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

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.

Season Two Teaser: The Worst Birthday  

Join us next week on October 25th for the official launch of season two of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text! In the meantime, here's a little teaser of our first episode. 

Special Edition: Owl Post and Professor Stephanie Paulsell  

In our last episode of season one, we hear from a few more listeners and have a meta-conversation about the podcast itself. Vanessa and Casper also have the opportunity to chat with Professor Stephanie Paulsell, with whom they developed this project at Harvard Divinity School. We’re back with season two in a few weeks!

Note: This is our last week of particularly bad audio quality. Hurray!

Wrap-Up: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  

In the final episode of season one, Vanessa and Casper pull out a few key insights from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They finally get around to talking about Harry himself, revisit the kindness of the Weasley twins, and think about the thematic relevance of food in the book. Throughout the episode they come back to ideas about vulnerability, friendship, and love. 

Note: Unfortunately, we're still having trouble with microphones. This time, just to keep you on your toes, it's Vanessa that sounds a little wonky. All will be fixed (hopefully!) in season two.

Love: The Man with Two Faces (Book 1, Chapter 17)  

**Note: We had some technical difficulties in the studio this week (mainly with Casper’s microphone) so unfortunately the sound of this episode is not up to our usual standard and occasionally distracting. Still, the conversation was fruitful enough that we wanted to share it with you. Thanks for your patience and, if you have the option, maybe leave your good headphones at home for this one! 

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of love in the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They debate whether Quirrell loves Voldemort, celebrate the Weasley twins, and take a closer look at the title of the chapter. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Is sacrifice necessary for love?

This week's voicemail is thanks to Lindsay Surtees. 

Destiny: Through the Trapdoor (Book 1, Chapter 16)  

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of destiny in chapter sixteen, the penultimate chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They discuss why Neville is excluded from the trio's adventure, where Hermione's strengths and weaknesses come from, and the possible symbolism of chess pieces. Throughout the episode they look at the question: are our choices part of our destiny?

This week's voicemail is thanks to Micah Herstand. 

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