Harry Potter holds Dumbledore's Elder WandStill frame from “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.

But first a little background…

As a Christian Scientist, I’m often confronted, by others and within myself, with some pretty tough questions about my faith — questions like, “If you believe that God is all good, all-powerful, and ever-present, how do you explain natural disasters, famine, war, and violent rampages? What about sickness, disease, and death? Why do bad things happen to good people?”

In short, “How do you deal with the question of evil?”

Although I’m very far from having anything even approaching a complete answer, I can tell you that one thing I don’t do is close my eyes and pretend it’s not there. Simply avoiding evil or wishing, hoping, praying that it just goes away is not the answer.

On the other hand, something I’d like to think I am getting better at over the years is choosing between what I consider to be effective and not-so-effective ways to defeat evil.

And this is where Harry Potter comes in.

As every Potterphile knows, there comes a time in Book Seven when Harry has to choose between two courses of action in his quest to deal with the evil Lord Voldemort, aka “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

One path involves the acquisition of three “Deathly Hallows.” These include the immensely powerful “Elder Wand;” the death-defying “Resurrection Stone;” and the “Cloak of Invisibility” which, as the name implies, enables the one who possesses it to become completely invisible.

The other path — and the course Harry ultimately chooses — is to track down and destroy seven hidden “Horcruxes.”  These are objects in which Voldemort has placed a part of his soul as a means of achieving immortality.

Now, I realize that any analogy between Harry’s strategy for defeating “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” and the practice of Christian Science may seem a little loose at this point. But hear me out on this.

You see, Christian Science is all about getting at the root of the problem. No, not by tracking down bits and pieces of an evil wizard’s soul (if this were even possible) but by addressing the mental nature of all evil, sickness and disease included — not with magic, but through inspired prayer. In this sense, Christian Scientists like myself are in league with increasing numbers in the medical field who acknowledge the direct connection between mind and body.

By challenging long-held assumptions about God as unknowable and man as essentially biological — even the apparent invincibility and inevitability of evil itself — I’ve found that I’m able to confront and defeat evil in much the same way as many folks in the Bible did.

Although modest by comparison, the physical healings I’ve experienced include a wide variety of problems — everything from everyday aches and pains to more serious, life-threatening conditions. The result of this process, this battle if you will, is the destruction of at least some small element of evil that would suggest that man has separated himself, by choice or by design, from God’s care.

Getting back to Harry, perhaps the biggest lesson for him, and for us, is what these evil-defeating experiences can teach us about the presence and power of love — a word that Episcopal priest and Yale lecturer Danielle Tumminio in her superb analysis of the Potter books equates with God.

But still we’re left with at least one unanswered question: If what Christian Science teaches is true, how come we still have all this evil to deal with?

This is a question I continue to contend with. While I may not have entirely grasped the why of evil, I’m grateful to have caught at least a glimpse of the how of its destruction. And I have no doubt that there will come a time when we’ll all discover, as did Harry, that evil in whatever form it presents itself can and will be defeated once and for all.


Eric NelsonEric Nelson is from Los Altos, California. In addition to his work as a Christian Science practitioner, he also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California.

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For any disease, there is a chance of spontaneous remission. For the common cold, people get over them all the time, regardless of their personal remedy. Maybe you can't explain Christain Sceince because it is not connected at all to what you say it is. You have taken something unexplained and made up this connection. Your choice of words, "in league with increasing numbers in the medical field who acknowledge the direct connection between mind and body", is extremely loose. I would suggest looking into what evidence really exists. I have looked, and have not found any credible evidence for intercessory prayer.

An excellent source of information about the connection between mind and body (and the potential healing benefits/effects) is www.noetic.org.

Sorry, John, but I've proven your theories to be inaccurate many times in my experience. I've seen "the common cold" develop into a serious health issue until I applied Christian Science - and then watched the most virulent illness disappear in a very short time. When I've taken the approach that a "cold" will disappear after a short time I've found the symptoms hanging on and on - and recurring periodically. When I've applied Christian Science, the condition not only stops in mid-cough - I have remained cold free for many years. I have found cold symptoms appearing from listening to sneezes on the telephone!

No physical conditions can appear without a mental consent - albeit not obvious - and they can be overcome by understanding the true laws that govern health. When someone asks me to pray for them - and the condition disappears instantly - or in a short time - you have to see a reality to this understanding of man's spiritual nature.

i would like to put thought that the writter also had undertakens found in non chistain faiths such as the earth religion wicca in wicca we teach the concept of the golden rule as such bid thy laws yeah must in perfect love in perfect trust eight words of the wiccan reed fullied yeah harm none yeah do what yeah will ever mind the rules of three what you send out comes back to the follow this with mind and heart merry meet and merry part the harry potter movies even uses older name for speific holidays that orgianated in wicca as well as many other non chirstain faiths mone such exmaple is the yule ball which is birth and death of the oak king the god of plant life in our belifes in opion the harry potter brings all the cultures beilfe systems together to create the concept there is no break in heaven and hell for any faiths chirstain or not

Hurray, Eric. You've echoed my first impression of Harry Potter from the beginning. The books do seem to make evil seem a terrible threat - but the heroes never waiver from their position on the side of good - and also advance with confidence the the evil can and must be overcome. They don't shirk the responsibility.

Nor should we. We've both seen these proven tools of Truth vs. Error defeat insidious claims against good.

Thanks, Eric. What is spontaneous remission of disease? Random luck in a meaningless universe? What is recovery from the common cold and other physical discomforts? God toying with us? Warfare between intelligent microscopic creatures? Maybe there's no apparent answer to these ills because we're looking in the wrong direction and being selective of what evidence we admit. We need to keep looking and have a little faith that wonderful things are going on even if we can't see them at the moment.

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