Works of fiction can never replace sacred scripture, but a group of avid fans is apparently finding deep meaning in the spellbinding series.
It seems silly — yet a Harry Potter podcast is aimed at readers and listeners who view the popular book series as sacred text, a recent Washington Post story noted. Clearly, fantasy books about wizards, witches and magic should never serve as a replacement for faith in God or be compared to religion, but that hasn’t prevented it from happening.
The “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” podcast for Potter fanatics has become a faith substitute for many millennials who fall into a religious “nones” category. As exhibit one, hundreds of people in Washington, D.C., this week attended a live taping of the podcast.
“Every week, we treat a new chapter of Harry Potter as sacred,” says the product’s description on SoundCloud. Each episode covers one chapter of a Harry Potter book, essentially as a Bible study would.
Some aspects dramatized by a podcast of this kind may be positive. But magic in no way is the same as faith in a divine power.
“To the extent that Harry Potter or other fictional characters encourage virtue and stimulate interest in faith, they can be positive,” said Fr. Michael Sliney, a Catholic priest based in New York and a contributor to LifeZette. “However, they do not include the fullness of truth that we find in Jesus — nor a path to salvation.”
“True faith isn’t magic,” he added.
Categorized in the religion and spirituality genre of iTunes, the Harry Potter podcast contains 66 episodes. Episode 1 was released on iTunes on March 21, 2016, and the podcast has been popular ever since.
“We will read Harry Potter, not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives,” according to the podcast’s online description.
Ariana Nedelman, a Harvard Divinity School student, acts as producer; two graduates of the same school, Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan, host the podcast. They claim it’s aimed at spiritual individuals, not religious individuals.
“I was raised to believe that humans are what matter. And art,” Zoltan, who was raised by atheist parents, told The New York Times in 2015. “We worshipped movies and books. Our Bible was everything from Neil Simon to the Russian novelists.”
The grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, Zoltan said that while growing up, she “partook in Shabbat dinners and attended a Hebrew school purely as forms of cultural affirmation,” as The Times article noted.
Clearly, she and her colleagues are “up to something.”
“I feel like I’m born again,” one Potter podcast fan actually told The Washington Post. (go to page 2 to continue reading) [lz_pagination]