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Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Vanessa Zoltan, Casper ter Kuile & Ariana Nedelman


Podcast Overview

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 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.

Podcast Episodes

Wonder: Professor Trelawney's Prediction (Book 3, Chapter 16)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of wonder in chapter sixteen of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss flobberworms, how Divination class is like divinity school, and why Professor Trelawney doesn't believe in her own prediction. Throughout the episode they consider the question: Should we try to answer unanswerable questions?

Next week we're reading chapter seventeen, Cat, Rat and Dog, through the theme of innocence. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Laurie Benson. Don't forget to buy tickets for the east coast leg of live tour (which starts this weekend!): harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show

Pain: The Quidditch Final (Book 3, Chapter 15)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of pain in chapter fifteen of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss Casper's beautiful teeth, Vanessa's dislike of Hogwarts houses, and why Professor Trelawney is a better teacher than we once thought. Throughout the episode they consider the question: When is it okay to knowingly cause someone else’s pain?

Next week we're reading chapter sixteen, Professor Trelawney's Prediction, through the theme of wonder. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Lauren Lo Bue. Don't forget to buy tickets for the live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show

Imagination: Snape's Grudge (Book 3, Chapter 14)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of imagination in chapter fourteen of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, in some major reversals, Vanessa expresses concern for Snape and Casper blesses Hermione. They also discuss babies, puppies, and our criminal justice system. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How can we use imagination to do the most good in the world? 

Next week we're reading chapter fifteen, The Quidditch Final, through the theme of pain. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Tyler Reeves. Don't forget to buy tickets for the east coast leg of our live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show

Rivalry: Gryffindor Versus Ravenclaw — With Hank Green (Book 3, Chapter 13)

Vanessa and Casper and special guest, Hank Green, explore the theme of Rivalry in chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss the difference between bullies and rivals, the delight of new babies, and why Cho Chang is a great model for competition. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How does power work within rivalry?

If you want to see and hear more of Hank, you can watch him on his many youtube channels, listen to him on his podcast Dear Hank and John, and catch him at PodCon, which is on December 9th and 10th in Seattle.

Next week we're reading chapter fourteen, Snape's Grudge, through the theme of imagination. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Kathy Kavanaugh. Don't forget to buy tickets for the live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show







Optimism: The Patronus (Book 3, Chapter 12)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of optimism in chapter twelve of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, Casper tells a story about climate activism, Vanessa tries to puzzle out how boggarts work, and together they take a close look at what exactly happens during a Dementor's Kiss. Throughout the episode they consider the question: why do we need permission to be optimistic? 

Next week we're reading chapter thirteen, Gryffindor Versus Ravenclaw, through the theme of rivalry. Tune in for a special guest story by Hank Green! Our voicemail this week is thanks to Dave Lawson. Don't forget to buy tickets for the live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show

Duty: The Firebolt — With Father Jim Martin (Book 3, Chapter 11)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of duty in chapter eleven of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss Hermione's selflessness, Hagrid's traumatic experience in Azkaban, and McGonagall's harsh take-down of Trelawney at christmas dinner. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do we differentiate between obedience and duty?

We are delighted to be joined this week by Father Jim Martin to discuss Jesuit spirituality and sacred imagination. He's the editor-at-large of America Magazine and author of such books as Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Seven Last Words?

This episode is sponsored by Verizon go90. Next week we're reading chapter twelve, The Patronus, through the theme of optimism. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Sophia Charan. Don't forget to buy tickets for the live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show





Escape: The Marauder's Map (Book 3, Chapter 10)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of escape in chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss whether we can have sympathy for dementors, Casper's college crush, and the toxic ideas that haunt us. Throughout the episode they consider the question: After we escape something awful, what allows us to go back and help others do so as well?

This episode is sponsored by Spotify Showstopper and Warby Parker. Next week we're reading chapter eleven, The Firebolt, through the theme of duty. Our voicemail this week is thanks to Katie Stickles-Wynen. Don't forget to buy tickets for the live tour: harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show

Frustration: Grim Defeat (Book 3, Chapter 9)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of frustration in chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This week, they discuss latin etymology, quote Macbeth, and critique Snape's class design. They also talk about fun things like Sir Cadogan (who is rapidly becoming our favorite portrait). Throughout the episode they consider the question: When does frustration indicate injustice?

This episode is sponsored by Blue Apron and Spotify Showstopper. Next week we're reading chapter ten, The Marauder's Map, through the theme of escape. Our donor of the week is Crookshanks and our voicemail this week is thanks to Camryn Kessler.

[Explicit] Extra! Extra!: Blooper Reel

This is not a real episode! It's a reel episode. (Groan.) 

Ariana made this little blooper reel for some of the Crowdfunder backers, but we thought it would be nice to share it with everyone.  It's Ariana's mom's birthday today, and it's a beautiful Friday here in Boston, so it's a good day for something a little special. Thanks go, of course, to those who ordered it from the Crowdfunder - without you, it wouldn't exist! 

Today we're also releasing posters for our live tour. Go check them out on social media and share them with your friends. We can't wait to see ya'll in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. If you haven't yet bought your tickets, you can do so at: http://www.harrypottersacredtext.com/live-show/

P.S. Despite how it might sound in these bloopers, we love all of our sponsors and are very grateful for their support. The explicit warning is for swearing. See you on Tuesday!

Desperation: Flight of the Fat Lady (Book 3, Chapter 8)

Vanessa and Casper explore the theme of desperation in chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They discuss the credibility of divination, the intensity of Oliver Wood's quidditch passion, and whether Harry's need to go to Hogsmeade is silly or understandable. Throughout the episode they consider the question: How do you prevent desperation from going hand and hand with isolation?

This episode is sponsored by Spotify Showstopper and Verizon Go 90. Next week we're reading chapter nine, Grim Defeat, through the theme of frustration. Our donor of the week is Mikhela Ungerleider and our voicemail this week is thanks to Sara Cochennet.

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