Theologian Talks Faith and Harry Potter This Weekend in Lexington

Oct 25, 2012

LEXINGTON,Ky. - The Harry Potter series is beloved by children and adults across the world, but one topic readers don’t commonly  associate with the books is religion.  The link between Potter and faith is the subject of several events in Lexington this weekend.

Theologian Danielle Tumminio will be in Lexington this weekend discussing themes of faith in Harry Potter books
Theologian Danielle Tumminio will be in Lexington this weekend discussing themes of faith in Harry Potter books
Credit photo provided

Led by Rev. Danielle Tumminio, the discussions will examine what the characters and series as a whole say about God, theology, and the Christian worldview.   

An Episcopal priest and theologian, Tumminio was first drawn to the Harry Potter series when she was still in the seminary.   Certain Christian groups have condemned the books for their depiction of “witchcraft.”  Tumminio, however, says that Christianity has so much to say outside of that context, and wanted to see what the books convey about other aspects of the Christian worldview.   Having examined the books in greater detail, she believes that while they certainly aren’t “heretical,” the texts aren’t “all about Christianity” in the same way as works such as C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.  She says that faith isn’t assumed in the series, nor is there an explicit god, so the book is more about a community of seekers having belief in something (such as love) and seeking the ultimate truth. 

Taking these thoughts into account, Rev. Tumminio decided to put together a college course examining to what extent the Harry Potter books support a Christian theological worldview.   Initially open to 72 Yale students in the winter of 2009, the class has proven so popular that it was picked up by Tufts University and students now need to submit an entire application package.  In late 2010, Tumminio published a book on the class and her studies, entitled God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom. 

Tumminio was invited to Lexington by Carol Wade, the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, to whom she has been a friend since her time in the seminary.  She will first lead a “Theology on Tap” discussion at Village Host Pizza on Old Frankfort Pike at 7:00 PM Thursday.  Other Harry Potter-themed events are scheduled for Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral, including theological discussions and a youth costume party.  Additional information is available at their website: www.ccclex.org