Click inside for the weekly religion rail, with items on "God and Harry Potter at Yale," "Holy Ignorance" by Olivier Roy and religion demographics for Belize. Or check out these links:
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," Tumminio 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.
Harry Potter expert connection to Rowling
Tumminio's connection to Harry Potter stretches far beyond the her fondness for the series; her father suffers from the same illness that claimed J.K. Rowling's mother, which is primary lateral sclerosis, a rare and incurable degenerative neurological disease.
"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 it 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."
Week in Religion
-Dec. 28, 1838, Greensborough Female College was chartered in North Carolina, under the Methodist Church. In 1920, its name was changed to Greensboro College.
-Dec. 29, 1849, the Christmas hymn by Edmund Sears, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” was first published in The Christian Register, featuring the social message of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”
-Dec. 30, 1741, English revivalist George Whitefield wrote in a letter: “O, how little do I for Jesus, who has done so much for me!”
A study conducted by the Religion News Service and the Public Religion Research Institute reveals that 83 percent of Americans say they watch Christmas movies on Christmas, such as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and 66 percent say they usually attend religious services.
“Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Part Ways” by Olivier Roy.
Olivier Roy, world-renowned authority on Islam and politics, finds in the modern disconnection between faith communities and socio-cultural identities a fertile space for fundamentalism to grow. Instead of freeing the world from religion, secularization has encouraged a kind of holy ignorance to take root, an anti-intellectualism that promises immediate, emotional access to the sacred, and it positions itself in direct opposition to contemporary pagan culture.
-- Columbia University Press
Get to Know …
Anne Askew (1521 – 1546) was an English Protestant and poet. She was tortured and burned at the stake at age 25 in the Tower of London, charged with heresy. During the reign of Henry VII, Protestant beliefs were outlawed, but Askew continued to study and circulate books based on her beliefs. She died a martyr.
Hadith: Sayings and practices of Mohammed. They were collected after his death.
Religion Around the World
Religious makeup of Belize
Roman Catholic: 49.6 percent
Protestant: 27 percent
Other: 14 percent
None: 9.4 percent
- CIA Factbook
GateHouse News Service