New Podcast: “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”
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The Harry Potter Phenomenon has books and movies and now, in a unique approach, the new podcast “Harry Potter and The Sacred Text” aims to break down and analyze the seven book series written by J.K. Rowling as if it were a sacred text. In 199 episodes, hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile will be looking at a new chapter each week through the lense of a theme. They will also be using techniques from several religions to look at the text in each approximately 20 minute episode.
The series begins with the first chapter “The Boy Who Lived” from the book that started it all, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. After a quick 30 second summary done by each host, we dive right into the chapter and look at the theme of commitment. As someone who hasn’t read the books in a while but is still very much obsessed, it was nice to take it back to the beginning with the story of the Dursleys, their love of everything normal, and the tragedy that results in baby Harry being placed on their doorstep.
Then Vanessa and Casper applied a traditional Christian practice known as lectio divina meaning divine reading in Latin to look at a randomly chosen line of text. They then look at this line through four levels of analysis— though it is slightly adapted for the purpose of the podcast. The first level is breaking down the line itself and how it appears in the text, followed by studying allegory within the line, how the text reflects on your own life, and finally how you can apply what you have learned from this line. This is one of the more frequently used forms of analysis, seeing as the hosts have the most familiarity with it in their prior studies.The episode ends with the hosts giving a blessing to one of the characters they encountered in the chapter. This practice is one of the more outright religious aspects of the podcast, but I appreciate that it is another way to look at the characters in the story.
For those interested in studying spirituality or just gaining new perspective on Harry Potter, I highly recommend this podcast. It’s a great way to wind down at the end of a long week or when you need some analytical inspiration for your next English paper. As a disclaimer I would like to emphasize that the goal of this podcast is not to demean or ridicule any religion or religious practice, but simply to study a text that is adored by so many in a new way. You can listen to episodes on their website harrypottersacredtext.com or you can subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Soundcloud.