Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Missing, But Still in Action

Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted a reflection, sermon, review, or commentary here. Let’s just say I’ve been working on many projects, enjoying life, and piling up a stack of books and slips of paper with notes on which I wish to write about.

So here’s the latest, of which I promise more details in the weeks to come – hopefully on a more regular basis:

Working with some great authors on upcoming books to come out from Church Publishing, including these that have already been published. My “Spring 2017” list is very eclectic: formation, liturgy, social justice. Many are perfect for formation settings (individually for your own enrichment, or for discussion in small groups): Continue reading Missing, But Still in Action


mountain-hi-resEpic = ep·ic / ˈepik/

noun: a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation.
adjective: of, relating to, or characteristic of an epic or epics; heroic or grand in scale or character; informal; particularly impressive or remarkable.

It began with my own epic adventure attempting to travel from my home in Connecticut to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. I was headed to the annual Tapestry conference of Forma, the association of Episcopal Christian formation leaders. What should have been a 50-minute flight, snowstorm “Janus” had me queuing at the taxi stand at the LGA Delta Shuttle terminal after all flights to DCA were cancelled for the day. A taxi to Penn Station with 3 other road warriors, followed by moving forward, backward, and forward again on Amtrak to Union Station in Washington, DC followed by a Metro adventure, and another cab ride that made me thankful I had stopped at an ATM brought me to my final destination twelve hours later.

I wasn’t the only conference participant who had an adventure getting to Alexandria. But once we all (170+ of us) arrived, we were in for a real ride. Keynote speakers Lisa Kimball, professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership and Director of the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Seminary paired with Patricia Lyons, the JK-12 Director of Service Learning at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Episcopal) School in Alexandria led us on an “Epic Adventure of Faith.”

My take on their plenaries regarding the “Once and Future Church” via my Twitter feed (and some notes):

Sharon Ely Pearson ‏‪@rowsofsharonp Jan 22

  • ‪@kimball_lisa and Tricia Lyons keynote with sunglasses and dinging bells. C E leaders make sure there is a once and future church ‪#forma14
  • Who are we not including in the “game” of church? Are we still playing the old version of monopoly?
  • Retweeted: S Williams-Duncan ‏‪@SWilliamsDuncan Jan 22 
Apple is willing to ask people “What will your verse be?” We should be asking this! ‪#Forma14
  • Sharon Ely Pearson ‏‪@rowsofsharonp Jan 22‪#Forma14 ‪@kimball_lisa sharing insights from “Families & Faith” by Vern Bengtson. Need to check out this book.
  • Good news of a declining religion is that the church is starting to pay attention to the importance of Christian formation
  • If our “once” church is to reclaim our voice we need to embrace and proclaim our epic adventure of personal life wide formation
  • If we don’t link lifelong  with life wide, XF people will be lined up for Habitat for Humanity & the church will become a dog park

Sharon Ely Pearson ‏‪@rowsofsharonp Jan 23

  • Moving on the game board of life – fraught with anxiety trying to stay alive. Game or documentary? ‪#Forma14
  • Saving the Church is not an epic mission – it’s not what we are called to do. How do we stay clear of where the Spirit is moving?
  • Hindrances to epic adventures: fear (wounds, decline, scarcity). Angels tell us ‘fear not’. Must choose paradigm of abundance.
  • Our call is not to save the “structure” but to refocus on the epic journey of the kingdom.
  • Reformation happened due to a failure of pastoral ministry-failure of inviting & creating in an epic way.
  • Retweeted Kyle Matthew Oliver ‏‪@kmoliver Jan 23 
Jesus showed us the invitation to faith is not primarily moral. Don’t get pulled into making faith primarily about behavior.
  • Amazing “breakfast entree” of epic proportions given to us by ‪#TrishLyons
  • Church leaders find ourselves as cruise directors instead of walking with others on their journeys. ‪#forma14 ‪@kimball_lisa
  • Retweeted Mike Angell ‏‪@angellmike Jan 23‪@kimball_lisa at ‪#forma14 “We shouldn’t be baptizing people who don’t know what they are going to do on the other side of the event.”
  • We need to expect more of people, not less in joining us on the epic journey of Christ. We need to raise the bar.
  • We find ourselves as cruise directors instead of walking with others on their journey
  • EPIC – Experiential, Participatory, Imagistic, Connective. (Starbucks) (Worship) that transforms.
  • We are not “teaching” people, we are inviting people to be formed as a people of God on a participatory journey not led by experts.

Sharon Ely Pearson ‏‪@rowsofsharonp Jan 24

  • Packed ballroom for the final plenary which will be epic w Lisa & Tricia
  • Formation is about continuing the epic adventure of Jesus. How do we baptized our narratives with the Gospel?
  • A small gesture can change a child: Caine’s Arcade – Imagination Foundation Cardboard Challenge 
  • Tricia & epic adventure of Harry Potter is our Christian narrative. We’ve got the ultimate epic adventure with Christ
  • What is the dement or in your life? What sucks your joy?
  • Patronus charm = prayer
  • Retweeted Audrey O’Brien ‏‪@episcoaudrey Jan 24 
Dobby as ultimate disciple: what would it be like to be given your freedom but chose to give your life back in service?
  • LeeAnn Watkins sharing the epic adventure of her church and community in MN.

A little too cryptic for you? See and hear what happened between my tweets at each of these links for the full story:

Key Resources offers a conference “wrap up” with a listing of all sorts of links and descriptions to what was going on at the conference. Forma Day 1: Epic adventure, life-long and life-wide and Forma Day 2: Partners in Adventure

Forma has posted videos for each plenary offered by Lisa & Tricia. View them on the Forma YouTube Channel. Definitely worth your time to watch each of them. And they might make for great Adult Forum viewing and discussion as well as a teacher’s or staff meeting. 

Jesus & Harry Potter

Wizards, Wonders, and Discipleship

Using the stories of Harry Potter in church settings with children has again raised some eyebrows. This is not a new phenomena, as the fundamental Christians and biblical literalists are always getting their surplices and cottas (or academic robes) in a twist when it comes to being creative with children.

A congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa recently concluded a successful Vacation Bible School with 30+ children in which they used the themes of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series using a program called Wizards & Wonders. The local Iowa City newspaper picked up on the event and shared a news story which hit the news services, and in turn, showed up on the blogosphere.

The comparisons of Harry Potter (and all the books) to themes of Christianity is not new. Even the author’s own acknowledgement says “Harry Potter” deals extensively with Christian themes. Myriads of books and curriculum have been written comparing the themes of good vs. evil, sacrificial giving, loyalty & friendship, spirituality, self-awareness, and call – to name just a few. An article in Christianity Today from November 2005 (Redeeming Harry Potter) compares this series to C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and the Star Wars trilogy. All literary devices where good overcomes evil through the passion of faithful characters who rise above adversity.

I just finished reading The Life, Death and Resurrection of Harry Potter by John Killinger (2009: Mercer University Press) for a book review. He compares why religious conservatives dislike Harry to the Pharisees  who “cleanse the outside of the cup and leave the inside untouched, or strain at gnats and end by swallowing camels.” Killinger believes they also “forget what it is like to be a child  and fend for oneself in a complex world of competing loyalties, baffling hormonal development, and sometimes faithless friends.”

Killinger makes many comparisons and observations of Rowling’s storytelling (and he believes she gives an overt Christian message). A few are a bit far-fetched for me, but some examples:

  • “There was a scarlet oval over his [Harry’s] heart where the locket had burned him.” A scarlet oval over Harry’s heart recalls the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most revered signs in Christian history.
  • Dumbledore as a God-Father figure with characteristics of loving kindness, forgiveness and inclusiveness.
  • There is an eschatological moment at the death of Voldemort and the triumph of Harry Potter (the Boy Who Lived). The witnesses scream and roar in excitement, and at that moment “the fierce new sun dazzled the windows.” Could it be Easter morning at Hogwarts?
  • As the three friends (Ron, Hermione, Harry) eat supper, Ron prods at the “lumps of charred gray fish on his plate” and reminisces about the way his mother can “make good food appear out of thin air.” Supper on the beach?

Back to the VBS controversy. Don’t we want children to experience the Christian message in a language and mileau they are familiar with and engaged to learn more? Didn’t Jesus use stories to explain the Kingdom of God? Wasn’t Jesus consider a “magician” in his time? Children are pretty sophisticated today; they know the world has temptations. And they are quickly losing their imaginations by the hard and unforgiving world that we live in. Why not engage their wonder with seeking God in all shapes and forms?

Kudos to Meg Wagner and her volunteers for making their church a hospitable, fun and inviting place for children this summer. They could have been home playing video games or reading comic books. Instead they learned about friendship and cooperation. And maybe they’ll come back on Sunday for worship – and bring their parents with them!

October 8, 2010: Harry Potter, Christian Hallows & C.S. Lewis – A book review for “One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter” by Greg Garrett