I am discussing the ending to Harry Potter and the Seven Deathly Hallows, so if you don't want to know what it is, then go read another blog....NOW.
Many people are going back and forth arguing whether the Harry Potter series is Christian and whether Harry is a Christ Figure like Aslan clearly is in Narnia. After reading the last book, it is evidently clear that this is what Rowling intends.
While we've pretty much always known that Harry and Voldemort would have to face off at the end, it is revealed in the last chapters that Dumbledore always knew that in order for Voldemort to be destroyed, Harry would have to die at the hands of Voldemort. When Harry learns this, he goes alone to face a waiting Voldemort, who is surrounded by his Deatheater henchmen. Without defending himself at all or uttering a word, Harry allows Voldemort to kill him (there is A LOT of really good plot wrapped up in this, but I am cutting it down to the bare bones).
Harry then wakes up in a very white hall where Dumbledore waits. Harry asks where he is, and Dumbledore replies "I was hoping you would tell me." And Harry recognizes it as Kings Cross Station, only very white and pure. I am sure there is symbolism in that choice of location. (Other than that, it reminded me of every other out of body movie-type experience ever since "Heaven Can Wait.") But the conversation is very good and Dumbledore reveals quite a lot to Harry.
In the course of this conversation, Dumbledore lets Harry know that Harry isn't dead and that while he has a choice in the matter, he should return to once more face off against Voldemort.
So Harry wakes up on the floor of the forest. When Voldemort's spell struck Harry, it also knocked out Voldemort. Harry pretends to be dead, and the one person who knows, Narcissa Malfoy, feels his beating heart, lies and proclaims that Harry is dead after Harry assures her with a quiet whisper that her son is alive at Hogwarts.
Voldemort and the Deatheaters march into Hogwarts carrying Harry's limp body, the conquering and triumphant army. But what puzzles Voldemort is that the people continue to still rail against him. When he casts spells to silence or harm them, they don't hold, despite having the most powerful wand in the world. Harry and Voldemort face off, and Harry explains everything to Voldemort, including why Voldemort's new wand won't work - because when Harry died for the lives of the people there, the same charm that protected him all of these years--that his mother had willingly died to protect him, protected those fighting against Voldemort from any lasting harm. Harry calls him to repent or "try feeling a little remorse" but instead Voldemort again tries to kill Harry, but the spell glances off of Harry's and returns to kill Voldemort.
My problem. When Voldemort killed Harry, Harry didn't die.
Now I don't know if that should bother me, because after all, Frodo didn't die in Lord of the Rings so it doesn't have to be quite so literal (but then again, while Frodo destroyed the ring, he was really not the Christ figure), and as Pastor Stuckwich points out, it is a different world, going by different rules.
But this is why it strikes me so hard. Rowling herself lists C.S. Lewis and Tolkien as her major influences, and that is clear in her work. In fact, I can't read the scene where Harry goes before Voldemort without noticing how similar it seems to the scene where Aslan surrenders himself to be destroyed by the White Witch. But Aslan did die and rise again.
Dumbledore and Harry himself make it clear that Harry never died. When Harry explains what happened to Voldemort, Voldemort even retorts: "But you didn't die." and Harry tells him that it didn't matter. It was enough that he was willing to.
That bothers me....a lot.
Especially in today's world with the liberal church proclaiming this all the time.
And while the Bible has examples of people being resurrected after dying, in Harry's world, it is clear from the ghosts that are present and the reality of how the resurrection stone worked, there is no place for the dead to really live again.....it reeks "swoon theory" to me. This is the belief that Christ didn't really die, because he couldn't come back if he did. He passed out on the cross and revived in the tomb.
The books are full of Christian symbolism pertaining to baptism, crosses, the battle between good and evil. The moral positions are even stronger, but morality does not have to be Christian. I think she does make a very pronounced point regarding how if we ignore evil for the sake of keeping the peace and avoiding discomfort, even stronger evil will completely engulf us.
I have not read anything pertaining to Rowling's belief in the resurrection, and according to Wikipedia, she belongs to the Church of Scotland, which has a takes a strong position of tolerance of various theological beliefs regarding God and Scripture.
Now my husband, who has not read one of the books of this series, did point out that many Christian authors who create a Christ-like character cannot bring themselves to desecrate, per se, Christ by taking their character all the way through death and resurrection. I sincerely hope that is the case here, and to be fair, she only tried to portray Harry as a typical teenage boy with a huge burden, not perfect and powerful like Aslan.
But with all the build up to Harry's necessary death and then the statement that it was only enough to be willing to die, I still am left to wonder. And so in the end, after eight years of eagerly following the stories, all that I am left with is doubt and speculation about what was the author was truly trying to say, and I still can't conclusively answer the question, "is it Christian?" I mean REALLY Christian.