Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

United States

What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? What would we learn? How might they change us? Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a new podcast reading Harry Potter, the best-selling series of all time, as if it was a sacred text. Just as Christians read the Bible, Jews the Torah and Muslims read the Quran, we will embark on a 199-episode journey (one chapter an episode, to be released weekly) to glean what wisdom and meaning J.K. Rowling’s beloved novels have for us today. We will read Harry Potter, not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives.

Episodes

Love: Dobby's Reward (Book 2, Chapter 18)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of love in the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Together they discuss the connection between love, memory, suffering, and why parents take their babies to the zoo. They are joined by special guest, Professor Stephanie Paulsell, to discuss and introduce a new spiritual practice — Florilegia. 

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Katie Bowers. Be sure to check out our season three crowdfunder at harrypottersacredtext.com.

Heartbreak: The Heir of Slytherin (Book 2, Chapter 17)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of heartbreak in chapter seventeen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss practical jokes, juvenile delinquency, and the symbolism of Fawkes' tears. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What's the difference between heartbreak and soul-break?

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Helen Valencia. Next week we’ll be reading chapter eighteen, Dobby's Reward, through the theme of love. 

Grace: The Chamber of Secrets (Book 2, Chapter 16)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of grace in chapter sixteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the power of gratitude, the difference between the desolation of Moaning Myrtle and Ginny Weasley, and Vanessa's admiration of Johnny Cash. Throughout the episode they consider the question: why does the idea of grace make some of us uncomfortable?

This episode is sponsored by audible.com and this week's voicemail is thanks to Rebecca Dehovitz. Next week we'll be reading chapter seventeen, The Heir of Slytherin, through the theme of heartbreak.

Sanctuary: Aragog (Book 2, Chapter 15)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of sanctuary in chapter fifteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the power of silence, how Hagrid is a priest-like figure, and why spiders are so afraid of the Basilisk. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Are the most ordinary among us best suited to face life's greatest horrors?

This episode is sponsored by Aaptiv and Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Heather McDonald. Next week we’ll be reading chapter sixteen, The Chamber of Secrets, through the theme of grace. 

Loyalty: Cornelius Fudge (Book 2, Chapter 14)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of loyalty in chapter fourteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Hagrid and Dumbledore's mutual admiration, how to navigate multiple responsibilities, and why Cornelius Fudge is a poor politician. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When does loyalty become cultish and when is it the highest form of respect? 

This episode is sponsored by Aaptiv and Squarespace and this week's voicemail is thanks to Jane. Next week we’ll be reading chapter fifteen, Aragog, through the theme of sanctuary. 

Cowardice: The Very Secret Diary (Book 2, Chapter 13)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of cowardice in chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss hate crimes, the psychology of murderers, and secret admirers. Throughout the episode they consider the question: What is the primary emotion associated with cowardice? Is it fear, shame, confusion, or something else?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Casper and this week's voicemail is thanks to Teague Peterson. Next week we’ll be reading chapter fourteen, Cornelius Fudge, through the theme of loyalty. 

Belonging: The Polyjuice Potion (Book 2, Chapter 12)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of belonging in chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss magical portraits, the metaphor of the phoenix, and Vanessa’s distrust of optometry. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is a shared history necessary for feeling belonging? 
This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Aaptiv and this week's voicemail is thanks to Evin Shinn. Next week we’ll be reading chapter thirteen, The Very Secret Diary, through the theme of cowardice. 

Excellence: The Dueling Club (Book 2, Chapter 11)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of excellence in chapter eleven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Harry's proficiency with Parseltongue, Ernie McMillan's authority within the Hufflepuffs, and Vanessa's esteem of Lebron James. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do we make sure that we pursue excellence in way that's in line with our values?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Aaptiv. Our story this week was told by the incredible Mark Oppenheimer of the Unorthodox podcast and this week's voicemail is thanks to Laurie Stevens.

Complaining: The Rogue Bludger (Book 2, Chapter 10)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of complaining in chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Madam Hooch's negligence during the quidditch match, Lockhart's toxic masculinity, and Colin Creevey's surprising thoughtfulness. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When do we have the right to complain?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and Wordpress this week's voicemail is thanks to Meghan Cooper.

Innocence: The Writing on the Wall (Book 2, Chapter 9)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of innocence in chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss whether Mrs. Norris had it coming, how "expert" language can alienate us from our own experience, and Professor Binns' ghost privilege. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Why do we sometimes feel guilty, even when we're not?

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and this week's voicemail is thanks to Ian Bawa.

Rumors: The Deathday Party (Book 2, Chapter 8)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of rumors in chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the difference between rumors and propaganda, whether Nearly Headless Nick should be allowed in the headless hunt, and how they would feel if their friends started hearing voices. Throughout the episode they consider the question: At what point do rumors become dangerous? 

This episode is sponsored by LifeAfter and this week's voicemail is thanks to Antonia Aguilera. 

Confusion: Mudbloods and Murmurs (Book 2, Chapter 7)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of confusion in chapter seven of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Hagrid's magical umbrella, the usefulness of mantras, and what the 'mudblood' incident can help us understand about systemic racism. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When faced with pernicious confusion, what's our best course of action? 

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and LifeAfter. This week's voicemail is thanks to Andrew McIntyre. 

Attraction: Gilderoy Lockhart (Book 2, Chapter 6)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of attraction in chapter six of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss their schoolyard crushes, Ron's malfunctioning wand, and a metaphorical interpretation of the mandrake plant. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Where do we draw the distinction between healthy and unhealthy attraction? 

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and Life After. This week's voicemail is thanks to Cindy Phippen.

Special Edition: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Spoiler Warning!)  

After seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Vanessa and Casper discuss their impressions and share their favorite moments from the film.


Responsibility: The Whomping Willow (Book 2, Chapter 5)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of responsibility in chapter five of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Dobby's constant meddling, Snape's connection with the Whomping Willow, and whether it's okay to bless the Dursleys. Throughout the episode they consider the question: is discipline best executed from a position of objectivity or compassion?

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and LifeAfter. Our voicemail is thanks to Maxine Kobinski.

Shame: At Flourish and Blotts (Book 2, Chapter 4)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of shame in chapter four of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Harry's generosity, the difference between teasing and criticism, and whether there's anything to admire about Gilderoy Lockhart. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Do we inherit the shame of our fathers?

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and this week's voicemail is thanks to Cari Kramer.







A Brief Post-Election Note  

Hi friends, we hope you're taking care of yourselves. We offer you this reading from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 


Curiosity: The Burrow (Book 2, Chapter 3)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of curiosity in chapter three of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss Arthur Weasley's enthusiasm for muggles, the moral implications of de-gnoming, and the alluring appeal of RuPaul's Drag Race. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is love an important component of curiosity?

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and this week's voicemail is thanks to Michelle Sisco.

Control: Dobby's Warning (Book 2, Chapter 2)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of control in the second chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss the bureaucratic power of the Ministry of Magic, the benefit of Harry's deep curiosity, and the endless frustrations of IKEA furniture. Throughout the episode they consider the question: when is control a noble intention and when is it oppressive? 

This week's voicemail is thanks to Mijal Tenenbaum.

Disappointment: The Worst Birthday (Book 2, Chapter 1)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of disappointment in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They discuss homesickness and why returning home sometimes brings out the worst in us, acknowledge Petunia's domestic labor, and return to the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina. Throughout the episode they consider the question: how do we maintain optimistic and integrity when confronted with disappointment? 

This week's voicemail is thanks to Grace Halverson.

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