Podcast review: “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text”

"Reading fiction doesn't help us escape the world, it helps us live in it."

Hosts: Matthew Potts & Vanessa Zoltan
Not Sorry Productions

As any Harry Potter lover will tell you, J.K. Rowling’s series of youthful witches and wizards isn’t just for kids. The hosts of this podcast – Harvard Professor of Religion and Literature Matthew Potts and literary pilgrimage leader Vanessa Zoltan – agree. By approaching the books as “wisdom literature,” and reading intentionally as a kind of spiritual practice, they mine Harry Potter tales for eternal truths about meaningful and mindful living.

Their podcast is a guided tour of the books, each episode a look at a single chapter through a lens suggested by listeners. Themes such as redemption, joy or ignorance lead the hosts to relate the text to their own lives and to see the story from different angles, sometimes demonstrating compassion for a villain or imagining a tertiary character’s backstory. Each episode includes witty discussion, a shallow dive into the etymology of Potter words and a deeper experience of spiritual practice such as guided lectio divina.

The podcast assumes that listeners have read the books, so the Potter curious should embrace their inner child, read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and then tune in for the podcast (start with season one!), prepared to slow down and engage with the text on a richer level.