Teaching Faith with Harry Potter

A Guidebook for Parents and Educators for Multigenerational Faith Formation

Patricia M. Lyons

May/2017, 208 Pages, Paperback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819233554



Joanne Rowling’s great epic is forming the faith and moral vision of millions of people. If you are reading this book, forming faith is at least part or maybe all of your vocation, as teacher, pastor, parent, godparent, roommate, sibling, spouse, or friend. In baptism we vow to form our faith and the faith of others. To not use this modern epic in your sacred work is to leave on the table one of the most ubiquitous and enchanting tools of our time to awaken and baptize the imagination. Don’t put this wand away.

Patricia Lyons serves as Missioner for Evangelism and Community Engagement for the Diocese of Washington. She is a member of the presiding bishop's cabinet on evangelism and the working group for the "Way of Love" curricular and support resources. An honors graduate from Harvard College in the Comparative Study of Religion, she holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School, and received her doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary, where she teaches theology and evangelism. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

"In a manner that is personal, playful, and profound, Patricia Lyons provides us with an illuminating lens through which to view the Harry Potter series, particularly as it relates to the formation of the faith and practice of young people. The connections she is able to make between contemporary experience and the Christian life are remarkable, all the while inviting us to approach the education and development of young people with fresh vision and renewed commitment." ––The Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, D.D., Executive Director, National Association of Episcopal Schools

"Patricia Lyons offers readers both young and old a fresh look at how to use the Harry Potter series as a tool for growing their faith. With clear prose and varied topics, she models what it means to use popular culture as a tool to gain a deeper understanding of one's personal beliefs." ––Dr. Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Seminary of the Southwest and author of God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom

"Harry Potter is one of the great retellings of our Christian story, as Patricia Lyons knows and explains with clarity and power. In Teaching Faith with Harry Potter, Lyons turns on the light for all of us who might need to find our way out of the darkness with the help of the Boy Who Lived." ––Greg Garrett, author of One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter and My Church Is Not Dying: Episcopalians in the 21st Century

"This is the book I have been waiting for––and the discussion I have been dying to have with others about how to utilize the Christian messages in the Harry Potter stories unapologetically! I cannot wait for other people to read it and for the discussion and community to grow even larger as we tell and re-tell our Christian stories alongside and intertwined with the adventures of Harry Potter. I have known the value of J.K. Rowling's storytelling and theology since I first starting reading these books, and I am so happy to have the academic foundation that Patricia M. Lyons has researched and written with such care and detail. In many ways, Teaching Faith with Harry Potter reminded me of The Celtic Way of Evangelism. Both books argue that the only effective way to truly evangelize is to know our own Christian stories so well that we recognize them when other cultures tell stories of similar life-changing events. Making those connections in the culture around us is essential to helping others to know the truth and love of Jesus Christ." ––The Rev. Amy Haynie, Children's Ministries Coordinator and Associate Clergy at Trinity Church in Fort Worth, Texas is a RevGalPalBlogs and Episcopal Café blogger, as well as an unabashedly Slytherin Episcopal priest

"Patricia Lyons has provided the definitive faith-based commentary on the remarkable phenomenon of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Bringing her personal biography and a remarkable grasp of the literary achievement of Rowling's, she writes illuminatingly about all the key themes of theology from sin to Eucharist. Fittingly for the moment in which we live, we even find that Harry Potter can provide a Christian resource for resistance to President Trump. All in all, an astonishing tour de force––a text to read, study, and use." ––The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology and Ethics

"'Stunning' is the intentional adjective to use to describe this book. There have been a plethora of Harry books on the market, including those that delineate links with the life of faith, but this one stands above the rest. Lyons has done her homework; she has plumbed the classics of Western Spiritual traditions and carefully discerned allied themes and movements in the Potter series. I highly recommended this book for anyone interested in the spiritual movements of life; Christian Formation practitioners––take note." ––Victoria Garvey, former Canon for Lifelong Formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and current faculty for the Forma Christian Formation Certificate programs.

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