Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
When I Get Depressed I Read Beliefnet
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2004 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
Finally, they both have a theology. It's not, as one might expect, that Left Behind is Christian and Harry Potter pagan, but rather that Left Behind is Protestant and Harry Potter is Catholic. One of the chief theological arguments between Catholics and Protestants has been over whether salvation is earned through faith or by good works. In Left Behind, the only thing that matters is faith in Jesus. Steele explains that church leaders had led so many people astray because they merely "expected them to lead a good life, to do the best they could, to think of others, to be kind, to live in peace. It sounded so good, and yet it was so wrong. How far from the mark!"
While everything is pre-ordained in Left Behind, Dumbledore explicitly tells Harry that even though he carries some of the essence of Voldemort in him, he has the power to do good because he has the power of choice.
In that sense, despite their similarities, at their hearts the two series are different in a fundamental but not obvious way. Left Behind is fatalistic; Harry Potter sees outcomes determined by individual actions. Both provide a roadmap for how to live a good life, but in one case the key is morality, and in the other it is faith.