Lord of the Rings
The religious symbolism in Lord of the Rings is overwhelming. Let us begin with the least of these, hobbits Frodo and Samwise. Frodo is given the ring by his uncle Bilbo. Frodo's mission is to destroy the ring, which represents the apple that destroyed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Frodo's disciples represent different walks of life mimicking the motley crew of twelve that Christ assembled for himself. Some of Frodo's followers sought fame (Boromir), while others sought the truth (Aragorn the true heir of Isildur refusing to take the throne).
On the road to Mordor, there is internal strife (dwarf versus elf) and a Judas, Boromir. When the group detours in the caves to avoid the eye of Sauron, things fall asunder. Sauron has corrupted a great wizard, Saruman, a former friend of Gandalf. Saruman has fallen to darkness like Lucifer. In the cave, Gandalf must give his life and descend into hell fighting Balrog, a great demon, to save Frodo and the others. Chaos descends as they escape the cave into the forest assuming Gandalf is dead.
However, a new savior emerges in Aragorn. Help comes via Arwen, who sacrifices her eternity as an elf. As the disciples scatter, Frodo and Samwise encounter darkness (Gollum) on their journey. Smeagol's lust for the ring makes him depraved enough to kill Deagol, not unlike Cain killing Able. Gollum is also the Judas that betrays Frodo. Gollum is so reprobate that he is beyond redemption.
In Twin Towers, we see the resurrection of Gandalf the grey into Gandalf the White. He is a redeemed savior returning on his white horse, Shadowfax. Like the disciples who feared the sight of the resurrected savior with holes in his hand, so too does Aragorn, Gimli and Legalos fear the initial sight of Gandalf the White. However, through adversity there is a bond. They continue to fight to aid their hobbit brother to finish his mission. Even Merry and Pippin show signs of growth. Together they assist Gandalf in destroying Saruman's stronghold over King Théoden. Théoden and his people become believers and follow Aragorn and Gandalf on their journeys to save Minas Tirith and aid Frodo.
In Return of the King, Armageddon happens between Sauron and Zion (aka Minas Tirith), the white city of kings. Not only is the battle against Sauron and the forces of darkness, but also the struggle of humanity in the form of the steward. Denethor's refusal to recognize Aragorn as the rightful heir endangers the lives of citizens and his lone surviving son, Faramir. Man's struggle with lust, pride, and arrogance has always been his downfall. However, the king returns to his rightful throne (Aragorn and Arwen) to establish a new earth.
Some Christians prohibited children from reading and watching Harry Potter because of the witchcraft and wizardry. In spite of the witchcraft, religious symbolism abounds. Like Christ, Harry's birth is shrouded in awe and amazement. Unlike Christ, Harry is unaware of his savior qualities - humility and meekness. Like Christ, Harry upsets the religious establishment, the Ministry - wizardry elite, as well as Voldemort and his cohorts. His presence is a threat to all. Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort) is Lucifer, a bright, brilliant, powerful, and arrogant wizard. Tom Riddle's power of deception is so great that even good wizards were deceived until it was too late and he fully embodied Voldemort.
Harry's disciples grow with him at Hogwarts as he matures. His parents' Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore have always watched over the young savior, knowing he was the key to defeating Voldemort. There is a Judas, but he is redeemed. Snape represents a Judas and the Apostle Paul. During Voldemort's early reign as the dark lord, Snape was a loyal follower and persecuted members of the Order of the Phoenix. However, once the dark lord lost his physical form and his powers were diminished, Snape, once a death dealer, like Saul, is transformed into a Paul becoming the cornerstone of the Harry Potter riddle. Like early Christians that doubted Paul's conversion, others at Hogwarts assume Snape is still loyal to the dark lord. Only Dumbledore knows that Snape has sought forgiveness and redemption. Like John the Baptist, Dumbledore and Snape must die to make way for the real savior, Harry.
Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Luna, and Nevel become Harry's disciples equally performing signs and wonders. Remus, Hagward, Sirius, and the Weasleys round out his discipleship outside of Hogwarts. Unlike Christ who knew his birth was as a sacrificial lamb, Harry does not know until the end that he too must give up his life to save others. Like Christ's meeting on the Mount of Olives, when Harry receives the revelation of his fate, the spirit of his parents along with Sirius appear to encourage him to be not afraid of his mission. Like a lamb to the slaughter, Harry goes willingly to meet Voldemort.
From dementors, death dealers, Malfoy, and Voldemort, Harry has been tried and persecuted physically, mentally, and spiritually. The people that once praised him within the Ministry, like the crowd that threw flowers at Christ on the donkey to Jerusalem, later rallied against him for crucifixion. Malfoy, Harrry's tormentor throughout his time at Hogwarts, turns into the robber next to Christ at the crucifixion seeking redemption. Malfoy does not betray Harry to Belatrix. Even Malfoy's mother lies to Voldemort about Harry's death to secure the redemption of Malfoy. Harry's death by the dark lord is his salvation. As the devil rejoiced over the crucifixion of Christ, so too Voldemort glories in Harry's demise not realizing it is his own destruction that has been orchestrated. Harry's resurrection gave victory over darkness and salvation to his followers, who assuming him dead, became even the more fervent in their resolve.
This originally appeared in Ronda's blog, Ronda-isms: Good Bad Ugly.