How Harry Potter Helps Me Understand the Bible

*Note: This post contains mild spoilers for the Harry Potter series.

One Saturday night, I watched the last Harry Potter movie. On Sunday morning, I went to church. These two activities seemingly don’t have much in common, but I was surprised by the way my viewing of Harry Potter informed the way I heard the message in church that day.

King Herod is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, though we never get a lot of background information on him. Other sources have recorded his often-brutal ways, such as killing his wife and two of his sons, and ordering a large group of people to be killed when he died so there would be what he deemed an appropriate level of mourning (his son did not carry out this wish, however). A ruler like him may have instilled fear and worry in people, never knowing what he might do next–or who might find themselves in trouble next. All of this backstory doesn’t come through in the few verses I read about him in the Bible though, so it’s easy for me to skim over it. Sure, King Herod wasn’t great, and then I’m on to the next piece of the story.


In the Harry Potter series though, there are seven books (or eight movies) detailing the life of Harry and the back-and-forth struggle in the magical world between Harry and the other “good people” and evil Lord Voldemort and his followers. As the series goes on, the worry and fear over Voldemort’s power and sinister ways grow and grow, culminating in book seven, when all hope seems like it may be lost. Society in the magical world is in chaos, with many people on the run for fear of being caught as part of the small remaining group who opposes Voldemort and his tactics.

Comparing King Herod to Voldemort is by no means perfect, but there are certainly similarities. They were both very powerful, had morally questionable methods of getting what they wanted, and squashed those who tried to stand against them. The main difference, of course, is that one is a historical figure who we can verify actually lived in a real time and place, and one is a fictional character who lives in the world of pages and screens.

But their similarities are why stories, even made up ones, matter. At their best, they help us better understand our actual, day-to-day lives in new ways, and give us a deeper grasp of other stories we encounter, be they in the Bible, from a friend, or in a movie. When I experience a story in a long format, getting to know the various characters and their actions, I can develop a fuller understanding of who they are, why they do what they do, and what their world is really like.

When I read the Bible, there are many instances where entire years go by in the matter of a few words or verses. It’s hard for me to fully comprehend what actually took place in that time frame and to put myself in the place of the people who experienced it, because I don’t have very much information. Other stories give me the words and ideas to better understand the fear or joy or despair Bible characters may have felt, even if the text doesn’t directly tell me what it was like for them. As I listened to my pastor talk about what life may have been like for people living under King Herod’s reign, I imagined the same kinds of feelings characters may have felt at the end of the Harry Potter series when Voldemort was in control, and it gave me a new and different view of the story.

While I don’t read and study stories like Harry Potter the same way I read and study the Bible, there’s a beautiful value in being able to take the kind of learning I get from one and letting it inform how I learn from another.

Til next time…


p.s. What are the stories that have helped you understand life differently?


Grace and the UnGoogleable

Google and I are good friends. Word definitions, timezone charts,  who’s who in that one movie–it’s all a few keyboard taps and clicks away. There are lots of things I don’t know, but with the help of Google, I can find most of it out.

About four weeks ago I started this “full-time big kid job”adventure. I’ve already learned a lot, about how to do my job and the company and life as a full-time working person. Along with the freak outs about the giant change in my life schedule, I have been coming to terms with the reality that I will not and cannot know everything immediately.

What I’m finding is that some lessons are unGoogleable.

Before this one, I had a pretty good handle on my previous job(s). While I was in school, I wasn’t expected to know everything–that was the the entire point of why I was there. Even now, I was hired with full knowledge on both sides that I was not going to step into this job and be able to do it perfectly.

So alongside the lesson of not knowing, I’m learning about grace.

Because sometimes the hardest person to grant grace to is yourself.

Grace is not an unfamiliar concept to me. It’s a word used often in Christian circles, but in those contexts it’s about the grace God has given me–undeserved, divine grace. But there are other, human-given types of grace, and I find myself needing to grant it to myself.

This grace says, “It’s okay to not know it all today. You are doing, you are actively trying, you are learning.”
This grace is teaching me the importance of asking questions, of admitting I don’t know it all, of giving myself space and time to process.
This grace is about learning that as I sit in meetings with people who have been in the industry for seven years, twelve years, twenty years…there is no way to Google that experience.

Yet, this same grace is teaching me I have value of my own. Experience? No, not much of that. But I have ideas. A fresh view. Skills of my own.

I am being reminded of all that I don’t know, and to be okay in it. Not to stop learning, but to relish the space it gives me to grow. To see things differently, and to approach the unGoogleable lessons with curiosity, willingness, and a heavy dose of grace for myself.

Til next time…


p.s. How have you learned to grant yourself grace?

Identity Trial

This post is a part of something bigger—a collection of posts, written by young people, simply sharing what we have to say. We are young (but we have words). 


Ask five twenty-two year olds what they’re doing, and you will likely get five different answers. From grad school to weddings, apartments to travels abroad, full-time jobs with benefits to babies, coffee shops to parents’ homes. A lot of these involve mild to massive amounts of change…which I don’t tend to be very good at handling.

Graduating from college and attempting to enter “the big kid world” has brought about significant changes in many aspects of my life (some of which I mentioned here). I’ve lost my familiar rhythms of life, the frustrations and joys of schoolwork, and perhaps one I’m struggling with the most, the label of “college student.” So although for most of my life I had a fairly strong sense of who I am, right now my identity is…a bit in flux. Not quite an identity crisis.

An identity trial, if you will.

At my core I still know who I am; my belief in God is firmly intact, and I have a sense that I would like to do something with my life that is bigger than me, but not FOR me. I still know my likes and dislikes, things I am good at and not good at, things that make me laugh and those that make me cringe.

But that might be about where my list ends. For the time being, I am learning who I am outside of the classroom walls I spent so much time in. I am learning that though I am not enrolled at a particular school, I can still be a student—just in different ways. I am learning that I still have much to learn about just about everything.

It’s an intimidating, uncertain process. I never expected to feel quite THIS out of sorts after I graduated; I knew it would be a change, but I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect me. I wasn’t even aware of how comfortable I had become in the label of “student,” and how disconcerting it would be to shed it.

The type of learning I am doing now is much more frustrating. There are no tests to study for, but that is because there are rarely cut and dried right and wrong answers. There are no long weekends or snow days in the school of real life, no labeled teachers in front of the classroom.

So for the next who-knows-how-long (probably forever, really) I am unsure. Intimidated. Tentative. Overwhelmed. And learning.

I may be having an identity trial, but I am not done.

Til next time…