‘Harry Potter and the Sacred Text’ podcast draws non-believers who find meaning in magical fiction
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” Romans 1:22,23 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The move to create a religion around Harry Potter was started by two Harvard Divinity School graduates Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan. Almost immediately upon launching their new “faith” it attracted hundreds of followers. The podcast shot to the top and quickly became the number-two podcast in America on iTunes. When you won’t believe the Bible and humble yourself before God, you will fall for just about anything. Even elevating books about witchcraft to the same level as the Holy Bible.
Mark Kennedy grew up a Catholic, and a Harry Potter fanatic. Only one stuck. “I considered myself a non-spiritual person,” he said. He thought he was done with religion. And then he stumbled on the podcast ‘Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.’
The podcast told him that the Harry Potter series — the books that he always turned to for solace when he was angry or stressed or in need of an escape — could be a source of spiritual sustenance.
“I feel like I’m born again,” he said.
Reading Harry Potter as a Sacred Text ‘like the Bible’:
On Tuesday night, Kennedy came to an event space at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in the District with hundreds of fellow fans of the podcast, who have found a surprising spirituality in the magical fiction series, which turns 20 years old this year.
Hosted by Harvard Divinity School graduates Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan, the podcast “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” became the number-two podcast in America on iTunes soon after it debuted last summer. It has inspired face-to-face Potter text reading groups, akin to Bible study more than book club, in cities across the country. In Harvard Square, ter Kuile and Zoltan host a weekly church-like service for the secular focused on a Potter text’s meaning.
In the episode they taped at Sixth & I, they used one chapter of the third Harry Potter book as a vehicle for discussing the topics of trust, betrayal, love and prejudice (against werewolves).
Touring the country this summer, the podcasters have been met night after night by adoring, mostly millennial crowds who want to soak up their secular meaning-making. For the growing slice of Americans who label themselves “spiritual but not religious,” Casper ter Kuile and Vanessa Zoltan are kind of pop stars. source