out the need for a Creator, it hasn't (nor can it, nor does it attempt to) rule out the existence of a Creator.

    I completely agree that it might be even more likely for the wizarding world to be religious. I think the ability that the wizards have to seemingly create stuff out of thin air would only convince them more of the need for a Creator, particularly when they can do so much, but still can not create permanent things like food and clothing, etc…( Gamp’s Law that was referenced above) And as stated, they can not create life; they can not stop death or raise the dead to life. They may have special power, but they are far from all powerful. Plus, they do have the veil, where they can hear the departed. Afterlife….
    This is all a bit nebulous, since Rowling isn't consistent in some of her laws. Magic supposedly can't create food or life, but it can create snakes (Serpentsortia) which are both. Now, you can say the snakes aren't really created, they are summoned from elsewhere, or they're just temporary constructs, but that's an extrapolation. All we know from the books is that there are numerous examples of wizards appearing to conjure living beings out of thin air.


    I think the problem some have with the idea of 'religion' in the potterverse is the equating of the 'magic' in Harry Potter with the sort of 'magic' or 'witchcraft' that the Church does condemn. Harry Potter's 'magic' is not the type of magic we can go down to Barnes and Noble and get a book on to help us cast spells. It does not call upon 'spirits' 'earth spirits', etc... It is not a form of worship or practice like Wicca, paganism, etc. that one decides they are going to do in opposition to what the Christian faith teaches.
    Well, it's not the kind of magic you can learn from a book because magic in Harry Potter is an in-born trait. But traditional religious denunciations of magic didn't say it's bad only if you learn it from a book -- if you were born able to do magic, you were still a witch. And while the magic we see in Britain in Harry Potter is very formulaic and secular, I doubt that wizards everywhere have so rigorously separated magic from whatever religious beliefs they had. So, you can come up with a Christian defense of Harry Potter magic, but there's no way to argue that it's really qualitatively different from the magic that Christians have traditionally condemned.

    I think there was also mentioned a painting with some moving sinister looking monks. Monks are also religious. And of course, there is the biggest hint of all, the revelation of the afterlife, and damnation, as we see with the portion of Voldemort's soul, which is definitely a religious belief, even if not specific to a particular faith. The fact they have proof of the soul is pretty huge too, actually.
    Actually, if an "afterlife" really exists then it's not inherently religious, any more than magic is supernatural if it really exists. If you see evidence right in front of you that people can persist as ghosts after they die, then obviously it requires no religious belief for this to be so. Now, if you conjecture that places like heaven and hell exist, that might require more religious belief, but we don't actually see evidence of hell in the books. And as for heaven, how do James and Lily return to Harry during his duel with Voldemort, and later in the woods? Most Christian theology doesn't admit souls to leave heaven and return to Earth to visit the living. So, the "soul" may exist, but in the Harry Potter universe, it's just another manifestation of magic.

    And why would it be necessary for Voldemort to repent?
    Speaking of Voldemort, that was actually one of the most un-Christian elements in Rowling's entire saga. Supposedly he is damned because of what he is, but Rowling tells us, many times, that he was essentially damned from birth. Harry asks him to repent in their final showdown, but we've already been told he can't -- thanks to his Horcruxes, his soul is already beyond recovery.

    Basically, Voldemort has no free will. He's a designated Adversary who was born evil and is fated to remain evil no matter what. So all the talk about him repenting, and the wish to save him from his fate, is just empty words.

  4. #14
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
    Kill the Spare
    Equinox Chick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    using rare and complicated words
    Posts
    2,945
    Reading this with interest, but not sure I have much to add, except this has just occurred to me.

    The oath 'Merlin' is used by the Magical world as a replacement for 'God'. If they believe in Merlin (and I think they do believe that he was a great wizard) then they would believe in Christainity.

    The legends of King Arthur and Merlin are strongly religious. Their most famous quest was to find the Holy Grail which was the cup Christ used at the last supper (unless you've been reading the Da Vinci Code).

    In those days, it seemed Christianity and Magic could live comfortable alongside each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    For one thing, they've probably been cut off from any ecclesiastical authorities, unless you think that the Catholic Church and other religions have formed special wizarding branches.
    Actually, I rather like that idea. It certainly explains the Fat Friar. (and Opus Dei)

    Quote Originally Posted by MAPF
    Another thing that i just remembered: the theme of the entire HP series is Love. This is also a Biblical theme.
    Forgive the agnostic here, but I think the theme of the Bible (Old Testament) is vengeance. There's not a great deal of 'Love' abounding in the OT, but an awful lot of sin and vice.

    ~Carole~
    I'm a BARMAID. I write. I drabble. I duel. I poet. I'm a BADGER!!!

    Banner by minnabird

  5. #15
    Midnight Storm
    Guest
    I've just gotta commend MoonyManiac here -- they did a wonderful, in-depth job that has completely convinced me that religion in present in the HP series.
    Hi, all

    Quote Originally Posted by moonymaniac
    JKR intentionally left religion very vague
    Considering some religions are against witchcraft, I would call this a wise decision. Even with the very vague hints she gives us, people have complained of what the series does to the younger generation, making them want to 'practise witchcraft'. I think that's just stupid (it's fiction people!)


    We do see good number of examples of pure-bloods using references to Christian faith. Don't have the books at hand (I'm sitting in a hotel lounge in Rome, actually), but I'll try any recite them:

    Quote Originally Posted by Deathly Hallows
    "I'll join you when hell freezes over!"
    And my favourite:
    Quote Originally Posted by Deathly Hallows
    "Thank God you inherited your mother's brains."

    Being a Christian myself, I don't actually know if non-Christians say 'oh my God' or anything, but I'm pretty sure we can assume that at least some wizarding families follow a Christian faith. What's the most common faith in Britain? *Googles* Yeah, it's Christianity.

    We also see the whole Hogwarts community celebrating Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Easter.

    Inveriaty pointed out:
    Quote Originally Posted by Inveriaty
    Unless you think that the Catholic Church and other religions have formed special wizarding branches.
    Which would be kinda cool.

    My two Knuts!
    ~Midnight Storm

  6. #16
    Inverarity
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Equinox Chick
    The legends of King Arthur and Merlin are strongly religious. Their most famous quest was to find the Holy Grail which was the cup Christ used at the last supper (unless you've been reading the Da Vinci Code).

    In those days, it seemed Christianity and Magic could live comfortable alongside each other.
    Actually, it's questionable how Christian the original Arthurian legends were. Certainly they were recast as Christian parables, particularly by Mallory, but there are plenty of writers who have imagined the Arthurian saga as a conflict between the pagan world and the Christian one, and Merlin is almost never seen as representing the Christian world. So the fact that wizards invoke Merlin's name as if he were a deity or a saint suggests something rather the opposite of Christianity to me.

    Forgive the agnostic here, but I think the theme of the Bible (Old Testament) is vengeance. There's not a great deal of 'Love' abounding in the OT, but an awful lot of sin and vice.
    Not to mention that suggesting that "Love" as a theme makes something inherently Biblical theme is rather insulting to everyone else in the world who's not a Christian. Love is a theme found throughout the world since the beginning of civilization -- it's not something that first appeared in the Bible, nor is the Bible its purest or most perfect form of expression.

    As for incidental references to Christmas, hell, or "Oh my God!" those are cultural artifacts. Atheists say "Go to hell!" and sometimes even blurt out "Oh my God!" because it's just such a common expression in this culture. Lots of atheists also exchange Christmas presents. So having the trappings of a Judeo-Christian culture doesn't necessarily mean the wizarding world is particularly Christian. I'd bet many of them also quote Shakespeare or Dickens, without necessarily knowing who Shakespeare or Dickens were. They're obviously British, but I doubt many British wizards consider themselves subjects of Her Majesty.

  7. #17
    Seventh Year Hufflepuff
    Am I in the Right House?
    AidaLuthien's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    The City
    Posts
    570
    I've got to agree with Inverarity on this one.

    Religion is quite fuzzy in the Harry Potter universe - certainly no one, not even the Muggleborns talk about going to church (or temple or synagogue). There are no obvious signs of religion whatsoever.

    As for Dumbledore quoting the Bible, I'm an atheist and I still quote the Bible occasionally. Though often, it's with a sly glance at my Christian friends to see if I'm misquoting or taking it out of context.

    In fact, despite being an atheist, I have been (at times) more sensitive to the appearance of Bible quotes than some of my religious friends.

    I guess that's what growing up in a Judeo-Christian society and studying some English literature will do to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    As for incidental references to Christmas, hell, or "Oh my God!" those are cultural artifacts. Atheists say "Go to hell!" and sometimes even blurt out "Oh my God!" because it's just such a common expression in this culture. Lots of atheists also exchange Christmas presents.
    I definitely fall into all three of those categories. I reference hell in speech, though I certainly don't believe it exists. I even say "Oh my God!" Though I prefer to say, "Oh my Gods" or better still "ye gods" (can you tell I study history and like anarchisms? ) because then I'm less likely to offend my Christian friends who won't appreciate my using their god's name in vain. ... and I get to offend all gods that may or may not exist, despite my disbelief in them.

    As for Christmas presents, I still get them and give them. I've debated calling them "winter solstice" presents or something like that, but it's not really worth the effort.

    Also, just because someone in black is presiding over Dumbledore's funeral doesn't make the person a religious figure. In Western cultures, everyone wears black to funerals. Unlike, e.g. traditional Chinese, where you're supposed to wear white.

    And, despite being an atheist, and most of my family being atheists, every wedding and funeral I have ever attended has been in a church or a chapel of some kind. So I don't think religious trappings necessarily prove anything about the religiosity of the participants.

    In short, I don't find the Harry Potter books to be particularly religious in any way. Incidental references just mean that the society is, at some level, Judeo-Christian.

    Also, as I recall, there are some huge Biblical quotes with regards to the Deathly Hallows. No one mentions them, not even Hermoine, the brilliant Muggle born. So really, how much do people know or care about religion in the wizarding world?
    Stories Duels Poems Drabbles
    Proud Puff on MNFF and Slyth on Pottermore

    Banner by the awesome Minnabird Icon by wicked visions on LJ

  8. #18
    Seventh Year Gryffindor
    Being Chased by Singing Dwarves with Valentines
    Maple_and_PheonixFeather's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Behind my piano
    Posts
    701
    I have a feeling that this discussion is going to get very offensive to many people soon.

    Someone said something about JKR saying that Voldemort was codemned at birth or before birth or something, so he has no free will. If JKR is indeed Christian, as she claims, she could be a denomination that believes in pre-destination, so that would fit in with the Christian belief.

    As for the Old Testement having a theme of vengence, I don't really understand that but that's fine. Once one has studied the Bible, they see that the main theme is love and grace. (The very synopsis of the Bible, really, is "For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever should believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". The Bible also states that "God is Love". Over and over again, the Bible refers to love being of utmost importance.)

    I just reread that article that I was talking about, and it pointed out themes similar between Harry Potter and the Bible. THere are clearly Biblical references in Harry Potter. (How many people honestly knew that the two grave stone messages were Biblical. I didn't even know that "And the last enemy to be defeated will be death" was Biblical until about a year later. And I know my Bible.) Does this nessasarily mean that the characters are religious (wasn't that the first question)? No. Does it mean there are Biblical references in the book? Yes.

    This thread, it would appear, has become a debate on whether the characters were Christian. Christianity is not the only religion.

    I am actually going out on a limb here and am going to say this:
    Every single character in the story has a religion.

    A religion is really a belief system, and everyone has one. One of my good friends is currently athiest, that's his religion. Another, agnostic, her religion. One that's Hindu, one that's Muslim, one that's Buddest (spelling). Again, that's their religion. I have friends who simply don't care/aren't sure. That's there religion too. So in short, everyone has a religion.
    GRYFFINDOR PRIDE!
    Avvie by me, banner by TM_Wandstick.
    It matters not what one is born, but what they become.Don't let your praying knees get lazy, and love like crazy!

  9. #19
    Inverarity
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Maple_and_PheonixFeather
    Someone said something about JKR saying that Voldemort was codemned at birth or before birth or something, so he has no free will. If JKR is indeed Christian, as she claims, she could be a denomination that believes in pre-destination, so that would fit in with the Christian belief.
    Rowling has indeed stated that she is a Christian; as far as I know, she's never claimed affiliation with a specific denomination, but nothing she has said would be consistent with her being a Calvinist. I doubt she really thought about the theological implications of fating Voldemort to be evil -- there are a lot of things she didn't think about the theological implications of, even as she claimed she was writing in a Christian universe. Ghosts are very problematic in orthodox Christianity, for example. So is an actual personification of Death.

    As for the Old Testement having a theme of vengence, I don't really understand that but that's fine. Once one has studied the Bible, they see that the main theme is love and grace. (The very synopsis of the Bible, really, is "For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever should believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life". The Bible also states that "God is Love". Over and over again, the Bible refers to love being of utmost importance.)
    You're talking about the New Testament, and ignoring the Old Testament.

    Also, nearly every holy book refers to love being of utmost importance. So again, that's not a uniquely Biblical theme.

    I just reread that article that I was talking about, and it pointed out themes similar between Harry Potter and the Bible. THere are clearly Biblical references in Harry Potter. (How many people honestly knew that the two grave stone messages were Biblical. I didn't even know that "And the last enemy to be defeated will be death" was Biblical until about a year later. And I know my Bible.) Does this nessasarily mean that the characters are religious (wasn't that the first question)? No. Does it mean there are Biblical references in the book? Yes.
    That's not in dispute. Rowling is a Christian, she's said she considers her books to be Christian. Of course the books have Biblical references; it would be difficult to write about an entire world coexisting with a modern Western civilization that doesn't have Biblical references. And I suspect if you asked her, Rowling would probably say that most wizards are Christian by default, in the same way that most Brits are Christian by default, even if relatively few are really devout. Nonetheless, as Rowling has never explicitly stated it, it isn't canon. I've mostly been pointing out reasons why it's reasonable to assume that most wizards are probably even less Christian than your average British Muggle. They might still retain some vestigial Christianity from ages past, and with the continual infusion of Muggle-borns, there are always going to be some devout practitioners, but really, it's a bit hard to imagine the Malfoys going to church.

    I am actually going out on a limb here and am going to say this:
    Every single character in the story has a religion.
    Really? No wizards are agnostics or atheists?

    A religion is really a belief system, and everyone has one. One of my good friends is currently athiest, that's his religion. Another, agnostic, her religion.
    Agnosticism and atheism aren't religions. A religion is much more than a belief system, or you'd have to classify political and economic affiliations as religions too.

  10. #20
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
    Kill the Spare
    Equinox Chick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    using rare and complicated words
    Posts
    2,945
    Agnosticism and atheism aren't religions. A religion is much more than a belief system, or you'd have to classify political and economic affiliations as religions too.
    Agrees. Agnosticism for me is a lack of belief in a 'system'.

    Like Aida, I use phrases like 'Oh My God', or 'Hell', and I am uncomfortably aware that my children do too, which can upset more people than if they were dropping f-bombs all over the place.

    I'm not trying to belittle anyone's belief system here, but I have to say the books have always struck me as books that don't have an inherent Christian message - certainly not in the way the Narnia books are religious or how His Dark Materials trilogy is very anti-Christianity. The characters have good and bad elements to each of them and yes, they celebrate Christmas and Easter - but they seem to celebrate that with gifts rather than any type of worship. Do the Weasley's ever say 'grace' before their meals? Do the Dursleys ever go off to Church? As Inverarity said, the magical world seems akin to Muggle Britain.

    I can't see the Malfoys going to a Muggle Church, although if there were a wizarding chapel, then ... maybe if it's seen as the right thing to do. But basically Lucius allied himself to someone who believed the rules of death did not apply to him. Lucius, Bellatrix et al 'set up a false idol' so I can't see them as religious.

    ~Carole~
    I'm a BARMAID. I write. I drabble. I duel. I poet. I'm a BADGER!!!

    Banner by minnabird

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •