Friday, February 22, 2013

Harry Potter and the Simplicity of Love

Pearls of Wisdom from Professor Albus Dumbledore
  1. Humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.
  2. It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
  3. The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.
  4. We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.
  5. Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.
  6. Once again, Lord Voldemort fails to grasp that there are much more terrible things than physical injury.
  7. Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
My wife and I finished re-reading the "Harry Potter" series earlier this week. And once again, I was captivated by how much the novels teach about the truth of life, love, and, yes, even God. In an odd sort of way, they also mirror the journey of faith: what starts out as a children's story becomes, in the end, a very adult affair.

For "Harry Potter" does not preach about the sappy love of greeting cards or the misty love of self-help gurus. No, it unflinchingly tells us that self-sacrificial love is the most powerful magic of all. It drills that message into us with the deaths of Regulus, James, Lily, Albus, Dobby, Severus, and so many others. And then it asks us to feel pride as we accompany Harry through the forest and stand watch while he allows Voldemort to cast the Killing Curse without a fight. As someone else once said, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."

And speaking of Jesus, it has never been lost on me that the wizards and witches in "Harry Potter" celebrate Christmas and Easter just like their Muggle neighbors. God is never mentioned by name, but there he is nonetheless, hiding in plain sight. We could dismiss this presence as meaningless background scenery, or we could take it as sly evidence of a Presence that is the source of love and magic alike.

"For us, there is simply our way of being, which is a path of great power. This power takes many forms, but it always produces what we desire."

Many will scoff at the idea of a children's book about magic being a font of theological wisdom, but I think God delights in showing up in unexpected places. Besides, what good is Truth if you need a doctorate to understand it? It seems to me that our Parent wants to converse with all of us, not just those in graduate school. "Harry Potter" is a great reminder that the Gospel isn't so complex after all.

"Why do you babble so much about me? So much time and energy, for what purpose? What more is there to understand about us than love?"

On a side note, I am once again publishing on Friday instead of Wednesday. I fear this is not going to be an easy Lent for me. But perhaps that is a not such a bad thing. For as J. K. Rowling has so admirably shown us, the most difficult path to a destination is sometimes the only one that will actually get us there.

1.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", Page 297
2.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", Page 333
3.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", Page 426
4.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", Page 723
5.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", Page 826
6.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", Page 559
7.   J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", Page 723