I was asked to conceptually explore what it might be like for people in each Hogwarts House to question or deal with having doubt in their faith, per the Sorting Hat Chats System. If you need a refresher on the particulars, you can revisit my posts talking about each Primary House. I’m going to make presumptions based on what I know of each House, and assume it’s semi-accurate, but if that’s not how you would deal with doubt or a loss of faith, it doesn’t disqualify you from being that House.
Slytherins are a loyalist-based House, meaning they will take on a possessive protectiveness toward whatever they decide to adopt in their life. I suspect that will also extend to their faith – a strong desire to stand up for their beliefs out of loyalty, to defend their religious leader and/or God against detractors, or whenever they see them being abused, and a sense of guilt if they fail to do these things.
Because “Family” is the Slytherin’s major focus, I can see Family being both an influence toward adopting a belief system (to stay close to my family) and a possible spot of doubt, if any harm befalls that family. When I hear about people walking away from their faith because their loved one died, or was paralyzed, or underwent a horrible misfortune, my first thought is that it’s a disheartened Slytherin, wanting no more to do with the “God that let this happen.” If it came right down to it, a Slytherin would choose their flesh and blood family over an “abstract concept of God,” and might reject that belief system if it asked them to no longer prioritize their loved ones, or even to exclude them based on a cold set of moral guidelines.
They might have doubts about their faith, and struggle just like every other type, but it might revolve around such convictions as the command to “leave your family and follow me” (said by Jesus). The idea of embarking on a life journey without their loved ones, or the thought of their loved ones being condemned to hell because they refuse to accept Jesus, will be a huge sticking point with them, and may cause them to question whether a God that would condemn their loved ones for all eternity is truly moral or “just.”
For a Slytherin who has lost their faith, there comes a moment of “divorce” in which they no longer adhere to that belief system out of loyalty. It was given, now it is taken away. They may or may not ever give it out again, but they feel no prolonged guilt in leaving, because it was a choice.
For one that remains a believer, I can see the faith of a Slytherin being completely loyal, as a belief “chosen” by them, adopted by them, and made “mine” to protect. They might even expand their “family” to include all other believers, and become a champion of the faith.
Ravenclaw is the House of reason and chosen beliefs, a House dedicated to questioning, evaluating, and constantly re-shifting their beliefs… or to accepting a belief system that makes sense to them, in which they feel represents their moral beliefs. This divides them into two camps – the True Believers (the chosen moral system) and the Skeptics (who create their own brand of faith through endless refinement). It divides them into those “able” to shift their views to adopt new information and process faith-shattering incidents, and those left to question “everything I thought I knew.”
To use a modern and recent example, Rob Bell’s book that proposed that hell may not exist threatened a lot of Christians, because it explored a “what if we were wrong for thousands of years” scenario. If there is no hell, then what else about the faith must we dismantle and question? Something like this, which shakes up the established belief system, could unnerve a True Believer to their core. They would face the choice of abandonment of their beliefs, because the system let them down and they have been disillusioned, or to hold onto their old system and reject the new information.
A Ravenclaw’s doubt would all stem from an intellectual assessment of their beliefs as “lacking,” being “inconsistent,” or not holding up to scrutiny. The Skeptic Ravenclaw has not adopted a faith system wholesale, but is cobbling it together out of what appeals to them and makes sense to them on a moral level – a guideline to life. They would struggle the most with comparing and contrasting new information with old, and deciding whether to integrate it or discard it; because not to “update” their beliefs with a stance that seems more true would wear on them. Grate on them. Make them ill at ease with their mental self.
I could see a Ravenclaw losing their faith if they could not reconcile the new with the old, and felt that their system had been a lie, calculated to deceive them. Or thought that it was immoral, from a rational standpoint. For a Ravenclaw who has lost their faith, there is also no guilt in walking away from it, because it was built out of a desire to find an establishment in which to rest their moral system… and having found that it does not work, they would adapt to one that does with no regrets.
For one that remains a believer, I could see a Ravenclaw being willing to “tamper” with their beliefs, and pave the way for a new generation of understanding.
Gryffindor House is known for its willingness to act upon its felt convictions, to just “know” what is right and what is wrong, and stand on those principles, even in opposition to their friends and family. It’s the Martin Luther House, where people see that something is wrong and decide to do something about it, even if it means taking on the Medieval Catholic Church. The good thing about this House is that many of its members have founded Churches, and fearlessly paved the way for believers to follow in their footsteps, such as Saint Paul.
If a Gryffindor faces a crisis of faith, it is going to come from an inward place of “this is wrong.” How this establishment treats certain people is wrong. What it teaches about this passage is wrong. It will be a “felt” conviction somewhere deep within, that screams NO. Their struggle will be between bending to established belief systems, or walking away from them, having seen them to be fallible or false. The choice for them, if they retain their faith, is whether to yield or (more likely) to challenge the Church and demand it change. They can be martyrs, bullies, or ironclad in their convictions, but any source of doubt or true belief comes from “I feel in my gut that…” “I know this to be right…” “I know this to be true… or false…” and their own total ability to trust that internal voice.
For a Gryffindor who has lost faith, there is a lack of regret, because they did so based upon a moral conviction, a felt sense that this is “hogwash.” You don’t give hogwash any further thought, you go on with your life, and find a Cause worth fighting for. For one that keeps their faith, there is the fierce desire to form a call to action and cause Reform.
Hufflepuff is the House known for its openness, its sense of community, and its desire for inclusiveness. It’s the House that welcomes the sick, the weary, and the needy… or it can be the House that shuns unbelievers and anyone it sees as dangerous. It’s group-oriented in that it is looking to build family, and sees no distinctions between the needs of a loved one or a homeless man on the street. This is the Mother Theresa “bring me your dying” House.
A crisis of unbelief or doubt will come from a place of humanity. Doubts and questions about why God lets bad things happen to good people. Why that hurricane killed so many. Why He stands by and allows so much evil in the world, to do great harm to His children. Why hell exists. Isn’t that mean? A crisis of belief may arise out of resistance to traditionalism, among liberal believers—a separation of self from an entity it perceives to be excluding. This Hufflepuff might walk away from a Church that does not welcome the gay community, because they value human beings more than “a cold doctrine.” Or they might be the conservative Hufflepuff, who bands together with other like-minded people to guard traditional beliefs. Huffelpuffs can be warm and generous, or excluding of those who disagree with them. But any doubt will always stem from their focus on… people.
For a Hufflepuff who has lost their faith, there may be a sense of betrayal to a previous belief system. They, unlike Ravenclaws, are more sentimental about their beliefs, but if they felt their faith was “wrong” in its treatment of people, they would choose the people… and walk away. For one that remains a believer, their faith gives the Church a warm outreach into the community; it puts “hands of service and acceptance” to work in others’ lives, as a physical representation of Jesus in the world.
Do your faith struggles match up with any of these examples? Is there a time in your life when you faced serious doubt? What drew you back, or pushed you away?